Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pooh, Golf Carts, and Marriage

It was the summer of 2001. Hubby and I had been dating for almost two years, and in Bible College years, that's a LONG time for a couple to be together before getting engaged. And boy, did I know it. I REALLY wanted to be engaged.

Hubby is really good at surprising me- he always goes out of his way to let me know ahead of time that we just don't have the money/time/whatever for something right now, and I (of course) always respond kindly, "Oh, alright, honey, I completely understand." Ahem. Let's get back to reality. Anyway...after we discuss said item and decide together that we truly don't need it, he usually surprises me with it soon after our conversation (not EVERYTHING I want, just some things- didn't want you all to think I'm spoiled or anything *wink wink*).

So, back to that summer, 2001...Hubby's family was getting together for a 'family camp' at his grandparent's house in northern Iowa. He had driven all night from his home in Ohio to join his family for a few days, and he stopped to pick me up at my eastern Iowa home on the way. We were so glad to see each other in the middle of a difficult summer apart. However, he was completely exhausted by the time we got to his grandparents house. I encouraged him to go take a nap, but first he wanted to take a ride on his grandpa's golf cart around the countryside and exchange the gifts we had brought for each other. We used to exchange little gifts for our 'month-iversaries' of dating. Weren't we just so unbearably cute?

So he went and got the golf cart, and pulled his gift for me out of the trunk. It was a huge box. I was a little embarassed because my gift for him was in a little tiny box. I don't remember exactly what my gift was. Maybe a t-shirt? I think there was definitely a Broncos mini-koosh ball involved. Anyhoo, we rode down to the creek in the golf cart and exchanged gifts. He opened his first, and was appropriately pleased, I'm sure.

Then I opened mine. Let me preface this gift by saying that I LOVED (and still do love) Winnie the Pooh. Having said that, my gift was a huge stuffed Pooh bear that talked. It was holding a green velvety ring box, which I got all excited about. I opened the ring box, and inside was a key ring and a smiley face sticker. I was not thrilled. Note to any guys who may be reading: when your girlfriend REALLY wants to be engaged, it is NOT a fun joke to pretend to propose to her. Not funny. Okay? Now that we've got that settled...

Thankfully, I was not too grouchy about the joke, though, because next we noticed that Pooh wasn't talking like he was supposed to. So Hubby said, "Let's turn it over & look where the batteries go in. Maybe that will help." So we did. And inside the battery compartment was a beautiful gold-wrapped box that actually contained MY ring. And Hubby got down on one knee in the mud next to the golf cart and asked me to marry him. Through tears of joy, I agreed. Although I suppose you could've inferred that from the fact that I refer to him as 'hubby'.

So, yes, I got engaged on a golf cart, holding a large Winnie-the-Pooh while my hubby knelt in the mud to propose to me. When you put it that way, I guess it doesn't sound very romantic- but I suppose you would just have to know me. :) It was truly a moment to remember for the rest of our lives.

A few weeks ago, we should've celebrated nine years of being together- dating, engaged, married, what have you all combined. Except we both totally forgot about it and just realized it the other day. So happy belated nine years together, hubby! :) And hope we will celebrate MANY more in the future! I love you! :)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Chocolate Idols

Last night at church, our pastor made some comments about idol worship. The fact is that when we put anything ahead of Christ in our priorities, our life, our preferences, that thing is an idol. When we have a problem, and we turn to anything other than Christ for help and fulfillment, that thing is an idol.

I don't talk much about my weight struggle. It's pretty obvious to all who know me in person that I HAVE a weight struggle, but it's a pretty personal thing. Let me just say that part of my problem is that I am an emotional eater. Something happens to make me grouchy or tired, and the first thought that enters my mind is, "Do I have any chocolate/ice cream?" and "If so, where, and how much?".

Lately one of my major stressors is Little Z's teething. On days when he's teething, he's grouchy, and whiny, and sometimes melts down into screaming fits, and I just feel like I can't take it! And, of course, my first thought when this happens is 'CHOCOLATE'. Not to get down on my knees and ask God for an enormous dose of patience and wisdom. But chocolate. And so, in this instance, I am putting chocolate above God as an idol. And God is gently showing me that I need to choose instead to use food only as fuel for my body, not as an emotional band-aid.

God puts circumstances in our lives for a reason. Z's teething fits are a part of my life for a REASON. It's not because God wants to punish me or drive me insane, it's so that I can grow. Without difficult circumstances forcing me to examine the way I react to stress, and CHANGE that reaction by depending on God alone, there can be no growth.

So, wow, God, never thought I'd say this, but "Thanks for teething".

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Weekly Plan

Today's tip is about organizing housework in a way that works for me.



Lately, I've been going through a phase where everything in my life is overwhelming to me- work, housework, keeping in touch with family and friends, tweaking baby's schedule for the beginnings of weaning... somehow emotionally (and probably hormonally), I've just been feeling a little bit overwhelmed. So last week, one day I finally decided to sit down and do something about it- to get organized...at least in the housework area... :)



Before I had Z, I used http://www.flylady.net/ as a jumping-off point for organizing my housecleaning. This website is very helpful, but very detailed. Just the thought of getting back into it was overwhelming me. But finally, I had to do something. So I just sat down and made a list of all of the chores that need to be done each week, and then organized them into lists of what I should do each day. Following is an example of my weekly plan:



Monday: Relax with hubby (Monday is his day off)

Stay caught up on dishes & laundry

Water Plant

Tuesday: Microwave

Fridge & Freezer

Vacuum

Clean Both Bathrooms

Wednesday: Weight Loss Group

Store, Library & Post Office Errands

Thursday: Sweep All Floors

Wipe Kitchen Floor

Thank You Notes

Wash Sheets/Towels

Friday: Dust

Cobweb

Wipe Down Bathrooms

Scrub Tub



Every day I do dishes, laundry, and sweep the floors, in addition to my daily cleaning. I take Saturday off, since I'm usually working at camp all day, and Sunday off for church, and Monday pretty much off because of my hubby's day off being Monday. Wednesday morning is always crazy, getting ready to go to weight-loss group, and I work in the afternoons, so Wednesday is sort of a 'buffer day' that I can use to get extra cleaning done if I end up having time.



I was dreading getting back into a schedule, because then I'd be bound to it & feel guilty if I didn't get it done, but I'm actually finding that it's easier for me now that I have a schedule. Because if one week, I don't have time to dust on Friday, I know it'll get done the next Friday for sure, or I use my weekend as a buffer zone to get it all finished.



Before I had a schedule, I just had this impending sense of doom, a cloud hanging over me saying, "your house is dirty...when was the last time you dusted/scrubbed the tub/etc....do you even know?" And now I do! :) So I guess having a housework schedule works for me!


Head on over to Shannon's place to see some more Works-for-me-Wednesday tips!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Style Watch

Oh, yes the 80's have returned.

Did any of you have one of these little numbers when you were in junior high?

Why, oh, why, did I ever give my HyperColor t-shirt to Goodwill???

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Gift of Color

When I take time to praise God for all He has blessed me with, I start with the things I need that He unfailingly provides for me and my family. And then I move on to the things that I don't need but He continuously lavishes on me. I love to gaze at beautiful landscapes and intricate details of creation and praise Him for the beauty He surrounds me with. You know, He didn't have to.

He could've made this whole world in black and white. Can you imagine being surrounded each day by shades of gray? Dark gray grass. Light gray sky. Really- pause and try to imagine it- I bet you can't. I know I truly can't. No lush green meadows dotted with bright yellow dandelions and buttercups. No neighbor's flower beds bright with gladiolus in every color of the rainbow. No vibrant leaves blanketing the rolling hills each fall.

Instead, our creative and loving God chose to make His world unbelievably beautiful, decorated in more shades and hues than our finite minds can comprehend. He sculpted purple mountain majesties, and formed amber waves of grain. He mixed the emerald oceans and scattered smooth taupe sands in the deserts. He attached fragile, elaborately decorated wings to butterflies' backs, and then tossed flowers of every shape, size, and color imaginable onto hillsides and even hid some deep in the crevices of jagged rocks.

And all of this beauty was made with us in mind. God created man, and then instructed us to enjoy His bountiful creation. He blesses us beyond anything we could even imagine and daily loads us with much more than we deserve. Each detail of His creation points to Him alone, and the purpose of this world and all of its beauty is to teach us about Him. When I see the gorgeous colors He has created, it reminds me that God is a creative, artistic God. He doesn't just give us the essentials that we need for everyday life, but instead lavishes numerous blessings on us, in order for us to enjoy them abundantly.


This post was written for Scribbit's September Write Away Contest.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Crying to Sleep Works for Me

Well, not me. My baby.


This is a fairly controversial topic, I know. If Dr. Sears and his 'attachment parenting' philosophies were to read this post, he would probably disapprove. But I'm going to go out on the proverbial limb here and say that it is GOOD for babies to cry themselves to sleep. Not FUN for the mommy. But GOOD. Just like vegetables. Let me tell you about my recent learning experience with letting my son (now nine months old) cry himself to sleep. Keep in mind that every baby is different, and since I only have one so far, this whole idea is based on my single just-nine-month experience in baby-rearing.


After I had Z, we had help here for the first two and a half weeks or so. My parents were here for a week, and then Hubby's parents were here for a little over a week. It was wonderful. I got sleep, and baths, and food prepared for me, and Z got held & loved on constantly. He was hardly ever allowed to cry for more than 30 seconds without being picked up. I actually didn't know that babies have to learn to lay by themselves sometimes, and I thought that parents were supposed to pick them up anytime they made a peep. Anyway, after our parents left, I was trying to hold Z constantly, and get things done around the house, and get some sleep occasionally...and I was exhausted and totally overwhelmed. Of course, that's normal for those first couple months, but really. It was terrible. At night, Hubby and I would take shifts. Z would eat, then he would get changed, and then he would need to be held until he drifted off to sleep. Sometimes he needed to be held for between twenty minutes and an hour. And then, if you THOUGHT he was all the way asleep, but he really wasn't quite ALL the way out, when you put him down in his car seat (where he slept for about the first seven weeks of his life), he would wake up and cry, and then you had to start ALL over again with the sitting and holding and waiting and watching his eyelids to see if they were still twitching.


So, at his one-month appointment, we asked the doctor about putting him down in his bed and letting him cry himself to sleep. And our doctor said that we should start that sooner rather than later. But then we went on vacation to see our families, and by the time we got home, he was about 6 weeks old. So we started putting him down in his bed. And letting him cry himself to sleep. For about two nights, it was pure torture (for all of us). We used the Ferber Method, where you go in every few minutes to check on them and let them know you're still there. At some point during these two days, we read somewhere that sometimes babies like to have their crib mattresses elevated, so we put some books under one end of the mattress, and that night, there was hardly any crying. He woke up in the night, ate, and then we would put him back down and he would cry a little and then go back to sleep. It was wonderful. Best thing we ever did.


THEN. A few weeks later, he started screaming, refusing to eat, waking in the night screaming...etc. The dr. said he had acid reflux, so we put him on Prevacid. Two weeks later, it hadn't worked. I remember one night in particular, he was up every half hour. All night. Hubby & I took turns sleeping on his floor, so we could just get up and put his binky back in when he cried. Two more weeks later, after that much time on Axid, he was doing MUCH better. But he was still crying at night. Hmmm...maybe because now he was used to us going to him at his first peep again??? So since we knew he wasn't in pain anymore, we decided to start letting him cry to sleep (and cry back to sleep) once again. And again, within two nights, he was back to being put down, crying for just a couple of minutes, and drifting off to sleep on his own. Shortly after this (around the time he turned four months old), he started sleeping through the night, and other than a few nights here and there (maybe one every two weeks or so) and when he's sick, he still routinely sleeps through the night. Now he is so good at putting himself to sleep that he hardly ever even cries. He just plays in his bed for a few minutes, and then all of a sudden, all is quiet, and he's asleep.


To hear him cry, even for a few minutes before a nap, is still hard, but for us, it's just so necessary. Now he knows how to put himself to sleep (and back to sleep in the middle of the night), which is an important skill. And I think he sleeps better because of it. And I know Hubby and I do.


I know everyone has their own opinions and perspectives about this issue, but for us, We just have to let our baby cry himself to sleep, because it works for us! Make sure to check out other Works-for-Me-Wednesday tips over at Shannon's place!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Ministry

In the last nine months, and even the nine months before that, my ministry has changed dramatically. Before I was pregnant, I poured all of myself- my time, my energy, my life- into camp- weekend retreats, summer camp, and anything in between that needed to be done.

Now, I have a little person depending on me to get him his food, naps, baths, diaper changes, and everything else on a schedule that keeps him secure and happy. I'm still able to help out at camp, working in the office, and assisting with the kitchen during retreats, but not nearly as faithfully as I was once able to.

Tonight, for example, I sat feeding little Z his chicken/squash/cereal delight while everyone else ran around frantically plating brownies, cooking pizzas, and setting out salad bar items. And I regretted not being able to do as much as I'd like to help out.

But as I sat there, being covered in a fine mist of cereal and squash, I realized that my most important ministry of all is to this two-foot-tall little fountain of pureed food (and his daddy). When my two ministries cooperate, and I can wear Z on my back while serving pizza for dinner, that's great. But when these worlds collide, Z has to come first. And I pray that I will never feel guilty or regretful about that.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Bottle Strike! Help!

My son is a picky eater. Well, only as far as milk goes. He will eat any kind of cereal, fruit or vegetables I throw at him. Not that I throw things at him...but I digress...

He's 8 months old. He'll be 9 months on Friday.

When he was first born, he would only eat from a bottle. He wouldn't nurse for six weeks. But I hung in there, reviewing the costly nature of formula and all the arguments for mother's milk in my mind every day...and pumped (and pumped and pumped) and finally, at six weeks old, he decided that it would be okay to nurse.

So then everything was grand for a few months...he would take a bottle if I wasn't there, I could leave him in the nursery or with a babysitter, and if I was home, he would nurse, and it just worked out perfectly.

And then this summer, we got busy with camp, and I just nursed him, and didn't think about giving him a bottle because I was always with him... and then all of a sudden, he's 8 months old, and he will NOT take a bottle. Or a sippy cup of mother's milk. I can get him to drink about an ounce of formula out of a sippy cup, but he thinks it's gross, and that wouldn't be enough to keep him happy with a sitter for a few hours anyway.

So...does anyone have ANY tips on getting him to take a sippy cup or bottle? It's not a big deal to just nurse him most of the time, but I would like to start weaning him off of a couple of his nursings here in the next couple of months...and if he won't take milk from a sippy cup or bottle, I won't be able to do that! Help!!! :)

To see the dilemmas that other people are asking for help with, head on over to Shannon's place for the Dilemma edition of Works for Me Wednesday.

Edited To Add (4/09): I notice a lot of people are finding this post through Google searches, and if you're here looking for help, please read the comments - there are SO many great tips there! If you've already tried everything, and your child will NOT take a bottle...well, what ended up working for us is that I just stopped trying with the bottle/sippy cup & nursed him exclusively, until I started introducing whole milk along with the nursing, at 11 months, weaning him at 12 months. I know 6 months sounds like a long time to never be away from your little one, but, oh, it goes SO fast. I look back now & wish I'd even nursed longer. :) So hang in there, moms, and SOMETHING will work out. :)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Happy Labor Day! :)

In honor of Labor Day, Shannon is hosting a little carnival about labor! :) If you want to play along, just head on over to her post and join up!

How long was your labor?

22 hours total, about 15.5 hours active.


How did you know you were in labor?

I didn't. I thought my water had broken, headed to the hospital, they said it hadn't, but when they were checking me out, my blood pressure dropped & little Z's heart rate dropped, and they had to give me oxygen, and so they kept us overnight in the hospital. At 3 am, I noticed I was having little contractions every 10 or so minutes, and at 4 am, my water broke.

Where did you deliver?

In the afore-mentioned hospital.

Drugs?

Oh, yes. I wanted a natural (med-free) childbirth, but after pitocin, and several hours of back labor, I asked for Nubain, got it, it helped for a while, then wore off...and then I asked for an epidural. More than an HOUR (and several complaints through gritted teeth from me to Joel) later, it finally arrived.


C-section?

Thankfully, no. Because Z's little heart rate dropped at two different times, they had me all prepped just in case he couldn't withstand the contrations, but he made it through just fine.

We actually didn't realize how close I was to having a C, until after Z was born, Hubby went to get him from the nursery & heard one of the workers say, "Oh, that's the one that almost had to have a C-section."

Who delivered?

Dr. So.