Friday, August 31, 2012

Daddy's Hopes and Dreams

My husband also participated in the "Hopes and Dreams" project that is going on at Ella's school.  He wrote (or more accurately, "typed", and asked me to write for him):
Eleanor, I hope that you become a caring, thoughtful, and intelligent woman who loves Jesus and who uses your wisdom and many talents to improve the world.
 I love him.  And I love how much he loves our little girl.

Today's blessing is that it's finally Friday.  I've had two very long, busy weeks with the start of the new year, and I am so ready for the three-day weekend. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hopes and Dreams

There is a new coordinator at Ella's school, and she is really putting forth an effort to get the parents involved.  Yesterday, she had little hand cut-outs at the Front Desk, with a request that each parent was to fill write out our "hopes and dreams" for our child.  The hands would all be compiled as part of an art project to be displayed in the hallway.

I have so many hopes and dreams for Ella--where would I begin?!  I thought about the standard responses--I hope that she knows how much I love her; I dream of her name being called at graduation; I hope that she's happy; I dream about how beautiful she will look on her wedding day.  There is nothing wrong with these hopes and dreams--and they are indeed what I hope and dream for her.  But I also wanted something...more.  Something more personal.  Something more lasting.  Something more deep.

And so the words written on my little hand were:
My hope is that you will have the chance to experience the depths of joy that I have experienced in being your mom.
That's my hope and dream for Ella--that she know and experience the joy that I have known in becoming her mother.  This isn't to say that her life will always be happy and easy--I know that she'll have valleys to go through.  But I hope that someday she will truly feel joy.

What are your hopes and dreams--for you, and your child?

Today's blessing is that my husband doesn't have to travel this week.  I'm not opposed to his little trips for work and his Army commitments, but I have to work late two times this week, and it makes things harder when I have to figure out child care arrangements for Ella.  So I'm just really glad that he's here to take care of her while I work. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

That Could Work, Professionally-Speaking

Well, Tuesday was the start of another cycle.  I was a little sad, but ultimately I was pleased that it was a 35-day cycle.  In fact, it pretty much showed up just as I was expecting--which made me feel nearly normal for the first time in months. 

I didn't despair when it showed up, but I do admit that I started doing some mental calculations to figure out what my due date would be if I were to somehow conceive during this new cycle.  Late May?  Early June?  That could work, professionally-speaking.

Part of my job includes coordinating a big admission process for selecting the students who are eligible to enter our major each semester, meaning that I'm pretty busy at work from late-August to mid-May.  My supervisors are very supportive and totally accommodating, but let's just say that they would be beyond thrilled if I were to be so blessed as to take maternity leave over our slower summer season so that I could continue with my regular projects. 

Yes, I'm completely aware that it's rather silly to try to plan like this when you have a history like I do.  And I would be happy to conceive and give birthday at any time during the year!  But one of my strengths is my sense of "responsibility", so I can't help but think of these kinds of things. 

I know this is all wishful thinking.  I know that I'm totally getting ahead of myself.  And ultimately I know that my sense of timing is nowhere near as perfect at God's.  And so I wait and pray and hope that I might someday understand His plan for our lives. 

Yesterday's blessing was learning that my very-dear friend's baby boy was born just two days shy of his due date and appears to be perfectly healthy.  You may remember that she was exposed to congenital CMV during her pregnancy, so they were really worried that he might have complications.  But praise God, the tests have come back normal!  I'm hoping to visit them in December, and it's breaking my heart that I can't go sooner!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Her Child Will Always Be The Child Who Peed On My Carpet

Here I go, competing again.

Ella's little friend, Madelyn, is just three days older than her.  While chatting with her mom last week, she mentioned that Madelyn was doing really well with potty training.  I immediately went into internal panic mode, thinking "She's three days older, so I have three days to catch up!". 

I know, I know, I know that I don't need to be competing. I know it's not necessary, I know it's not healthy, and I know that every kid develops differently.  It still didn't stop me from thinking of cancelling our weekend plans to go out of town with Madelyn and her mom to pick peaches because I was ashamed that I would have the child in diapers and she would have the child in big girl panties; but I put my pride aside and agreed to go because it was the right thing to do.

But I will confess that I gave a little happy dance when Madelyn had not one, but two accidents in a twenty-minute span during lunch!  Turns out she and Ella are pretty much at the same place--they will both go potty when placed on the potty and told to do their business, but they are both having a hard time knowing how to listen to their bodies much of the time.  I just choose to avoid those accidents when we are out in public, and Madelyn's mom is willing to put up with them.

Which means she is also willing to let her daughter have an accident on the carpet in my house!  Now, I will be the first to admit that Ella has had her share of accidents at home, and I'll also be the first to admit that I hate our carpet and look forward to ripping it up and replacing it.  Yes, I totally recognize that accidents happen.  And I'm fully aware that we might face similar situations when we are indeed brave enough to venture out in public in our very own big girl panties.  But until then, I do take a little satisfaction in thinking that her child will always be the child who peed on my carpet. 

(I'm a horrible person, aren't I?)

This morning's blessing was the chance to listen to Ella talk to herself from her bed when she woke up entirely too early for a Saturday morning.  I'm still hoping that she'll go back to sleep, but it was pretty sweet to hear her just chatting about her teachers and singing songs to herself. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

"Lalu Mommy!"

As she often does, Ella requested to use the potty after I had already put her down to bed tonight.  I knew it was a ploy to get just two more minutes before going to bed, but how do you deny a child the chance to use the facilities when you're trying to encourage them to learn how to listen to their body?  So we gave it another shot.  As I was putting her diaper back on her, I told her that I wanted her to give me a kiss and then go night-night.  She leaned forward to give me a kiss, and then proclaimed "Lalu Mommy!", and made the "I Love You" sign (or, to be more accurate, she made the "L" sign, which is as good as her little fingers can do at this point). 

She loves me!  She has repeated the phrase back to me plenty of times before when I've said it to her, but this was the first time that she herself declared her love for me on her own!  Oh, how sweet to hear those words from my child!

Everyday, I recognize just how much I am blessed to have the chance to be her mommy.  I prayed so hard, for so long, and I know that God has blessed me so much more than I could have imagined.  Wanting another child helps me appreciate just how amazing it is to be a mother.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Book Review: Brain Rules for Baby

Brain Rules for Baby

My best friend from grad school was this cool guy who I believe is still the most articulate, thoughtful, well-read, critical, and accepting person who I know.  So when I saw a picture of him reading Brain Rules for Baby to his newborn son, I knew that I needed to buy the book.

In the book, author John Medina essentially answers the question "how do I get my kid into Harvard?".  By no means am I pushing Ella to go to Harvard, but I do want to help her to be curious, happy, and well-adjusted (besides, my tuition discount only works for our in-state schools...and her uncle went to Yale instead of Harvard).  Medina is a development molecular biologist, but yet he is able to tune down the science in a way that even I--with my educational background--can understand.  He uses a lot of personal stories as examples to help clarify and explain the research findings from a variety of tests and experiments--thus turning rather complicated topics into a fairly easy read. 

Medina offers these various "rules" or "pointers" for parents on how to raise a child who is smart (ie, praise the effort instead of saying "you're so smart!"), happy (ie, helping them to recognize and name their emotions), and moral (ie, kids respond better when the rules and expectations are explained).  I also really appreciate that he starts with the pregnancy (ie, no products claiming to boost a pre-born baby's iq have been proven to work, so don't buy them), and also addresses the significance of the parental relationship (ie, hostility between parents can effect an infants development; but making up in front of them after fights occur is vital to the child's emotional development as well).  As I read through the book, I found that I could give myself a pat on the back for some of the things that I had been doing all along (ie, breastfeeding), and cringed a few times at areas where I now see that I can make some changes (ie, no tv before the age of two...oops). 

And yet I love that in the conclusion, the author states:
"A family based on every suggestion in this book is fantasy.  The real-world experience of parenting ranges from waves of exhaustion to oceans of love and ripples of laughter."
I was left with a sense that I learned some new tricks for how I care for Ella--along with the science behind them--but that it would still be okay if I missed the mark on some of them.  We have definitely applied some of the ideas--like helping her to identify and verbalize her emotions, and it seems to be "working", in the sense that she's handling disappointment really well (like when Mommy didn't know that the swimming pool apparently closed on August 1st...whoops!). 

Would I be thrilled if she went to Harvard?  Absolutely!  (I don't know how I would pay for it, but that's beside the point).  But ultimately, all I have ever wanted is for her to be curious, happy, and well-adjusted--and I feel that Brain Rules for Baby addresses each of those points, and so much more. 

Today's blessing is that Ella has been talking about the "Army work" that my husband does.  He had Army Reserve drill this weekend, so she and I talked about why he was away from the house.  I know that he is proud of his service, and it's even more special to him now that his daughter can understand a bit of what he's doing.  On that note, he also just learned this weekend there is a possibility* that he might deploy in Fall 2013, so please be praying for us as we look ahead to what that might mean for our family.

*This is not the first time that there has been a "possibility" that he might deploy, and I have learned not to get too worked up about anything until he actually has orders.  Though I dread the thought of him being away, I know that this is important to him.  I trust that God will provide for us.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Losing Focus and Running Away

I don't know if it's due to getting ready for a busy time at work with the start of the new year, or simply enjoying my time playing with Ella, or watching too much Olympics, but I find that I'm losing focus just a bit on the whole "hurry up and get pregnant" plan that I was feeling earlier.  After that crazy long cycle in May-June, I think that last month's minimalist approach was exactly what I needed.  I'm glad I listened (for once) to that still small voice telling me to let go a bit.  Don't get me wrong--I desperately want to be pregnant again, but I feel like God has given me peace for where I am right now.  It feels...healthy, to want something and yet still be happy with what I have.

 Have I mentioned that I have started running?  I've always hated running, and I still can't say that I enjoy it.  But it's healthy, right?  And I want to be healthy--mainly int the hopes of getting pregnant again; but also so that I can be a good role model for Ella.  My RE wanted me to be doing an hour of cardio every day--he's going to have to be happy with a quick 15 minute run around our neighborhood.  I know that 15 minutes is hardly anything, but I admit that I'm quite proud of how quickly I have built up my endurance and can now push Ella around our "big block" in her stroller without too much effort. And since I'm trying to become a runner (or at least someone who "pretends" to be a runner"), I figured that I needed to have some new running shoes.  So these are my new favorite purchase:

I know they look silly, but I love them!  (And I love, love, love my little running buddy in the background).  Who knows--perhaps my RE is on to something with increasing my cardio.  My last cycle--when I really started to try to make an effort to run--was much shorter than the last (when I was simply trying to eat healthy and do my crunches and pushups).  It certainly can't hurt--if anything, maybe it's actually helping me to shift my focus a bit. 

Today's blessing was the chance to sleep in to 6:30!  I know that still seems so early, but my normal time to wake up is usually 5:00.  It felt good!  And Ella is apparently also sleeping in this morning as well, which gives me a chance for some much needed "me time", followed by a run...whenever she wakes up.