Monday, May 24, 2010

Sometimes You Just have to Commit

We all have something--maybe somethingS--that we say we "want" to do...we "wish" we could do, we will "try" to do, we "hope" to do...
but we DON'T do.
Maybe it's to exercise regularly, to join a Bible study, to volunteer at a nursing home (to volunteer anywhere), to sing in the church choir, to finish that book you start six months ago, to apply for graduate school, to pray each day, to organize the mountain of papers on your desk, to attend a play group, to cook more meals at home, etc.
And our universal excuse is:
"I'm too busy."...which can also take the form of "if I have time," "when I have time," "I'll try," "fill in the blank with your favorite excuse here..."
But are we really too busy??
How do we really spend our time??
Lately (we are talking for several months at this point), I have been wanting to do something(yes, it's on the list above). Yet, I have to wonder how badly I really want it if I have yet to do anything but talk about it for half a year.
As I pondered this, I was reminded of an experience I had five years ago (wow...suddenly feeling very old). Anyway, I was a senior in college at Colorado State University. CSU had recently acquired some lovely Catholic missionaries who led students in Bible studies. One day in the middle of the fall semester, I was approached by Kim Bradica, one of the missionaries. She asked me if I would like to join her Bible study. Of course I *wanted* to, so I got the information and told her I would (get ready for it...) *try* to come. After a no-show that week, she approaced me the next week and reminded me about Bible study. "Yeah, I will come if I'm not too (you know it...) *busy*." The next week I didn't *have time* and the week after that I would have to *see how much I had to do* that day.
After all, I was busy, and besides I already attended Mass every Sunday AND Tuesday and hung out with holy people when it was convenient...I mean, I didn't really need Bible study, if you know what I mean.
Well, one Tuesday evening after Mass and student supper, Kim approached me it comes, I thought--she is going to ask me to come to Bible study.
And she did.
But after I had rambled off my excuse for the week, no doubt using the word "busy" or "time," she just looked at me--in front of a handful of my peers--and said, "Andrea, sometimes you just have to commit."
I was stunned, I was speechless, I was embarrassed.
And after a few more seconds, I was offended...guilty?...and a little angry. Who did this girl think she was? Who was she to judge me? Did she not know how busy (there's that word again) my social and academic life were??
As the words really sank in, however, I knew I felt the way I did because she was right.
Sometimes you just have to commit!
Sometimes we just have to choose what is worth the fight and what isn't. We have to choose our priorities and stick to them, even when it's not convenient, even when we are busy, even when we are tired, even when we don't (think we) have time.
I spend at least five minutes brushing my teeth EVERYDAY. Why? Because it's a's a cultural's a part of my schedule. But ask me to throw flossing in twice a day, and I'll probably find an excuse not to do it half the time. Why? Because it's not a priority, it's not part of my daily plan, it's not as fun and refreshing and minty cool as brushing my teeth. But do I have time to floss my teeth each day? YES.
So what is it for you that you "just don't have time" for? Once you figure it out--if you are anything like me, there is probably a long list of things--consider whether or not you really don't have time for it. As you make your consideration, think about how much time and energy you spend on the computer, in front of the tv, putting on makeup, reading magazines, doing things that are much lower on the totem pole...
And then Just Commit! Commit to doing something that really matters...or just let it go. Ironically, just as I was sitting down to write this, my friend had this as her Facebook status:
there's only so much you can talk about something . . . after that you have to decide if you care enough to do something about it or if it is better left alone.
I am sick of just talking about doing things...and am hopefully now inspired enough to commit...and hopefully you are too!
So whatever happened with me and Bible study? I never missed it again. Turns out I did have time, turns out I wasn't too busy. Did I have to make a conscious decision to attend each week? Yes. Did I have to plan around it? Yes. Did I have to make it a priority? Yes. Was it really that hard? NO. Once I was committed (thanks to Kim calling me out!), I didn't just talk about going or say I would try to go...I just did it!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

In Loving Memory of My Mom

Twenty years ago today, the world lost someone very special--my Mom. Although I don't have too many actual memories of our time together, the ones I do have are close to my heart! I also appreciate all the "memories" I have been able to look back on through old pictures, and especially video recordings.

As I watch our old family videos (a favorite pastime of mine), it is apparent that my Mom never passed up an opportunity to tell me (or my siblings) that she loved us. And they weren't just empty words--boy, did my Mom love us! From the smiling pictures, to the animated videos, to the honest letters, to the kind words of her friends, to the often comical stories I hear from my Dad, I have never doubted my Mom's great, great love for me.

In fact, love for all life was at the core of my Mom's very being. During her short life, she was a huge pro-life advocate. I remember going to pray outside abortion clinics with her when I was little. Another way she showed her love was through Cradle Care--in addition to five children of her own, my Mom would take in newborns for several weeks immediately after they were born while their birth mothers decided whether to keep their baby or give him/her up for adoption. I am thankful for her heroic example and hope to continue her legacy as an advocate for the unborn.

I have missed my Mom much over the years. The big things are always hard without her--graduations, falling in love with the man of my dreams, getting married...but then, so are the little things--kisses goodnight, phone calls, college visits, "I love yous," etc.

And now, as a Mother myself, I miss my Mom dearly. I know how crazy she would be for Augustine and how very nice it would be to call her up and tell her all about everything!

Yet, I know her prayers in Heaven are far more powerful than her influence here would be, and I am very thankful--I would not be who I am, nor where I am, today without those prayers!

I will close with a quote from a letter my Mom wrote on her last Mother's Day, just weeks before her death:

"In the ancient Greek language, 'mitera' means one who gives Life.

A Mother is the beginning of life.

Mothers do not die, because they live in thehearts of their children

and their children's children..."

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Operation Sleep - A Success Story

Even writing this blog--and certainly labeling it a "success"--is a bit premature, as we have had good nights of sleep in the past. But I am hoping and praying that we are onto something good...something lasting!

*Quick Note: "Success" in the sleep department of infants is a very relative term. If you are hoping to realize the secrets to twelve hours of uninterrupted sleep, there is no help for you here (but if you figure it out, do share!). "Success" for us is defined as:
1) Only waking up 1 (or 2) times to eat each night.
2) Only waking up 2 (or 3) additional times each time.
3) Not having to rock Augustine or get him out of his crib when he wakes up those additional times.*

Operation Sleep actually started almost a week ago. You see, up until that point, we were (naively, perhaps) just waiting for things to snap back into place. Each night as we laid our precious babe in his crib, we had hope that "tonight would be the night"...the night Augustine would go back to getting up only twice at know, like he used to do.

And then at 11 pm...12:30 am...3 am...and 5:30 am (give or take an hour), we were reminded that things weren't going exactly according to plan.

However, every week or two there would be a really good night, a night good enough to lift our spirits and renew our hope that this was just a phase. And when those good nights rolled around, we were like mad scientists trying to recall exactly what we had done that night--heck, that day--so we could replicate it.

Yet, unfortunately for us, there seemed to be absolutely no common thread:
It didn't seem to matter if Augustine napped all day or only caught a few zzz's in the car.
It didn't make a difference if Augustine ate every two hours or every three hours that day.
Cluster feeding at night was just as (in)effective as a lazy snack right before bed.

We further experiemented with the fan on, the fan off;
warm pajamas, cool pajamas;
early bedtime, late bedtime;
no caffiene for Mommy, delicious chocolate ice cream every night for Mommy;
putting Augustine in his crib awake, putting him down asleep;
going to get him immediately when he woke, giving him a few minutes to whine when he woke...

You name it, we *tried* to account for it, but at the end of the night (a month and a half of nights), we had nothing.

Now, just to clarify, these were not miserable nights of incessant wailing, booger noses, and lots of tears. It was more like this: every 1 1/2 to 4 hours Augustine would wake up and start whining--not a happy noise, for sure, but not a steady cry either--and I would go in and feed him if it had been at least three hours or Luke would go in and rock him. Occassionally, he would stay awake for up to an hour when Luke rocked him, but generally he would go right back to sleep for both of us...always for me (warm milk is sleep inducing)! He doesn't take a pacifier...and though he sucks on his little hands all day long while he is happy, he hasn't figured out how to use them to soothe himself. Still, these nights did start to wear on us, and more importantly, I longed for Augustine to have nights of sleep with fewer interruptions.

SO, after collecting tips and advice from just about everybody we knew, we decided we needed to make more dramatic changes. I won't bore you with all the details, but I will tell you what finally helped:
1) Swaddling Augustine from the armpits down (Curious, I know, especially for a child who hasn't been swaddled since he was three weeks old...but it seems to help him from startling himself and getting his legs stuck out the rails of his crib).

2) But now for the real life saver...get ready for it...

The Fisher Price 2-in-1 Precious Planet Projection Crib Mobile

It is a mobile, a music box--your choice of nature noises, classical music, or womb sounds--, and a projector. Though we actually opted out of using the mobile part and just use it as a music box and ceiling projector.

But the magical part is the remote control. With just a push of a button from right inside his bedroom door, soft music and/or a light show projected on the ceiling begins to play for twenty minutes. (We have only used the projector a few times--usually just the music immediately relaxes him and he goes back to sleep). Our method is not fool proof, but it is definitely a great improvement. I know there is still a dependence (the music), and it would be better if Augustine could just figure out how to go back to sleep completley on his own, but I am not ready for him to cry it out (...not sure I will ever be), so we are taking baby steps. For the past several nights, we have met most of our goals most the time!

I am the one having a hard time sleeping now! It isn't until Augustine does start fussing that I realize the majority of the times I am already awake! Hmmmm...

Blessings to all of you with little ones learning to sleep through the night!!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

You Know its been a Long Night When...

There's a little extra something--eh, someone--in the bed with us in the morning:
This is my husband's idea of watching the baby the next day. I really do appreciate it very very much, but it makes me laugh when Luke offers to "get up" with Augustine so I can sleep in...and I stumble down the stairs an hour later to find this:

A blanket and pillow from the guest room make their way into the nursery...with me, of course (luckily, the glider is quite comfortable):

My night stand looks like this (did I mention Augustine doesn't even take a binky?? But, oh do we try...only in the middle of the night when he wants "something" to suck on but really does not need to eat for 3-4 more hours):
Everytime I hear a peep from the peanut gallery (we're talking midnight...or 2 am...or 4 am...), I turn on the video monitor and see this--which means there is no more sleep to be had for either of us until he is nursed/rocked to sleep and/or rotated back to a straight position:

**This was taken upon waking up from a nap--as I am not yet courageous (crazy?) enough to risk waking Augustine up at night with the flash!**

Last night was one of many long nights in the past month and a half. Until 3 months, Augustine slept like a dream.

BUT Luke and I think we have finally got it figured out.

Tonight is THE night!

I will let you know how it goes...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Onesies are meant to be pooped on--and other TidBits

An especially soiled onesie...

Having just celebrated my first (since Augustine's grand debut into the outside world) Mother's Day, I thought I would share a dozen (of the countless) things I have learned since beginning the wonderful journey of motherhood just 4.5 short months ago (These are in no way universal truths, just my opinions and experiences) :

1) Onesies are meant to be pooped on. Period. And thank goodness for them, or I am convinced we would not be able to contain the poop! Needless-to-say, when the time comes to pass Augustine's clothes on to some innocent child, there will be no onesies in the bin--because even if Tide has managed to do away with the evidence (which is only true in about half the cases), I know what goes down in those onesies...and it is not pretty! Seriously, how does the poop go up the back--we are talking up to the shoulder blades?? Really? Is it something I ate...or just the unfortunate laws of physics??

2) "Nap when the baby naps" sounds really awesome but is really hard to put into practice. I love Augustine's awake time, but when he turns in, I have a mental list of all the things I'd love to get done using two hands :).

3) You really do get endowed with supernatural powers the moment your child is born. How else do you explain the fact that I have not had a full night's sleep in five months and yet maintain sane ( least to some degree)?! Any other time in my life, just imagining my sleeping habits of late would have induced full on nausea. But if you ask me today, I really just can't wait to get up and be with my Little Man each morning...even if I did see him four times between 7 and 7.

4) What little hair you don't lose from the crazy hormone swings is pulled out by your baby's clammy, sticky fingers. I actually don't mind when Augustine grabs onto a handful of hair--it's kinda cute and I only lose a few strands in the "prying-out-of-said-clammy-hand" process. But when you already feel like you are going bald, each little hair is precious! Luke is thoroughly amazed--in a grossed out kind of way--at the amount of hair he finds around the house!

5) I still can't figure out if CIO (aka Cry It Out) refers to me or my child. All I know is that it isn't my style--or his. Cheers to those of you who can do are probably getting more sleep than me :).

6) Mama Bear--though coined in jest--is an appropriate term for me, and I'm proud of it! I cannot help the fact that I really do think I can take care of my baby better than anyone else can and that if he is crying, whining, frowning, hungry, or stinky I (or his Daddy) should be the one right there to make it better.

7) If anybody offers to make you dinner after you have a baby, just say YES!! An endless supply of bibs and onesies are great, but there is no greater gift than a warm, homecooked meal when you have a newborn. Thank you to everyone who made us food...and for everyone who got Augustine bibs and onesies, too!

8) Shots.are.cruel.

9) Breastfeeding is every bit as wonderful as I expected it to be...and more! I know not everyone can or wants to do it and I certainly don't judge anyone for their decision, but I cannot imagine anything better for Augustine and me. Those moments of feeding are so special, and it is a great excuse to steal him back from company every two hours :). It is also very empowering to know that I am giving Augustine everything he needs to thrive. It is so sweet to see the instant comfort Augustine receives when he begins to eat--I love it!

10) Some things get old quite quickly: pumping (I have so much respect for women who do that full time!), doing laundry all.the.time, worrying about anything and everything, going to the doctor to have pain inflicted upon Augustine way too often, the startle reflex (that just does not look fun), stuffy noses (...and the accompanying instruments--think saline dropper and the dreaded blue bulb (which I have somewhat successfully, and totally intentionally, persuaded Augustine to like!)).

11) But most things NEVER get old: making Augustine smile, holding Augustine as he sleeps, people telling me Augustine looks like me, bare tushie pats, skin-to-skin nursing, weighing Augustine (why is that the highlight of our doctor visits??), peering over the rail of Augustine's crib and seeing his smiling face first thing in the morning, taking pictures of the little guy, belly kisses, happy squeals, acknowledging that he is "yours" and reiterating his stats to countless strangers everyday, opening baby gifts, Augustine's little hands, watching Augustine on the video monitor (he is sleeping--usually/hopefully-, but it's just so cute!), Augustine immediatley calming down when I pick him up, seeing the two loves of my life together...and so much more!

12) We meet parents everyday who tell us that "it goes way too fast"...and they are all right. :( But it just makes me more determined to continue to enjoy and appreciate and live each moment fully with my precious little boy.

There is no love like the love for a child.

I am SO thankful for Augustine.

*My little source of so much JOY*

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

Today was a wonderful day! Augustine joined Luke and I in bed at 6 am, and we all slept until 8:30 am! While we were playing in bed for a few minutes before getting up, Augustine rolled from his back to his tummy for the first time! We gave Augustine a bath, which was fun because Luke isn't usually home when he bathes. Then Luke made us pancakes--my favorite--for breakfast and honored me with a sweet card and some fun stuff for my video camera! He also got me a framed 8x10 picture of the three of us visiting my Mom's grave at the sweet, especially for Mother's Day. We spent the morning relaxing around the house waiting for the Comcast guy (on Mother's Day?...I know!). It ended up being a perfect excuse to just chill though, so it was nice. Later, we took a nice, long walk and then had a late lunch at Panera...YUM! While Augustine was playing in the living room, he rolled over again! We went to a 5 pm Mass, which was lovely! After a little playtime and some books, we put our Little Man to sleep. And now here we are, relaxing on the couch... Maybe Augustine will sleep all night as a little gift to his Momma--although I might miss seeing him at 1 am...and 3 am...and 5 am if he did that!

Augustine & I on Mother's Day...after I took off his overalls and got into my pajamas, of course!
Thoughts on my First Mother's Day

Mother's Day has been kinda a sad day for me for the past 20 years, so it was pretty awesome to celebrate with Augustine this year! He and Luke both made it a very special day.
But it was not exactly what I thought it would be...
All this time, I thought Mother's Day was the day when children went out of their way to make their Mom's feel special--and that is a big part of it, for sure. But I realized today that Mother's Day is more about being thankful for being a Mom than being thanked for being a Mom. I certainly wasn't the hero today--I was merely the spotlighted recipient of one of life's greatest gifts: Motherhood. I found myself thanking Augustine (and God) all day long--because without them, I wouldn't get to share in this incredible journey. I love being a Mom! Being a Mom allows me to love--and be loved--in a new and wonderful way. As blessed as Augustine may feel to be my child (he shows me the best ways a 4 month old can, with lots of sweet smiles, precious touches, hearty laughs, long streches of sleep...), I feel infinitely more blessed to be his Momma!
Happy Mother's Day to all Moms!!!
Rest in Peace, Mom.
And Mother Mary, thank you for being the greatest Mother of all!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Rude Awakening


One might say our son hasn't been sleeping well at night lately...that is, unless you consider waking up at all hours and intervals of the night "well." Needless-to-say, Luke and I are pretty tired by the time morning rolls around.

But what exactly is morning?

I think Augustine may be in disagreement with his parents on thise one...and according to a reliable source (one of countless baby books I enjoy reading), Augustine may be right!

Apparently, babies need 10-12 hours of sleep each night. So if we put Augustine to bed around 7:30 pm, we cannot be too put out when he wants to wake up for the day at 5:30 am! Yikes! Up until this point, he has been more on the 11-12 hour side of things, but Luke experienced first hand the 9 1/2 hour side of things Tuesday morning when Augustine got up at 4:45 am! Luckily for me, my wonderful husband gets up with the little man each morning so I can sleep in for a bit--I don't know if Luke thought his act of chivalry would include 4:45 am duty (even I would have thrown that in with "middle of the night Mom duty"), but if the book says it, who am I to argue??

Hopefully, it was just a fluke and Augustine will go back to sleeping in a bit more!

**Just to update, it WAS a fluke, and Augustine has not been up that early again! Good news for Luke...**