Monday, February 25, 2013

On Comparing Children

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I don't think an infant is ever really "easy." They are easy in comparison to other infants, perhaps. However, I would argue that infants are inherently difficult creatures. Now, this may be because of the lack of communication or perhaps it is because of their feral tendencies, I'm not sure, maybe both. There is no perfect guide to caring for a baby, no one key fits all. They are human and because of this very fact, they are unique in every way.

Sofia was an easy baby. She only cried when she really needed something, she napped well and she slept a solid five hours on her third night home. Now, I often wonder if my memory of those early months is distorted. I had no precedent; therefore, perhaps I thought she was easy because I didn't know any better. Perhaps I find Knox more temperamental because I am used to dealing with Sofia who is (now) consistent and communicates well. She wasn't always this way, but I must have forgotten.

Now, my kids aren't what I would really consider "difficult," they're just kids. So again, the definition of a difficult infant or child is dependent on perception. An extended cousin and I had a conversation over the weekend in which she explained the difficulty she had when her daughter was an infant -- her daughter would scream and howl for ten months straight. If she wasn't eating or sleeping, she was crying. Now that is difficult and that momma deserves a medal! She said at ten months it was like the flip of a coin and her daughter has been the easiest child ever since. I wonder if she sees her daughter as easy because of those rough early months?

I think an infant's difficulty factor is directly related to communication, or lack thereof. The fact is, all they can do is cry and it is up to us to decipher the tone and flux of their cries, to connect emotions and meanings to the different variations in their pitch. A crazy man's game, but something all parents have to do. So for instance, my son has a hard time sleeping all the way through his nap time, he always wakes at the 45 minute mark. In Babywise philosophy, we call this the 45 minute intruder. It is the transition point between sleep cycles and it is very common for an infant to wake at this point, if they do not go back to sleep they do not get their second cycle (which is the necessary deep sleep cycle) and then Momma your in for it! Knox cannot tell me what is waking him or what is making it hard for him to go back to sleep. It could be a million things: noise, light, discomfort, hunger, etc. It is up to me to troubleshoot my way through the list until I've found the answer. Now I'm pretty sure his cry is frustration and I'm pretty sure the problem involves a shoebox condo and a toddler whom I shall not name, but that is just a hypothesis that I am currently testing.

Case in point - Sofia never had to sleep through a pint sized, diapered fire alarm. Therefore how can I compare them? How can I say one is easier or more difficult than the other? One sleeps better than the other? Knox is dealing with factors Sofia couldn't even have dreamed of. The fact is, I am adding additional criteria to my now extensive résumé - referee, hostage negotiator and doubly experienced translator of lost and/or unknown languages.

All this to say, children cannot be compared. There are too many variables, even within the same family -- "easy" and "difficult" are all relative. Infants are infants, inherently challenging. The perception of difficulty is all dependent on the attitude we as parents bring forth in tackling said difficulties. So we push forward through infancy, cherishing each moment, savoring the sweet toothless smell of their breath and looking forward to the 6 month mark when we end our trek through infancy and begin our light jog toward toddlerhood.

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Delicious Food From Gods Green Earth

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This family loves food. We adore food. Wes and I both love to cook. I've cooked my whole life and began making nightly dinners for Wes and I before we were even married. When Wes went on the road, I would only see him 4 days a month and cooking for yourself and a toddler just isn't very exciting. I lost my passion for food this past year. I stopped caring about a lot of things while he was gone, food being one of them. This past year, being pregnant with Wes away was hard on me, I pushed through it because that is what I do, but I often don't realize the toll something takes on me until I look back at it. I struggled with depression through this whole pregnancy, it took a serious toll on me emotionally. I praise the Lord that it was easy physically because I was under constant mental warfare. I look back now and see how I lost my passion, I lost interest in almost everything that I would normally fight for. Fortunately, I had a daughter to raise and a baby to grow so I fought through, staying strong for my growing family. I'm not sure how deep I would have gone had I not had that responsibility.

I've struggled with depression before, this was not the first time. I think that helped as well, knowing what it was I was feeling and knowing I had made it through before. So here I am, two months postpartum, realizing that this monster is biting at my heels once again. Have you ever felt this way? I could make a list a mile long with all the beautiful blessings in my life, yet I will often be overpowered by the monstrous weight of something I cannot control.

Except that I can control it. Or at least, I can outsmart it. I've realized in my past battles that there are certain things that make excellent weapons in this battle of the mind:

- Prayer and scripture
- Crying... yes crying. As my mom says, " sometimes you just need a good cry"
- Staying busy, very busy (i.e. keeping my mind occupied)
- Listing the things I have to be happy about, the things I praise the Lord for, my blessings
- Giving praise to God on an almost hourly basis for everything that brings me joy (my faith, Wes and the kids, nature, coffee, friendships - there's nothing too little to praise God for)
- Reigniting my passions

A passion I am finding easy to reignite at the moment is my passion for food. I had to force myself into it at first, but now I look to it with excitement! I look forward to farmers markets and grocery store runs, I look forward to wholesome, natural foods.

We eat whole foods in our house. We eat very few shelf-stable foods and those that we do eat have 5 ingredients or less (all of which I know and can pronounce) and are typically organic.

We're struggling financially right now, which means we buy less "ready to go items" and more items that may require more work, but are also friendlier on the pocket book and provide you with much more for your fridge. For example, I've stopped buying chicken breasts. I buy whole chickens. I roast the whole chicken, we eat the breasts (pictured below) and I take all of the rest of the meat and shred it (either eaten throughout the week, used in soups, pastas etc. or frozen for future use). I take the carcass and make chicken broth out of it which I freeze in ice cube trays and then keep in a freezer bag in the freezer for when I need it (rather than buying broth), if I have enough broth already, I will freeze the entire carcass for future use to make soup. All that from one lil chicken. We eat tons of fruits and vegetables and often make pasta with whatever veggies we have that week.

I love creating meals for my family and despite the challenges (no dairy), I have become very passionate about it again. I know that the storm will pass, I know this is just the beginning of a beautiful life and well, all good stories must have their ups and downs. I look forward to each moment I spend with my family, my husband and my beautiful children. I look forward to many healthy meals in our future.

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Sick Again....

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Well here we are, sick again! It doesn't feel as terrifying as the last time, a month does a lot for an infant. Knox is much stronger, more "filled" out, he's been on the breast longer (meaning he's received more of my antibodies), I have more confidence in his body's ability to fight a cold. Still, it's hard. Sofia came down with a runny nose Monday and then was up Monday night with the sweats, she seemed like a new girl Tuesday morning, but has still been fighting a runny nose and seems to cough whenever she lies down. I started to feel "off" on Tuesday and then found myself with a sore throat and am now congested.... Wes felt sick yesterday, but already feels better today, whereas I still feel weak and tired. Knox is congested and slept the day away, so I know he is fighting this cold too. Our poor little family has now been sick at least once every month since Thanksgiving :-( I wont lie, I'm ready for cold season to end!

As you know, I like to do things more naturally, using things that come straight from the Earth. We try to avoid manufactured medicine unless absolutely necessary. Some of my favorite cold remedies include:

- Herbs (alcohol free oral suspension for Sofia)
- Neti Pot
- Lots of water and sleep (hahahahaha, more for the kids than myself at this point)
- Salt water gargle
- Cold mist humidifier
- Lots of fruits and vegetables (preferably raw or juiced)
- Hot water with lemon juice and raw honey

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

2 Months

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I swear I was just pregnant and now I already forget what it feels like to be pregnant. That feels like so long ago, like a forgotten time, and yet it feels as though I blinked and now our beautiful son is 2 months old.

Knox had his 2 month well-baby check up today and the doctor said he looks great! Wes and I took a bet on how much he weighs, I bet 14 pounds and Wes bet 15.

He weighed in at 14 pounds, 7 ounces and is 24" long. His head is 16", I'm not surprised! He is in the 86th % for height and the 87th % for weight. It is funny to think that he is only two months old and he weighs almost half of what his sister weighs right now.

Obviously I won the bet, if I was smart I would have actually bet something. For some strange reason, I've always been really good at guessing my kids weight just on feeling.... I'm really not sure why. I've done nothing in my life that would give me that advantage.

Okay so enough with that nonsense, this little family is finally getting its footing! Knox is settled in on his 4 hour schedule, he is stretching his nights (phew!) and boy is he developing a little personality! He smiles constantly and he even giggled the other day! He has a sweet demeanor, but he is also very picky (I often say he is needy, but it could be both or either) -- he prefers sitting up to laying down, he will only take one (very hard to find) type of pacifier, he has to be swaddled to really be comfortable when sleeping and he always wants to be around his family, he doesn't like it when we walk out of the room, even for a moment. He's very social. He's VERY strong, already holding his head up. If you sit down and hold him around his mid section, he will use his legs to literally jump right out of your hands! He has great coordination and is already able to bring his hands to his face to suck on or to rub his eyes. He's so opposite of Sofia! Sofia hated being swaddled, she took forever to smile/react to us, she loved to just hang out by herself under her activity mat or in her swing. Her brain was always exploding, but it took a long while for her physical abilities to catch up.

I look forward to all of the differences, to seeing what type of little person he becomes. We are so in love with our little man cub and even more in love with how well Sofia has taken to him. She loves to love on him and cuddle him. She likes to pat his tummy and tickle his feet. She loves to give him big kisses and to lie down next to him. Her reaction to him has been pure love and a true blessing! She is protective of him and always wants to bring him his pacifier or blanket. I've even caught her singing to him! Sweet girl, she melts my heart!

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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Dreams of a 2nd Birthday Surprise

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In less than 2 months, our sweet baby girl will be a whopping 2 years old. It doesn't seem crazy or fast or unbelievable, in fact, it seems just right. She's got the attitude, the spirit and the burgeoning independence of a two year old.... If you didn't know her, you would probably just assume she was already 2 and something. She's perfect in every way and sooooo very American. She honestly believes it is her God-given right to be independent, opinionated and rebellious. I can love this about her because I am an American mommy and lets just say the apple didn't fall too far from the tree. Anywhere else and they would probably imprison her cute, diapered rear end.

Actually, she listens very well and she is brilliant. The words are beginning to flow from her, she is starting to mimic entire sentences and repeat phrases. She goes over the alphabet with her Dad every night before bed and I can just see her little brain exploding. It is so much fun! In all honesty, I could care less what she is saying as long as I get to listen to her beautiful little voice say it all day long.

Okay so back to her birthday... we have a Mickey Mouse fan in the house (or should I say, clubhouse!)!!!! When Sofia was terribly sick at the beginning of January, we probably watched Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Road Rally 200 times. That little girl loves her some meeska, mooska, Mickey Mouse!! So I think we might just have to have a Minnie & Mickey birthday party!!

Also, I have been dreaming about making her a kitchen for over a year now and after searching Craigslist for months on end for the perfect old entertainment center for the right price, I finally found one! Wes and I are so excited to get started on this for her birthday present!

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Friday, February 15, 2013


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It's been months and I almost don't know where to start.

Another unintentional hiatus, not for lack of trying though... I have about five unfinished blog entries sitting, waiting to be posted. I have 70 some images that I've tried to upload about 4 times now and failed every time, granted my laptop is two operating systems old and about to kick the bucket. I finally decided that I have to start somewhere. I'm a chronological person, I like things to happen in order, probably one of the reasons I love to study history. It really irritates me that I have to start out of order, but like I said, I have to start somewhere or I would probably never start and I know how much you all have missed me filling up your inboxes all of the time (wink wink).

Well, hold the phone people, we are officially a family of four! Our sweet Knox is three days away from being two months old and I am just barely starting to tread water. To give myself some credit, I had the rug ripped out from underneath me. The first month was so unexpectedly overwhelming that I have to argue that it just did not count. The second month was our first "normal, bring the new baby home and begin to adjust month."

Knox was born on December 18th, 2012 at 1PM via repeat Caesarian Section. I, like a fool, assumed it would be an easy operation, "in and out." I must have terrible luck when it comes to childbirth, or perhaps it's just that childbirth should never really be easy. I felt my entire operation, I was crying in pain, praying that I would pass out. The anesthesiologist kept trying to shove more of who knows what down my IV, but nothing worked. They should have knocked me out. Since then, I've spoken to my OB who informed me that I never should have felt any of that, that it was not normal and that if he had known he would have stopped the surgery and knocked me out. Thanks super young anesthesiologist man, were you too embarrassed to let my doctor know I was howling in pain behind that curtain? Sheesh. I got out of the OR thinking I would pass out at any moment, praying I would pass out. They had to load me up on morphine I was in so much pain. Evidence #1 in the case against having more children - I do not deliver well, 2 for 2.

The nurse brought Knox to me and immediately informed me that he was struggling to breathe. Oi. He laid so peacefully on my chest and made this beautiful sing song noise every time he took a breathe (which is actually a BAD thing and was what the nurses considered to be a "grunting" noise which evidenced his struggle to take in oxygen). They had high hopes for him and he was allowed to come to our room with us, we had him until about 1AM when he was admitted to the NICU because he had fluid in his lungs and was failing to pull through on his own. Evidence #2 - NICU stay, 2 for 2.

Knox spent a week in the NICU, he missed his first Christmas and was finally released the day after -- December 26th, 2012. I can't tell you the range of emotions I went through. There were times I locked myself in the bathroom hysterically crying, hoping Sofia couldn't hear me. I mourned every day that he wasn't in my arms. I made as many trips to the NICU as my body would allow, I pumped every feeding and provided him with so much breast milk the nurses ended up sending me home with left overs. Taking Knox home was the best feeling, like we had passed some unmentioned test, like we were free. Like we were out of the woods.... except that we weren't.

About three days after getting Knox home, Sofia came down with a fever. Her fever got up to 104 three days in a row. Before I knew it, Wes was sick too and we were rushing Sofia into the doctors office at 5PM, to find out that she had a bacterial infection in her lungs and would need antibiotics and her nebulizer. We went through about three days of the Albuterol crazies (think bi-polar toddler, hysterical incessant crying) before deciding to ween her off and praying that she would recover without it. We did everything to keep Sofia and Wes away from Knox and I, but we live in a shoebox condo and it was freezing outside. Knox and I got sick. At not even three weeks old, Knox had a horrible cough and congestion. We struggled to breast feed through coughing fits and my sleep deprivation hit an all time high between feeding Knox and my own coughing fits. I felt complete fear every minute of the day, all I could think about was my sweet baby getting admitted again. I felt like we were barely treading water, we were getting hit by one thing after the next, I thought it would never end..... And then it did.

So we entered into our second month and things began to get better. We made it through the woods and we began trying to figure out how to be a family of four.... Which was just as hard but in a different way. I forgot how much transition we had to go through when we had Sofia, before Knox was born I had things down to a science and I had completely forgotten the long road it took to get there. So now we embark on figuring this all out, how to love each other when we are being pulled thin by two squeaky wheels, how to parent two separate children, how to accommodate two separate schedules, how to maintain friendships when you are sleep deprived and how to keep this machine that is our family oiled and chugging along. So now this blog that is the story of our life will become the story of how we became a family of four.
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