Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Year of Firsts! (Reflections)

Since the last entry was getting pretty long, I thought I'd save this for another post.  :)

Now that I'm the Mommy of a one-year-old, I've been reflecting on some of the things that I wish I had known a year ago.  It didn't matter how many books I had read, or how many children I used to babysit.  I didn't matter how many people had shared time honored advice with me.  There were some moments when I really had to learn from my baby, and trust my instincts.   

Especially as a new mom, don't underestimate your own instincts!  There will be times when everyone else is telling you to do one thing, or to do it the way they did it with their babies, but you need to trust that no one else knows your baby like you do.  Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating ignoring a doctor's advice, or blatantly doing something you know could endanger your baby.  However, God designed you to be this baby's mother, and he will graciously give you the wisdom you need for her care.  Trust that wisdom!

Some things I had to learn the hard way.  Olivia only liked to sleep in a certain position.  She would scream for long periods of time - which I attributed to "colic."  She would crane her neck back as far as she could when she was being held, or lying down.  After a while, (and thanks to the wisdom of my Mom!) I learned to watch for "triggers" in Olivia's behavior.  It was after this, that she was diagnosed with infant reflux.  Learn from your baby.  It really is true when they tell you that every baby is different.  No matter how many babies I had had experience with, not one of them would have been the same as my own.  She still likes things done a certain way!

Looking back, I wish that I had accepted help more readily.  I was always too proud to ask for help, and when a dear soul did offer it, I always responded with a cheerful "Oh, it's okay!  We're doing great!"  instead of accepting their generosity.  Let go of your pride, and allow others to bless you with some help!  There were days when I had no clean laundry, I hadn't showered, had barely eaten anything all day, and was practically sleep walking, trying to figure out why my baby was crying non stop.  I sure could have used two or three hours to catch up on sleep!  Trust me, others will understand!  They have most likely been in your shoes a time or two as well.  Heaven forbid someone think we don't have it all together!

From here on out, I am trying to be better about letting my Husband fly solo.  Just as I wasn't born a mother, my husband wasn't born a father!  He will never learn how to be comfortable caring for our children if I'm always swooping in to his rescue.  I was really terrible at this when Olivia was very small, and her little cries felt like they were literally wrenching my heart inside my chest.  I knew I could soothe that cry faster, so I just "helped" my husband by relieving him instead of allowing him to struggle through - even as I had done once upon a time.  Daddies need to learn too - and they will never get the opportunity if we are always doing things for them.  Take it from me - the baby won't even be scarred for life!  ;)  There are some things that Mommies do better, it's true.  But babies need their Daddies, and it's okay if Daddy doesn't do it the way you do.

More than anything, this past year I have had to learn to prioritize.  Maybe some of you won't struggle with this as much as I did, but especially in those early days, maintaining order in my home helped me to feel orderly in my spirit.  With a newborn especially, most times that just isn't possible!  Remember that feeding your soul is more important than vacumming carpeting.  Folding laundry can wait if you need to nap.  You may have to do things differently than you did before.  Instead of trying to maintain your pre-parenthood lifestyle while trying to fit a baby into things, give yourself some grace and re-invent your way of doing things.

Be prepared - you will never be the same after you lay eyes on that brand new little life.  Your heart will swell with more love than you ever thought yourself capable of feeling.  And as that sweet little love grows, you will love each new stage even more than the last!  It is bittersweet, how fast these babies grow.  Olivia is such a little toddler now, and I just have so much fun with her every day.  I love to watch her learn, and enjoy so many little things that I take for granted.

If you're disheveled, and in the midst of sleepless nights, wondering how in the world you're ever going to figure this mom stuff out, hang in there!  Before you blink, you'll be watching your precious baby blow out the candle on her first cupcake.

Most of all, remember:
"He will tend His flock like a Shepherd; He will gather the lambs in His arms; He will carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are with young."  Isaiah 40:11

He is merciful, and gentle with us!  When we are desperate for wisdom, He is there.  When we are insecure, He is there.  When we are weary with exhaustion, He is there.  And He will always gently lead us.

A Year of Firsts!

Well, it's about time I blog about my daughter's first birthday (it was only in March!).  Thanks to Pinterest, I had far more cutesie ideas than I could muster the time to complete, but still, I had so much fun planning a party for our family and a few close friends.

I wanted it to be special, but not over-the-top-best-first-birthday-in-the-neighborhood kind of a party.  I put out things that I thought reflected Olivia's character.  I also had pictures from her first year around the house for guests to see, and Olivia's baby books to look at.

Much as I would have loved to serve our guests homemade gourmet delicacies, I have a tendency to over-plan (I know, you can't believe it, can you?), and at the request of my husband, wise man that he is, we kept it simple with cupcakes, punch, and pizza for lunch.  The most gourmet that I got was purple cauliflower for the veggie tray (because how fun is that?).

Even though Olivia's birthday is mid-March, we had this weird streak of hot hot weather.  With guests in the house, the temps kept climbing, so we moved the party down into our family room area in the basement.  Much cooler!

Of course, the cupcakes were a hit!

Olivia enjoyed her first sugar rush.  :)

She's such a big girl now!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"Bone" Appetite!

I was feeling particularly in the mood for baking today, but as we didn't really have any occasion for it, I decided to bake for the dog instead. :)

I found a great recipe on Pinterest (three cheers!), and gave it a go. This one is really simple, only requires four ingredients, and was really easy to make.

You start by adding 2 cups of whole wheat flour, and combining it with 1 cup of rolled oats.

Then add 1/3 cup peanut butter (I used creamy, but crunchy would work too), and 1 1/2 cups hot water. Combine it and knead well. I used my KitchenAid mixer for this job - any kind of stand mixer will make your life easier! Otherwise, you'll need plenty of elbow grease.

Then roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. You can use more flour, or oats to prevent it from sticking. Use cookie cutters to cut whatever shapes you want. I didn't have any cutesie dog bones or anything, but I wanted to use smaller cookie cutters anyway, to make bite-sized treats.

Put the shapes on a greased cookie sheet, and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. If you have any leftover dough, you can either re-roll it out, or roll little balls and make a cross hatch pattern like traditional peanut butter cookies. Just don't get them mixed up with the people kind!

This is what they look like when they're finished:

They smelled tasty, like peanut butter cookies!

My dog, Sadie sure loved them! She's been following me around asking very politely for more. :)

There you have it! Super easy - these took me no time at all to make. Even if you have a picky eater who turns a nose up after a polite sniff, don't throw them away! Animal shelters are always in need of this kind of thing. You could make their day. Give it a try, and let me know how your puppy likes them!

Monday, April 16, 2012

I'm Back!

It feels like it has been ages since I've last posted - partly because of the holidays (I know, that was like, half a year ago!), and partly because my computer finally crashed.  For Christmas this year, Nate and I decided to forgo exchanging gifts with each other in favor of purchasing an iPad instead.  It has been lovely to use - almost as convenient as a laptop, except for (alas!) its lack of blogging capabilities.

So, all that to say, my husband promised me some time to blog this weekend, and instead, I waited until 11:40 pm on a Sunday night to start a new post.  Maybe one of these days I will kick this procrastination thing permanently! 

There have been lots of life events since I last wrote.  I have a little girl who is very much a toddler now.  We celebrated her first birthday in March, and she is ever so close to walking.  She is my pride and joy, and also the source of early gray hairs.  A childhood friend of my husband's has recently married, and Nate was honored as the best man in the wedding ceremony.  I love witnessing true, Christ-centered love come together in its purest form during a wedding ceremony!  I am so happy for both the Bride and Groom, and I can't wait to watch their life unfold together now, as they serve God according to his purposes for their marriage.

Friends, I have so much to tell you, and share, and much to catch up on to cover the past several months.  For now, I will just say that I am blessed beyond my imagination, and so privileged to be living the life that I am.  I hope to fill all of you in soon!  I will have to nab every opportunity I get at using an actual computer, and not something that most of the internet recognizes as a "mobile" device.

What about all of you?  What has been going on in your lives lately?  I can't wait to hear!

Grace and Peace,
 - Amanda