Thursday, March 29, 2012

Pure Love

God has blessed me in so many ways in my life.  One major blessing in my life is my friends.  I have a group of friends that is truly unmatched.  We love each other like sisters through thick and thin.  We've been through so much together -- high school, college, marriage, adoption, new babies, miscarriage, infertility, death of family members, this list could go on for so long.  We've all lived in the same town together and we've all lived in different places, but the love never runs out and when we're together it's like we never left.  My friends are my soft place.  My safe place.

Here are some of my favorite pictures -- past and present. :)

Don't I have the most beautiful friends??

When I struggled with breastfeeding (which I talked about here), they were all just a text, phone call, or visit away.  It meant so much to me to have their support and some really awesome "been there, done that" advice.

When we switched to formula and my thoughts and emotions were all over the place, my sweet friend Cassie was my shoulder to lean on.  She was kind and compassionate and I honestly couldn't have made it through without her.  She lives in a different town, but it felt like she was right there holding my hand and for that I am forever grateful.

The other day when Cassie was in town and we were hanging out, she mentioned that she had some frozen breastmilk she wouldn't be able to use with her little guy.  She told me she wasn't sure how I would feel about it, but if I wanted it for Lydia I could have it.  I told her of course I would love to have it!!

As I came home that night and started thinking about her offer, I literally just melted into a pile of tears.  The thought of my best friend filling in the gaps for my baby girl, loving me and my girl this way is more than I could ever ask for.  It may seem small to some, but to me it feels like one of the biggest acts of love ever.  I can't even type this without getting teary.  The breastmilk Lydia is getting from Cassie means her little body is getting precious antibodies that may protect her from infection or disease later in her life...among so many other things.  How do you even adequately say thank you to that??

We started Lydia on the breastmilk yesterday and she did fabulously!  She is going to be getting about 8oz every day.  I mix 2 oz. with each of her bottles.  Yesterday as I watched that liquid gold going into her mouth all I could do was cry and thank God for His precious gift of my friends.

THIS is what pure love looks like.  Last night as Justin was feeding Lydia he said, "Lydia and Cassie are forever going to have a special bond".  And he is so right.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Making Friends

On Sunday we attended fundraiser for my sweet second (or third or something - lol) cousin who has breast cancer.  For the fundraiser they had a silent auction, raffle, food, and a band.  It was really a lot of fun.  As the band was playing a bunch of the kids started to go out on the floor and dance.  Soon Chloe started to inch her way onto the dance floor and in her true form, she stood and stared and observed for quite a while.  I could see that she really wanted to dance with a couple of the other little girls, but instead she just stood and watched.  

Justin had to go to the bathroom so I told him that on his way he should tell Chloe that she can introduce herself and ask the girls if they would like to dance with her.  He did and then walked off.  I stood watching my girl hoping she would get the courage to do what she really wanted and go talk to the girls.  A couple of minutes later she got closer to them and started dancing. She didn't talk to them and wasn't close enough for them to really notice her.  Then my girl decided to put herself out there and ask them to dance.  There was a really sweet little red-headed girl that took her hands and they started twirling and jumping together.  

My heart lept.  I was so proud of my girl.  She continued to dance with the girls and then sat with them while they announced the raffle winners.  Then when it was time to go, again in true Chloe fashion she hugged them all goodbye.

 The next day we went over to my friend Andrea's house and hung out with her and Cassie and all our kiddos.  It was such an amazing day.  In the afternoon we decided to head to the park for a little while.  Andrea and Cassie's children are 1 and 1 1/2, so while Chloe does play with them at times, she was really wanting an older child to play with.  There were quite a few kids running around playing so I told her to go ask if any of them wanted to play.  I told her she could just ask them to play and tell them her name just like she did the night before with the girls that danced with her.  

Surprisingly (to me), she quickly ran off to three cute little girls that looked about her age.  I heard her say in her little voice, "Do you want to play with me?" and then stood there.  Then I saw the girls run off without her.  

And my heart shattered into a million pieces.  

I wanted to go scoop her up and kiss her and tell her it's okay and never let her out of house again, let alone encourage her to ever do something like that again.  

Instead I stood and watched to see what she did.  She came running over to me and said, "They won't play with me".  I asked her why and she said they said they already had 3 people for their Captain Hook game and didn't want any more.  I asked her how that made her feel and she said really sad.  Against everything within me, I told her that sometimes some people are just not very nice and maybe one of the other children would want to play with her.

So, off my brave little girl ran to ask another little girl to play, who was super shy and just ran to her dad. haha.  I think the girl was younger and actually that's probably what Chloe would have done a couple of years ago.  Finally she found a girl probably about 6 and her younger sister.  The girl was super sweet to Chloe and was more than happy to have Chloe play with them.  I heard Chloe ask their names and how old they were as she then introduced herself.  

I stood there as everything was moving in slow motion.  My heart bursting at the love I have for my sweet girl as well as how incredibly PROUD of her I was.  Tears welled up in my eyes as I watched her run and slide and swing with her new friends.  The friends she fought hard for.  She was so brave to not give up.  At one point she came running over to me to tell me about her new friends, Olivia and Chloe.  She was so excited that the younger girl had the same name as her.  When it was time to leave she was sure to tell Olivia goodbye and give her a hug and then she said, "Thank you for playing with me!"  

And as we were leaving I DID scoop her up and kiss her, but this time to tell her how incredibly brave I think she is and how proud I am of her and blessed I am to have her as my sweet sweet daughter.

And when I put her down and we were walking out, this is what she said to me: "You know those other girls?  If they don't want to be my friends then they're just not my friends".  As easy as that.  
Nobody ever warns you about how sometimes the love in your heart for your children makes it truly feel like it's going to explode.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

4 Months

Lydia turned 4 months on the 15th and it's so fun to see how much she's growing and changing.  At her appointment she was 15 lbs. 12 oz. and 26 inches long.  She's in the 95th percentile for both.  Her chubby, so very kissable little cheeks pretty much give that away though! :)

She is truly just the happiest baby ever.  She smiles non-stop and is only fussy when she's hungry or tired.  I joke that she's my "life of the party" daughter because she just lights up the room wherever she is.  Chloe was a very good, laid-back baby too, but she wasn't nearly as smiley. Chloe would scan a room, take everything in, really study her surroundings, and THEN she would decide her next move (whether to smile or be shy) -- which is very much still her personality.  Lydia on the other hand doesn't care who's in the room or what's going on....she is smiling and loving life.  It will be so fun to see how her personality is when she's a little older, but I have to admit I hope she keeps her "let's party" attitude. ;)

She has started really talking and squealing!  It's so fun to listen to her figuring out her voice.   The thing is, she's LOUD!  Justin and I went to Longhorn Steakhouse with her last week and she got so loud I had to put her binky in to quiet her. haha.  I kind of felt bad for making her be quiet, but her squeals are so loud that I'm sure she was bothering the "non-parent" customers. Of course, she was fine to sit there quietly with her binky too.  She's the easiest baby!

She is finally starting to like tummy time and can hold herself up pretty well.  I thought we would never get to this point because for about 3 1/2 months she would just lay there and cry, bury her head, or lay and suck on her fingers.  Of course, I was all worried that she still wouldn't be lifting her head off the floor by her 4 month doctors appointment, but about a week before it all just clicked and she's doing great now.  It was funny because the doctor asked if she loved tummy time because her head is so round in the back. haha!

Chloe has had a *very* hard time adjusting to having a baby around the house.  Her way of "dealing" has been to completely ignore and dislike her little sister.  She doesn't want Lydia anywhere near her and really doesn't even like to talk about her.  While it does make me a little sad to see she's not really enjoying her sister, I've really tried to let her work this out the way she needs to.  I try to do my best to spend individual time with her; do things for Chloe BEFORE I tend to Lydia -- one thing I do is to make sure to always make Chloe's breakfast before I feed Lydia in the morning, which sometimes means letting Lydia fuss for a couple of minutes, but this has been huge for Chloe; and make sure that Chloe knows she's my first baby and no one can ever take that away from her.  She is slowly coming around as Lydia is becoming more interactive.  She will talk to Lydia a little, she calls her a "chunky monkey" all the time, and will squeeze Lydia's cheeks or thighs.  Chloe is sometimes a little rough, but not on purpose.  I think she just really had a huge awakening to what a baby really is and how needy and delicate they are.  I know that the relationship will continue to get better and I'm excited to see them playing and laughing together soon. :)

These are really some of the first pictures I have of the girls together that weren't forced by me.  Chloe asked to be in the pictures with Lydia and kissed her on her own.  So see...we're making progress. :)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Top 5

I thought I would do a post on my top 5 favorite baby items right now.  These are the things Lydia and I are loving!! :)

5. Target Nursing Bras

You can find them here

I know I'm not nursing anymore, but in those beginning weeks when breastfeeding was horrible these bras were amazing.  They're supportive, but super comfortable.  My favorite thing about them is that you pull the fabric to the side when you want to nurse rather than having a snap to deal with. 

4. BabyLegs

Andrea let me borrow some of her BabyLegs and I am sooo in love!  They are so stinkin' adorable, but they also make diaper changes quick and easy.  Even better, if you cloth diaper you can show off your baby's dipes while still keeping baby's legs warm. :)  I can't wait to buy some really girly ones now that we know we love them!

 3. Video Monitor

We used our video monitor with Chloe and still love it for Lydia.  It's especially great for those times when you're not sure if baby is really awake or just squirming around trying to get comfy to go back to sleep.  You can check in on them without having to open the door (and for sure waking them up!) or even better, get out of bed in the middle of the night! (although Lydia is spoiled rotten and still in our room...haha).

 2. Miracle Blanket

 We didn't have the miracle blanket for Chloe, but we could not live without it with Lydia!!  She is definitely a baby who needs to be swaddled and this is the only swaddle she can't Houdini her way out of (most of the time!).  At first I kind of felt bad for putting her in this straight jacket, but this thing really is a miracle because the minute she's all swaddled up her eyes start rolling back in her head and she's ready to sleep.

And my number 1 favorite baby item is.....

1. Cloth Diapers

I am so in love with cloth diapers I could go on and on about them!

I was extremely nervous to use cloth diapers because it felt very overwhelming at first, but all my friends were using them and loved them so I decided I would give it a shot.  I'm pretty sure my 5th grade teacher who had to give the whole class a lecture on peer pressure because of me would actually approve of me succumbing to this cloth diaper peer pressure. ;)

While I'm not a super "green" person, although I do get called crunchy or a hippie from time to time, I seriously HATED throwing out so many disposable diapers with Chloe.  I knew that those big bags of diapers were going to sit in a landfill somewhere and NEVER decompose.  Gross!  So, it was definitely a bonus to cloth diapers that I would be doing a small bit to help the environment.

Another great thing is the money we're saving!  By using cloth diapers we're saving about $1700!!

BUT the thing I love very most about using cloth diapers is how great of a diaper they are.  Let me explain.  When Lydia was a newborn we did a cloth diaper rental, but with me being a psycho crazy person the first few weeks we resorted to disposables most of the time.  I had forgotten how nasty those things really are.  Lydia leaked through pretty much EVERY diaper (and I was changing her regularly), she reeked of urine the moment she peed in them, and the things just aren't cute -- as if that's mandatory.  She has NEVER leaked or had a blow out in her cloth, they don't stink, AND they're SO cute!!

There are several different types of cloth diapers, but we use the bumGenius 4.0 pocket diapers and I would highly recommend them!  They are super easy and one of the cheaper pockets out there.  With a pocket diaper there is a pocket on the inside of the diaper that you stuff with absorbent inserts.  The nice thing about this is you can stuff as much or as little in there as you need.  Lydia is quite the little pee-er, so at night we definitely double up our inserts.

A lot of people think the laundry would be a lot of extra work, but it's really not.  I actually enjoy doing Lydia's diaper laundry.  With the bumGenius, it's super easy.  When I change Lydia's diaper, I throw the whole thing into the diaper pail (which is just a trash can with a water proof liner in it).  About every other day, I take out the pail liner and dump all the diapers *and* the pail liner into the washer.  Then I do a cold wash, a hot wash with detergent, and one more cold rinse.  During the first cold wash, all the diaper inserts agitate out of the diapers.  When the washing is done I throw the insertss into the dryer and hang the covers and pail liner up to dry.  Sometimes I hang the inserts too.  When they're all dry, I stuff the diapers and put them away ready to be used again.  It's really a very simple process and once you get the hang of it you just do it all without even thinking.

I honestly don't think cloth diapering is any harder than using disposables.  It may take a tiny bit more preparation and of course there's the laundry, but the benefits FAR outweigh those things for me.

Now that I've written a book!  If you have any questions about cloth diapers (or any of the other favorite things) let me know!!