Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho....

>> 1.30.2010

You may or may not have noticed that I am posting less frequently... and there is a reason. There is a reason besides me being lazy, which, I will admit, I am quite capable of being.

Last week, I went back to work.
Let me just say.. It. Has. Been. HARD.

Have I mentioned how much I love my job? Oh, yes.. I believe I have.
Well, let me just mention it again: I have pretty much the most amazing job in the entire universe... taking care of pretty much the most amazing kids in the entire universe, and I would not trade it for anything in the entire world. When I am not at work I miss it terribly and can't wait to return and .. how many people can really say that?

However, I have to admit that I am struggling to find my rhythm this time around. Liam is an entirely different ball game; namely because he is mine. And also, he is quite tiny. And also.. he is quite demanding. And also.. he is mine.

It is much easier to say to a child who you are paid to care for and play with, "I'm sorry, love. But I can't [insert child's activity of choice here that must be done and must be done NOW or a little 2 year old brain may just very well explode] at the moment, I have to take care of your little brother/sister.." who you are also paid to care for and play with, but I am definitely battling some guilt when I have to turn down that game of Go Fish or princess tea-party to feed/change/cuddle my own little bundle of joy. Then I have to battle guilt of a different color when I walk by the room to hear my sweet one- who I do not want to feel another moment of discomfort or pain in his entire life because he has certainly had to endure enough in his short little life, thank you very much- in hysterics, but unable to go in and sooth him immediately because my arms are full of adorable squirming toddler and lunch needs to be made, diapers need to be changed, and noses need to be wiped- and OH, do not get my started on cross-contamination and the constant washing my poor dry, cracked hands have had to endure!

Have I mentioned it has only been one week? It has only been one week. And...to be fair, we survived it. Also, I know that I will settle into a routine soon, and that it will not be long before Liam is a little less fragile and a little more capable of joining in the fun. But, I have to say, it is certainly difficult to be a first-time mom and a care-taker of five simultaneously. Whew.

So I find myself in this unique situation; sort of a hybrid stay-at-home working mom.... and I am only working 2 days a week, but when I get home at the end of those two days I feel like I am about to collapse. So... I now have even more respect for working moms- you women are amazing!!

And I need to know... how do you do it?!


3 Months

>> 1.27.2010

Liam is 3 months old today.
See how he grows?

Curious little bug.

My boys.

Pirate Face.



What an wonderful, terrifying, exhausting, utterly overwhelming and completely beautiful three months it has been. We are forever changed.


The Homecoming

>> 1.24.2010

Scratch a dog and you'll find a permanent job.
Franklin P. Jones

[Photo taken by Ryan Lee.]

Fezzik the Great has returned after a long absence. [He went to stay with my parents for a bit after Liam came home from the hospital.] We missed him a lot. A lot, a lot. The house just isn't the same without a schnoodle underfoot.



>> 1.21.2010

Whew... what a week.
Liam has had doctor's appointments, physical therapy, breastfeeding support group.. and today, his synagis shot. I am Worn. Out. Our pace the last couple weeks (a.k.a.- snail? sloth? corpse, perhaps?) has not prepared me for all this running around! I mean, Liam may be only five pounds and change... but the boy has some serious baggage. And he isn't the one lugging it around, now is he? Hopefully tomorrow will be a quiet, peaceful sort of day. I need to recover.

As a side note, we had some added excitement yesterday when Josh and Natalie's Nellie Rose joined the world. We will be popping by to see the family tonight. From pictures I can tell you- the child is gorgeous. I can already see the broken hearts she will leave in her path. Liam might very well be one of them.

Anyway... today, I had my first public breastfeeding experience. Liam was due to eat at 3:00.His pulmonology appointment was at.. guess when? Yep. 3:00. Of course.
Snug in his wrap he did not seem to notice that he was missing anything.. but then I had to strip him to his diaper for a weight check.. and then he was PISSED.

I waited. And waited. And bounced. And shhhed. And waited.
And gave up.
And whipped the boob out.
And Liam chowed down.

Of course, after 15 minutes of waiting for the nurse, she showed up 3 seconds after Liam started eating. I hate to interrupt him because we've had some latch issues (a.k.a.- Liam is lazy and wants his milk to pour blissfully into his mouth at the flick of his tongue. "Suckling? What is this suckling you speak of? Give me my food, woman!") but interrupt him I did and we got down to the synagis business.

Now.. I have watched them do some pretty serious stuff to my little one while he was in the hospital. And you would think that would desensitize me to the sight of a needle going into his thigh. But it didn't. At all. His wails broke my heart. Long after he stopped crying, (all of 5 seconds) I was needing cuddles. Liam was just needing more boob. So.. we found a bathroom because I do not yet have a nursing cover and Liam finished his meal. Bold
Well, this got me thinking: how do you feel about public breastfeeding? I really have no problem with it; however, I personally would not nurse in public without a cover. While I am not exceptionally modest or anything and if I am in a place that I know it will not offend anyone, then I have no shame, I do not want to run the risk of making anyone uncomfortable. I feel that respecting other people is very important, regardless of whether or not I agree with them. I know this can be a pretty heated issue- some are offended by the sight of a baby with a boob in its mouth, others are offended that you would ask that the child be covered... but I am interested in your [civil] opinions.


Sweet Dreams

>> 1.18.2010

Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.
Thomas Dekker

Papa finished putting Liam's crib together last week and so he has been spending little bits of time there every once in a while.

It sort of breaks my heart because he sleeps so beautifully alone. He is only 12 weeks old and already having moments of independence. I have to check on him repeatedly because he is so quiet and peaceful- in our room, he is a noisy little sleeper. The only place he sleeps better is snug against my chest in his baby wrap. ... which makes me feel a little bit better.

The crib is wonderful. My parents bought it for us. It is a rich espresso color and very solid. We found a dresser to match at a furniture liquidation store for less than $100! And now that the crib is finished... we are one step closer to having a completed nursery. One step of about 597, but still.... one step. [The rest of the room looks basically like a storage closet because.. it is basically a storage closet.] Oh, Preparedness is over-rated.


My Plight

>> 1.16.2010

Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.
Rachel Carson

So.. my convictions have this pesky habit of contradicting my reality.

When you are young and single this is nothing to be ashamed of. It can be labeled "finding yourself" or something. It isn't so much about the destination; it's about the journey. You set the goal and work towards it and that is all anyone can ask of you.

However, I suddenly find myself a parent and can already hear Liam's pre-pubescent voice cracking in accusation at that time in every soul's life when they realize that their parents are human but have yet to forgive them for this: "Mom! You are such a hypocrite!

As a parent, consistency is the name of the game.


I struggle with this.

For instance, my conviction is to buy locally, organically, and be environmentally aware. My reality is that... we are poor. It is very hard to find a balance between these two extremes. Local/organic and cheap are very rarely used in the same sentence in a manner that is positive for the consumer. However, in order to feel good about my place in the world, I have to find this balance and maintain it. So..I have set some standards for myself:

1. All animal products or byproducts must be all-natural/organic.
2. Anything that can be bought in bulk (sugar, flour, etc.) will be bought in bulk [and will more than likely be organic by default].
3. Next season we will join a CSA so that most of our produce will be purchased locally and in season.
4. B.Y.O.B [Bring Your Own Bag]
5. Buy used and save the difference- clothes, toys, books- anything that can be purchased used should be.
6. Cloth diapers for Liam as soon as he hits newborn sizes.
7. No pre-made/frozen/boxed meals.... ever.
8. Begin working toward replacing store bought with homemade whenever possible.

These are 8 things that I am able to do now. They are not the only 8 things I will do.. but there are 8 things I always do. I may not be able to live exactly as I wish I could due to financial constraints.. but I can do something.

I mean, I do not want to be a hypocrite- gosh!

So, how do you help to marry your convictions and reality?



>> 1.14.2010

When facts were weak, his native cheek brought him serenely through.
Charles H. Spurgeon


Book Review: Her Fearful Symmetry

>> 1.11.2010

So... let's just say the last few days have not exactly been smooth sailing.. and I am not exactly in the mood to write an actual post. I am not actually in the mood to write a book review either. I am really more in a crashing head first into the bed and entering a coma for a week sort of mood... but that is not really an option at the moment, so I will settle for a book review.

Let me preface this by saying for those of you who do not know, The Time Traveler's Wife is by far my favorite novel of all time. This is saying a lot because I swallow books whole. I mean... I read a lot. A lot. A lot. But.. The Time Traveler's Wife is just.. amazing. [And NO- I have not see the movie. I never plan to see the movie. I die a little bit inside anytime anyone brings up the movie... so thanks for that.]

Ryan proposed to me in Chicago, in front of the Newberry Library solely because of how much I love The Time Traveler's Wife. [It was pretty much incredible, by the way- I didn't know where we were going until our flight was announced. Yeah.. my husband has grand romantic gestures nailed.]

Yup. Me and the Newberry... just.. hanging out.

He proposed in a little park directely across the street. I was so freaking excited about Chicago and the library that the engagement took a little while to set in.

Anyway... so... when Ryan got me this book for Christmas, I was a little bit nervous because- come on- there is no way this lady is going to be able to write anything as good as The Time Traveler's Wife.

Well, I have to say, Her Fearful Symmetry.. is not as good as The Time Traveler's Wife, but, that's okay. I did not have high expectations. And I liked it anyway. Audrey Niffenegger is really an amazing writer- just the language she chooses and how it flows and how it can elicit particular reactions and emotions from the reader as if she can play you like a fiddle is kind of ridiculous.

The beginning was incredible. The characters blew my mind. [I am actually more in love with Robert than I was with Henry, which is unbelievable] The ending... blew. The ending blew hard. I kind of hated it. Fortunately, I am not the type of person to judge a story by its ending so I can still appreciate the novel and just re-write the ending in my head.

So, there's that. If you like ghost stories.. you should read it. If you like character-driven plot lines, you should read it. If you like unicorns and butterflies and good endings that make sense.. maybe not so much. That's all I'm gonna say.

[But you ALL should read The Time Traveler's Wife. Now.]


The Gift of Warmth

>> 1.08.2010

May God grant you always...A sunbeam to warm you, a moonbeam to charm you, a sheltering Angel so nothing can harm you. Laughter to cheer you. Faithful friends near you. And whenever you pray, Heaven to hear you.
Irish Blessing

After I posted about the new online publication Rhythm of the Home, Lindsey from Memoirs of a Housewife fell in love with it just as I did. However, Lindsey actually has some knitting skills so when she saw the pattern for the newborn cocoon, she did not have to simply gaze longingly at it, while jabbing herself repeatedly in the index finger with a knitting needle, bleeding, and mumbling incoherently about the unfairness of the right-handed world. (If you cannot tell... I am having a bit of trouble getting my knitting ball rolling, so to speak- although I can cast on like you wouldn't believe...over...and over...and over again.)

Well, Lindsey took pity on my little one and his un-crafty Mama and did the most wonderful, beautiful thing; she sent Liam a cocoon!

I have been wanting to get him down to his diaper and show everyone how precious he looks snuggled in it, but I have not had the time for a genuine photo session; these more practical pictures will just have to do.

We have been using the cocoon like mad. We swaddle Liam in a receiving blanket and then stuff him inside. It is just his size! He looks like an adorable little caterpillar and it keeps him so cozy and warm.

He looks quite content, don't you think?

With Liam being such a little guy, keeping him warm is a top priority. Cold stress can make preemies very ill, very fast. In NICU, the babies are swaddled (sometimes with 2 blankets) and then layered with two or three cozy blankets on top. Obviously, because of SIDS... this is not an option at home and we have been struggling to find a balance between keeping his crib clear of blankets and keeping him nice and warm. The cocoon is our answer. Liam stays warm and Mama stays sane.

What a little peanut!
(Please kindly ignore the fact that the cocoon is inside out. Diaper changes in the middle of the night rarely include a thought coherant enough to fix things like this.)

So thank you so very, very much, Lindsey! It was such a kind and thoughtful gift. We are loving every minute of it.

Also, thank you Lindsey and Toni for the blog awards. I have not had a chance to pass them on, but I do appreciate you taking the time to recognize my blog and I will get on it as soon as possible!


A Soup Hiatus

>> 1.06.2010

I am taking a brief pause from my Liam obsession to tell you about a miracle that occurred in our house a few weeks ago; a miracle the blows the miracle of life right out of the water (sorry Liam).

This is the sort of thing that I wished for in the way one wishes for unattainable things. I never expected to see it in my lifetime; however, when I saw a shooting star...or blew out all my candles on my cake... I simply could not help but wish just one more time, holding onto a tiny sliver of hope that maybe- just maybe- the cosmos would turn their kindness toward me for one brief instant and I would witness a miracle of epic proportions.

And then.... It Happened.

Any one of you that knows my husband at all knows that the man somehow sustains himself on carbs, sugar, meat and cheese- lots and lots of cheese. He might be one of the pickiest eaters on the planet- at least in the Top 20...although from the horror stories his mother has told me, he has come a long way from the endless days of chicken nuggets and hot dogs. However, our eating habits are still VASTLY different... which makes cooking meals at home an interesting affair.

In spite of the hard time I give him (and trust me, I give him a very hard time) I generally tend to indulge his limited culinary tastes. He redeems himself somewhat by being very good about trying new things (at least one spoonful) but I also don't want him to starve... so more often than not I stick to recipes that I know he will like- things made of condensed soup, noodles, and, you know... meat. I can occasionally slip in the unassuming vegetable or two if it is in a casserole or disguised with a sauce of some sort, but I don't really push it. However... every once in a great while, I get just a little bit sick of searching for "kid-friendly recipes" when looking for something new for dinner... and this is when Ryan knows he is in trouble.

A while back I found a recipe on soulemama.com that I wanted to try but was not sure that Ryan would find acceptable. It was for broccoli soup that the author's FOUR YEAR OLD DAUGHTER requested for her birthday. Yes... I was worried that my 25-year-old husband would turn his nose up at something that a 4-year-old considers a treat.

That is my life.

It had potatoes and it had cream... but I just knew those would be the only two redeeming qualities about the soup in Ryan's eyes. The lead role was played by a vegetable- a GREEN vegetable... followed closely by two more vegetables, one of which had never before been on our table in any form or fashion.

But... I wanted to try it and after many days of Campbell's Kitchen recipes... I felt like I had earned it. So, I went out...I bought the ingredients... and I told Ryan I was making soup.

I told him it sounded good.
I told him I thought he would like it.
Pretty much.... I lied.

Ryan made shifty eyes at me as I chopped up the veggies and threw them in the pot. As the smell of cooking broccoli filled the air, he sniffed and crinkled his nose, nodding and smiling when I asked, "Doesn't that smell good?" When the soup went into the blender, he lifted an eyebrow....and then, much as one smothers a pill in peanut butter for their beloved pooch, I sprinkled some cheese on top and set the pot in front of him with fear and trembling.....

And then Ryan tasted it.
And then Ryan liked it.
And then Ryan ATE IT.

So as not to ruin this story, I will not tell you that since then Ryan has made no move toward the leftovers (and oh, was there leftovers- turns out the recipe can feed a family of 6). I will just revel in that empty bowl and enjoy my small victory.

There is a God. And He loves me.


Splish! Splash!

>> 1.03.2010

Everything is a miracle. It is a miracle that one does not dissolve in one's bath like a lump of sugar.
Pablo Picasso

Sunday was a big day for Liam. He met his Mamaw and Papaw (Ryan's grandparents) as well as his Uncle Josh and Aunt Natalie ....and also had his very first bath at home with Mama and Papa:

edited by Papa.
[Liam says, "Thank you for censoring my junk, Papa. A guy needs a little privacy!"]

Although I asked the NICU nurses several times to allow me to sit in on one of Liam's baths.. it never happened. Bathing a 4 and a half pound squirming pile of baby is not in my skill set so I was slightly nervous; however "The Bath" was not nearly as terrifying as its reputation led us to believe.

We had been told that Liam hated baths... but he actually handled it handsomely. Maybe he saw the look of terror in our sleep deprived eyes and decided to have mercy on us (or simply feared for his safety) but we made it through the entire process with minimal squalling and carrying on.

So... The days are both flying and crawling. Ryan and I have been watching copious amounts of television (thank you, instant Netflix) and basically doing our best not to lose our minds in between feeding and changing and soothing and loving.

Liam had to go to the doctor this afternoon because of some nasal congestion. His pediatrician was booked so we got another doctor who reminded me of a very nice Russian grandpa. [His "th's" were actually "v's." I only thought vat happened on television!] He looked "L-eye-um"over and came to the conclusion that he may have a cold... but more than likely he has a bad case of brand-spanking new parents who are more than a bit paranoid.

Poor kid.



>> 1.02.2010

A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.
Lao Tzu


[4:00 a.m.]

Most glorious night!
Thou wert not sent for slumber!

Lord Byron,
Childe Harold

Turns out parenthood gets a lot more complicated when you actually have the child. Who knew?
But it is quite wonderful to be able to stare at his face whenever the mood strikes.

I do sort of wish the nurses would have warned us that Liam sleeps about as peacefully as a passing train. Maybe they didn't know because there is always so much going on in the NICU. He grunts. He moans. He whines. He squeals. Just when I am sure he is a awake and get up to check... he stops. Oh, my.

My mother said she was afraid my "mama instincts" would be a bit rusty since I have not been having to get up at night for the last two months.. but oh, n0- they are working quite well, thank you. Tonight Papa took over from 11:30 to 3 a.m. so I could sleep in the living room because I cannot rest in the same room with Liam at all. Now I am back on duty.

Everyone keeps telling me that he is fine but it is not that I am worried about his well-being. We have a monitor that let's me know all is well. [Even though the doctor canceled the order, we already had the monitor so we figured we would put it to good use until they come to pick it up.] It is that the child is a ridiculously noisy sleeper! All my plans for Liam to sleep in our room slowly diminish as the sleepless hours pass by. Getting up when he needs me is no problem at all. It is just staring at the ceiling in between while he squeals and carries on happily in dreamland that is causing a level a sleep deprivation that makes me feel sorry for anyone who has to encounter me.

Oh! I am now going to abruptly end this post because Liam is being quiet and I am going to try to catch a few winks.

But it must be mentioned: It is all so [so, so] worth it.


1 hour and 42 minutes

>> 1.01.2010

my[very generous] estimation on the amount of sleep I got last night.

Oh, joy.

I will return with a more coherent blog when my brain is not so numb with exhaustion.
Coffee is my friend.


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