Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving...Because It's Tomorrow

So it's the time of the year to be thankful.

It really feels like you HAVE to be thankful this time of the year, doesn't it? Like you're a bad person or something if you can't find or think of all the things you are (or should be) thankful for?

Well, I've kind of been feeling blah about true thankfulness. I mean, I'm totally thankful for the obvious things. But it felt more robotic or something. Even as I did Thanksgiving lessons with the kids this week. I was just talking about it and wasn't really *feeling* it, know what I mean?

Let's face it. This wife/mom/sister/daughter/friend/aunt/student/teacher/volunteer/co-worker life we lead is HARD. We all go through seasons that are more difficult than others. There are people and things in our lives that are demanding and stretch us - sometimes to our limit.

There are easier seasons too, but sometimes it's really easy to dwell in the difficulties instead of enjoying it all.

So that's where I was earlier today. Just going through the motions. Doing school with the kids, trying my darnedest to get to the laundry, feeding the kids, nursing the baby, changing her diaper, trying to get some work done, making the bed, nursing her some more then changing her again, putting a few clothes away, oh yeah - nursing the baby some more, making lunch - late again.

In the midst of all this, I looked down and something hit me. I was absolutely *overflowing* with thankfulness and love. All the things that can get mundane and just "part of my life" are all so important. And I'm SO thankful that they are part of my life. Even the dirty diapers that I have to change. Again.

You wanna know what I saw when I looked down?


Then I looked over and you know what I saw there?

I'm not sure why, but looking at our kids while they were enjoying their lessons for the day, and seeing our sweet precious baby snuggled up to me after falling asleep in her sling did something to me today. I actually FEEL thankful.

Thankful for the beautiful family that the Lord has blessed me with. Thankful for the good days as well as the struggles, which just make me stronger. Thankful for the sweet faces that greet me every single morning. Just......thankful.

I'm especially thankful at this moment that I'm getting pretty good at typing with just one hand since Ember has been nursing since right before I started writing this afternoon :)

God is good!! Happy Thanksgiving ya'll - I hope you can find your true thankfulness too ;)


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Voices Are Important!

I know I've heard it.

I know I've told it to many many people.

Babies know their mamas voice.

It makes sense, really. They grow for 40 weeks (or, you know...42 weeks and 4 days) INSIDE us. It may be muffled, but they hear everything we say. Everything we sing. Every gurgle our stomach makes. Every beat of our heart. No wonder babies like to be held - especially by their mamas!

I don't know if I'm just more observant of these kind of things this time around or if I've just forgotten about them from the other kids. But I've particularly noticed some things with baby Ember.

The first thing I noticed was right after she was born. She was a few hours old and was a bit fussy as she was trying to get a good latch and nurse. I sang her a song that I made up when Vienna was a baby, and have used for all the kiddos (my sister's and brother's, too). It's still one of the kids' favorites, and I sing it to them every night. So, obviously she heard it every night as she was growing in my womb. Within the first few notes, she quieted down and relaxed.

Then last week we went to Winner to celebrate my mom's birthday with her. The men were all harvesting some land my dad farms way out there, so we were all staying in the local Holiday Inn Express. My sister and her family were there, as well as my brothers' girlfriends and their families. It was a lot of fun! Well, at this time Ember was not quite 3 weeks. My brother's girlfriend was holding her while the other kids swam in the pool and I had to run to our room for something. She came up a few minutes later, and I was way down the hall from where she was. I said something, and as soon as she heard my voice (from halfway down the hall), sweet Ember started searching for me...she was a little upset I wasn't *right* there. :)

It really struck me the most just this morning, though.

We have a minivan, and Vienna sits way in the back in her booster, Porter sits on the passenger side middle seat in his car seat, and Ember is right behind me.

Usually when we are in the car, Ember is very cool with it as long as we are moving. She doesn't like it much when we stop, at a stoplight or whatever - ha! Most of the time, though, she'll calm right down once we start moving again.

This morning she didn't. I was on my way to Bible Study and left the older kids home with Randall. I think it was probably the first time she and I went alone anyplace, and when we got going she was NOT happy. I figured she'd calm when we didn't have any other stops.


She was VERY upset. She wouldn't calm down.....until I did one thing.

I simply talked to her.

I don't know if she was scared because she didn't see or hear the other kids and obviously she couldn't see me, or what. I said just a few words to her and she calmed instantly. I talked to her for a little bit until I was sure she was ok and calmed for good. By the time we got to our destination about 5 minutes later she was sound asleep.

All these just reinforced with me the fact that we mamas need to talk to our babies! Not just our babies, though. If it's that important to talk to our newborns, it's just as important to talk to them as they grow, too!

I heard recently that the majority of parents only talk with their kids 3.5 minutes per day. I cried when I heard that. Can you imagine how starved for parental interaction those kids are? It made me so sad, and truly made me examine my own relationship with our kids. It's really easy for me to bury myself in work, research, projects, or whatever, and put them off when they try to talk to me. It's really easy for me to tell them that it's time to go to sleep instead of telling me their most pressing thoughts at the time.

I think these quotes are quite timely:

"A child seldom needs a good talking to as a good listening to." ~Robert Brault,

"Anyone who thinks the art of conversation is dead ought to tell a child to go to bed." ~Robert Gallagher

And one of my favorites: “Listen earnestly to anything [your children] want to tell you, no matter what. If you don't listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won't tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.” ~ Catherine M. Wallace

So let them hear your voices, but don't forget to listen to theirs too!


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Ahhhh. Newborns.

Ok, so as you all know I was pregnant. What I guess hasn't been officially announced is that I *finally* had our sweet baby girl on 10/20/14. I was due 10/2/14. Yep. 18 days later than expected (by my provider - I expected her to come about a week and a half after my EDD). That said, I don't believe she was "late", I believe she was right on time. Those 18 days were EXTREMELY long and trying on my emotions, but I'm super glad that I know what I know about waiting for baby's timing as long as everything looks good. I had a couple NST's at the end there, and it was getting to the point that if nothing had happened I was going to need to seriously consider induction. I'm really glad I didn't have to go there.

Anyway, I promise that I will share her birth story in the near future.

Today, though, I want to focus on what it's like to have a newborn again.

Less than 24 hours old

There's several things I had forgotten about and those I haven't, but all of them have been an adjustment...

1. Baby sleeps when baby wants to. Yeah, I know this doesn't seem like it should be much of a revelation. Especially since at 42+ weeks pregnant, it's not like I was sleeping that much at night anyway, waking approximately 97 times a night to pee. But for some reason, it caught me off guard. Dumb, huh? I mean, it's normal for a newborn to sometimes not want to go to sleep until 4:30 am, right? Then to sleep all day? I totally and for real know that's normal, I just hadn't really prepared myself for it very well. Der. Don't get me wrong - most nights she sleeps awesomely - right next to me in bed, only waking to eat for awhile. There have been times, though.....there have been times......

2. Baby poops and pees a lot. Another "duh" thing, right? Well, again, for some reason I wasn't really thinking that much right when she was born and didn't change her as often as I should have. It took a few days for me to remember that I need to change her pretty much every time she wakes up or eats. I'm not sure if it was the lack of sleep from being up until 4:30 am or just baby-brain-farts where I literally just forgot what it was like to have a newborn.

3. Babies are loud. She's generally pretty chill, and overall a really easy baby. But when she gets mad she gets mad fast. There's no "working up to it", or in between. When she's not happy about something she lets you know in no uncertain terms how she feels. And she cries really loudly!

4. Umbilical Cord stumps can STINK! Holy moly, It was seriously so gross. I'm so glad it fell off quickly - for whatever reason it was nAsty. If I had still been pregnant I would likely have gagged and maybe even lost my lunch every time I held her...I was SO gaggy this pregnancy! I don't remember the other kids' stinking like that, but maybe I'm just blocking it out.

5. Giving birth makes me REALLY hungry! Good grief. You would have thought I hadn't eaten in months with the way I literally ate everything in sight the week or so after she was born. I'm so happy we were so blessed to have more than a week's worth of meals provided for us!

6. The "after pains" right after delivery really hurt! I usually don't take pain meds for things, but I broke down and did for those. As everything's moving back into place after being so stretched out, it takes time to contract back down, and every time I nursed (and sometimes even when I wasn't nursing) my uterus contracted and my ligaments got pulled and I would cramp and often had to breathe through them. It was like labor! I'm really glad they didn't last long...less than a week :)

7. Finding a nursing rhythm can be challenging. We are still working on getting really good at breastfeeding. She is eager and willing, but has a little bit of a difficult time with her latch sometimes. She's getting better at it all the time, but I have to say that I'm really glad that I know what I know about breastfeeding. I believe that I was able to avoid painful engorgement and cracked/bleeding nipples this time because of being more educated about latch and breastfeeding in general. (I had both with the other kiddos)

8. Not having Postpartum Depression or "Baby Blues" is AWESOME! I attribute this mostly to the fact that my hubby has been around MUCH more this time around...he's in the midst of switching jobs, and the timing just worked out absolutely perfectly. I believe I had PPD with my first and definitely had some "baby blues" with my 2nd. Having the support I need this time around has made all the difference.

9. Adding a 3rd child to the family is an adjustment (newborns don't really care about your schedule or the things you had planned to get done). But especially since we are homeschooling the other kids and I work from home, time management has been a challenging thing to figure out, and I'm not even close to "getting there" yet. I haven't showered in 3 days, and it's not the first time since she's been born. It's ok, though. The other kiddos are old enough to help out immensely, and like I said, my hubby is around a lot more than he used to be, so he has helped like crazy. We're getting there, slowly but surely :)

10. Babies are AMAZING. The way she snuggles with me, the way she's really not happy unless she's being held (she needs human interaction and contact), the way she looks up at me when she's nursing (she's just now starting to really "see" things and is visibly observing the world and people around her much more), the way she nuzzles me with her face when she just wants to go to sleep, the way she searches for my breast in the middle of the night, finds it, latches, and neither of us really wake up much at all, the sweet little baby sounds of contentment she makes when she's sleeping on me, the way she changes every single day. I just want to drink it all in. She's such a vision of perfectness and beauty I could just watch her every single minute of every single day. I am in awe of her, I am in awe of the way her sister and brother love and interact with her, and I am just overflowing with love for this precious little being who has blessed our family so completely already.

Earlier today, 3 1/2 weeks

First ever "for-real" smile caught on camera :)

Do you have things that took you by surprise when your newborn joined the family mix? Share them! :)


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Thank You


That's all I can truly say about the last few weeks.

It's literally been a whirlwind.

Don't worry - I'll fill you all in on the happenings around Elegant Mommy and our three new little ones, but for today, I need to focus on something else.


It's Veterans Day here in the USA, and I just want to convey how important this day is to us here in our household, and I pray that you all find it just as important.

Veterans Day wasn't always called that. It originated back in 1919 and was originally called "Armistice Day". It marked and celebrated the end of "The War to End All Wars" - aka World War I.

As time went on (and presumably since there were more wars after WWI), the day changed a bit and in 1954 President Eisenhower issued the first Veterans Day Proclamation, which stated:  "In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans' organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose. Toward this end, I am designating the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs as Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee, which shall include such other persons as the Chairman may select, and which will coordinate at the national level necessary planning for the observance. I am also requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch of the Government to assist the National Committee in every way possible."*

Some of you may know, many of you may not, that my husband is a bit passionate about honoring veterans and their sacrifices. He has personally interviewed more than 500 WWII veterans so he can tell their stories. He has written and published several books, and is working on several more telling their amazing stories. He wants to portray what it was really like to serve in the war. He's heard some absolutely amazing stories, and around here we are pretty darn patriotic and want to thank every single veteran who has ever served in any way - each one has had a very important role.

There are a lot of quotes about veterans, what they have done for us, and what they continue to do for us every single day. Here are some great quotes I found** that barely scratch the surface on how much we appreciate them, but are pretty powerful nonetheless.

“On this Veterans Day, let us remember the service of our veterans, and let us renew our national promise to fulfill our sacred obligations to our veterans and their families who have sacrificed so much so that we can live free.”
—Dan Lipinski

“This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.” —Elmer Davis

“Our veterans accepted the responsibility to defend America and uphold our values when duty called.”
—Bill Shuster
“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself. “
—Joseph Campbell
“Courage is almost a contradiction in terms.  It means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die.” —G.K. Chesterton
“Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.” – Billy Graham
If you know a veteran, thank him or her today. Thank him or her tomorrow. Thank him or her every time you see them.
If you are a veteran, please know that there are many of us who are at home and thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We know that it's because of the sacrifices you and your family have made and continue to make that we are able to be free and live the beautiful lives that we live. My prayer is that you and your families are richly blessed now and in the future! Thank you SO VERY MUCH!!
Much love and gratitude
*The History of Veterans Day information was found, and President Eisenhower's quote taken from, 
**Veterans Day quotes were found and taken from