Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Joel....

My Joely.

One year ago today, you decided it was time for our adventure to begin.

One year ago today, my wait was finally at the end, and you were on your way into the world.

There is so much about you that is special. Like, the way you kiss and lick the wall. Or the way you break into tears any time you see or hear another crying. 

Right now you are in your crib, fast asleep and stealing my heart all over again with every groan and every roll. And all the sentimental mommy feelings I'm having this week have been nothing more than a nuisance to you every time I snatch you up from playing to smother you in kisses.

Joel, you are amazing. You light up an entire room with a single smile, and amaze us all every day with everything you learn.

I know that you will grow to do amazing things. One day you will change the entire world in the same amazing way you have changed mine. 

I hope you grow to be patient and kind. Stand up for those who can not stand up for themselves. Be brave enough to follow your heart, it will keep you on the right path.

And above all, know that no matter what, if you are ever to lose your way and make mistakes- we will always be here to offer guidance, forgiveness, and most of all, unconditional, never ending love.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Goodbye, my friends

   This post is hard.

   It is hard to find a title for it. It's hard just bringing myself to write it. And to simply be in the position to write it is the hardest of them all.



    Puppy and Blue are dogs I have known over half my life.
    Blue came into the family when I was 10. My brother's dog, I would often ask him if I could babysit her. (For payment of course. I was a wise business woman, making ten cents for playing with her in the backyard.)
   Just about half a year later, I got Puppy. I'll never forget the day. My mom and I wandered into the SPCA thrift store just to look. In the back they had the dogs, and of course I had to look. All over dogs were jumping and barking, and in one kennel there was a puppy. Just a small puppy with a cone on her head, laying and staring at a family that was trying to coax her over to them, showing no interest in being their pet. She had recently been fixed, and handled the surgery pretty badly. She had no energy, no will to eat, and probably wouldn't make it.
    We learned that after the family had given up on her, and I approached the kennel door. She got up on her feet and came over, tail wagging a mile a minute.When I asked if I could adopt her, the SPCA worker didn't hesitate a moment before telling me yes, I could take her home that day.

   So we did. And Puppy became my very first friend in Nevada. My very first, and very best.
And after Blue, I think I was her best friend too.

   



     But like I said. I've known them over half my life. The fresh memories of bringing them home are 14 years old, and the puppies turned into large, graying dogs. Games of fetch became impossible with their failing eyesight and hearing. Their energetic dancing slowly faded away, and was replaced by weak legs that at times failed to lift them off the floor.




    So after weeks of watching them take turns falling, having days where they couldn't get up for hours at a time, and becoming too weak to eat, we had to make a hard decision and say good bye.

With no way to ask them if they were ready, if they were in pain, if they were tired and ready to go, we had to figure out the best thing for them. We had to make the choice to let them go, to spare them agony.

     I couldn't make that decision. As much as I love them, I couldn't bring myself to decide something so permanent. Something I had no way to even communicate to them. It fell to my dad to make the choice. And I knew it was right.

   



     On Monday morning I sat with them. I gave them hugs and kissed their ears, whispered apologies and "I love you"'s that they couldn't hear, but I hope they could feel. I sat between them and hoped they felt the never ending love until their very last moments. And then I sat with them longer, kissed them both again, and all but collapsed on them in tears when the realization hit me that they would not be getting back up. I sat and cried and stroked them until it began to feel different.

     Until they were carried away, I expected them to get back up.
     Even now, I expect to hear a bark. I expect to see a furry mass wagging a tail at me.
     I even find myself wondering where they are... what's going on with them. The image of them taking their last breaths won't leave me. I am grateful to have it, knowing they went peacefully and laid next to each other. But something about that image makes me feel more helpless than anything I could imagine.
     They were my dogs. And I was supposed to protect them. From the moment the vets began, I felt the strongest desire to stop it. To save them. But I couldn't. In the end the best thing for me to do, was to do nothing, but love them.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Cloth diapering, Best Bottoms

    This will be one of many posts about diaper types and brands we're using (or have used) on Joel.

    Best Bottoms diapers are up first.

(Picture from bestbottomdiapers.com)



   Best Bottom diapers caught my attention with all the prints and colors. I fell in love with the fox patterns, their Christmas colored diaper, and their cow print. (And basically all the others.) We bought a few before Joel was born to try out, and have bought a few more over the months.

   Best Bottoms is an AI2 diaper (All in 2) or a hybrid. The waterproof covers (or shells) are sold separately from the absorbent inserts. While the covers are one sized (they have snap rises and will fit most babies from birth to toddler), the inserts come in sizes small, medium, and large. They also come in overnight, stay dry, and hemp. We have a mixture of all the inserts and personally, the hemp are my favorite (very natural and much thinner.)

   The shells can be used multiple times. If wet, just change the insert, wipe them clean, and put a new insert in them. You can also use prefolds or flats in the covers, and we often use them over fitteds at night. When I change Joel, I most often reach for a flat, a small doubler (an added insert that gives extra absorbency but not too much bulk) and a BB cover. Joel has been wearing them since he was only 2 weeks old, and at the start there is a learning curve to putting one sized diapers on newborns (with all cloth, not just Best Bottom). Despite that, we had no leak issues until Joel was older and simply peed too much for the inserts we were using. (Very simple fix).






   
      I love that when we are out for a few hours, or might be out later than we think, I can grab two covers and some inserts and tuck them into the diaper bag as extra/emergency diapers. They are simple enough for even non cloth diaper people to figure out. The only con I would say, is changing the insert does require you to touch the pee. We use wipes to unsnape the insert from the shell and toss it into the wet bag to avoid that.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Summer adventures

      One thing Aaron and I were most excited about when we had Joel, was summer. Summer in Nevada is hot and dry and generally uncomfortable and unpleasant (for me). But, it is also prime time to fill your free time with fun things "enjoying" the weather. (Or, doing anything to avoid melting in it.) And now that we have Joel, thinking up and planning our activities is almost as fun as actually doing them.

     Recently we have felt a bit of a slump when it comes to thinking up things to do. We are pretty tight on cash, and our usual go-to summer activity of swimming in the Truckee river isn't safe for Joel. With my mind being pretty focused on getting into shape (Almost 1 month of no pop! Woo!) I decided what we needed was a family hike to a nice calm body of water. So we planned a trip to a lake hotspot an hour or so away, surrounded by hiking trails of all difficulty levels. And hours into the planning, we changed our plan and decided to drive up to Lake Tahoe.
And then on our way out, we changed our minds and went with the original plan. (And when I say "we" kept changing our plans, I mean I couldn't decide what I wanted to do.)

     We had no idea how Joel might be with a long day out like this. He has never been to a big body of water, or spent an extended amount of time outdoors. I drenched him in sunblock throughout the day, kept his bottles on ice, and stole an idea from my favorite blog Marriage Confessions. I brought along a dry washcloth in a ziplock baggy and throughout the trip, whenever I thought Joel might be too warm, I took it out, wet it, and wiped him down. And he had more fun than I could have imagined!







     Joel truly is a water baby. Not content to just dip his feet or sit on our laps, he first insisted on standing while I held his hands and the waves lapped over his feet. It wasn't long before he decided that wasn't enough, and plopped right down into the water next to Aaron, trying to catch the waves as they came.
If you only have experiences with oceans, let me clarify waves. These were no surfer waves. They were barely more than ripples caused by boats in the distance, and raised the water by no more than 2 inches.)

     I'd known from the start he was a water baby. But I had never expected him to be so thrilled by nature. Flowers, the water fall, the river under the bridge, all amazed him. He swung his legs and jabbered the entire hike to the waterfall, and back to the car. He laid on a towel longer than I have ever seen him be content to lay, and stared at the trees and sky above him. I can't blame him. It was a beautiful day at a beautiful place.




     I can't wait to take him out again. Nothing beats getting exercise, getting into shape, and getting to have fun with your family at the same time.


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Friday, July 11, 2014

Bragging rights

Okay. I would just like to point out...

I made this.



 Well... I guess WE made this...


And as such... we get to do this...


(You can tell these pictures are old, as they are missing the two pearly whites that are now poking through his lower gums!)



So far we have gotten two sets of professional pictures done. One set was done two months ago by an amazing photographer. I swear he took over 100 pictures and they were all awesome! We got his 6 month pictures done just recently at Jc Penney's, and they did pretty good as well.










    I'm not sure HOW I could have anything to do with such an adorable handsome little guy. But I do. So I get to brag.





Monday, July 7, 2014

Makin Milk

   One day Joel decided he didn't want to nurse. My perfect natural nurser would flip out, screaming and crying hysterically if he was held in any way that was related to nursing. I kept trying to get him to nurse, and continued to pump milk to give him, and my supply dwindled away. So for many months now, Joel has been a formula fed baby.

    There is nothing wrong with feeding formula. It gives him nutrition he needs and I don't judge any woman who chooses to use it over breast feeding. But it really isn't what feels right for our family. So, 5 months after giving up on trying to keep a supply, I decided to try something even harder than that. I've started on the road to relactation.

    This took days of googling and talking to lactation experts. Last week I rented myself a hospital breast pump, baked some lactation cookies, bought some fenugreek and mothers milk tea and began the journey.

  So far, this isn't easy. Taking 20 minutes every couple hours to pump is rough with an 8 month old demanding my attention. It hurts, it costs a bit *though not as much as formula*, and it is tiring physically, mentally, and emotionally.

   Luckily I have support coming from every direction in every way to help me out. I can only cross my fingers and hope that with enough dedication I will be able to get Joel back to at least mostly breast fed.

   So there is that. Hopefully one day I will be able to make a blog about my success with relactation, and offer advice and support to women who are doing it. :)

(As of now hopes are high. Who knew a few drops of milk would be SO exciting?)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day 2014

   So, about a year ago I remember posting for Father's Day. This year, Joel is here to help us celebrate it.

   The poor planner I am, I thought Father's Day was MONTHS away. Suddenly it was only a few weeks away, then just 3 days. This has been some year for fathers around here. My Dad has done more than you could believe for me and my little family this year. With the year starting off with some really rough, stressful pitfalls, I don't know that we would have been able to get through it. We sure wouldn't have gotten through it feeling as secure, hopeful, protected and blessed as we have been. And there is no way we would be as strong as we are now, or as close to being back on our feet any time soon. My family is truly blessed to have him. He's really taken us all in, and most valuable-he has taught us how to be stronger as a family, how to be stronger for Joel. (That's my dad. He's always been my hero. But don't tell him, he doesn't like this mushy sentimental stuff.)
      And I sure love seeing the bond between my Dad and Joel. It really is something to see your parents with your kids. (I'm sure parents feel the same about seeing their kids, with kids.)


   

    And Aaron sure has jumped into his role as a dad. (Not that I expected any less from him.)
(Doesn't he look ready to jump into the role?)

Seeing Aaron become a father has been something else. Throughout my pregnancy, he seemed to transform before my eyes. But having Joel here, in his arms, has changed him even more.
I didn't even know it was possible.


   It goes without saying, Aaron loves his son. He loves being a father. Though he insisted to never want children for most of the time I knew him, he is a natural. And I have never seen him so devoted as he is to Joel. (No, not even to the guitar or magic tricks or skateboarding. And I had always been amazed at his devotion to those hobbies.)

   Having Joel has changed the core of who Aaron is. Or maybe it just let it show. Whatever Aaron might have been before, a musician, a writer, a free spirit, I believe what he truly is, and always was meant to be, is a Daddy.


   Tonight I helped Joel make Aaron some Father's Day gifts. As I said, I had not been planning as I should have (I am a horrible procrastinator) and my original gift ideas (custom guitar picks and an engraved pocket knife "Joel's Daddy", fell through due to utter brokeness. But at the last minute I managed to find ideas for pretty cute homemade gifts I think Aaron will love. (Which isn't too easy- he is a man without much sentimental hormones. EXCEPT, when it comes to Joel.)