• The Surprise: Part 1

    Date: 2014.10.31 | Category: Baby, Family, Health, Home, Life, Love, Mark, Me, Pregnancy, Whoops | Response: 3

    I originally wrote this post a week after we found out we were expecting again in the first few days of September (before I knew the WHOLE story). I know I’ve been absent from blogging for a while, but sometimes when something like this is so life consuming and you’re not ready to share, it’s difficult to stare at that blank screen and write. So with this, get ready for my stream of ramblings to start up again!

    *****

    I need to write this down now, while the memory of that day still clings to me.

    But before I tell you about that day, let me tell you about the few days leading up to it. On Sunday I had been at my parents house hanging out with my family, celebrating my sister’s graduation with her Master’s degree and drinking a couple of glasses of wine. My heart started racing of its own accord, something not unfamiliar to me, but also something that hadn’t happened in a long time. I got it under control and chalked it up to the alcohol and sleep deprivation.

    Monday I went to my Piyo class, and during the sections of the class where we moved up and down, constantly changing elevation, my heart again started speeding out of control. I chalked it up to the elevation changes – even though I’ve been doing that class for a few months without any other problems before.

    Tuesday I went to lunch with my friend Angela, and we started talking about hormone changes, and I thought, “Oh that must be it, my cycle is about to start and that must be what’s causing these heart issues.”

    After lunch I checked my calendar to see when I was supposed to start and realized that I was very late – eight days late in fact. And then I remembered the last time my heart took off racing all the time: when I found out I was pregnant with Norah.

    I drove to the store and bought a two pack of pregnancy tests, but didn’t take them. Those things are kind of pricey and I didn’t want to waste one. I went home and put them in the cabinet and then settled down to a fun evening with my best friend who was in town for a few days. We drank wine, watched our girls play and had a great time. Shortly after she left that evening, Mark and I started arguing. Honestly I can’t even remember what it was about now, but that evening we had a long talk and he mentioned my short fuse and extreme impatience. I confessed to him then that I was worried because my cycle was late and my heart had been racing. He comforted me and reassured me that this wasn’t completely unusual and he was sure everything would be fine.

    Still though I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned and worried all night. Finally at 5:30 that morning, I decided I needed the reassurance of that little negative sign so I could get on with my day without fretting.

    I went to the bathroom, took the test and watched as the positive sign immediately showed up. I sat there in a state of shock muttering not a few profanities. Finally, 15 minutes later I pulled myself together and went back into the bedroom. I told Mark I needed to turn on the lamp and handed over the test. His immediate response was a disbelieving and reverent, “No way.” Then he immediately broke out into a huge grin. And me? Well I burst into tears and started sobbing.

    It’s hard to describe what I was feeling at that moment, but I’ll take a stab at it. For one, I was in complete and utter shock. I have always wanted three children, but I did not expect them to be quite so close together. Norah was only 11 months old and still nursing after all. We had so much trouble conceiving Norah, that I figured when we did get ready to try for a third, we would have to prepare ourselves for another year-long journey of months of hope and disappointment. I had even prayed about it and come to complete acceptance and happiness with having two children. In fact, part of me already felt like we were done. God had given us these two amazing little girls and we felt complete; we were happy. We had even started planning a big family trip for 2015.

    And then there was the overwhelming feeling of having three, THREE children ages four and under, with two very much still in diapers. How could we possibly manage it strategically, mentally and financially?

    And then there was a feeling of complete and overwhelming amazement and disbelief. I was told, after all, many years ago that conceiving children would be difficult and we would likely need assistance. And here we were, despite the fact that we were actively avoiding pregnancy, pregnant so quickly with a THIRD baby.

    Mark gazed up at me in that early morning hour as we sat alone in our bed, grinning at me and said, “It’s a miracle.” And truly, it is.

    I pulled myself together as best I could and, in a daze, took Sarah to school. I stayed for morning assembly where I learned that it was the feast day of Saint Monica, the mother of Saint Augustine. During morning prayer, all the children said a prayer for their mothers and all mothers. I felt my knees get a little wobbly. Following an inner call to go to Mass, I stayed for the school Mass that morning. The priest started by telling all the children who Saint Monica was and how she prayed desperately for her son and asked that the children pray for all mothers everywhere who are worried and in distress.

    If anyone was looking, I’m sure they were wondering why that crazy lady standing by herself had tears running down her cheeks for most of Mass. But I left there with a new perspective and a stronger feeling of joy. And though I’ve existed in a state of shock and disbelief for a week now and continue to worry about logistics and finances, I am so very thankful, so very blessed and so very happy.

    We will, I pray, welcome our third baby to this world in April of 2015. Here’s to the start of another great adventure.

  • Seven Years and Getting Stronger

    Date: 2014.10.20 | Category: Family, Life, Love, Mark, Me | Response: 2

    Today Mark and I celebrate our seventh wedding anniversary (and a little over 11 years as a couple).

    When we got engaged, I pictured our lives together in that hazy romantic “happily ever after” way that I imagine many young girls do. We would almost always be happy and infatuated with each other, and children, when they came later, would bolster up our love and everything would be magic.

    In some ways my initial. starry-eyed idea of marriage still holds true. I am still madly in love with my husband, and children have definitely added to our marriage, making us stronger in our love for one another.

    What I didn’t realize back then is that the reason our love would be stronger (helped along by our children) is because we would have to fight for it more. It’s hard to make time for your spouse when you’re up to your eyeballs in sleep deprivation, breastfeeding and the millions of other needs of tiny people. But, especially after Norah, we learned that we had to fight for our time together. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and the more we fought for and made time for one another, the more our children have seen that love bloom in our family and responded accordingly.

    Are we perfect? Ha! No. I mean we still occasionally argue over laundry, groceries and discipline of our children. But, even in the worst of our arguments, we always  find a way to draw back together, communicate and tighten our bond.

    Sometimes, especially at night, my mind will wander to Mark and what a perfect fit he is for me and it amazes me. He works so hard to help support our family, loves our children in a way that makes me love him even more, and still says things that surprise me. When he picked me up from the airport after we went to Pittsburgh, he said, “I am one lucky guy to have such a beautiful, thin woman waving to me out the airport window.” (He got bonus points for adding the “thin” in there, ha!)

    He still hugs me and holds me at surprising times, and I had to learn to stop shying away from that in an attempt to take care of everyone else. Mark and I take care of each other. When life and work get tough, we are there for one another. Sometimes we may not say or do the right things for one another, but I always know he is on my team and I will always be on his.

    Forever is a long time to commit to another person, and sometimes that can be difficult, but most of the time Mark and I are great roommates, best friends and a very happy to be husband and wife. Seven is a good number, and I hope that we are blessed enough to experience many more years together.

    I love you Mark. Happy Anniversary!

  • The Patient Traveler

    Date: 2014.10.15 | Category: Family, Health, Life, Me, Sarah, Travel | Response: 3

    My kids surprise me all the time, and while many of those surprises aren’t always pleasant, from time to time one of them will truly amaze me with their behavior.

    Last Thursday Sarah and I began our journey to Pittsburgh, where we stayed with Cassie and her family for a long weekend. Prior to leaving, I was very nervous about how Sarah would do with the airport and the planes. She hates loud noises and I had visions of me frantically trying to calm her while she freaked out over loud plane engines and the thousands of travelers we would encounter along the way.

    When the day arrived, we got to the airport in time and prepared to board… but then we didn’t board. Our plane, it seemed, was having a mechanical issue. In my mind I immediately thought, “What kind of mechanical issue?! Is it safe to take my child on this plane?, etc.” After an hour wait, they boarded us… only to have us sit on the plane for 20 minutes, drink water, then get back off the plane.

    It turns out the mechanical issue was a broken light on the outside of the plane. A part, it turns out, they did not have at our local airport and they would have to wait on the next flight in from Atlanta to obtain. They started projecting new estimated leave times. Our 8am flight was then a 9:30 flight. Not a problem, I thought, I built in long layovers on purpose. That 9:30 time came and went and our flight slowly started pushing further and further back.  (The missing part wasn’t on the first flight – the part finally came in and we had to wait on mechanics – mechanics finally fixed it, but it wasn’t not up to the pilot’s standard – pilot had a two hour long phone conversation – mechanics came back out and finally fixed it for real).

    I was getting so frustrated, as were nearly all the adults on the scheduled flight.

    Sarah, however, was having a great time. She would run up to the window, shout, “Mama! Look at the airplane! Why isn’t it pink?!” and then happily return to me where she would look at a book / play with the iPad / color pictures. She made several friends out of the other passengers with her sweet smiles and silly dances. At one point she started coloring pictures and handing them out to fellow passengers. People were charmed and I was floored by her great behavior.

    Our flight delay ended up being around 6.5 hours total. As we were finally boarding the flight, I had about 10 people come up to me and tell me how impressed they were by how well behaved Sarah was, she even, one lady said, behaved better than her teenagers would have.

    The flight itself proved not to be troublesome either. As we took off, Sarah delightedly squealed, “We’re FLYING MAMA! We’re flying! We’re like Care Bears up in the clouds!” People looked and smiled. Delta can go ahead and send us a thank you package for providing one of the few reasons all the passengers didn’t mutiny.

    They re-booked our second flight out of Atlanta for 10pm at night (ha! Can you even imagine what sort of state the two of us would have been in by then?!) But we finally managed to find a Delta agent in Atlanta who actually knew what he was doing and booked us on a flight that left within the hour. Now, if you know the Atlanta airport, then you know that means we had to haul it to get to the right terminal in time. I ended up at one point hustling while wearing my 30lb backpack, carrying my 35lb child, while she was carrying her much smaller backpack. Workout complete!

    We made that flight, on which Sarah made another friend who let her play games on her iPad, and we finally made it to Pittsburgh around 7:30 that evening, a full five hours late. Sarah passed out on the drive to Cassie’s house, but she deserved a rest after that crazy day.

    The travel home was also insane, but not nearly as bad. Terrible storms in the south caused our plane to have to take a different path, adding about 35 minutes onto our flight time. During the flight, Sarah and I had to take a bathroom break (side note: do you know how hard it is to squeeze into an airplane bathroom with another person?! That’s no joke). A lady came out of the bathroom while we waited and Sarah ran up to her and gave her a huge hug like they had been best friends forever. The lady was delighted. She was flying first class and saved her cookies to give to Sarah later.

    When we finally made it home, Sarah had a meltdown just as her daddy arrived at the airport, but she was such a trooper that we just stuck her in the car, let her have at it, then took her to Wendy’s for chicken nuggets. After all, I still think she handled the traveling better than me!

  • Norah is One

    Date: 2014.09.23 | Category: Baby, Birthday, Family, Home, Life, Love, Mark, Me, Norah, OMG YAY!, Sarah | Response: 3

    Norah’s first birthday was Saturday.

    My baby is one.

    There, I said it.

    Emotionally, I’ve had a little bit of a tough time with her birthday. Sure, she’s not technically different from one day to the next, but it is so hard for me to believe that it’s been a full year since the day she was born – a day that feels like a few months ago.

    Norah’s first year of life started out crazy. In the weeks before she was born I was in a car accident that landed my 9-month-pregnant self in the hospital. We were both ok, fortunately, but that was our first time getting to know the labor and delivery staff.  False labor provided us with a second opportunity to meet the staff,  and then real labor three days before my scheduled c-section sent us back in a third time.

    Norah came roaring into the world, and, as we soon discovered, it was a premonition of things to come.

    Norah’s first 3+ months of life were extremely difficult. While she napped well during the day, at 9pm every night she roared to life in a state of unabated fury until sometime around 3am. Mark and I were miserable, sleep-deprived, angry human beings. Sarah asked for “quiet” for Christmas. I didn’t think we’d survive… until Norah found her thumb and then the heavens opened and the angels burst forth singing. Our baby started to sleep.

    In the following months, we saw that she continued to have a very hot and cold personality. She’s either the most glowing, relaxed happy baby, or she is a screaming, angry beast. We lovingly refer to her as Jekyll and Hyde. Nighttime continues to be a problem. She will still wake up for short periods of time most nights, but she’s learned to self soothe and go back to sleep pretty quickly.

    Despite all that though, she has an amazing and beautiful joyful side.

    Our baby girl is up for almost anything (except maybe extended, tight hugs from her sister). She continues to be a great eater and always has an easy and contagious smile and  cackle.

    The day before she turned one, she decided it was high time to put her legs to good use and started walking in small spurts around the house. She still prefers to crawl, but if she has food in her hands, you better believe she’s not going to get it dirty by crawling with it.

    At one year Norah is our prankster. She will fake choke at the dinner table to get attention. And when I say fake choke, I mean full on holding breath and turning purple business until I start to panic and then she bursts out laughing.

    At one she will play with her sister. Just this past weekend I was laid up on the couch not feeling well and both girls wandered off into Sarah’s room. I heard lots of laughter from both girls and asked Mark to go investigate. They were both in Sarah’s princess pop-up castle tent, alternately playing peek-a-boo and sharing toys, absolutely delighted by each other’s company.

    Norah’s favorite thing on the planet (besides ice cream) is being on the trampoline. When we put her on there, she hurls her little body all over the place, even doing flips, and laughing while she flies into the air.

    Mark, Sarah and I all love to do things to get her to laugh, and she always loves and rewards our efforts. Whenever she smiles, her little nose scrunches up and she bares all 9.5 of her little teeth in a huge grin. Her smile reminds me so much of my little sister Shannon.

    Norah is a spectacular little person, and despite our rough start, she has more than made up for it with her sparkling and silly personality.

    We all love her so very much, and having her in our lives this past year has been an amazing blessing.

    Happy Birthday sweet Norah bean! We love you!

  • Toughing it Out

    Date: 2014.09.05 | Category: Family, Health, Life, Me, OMG YAY! | Response: 0

    My extreme lack of blogging lately is due entirely to the fact that 1) I’ve been consumed with our new family transforming routine and 2) The kids and I have been facing a few health issues that have been dragging me way down and causing me to limp along exhausted most days the past couple of weeks.

    But, despite all that, I want to do an update on my fitness. A few months ago, I decided it was time to really fight to get the last of my pregnancy weight off – something I didn’t have to do the first go round.

    I started attending 3-4 gym classes weekly and completely overhauled my diet. Gone are 85% of our processed foods. We are doing a lot of whole eating and the whole family is adjusting pretty well.

    Three months in, I’m seeing results. As of today, I am down 13 pounds, less than 5 pounds to go before I hit my pre-pregnancy weight. And even though the weight loss hasn’t been insanely quick, the most exciting part is the drastic changes my body is going through.

    I’m getting strong. I can tell when I lift my children easier and haul grocery store bags. I can tell when I pull myself up on to things, or most recently, do repeated side lunges while holding my baby to get her to calm down at the pediatrician’s office. I can tell when I go to my classes. I went from being unable to do a standard plank at all, to doing them and adding on other exercises while I hold them. And I can tell when I look at my shoulder muscles finally starting to take shape. And you know what? It feels amazing.

    I’ve dropped two inches in my waist and hips respectively.

    And perhaps in the most exciting moment for me so far, I discovered that my high cholesterol level I use to have to be medicated for has dropped down to a safe, normal, healthy level just through diet and exercise. It’s truly amazing what three months of living a healthy lifestyle have done for me.

    Lifestyle and routine changes are so tough, but it has been so rewarding.

  • 11 Months

    Date: 2014.08.22 | Category: Baby, Family, Home, Mark, Me, Norah, Sarah | Response: 3

    I tried to shoot some great 11 month photos of Norah, but almost all of them came out looking like this.

    That is due in large part to the fact that Norah never stops moving. And now that she has figured out how to stand and balance for a bit, things are getting really interesting. She will stand up and hurl her body onto things. I’m pretty sure she is doing that because of all the time we spend playing with her on the trampoline. She absolutely LOVES to be bounced all over the place. When Mark first started bouncing her, I was worried that he was being too rough, but her loud bursts of giggles proved otherwise. She and Sarah both beg to go play on the trampoline after dinner, and since we’ve had a relatively mild summer, we do that nearly every day.

    Over the past couple of days, Norah stood up, took two steps and then gracefully sat back down again. She hasn’t repeated the trick again yet, but I know she’ll build the courage to do it.

    She is also completely fascinated by her belly button. When we put her in the bath tub, she stares at it and tries to grab it over and over. If she’s not after her belly button in the tub, then she’s going after a cup or some toy that she can pick up and use to attempt to drink tub water. We usually catch it first, but a few times she’s got it past us and drenched her face, mouth and throat with bath water.

    This past month has been a physically tough one for Norah. She now has eight teeth and these two newest ones have taken a long time to come in and caused no end of pain and problems. Plus, she keeps running into things, falling down and even leaping off of things. We  had a choking incident a few days ago and I had to implement the Heimlich Maneuver (pretty sure that moment shaved a few years off my life). She’s also jumped out of her high chair on to the tile floor and been run over by the dogs a few times. Poor kid.

    Despite that, Norah is mostly a very happy and content girl. She still loves food, with sliced grapes and spaghetti being her two favorite foods. She also loves mashed potatoes, sweet potato fries, chicken and applesauce.

    She’s at the age now where she loves to dance. Any time music comes on, she shakes her little booty and bobs up and down. It is so cute.

    She continues to be a fun little personality and her daddy, sister and I love to try to make her laugh. Peek-a-boo almost always gets the giggles going, and if it doesn’t, then clapping and saying “Yay!” always gets her doing the same. Sarah has even figured out that if she sings “Wheels on the Bus” to Norah, then the baby will likely stop fussing and start smiling.

    We love our little Norah Bean so much! It’s so hard to believe that she’s been a part of our lives for nearly a year. We are blessed indeed.

  • Pre-K3

    Date: 2014.08.11 | Category: Family, Life, Me, Sarah, School | Response: 2

    It should be no big deal, starting Sarah in Pre-K. After all, for almost her whole life she’s been in day care and away from me during the work day, but we all had a huge change to make. We moved Sarah from her daycare, where we were comfortable and knew everyone, to a full on Catholic school. Fortunately, through my work, I know a lot of the administration, but our shy Sarah knew no one.

    We took her to Pre-K orientation a couple of weeks ago, and it was overwhelming for her. All the parents and children were there, along with many of their siblings. It was loud and crazy and utterly different. Sarah clung to me like a lifeline and I began to get anxious for her.

    After the orientation though, later that night, Sarah told me about all the wonderful things she had seen in her new classroom with repeated references to a “castle with a pink snake on it,” “a princess kitchen” and a fish tank. My worry started to ease.

    Still though, over the past two weeks I’ve been anxious.  She is so shy and it’s such a big change for all of us.

    Last night I organized everything, from our lunches and change of clothes to my gym bag and a folder of forms I needed to turn in. I was like a restless little bird frantically organizing everything and pre-loading the car. When I finally went to bed, I had nightmares all night ranging from Sarah choking on caps of water bottles to her seeing bodies at the bottom of some invented swimming lessons she would be doing in preschool.

    This morning though, I woke up everyone 45 minutes earlier than usual so we could be on time before the 7:45 a.m. tardy bell rings. Sarah was excited to wear her new uniform (which she adorably calls her “unicorn”), and put on her fancy new red shoes. Per usual though, we were running late and hit every red light and got behind every cement truck on the way to school. Not to mention the THREE school zones I had to drive through to get there.

    We made it with two minutes to spare and we walked in, hand in hand, into her new classroom.

    To my utter surprise and delight, all the children in her new class were happily and quietly playing in their various stations. Only one little boy was crying loudly, but he didn’t seem to bother Sarah too much. The teacher’s aid, Mrs. G, asked Sarah if she liked princesses. Sarah nodded enthusiastically and Mrs. M handed her a Cinderella book. Just like that Sarah took the book and marched over to the reading center where she sat down with a group of little girls and began looking at the book.

    I asked her for a hug goodbye, and she obligingly gave me one and then returned to her book. I left her in her classroom surprised and happy, no sign of tears on either of our faces.

    I thought about her throughout the day, and was excited when it was time to pick her up. They have carpool, but I took mom in to show her Sarah’s new school and classroom. We found her little class all waiting on the carpool line, sitting quietly.

    Sarah hopped up and gave us a big hug. Her teacher, Mrs. Robin, told us that Sarah had a great day and was the class leader – a role, she said, Sarah took to naturally. In the car on the way home, Sarah told us about the things she played with throughout the day. When I asked her what she learned, she told me, “F is for fire trucks and fishes.”

    And though, at first, I was nervous about the big change, Sarah showed me today that this change is going to be good for all of us. So proud of my big girl.

  • Like a Moth to the Flame…

    Date: 2014.08.05 | Category: Baby, Family, Health, Home, Life, Me, Norah, Sarah, Whoops | Response: 2

    I’m not sure if my brain has happily blocked out Sarah’s days of learning to stand independently, or if poor Norah takes after her mother in the clumsiness department. In the past week, Norah has hit her mouth to the point of bleeding not once, not twice, but THREE times. And there was another run in that left her with a nasty scratch by her eye.

    The first incident happened when Norah was standing up, holding onto one of her toys. In a burst of excitement, Sarah flew past her and accidentally knocked her over. I didn’t see it unfold, but I did hear loud, terrible screams of pain. I scooped Norah up and couldn’t get her to settle down. It took me a minute to realize there was blood pouring out of her mouth and on to my shoulder. My insides locked up.

    Normally blood doesn’t bother me, but in that moment, knowing it was my baby’s blood, I silently started to panic. Every time I tried to look in her mouth to see what was going on, the blood gushed anew and she screamed in pain. Meanwhile poor Sarah was busily trying to get my attention saying, “I’m sorry Mama! It was an accident Mama!” while trying to hold back her own tears.

    I was an absolute mess. I just knew Norah needed stitches or had somehow knocked her teeth loose. I packed her up and prepared to go to pediatric quick care. When I arrived though, there was a note on the door saying the place was temporarily closed. Cursing, I put Norah back in the car and drove her to the next closest quick care. By then, the blood flow had slowed down and I was able to get a look into her mouth. There was blood pooling around her teeth and my mind raced to the worst possible scenarios. Finally I pulled it together and thought to call a family friend who is a dentist.

    Bless him, he took my panicked call with grace, despite the fact that he was waiting in line at the bank and really just wanted to get home. He assured me that just because there was a lot of blood, that didn’t mean her teeth were going to fall out. In fact, at 10 months old, tooth roots aren’t fully formed and have plenty of time to heal on their own.

    I calmed down and drove home. After two hours of bleeding, things seem to finally stop and she had no problem shoveling down food and sucking her thumb.

    I realized the next morning that the injury was actually in her gums and that little piece of skin between the lip and the gums. As long as I didn’t try to lift her lip, all was well. I calmed down.

    Not to be outdone though, two days later Norah pulled up on the fireplace, let go and fell, hitting her mouth in the same exact spot on the way down. You guessed it: lots more blood and screaming. Fortunately this time I kept calm and managed to get her under control pretty quickly.

    Surely she would learn some self-preservation, you say? But alas, like a moth to the flame, Norah continued to be drawn to the brick fireplace. Two days after the second incident, she managed to scramble over to the fireplace, stand and fall, this time busting her bottom lip open. Cue more blood and screaming.

    By this point I began to feel like a terrible parent. I immediately logged on to Amazon and ordered cushiony edge protectors. My baby proofing the second go round has obviously been a little too lax, or maybe my baby is just a little too clumsy.

    And then yesterday mom picked Norah up from school early. The whole time she was at mom’s, she was an angel. But as soon as I got there? Well that baby crawled at high speed to the fireplace and slammed the corner of her eye into the bricks.

    My poor baby looks like she’s got a budding career in boxing.

  • 10 Months

    Date: 2014.07.24 | Category: Baby, Family, Life, Mark, Norah, Sarah | Response: 2

    About a week ago it hit me that my little girl is only a two months away from her first birthday. That realization has made me a bit emotional, and very in tune with her baby-ness. It seems impossible that her first ten months have moved by so swiftly.

    This past month has been a fun one. In addition to her lightning fast crawling, Norah is now pulling up on everything, bravely and comfortably holding on with one hand, and even occasionally letting go to free stand for a few seconds. She can push toys around the room while she “walks,” and has even started climbing on top of (and falling off of) a few small boxes and the vacuum cleaner.

    Speaking of the vacuum cleaner, she loves to push buttons and periodically accidentally turns it on. Without fail the sudden loud noise sends her scurrying and fussing.

    Norah is so OVER baby food. At night she will only eat table food. I’m increasingly amazed by what she’s willing to eat, ie ANYTHING. So far she has happily and rabidly consumed: steamed broccoli, zucchini, yellow squash, turkey meatloaf, raw cucumbers, strawberries, grapes, black beans and salsa. I sat in amazement this evening though as she rejected bites of a chicken nugget in favor of a strawberry. Oh how very opposite my children are.

    Speaking of food, Norah would happily make a meal out of just about anything. So far I’ve caught her eating dog food, cat food, paper and dried leaves. We are constantly going fishing for things she’s stuck in her mouth.

    She’s also got the sippy cup and the straw down. Just like the first time she nursed, when she was given a cup she acted like she’d been using one for years.

    No big surprise, sleep continues to be an issue. We still have a fussy middle of the night wake up about once a week. Still though, that’s improvement!

    I love that she can form a few babble words now. “Da da” continues to be her favorite, but she will now pretend to be a dog with Sarah and they will both crawl around and say, “ruff ruff.” It’s the cutest thing ever.

    Norah bean has the best smile and cackling laugh. No matter how angry she is, when we start singing “Wheels on the Bus,” the tears immediately stop and she breaks into a wide grin. We call it her magic song.

    Ten months is one of my favorite ages. They’re old enough to (mostly) sleep, can feed themselves to some extent, but still need lots of love and snuggles. Today, when we went to pick her up from school, Mark went in her classroom to get her first. He was holding her when I walked in and she tried to swim through the air to get to me, flailing and fluttering every extremity. Girl knows how to make Mama feel good.

    She continues to be a big fan of thumb sucking, despite the fact that her mouth is filling up with teeth. She’s currently working on tooth #7 and tooth #8, which are viciously trying to make an appearance.

    Norah still admires her sister. She loves to watch Sarah and imitate her movements. Sarah gets a kick out of it and is constantly trying out new things to get Norah to follow.

    Our little girl is growing so very fast. Her fun and beautiful spirit continue to blossom every day, and every day I’m thankful to be her mother (even on the ones after nights full of screaming). We love you bean bean.

  • Finding My Strength Again

    Date: 2014.07.16 | Category: Health, Life, Me | Response: 19

    Let me tell you a personal story about failure and success.

    I should start from the beginning. With my second pregnancy I gained a lot of weight – more than I should have. Part of that was due to exercise limits from heart problems, but more of it was due to the fact that I was pregnant during Louisiana summer and I only wanted to lay on the couch in the air conditioning and not move.

    No big deal, I thought, I’ll lose it all when I breastfeed. Did I lose some of it? Yes. Did I lose all of it? A big fat NO. After I had Sarah, the weight came off with almost no effort. I nursed, I exercised some and it flew off. I was back in my pre-pregnancy clothes in 6 months.

    I sort of want to punch that version of myself in the face. Or, really, I just want to grab me from three years ago and say, “Do you KNOW how lucky you were?!” Because Baby #2? Yea, that’s not happening. I don’t know if it’s because this is a second baby, or I had a c-section this time, or a combination of the two, but this extra baby weight has been clinging to me with a death grip despite the fact that I’ve been nursing a baby for nearly 10 months.

    I’ll admit, at first I had zero motivation to try to get the weight off. Part of that was total lack of sleep, and the other half was me desperately clinging to the hope that the breastfeeding weight loss would kick in any day.

    When that didn’t happen after several months down the road, I decided I had to do something. My first attempt at “something,” was trying the Paleo diet where you essentially eat foods a cave person would. I know a lot of people who have had success with it and you get to eat as much of the designated foods as you want! I quickly discovered Paleo wasn’t for me. For one, it dried up my milk supply, and for another, I need some grains, dairy and wine in my diet to stay sane and I refuse to believe legumes are bad for you. Paleo and I were not a good fit.

    Exercise, I decided, was what I really needed. I started going back to my regular spin class… except that I quickly learned it’s super popular now and I’m never quick enough to get a bike reserved, so I slowly stopped doing that. Finally, I decided to try out my gym’s new studio location near my house. While it has some equipment, it’s mainly all group fitness classes, which is what I love. I took a class there and was hooked. I signed up.

    After that, I seriously went home and prayed for the strength to take care of my body and to get the weight off. Whatever it took, I wanted the fortitude to do it.

    And then, the stars started aligning. My sisters decided the three of us would support one another on a weight loss challenge. And because we have a tight budget and we were laying down some money for the gym, I felt obligated to go as much as possible. With my sisters’ encouragement I downloaded the MyNetDiary Pro app to track my calories and exercise (including ones burned through breastfeeding so I’d still be ok there).

    What started as an obligation to go to the gym (I promised myself at least two – three days a week), started becoming a strong desire to go to the gym. I quickly started going four days a week – five when my schedule allows it.  And because I hit the gym on my lunch breaks, I bring my lunch to work, thus allowing me to control my calorie intake and my eating out budget and prevent me from eating the whole Indian Restaurant buffet.

    Then my second cousin and fitness instructor, Libby of LibbFit, asked me about doing some graphic design and trading out her fitness expertise. You better believe I jumped on that.

    And just like that, I discovered that the scale was finally, FINALLY moving down again. Just this morning I saw the lowest number on the scale I’ve seen since giving birth.

    I finally understand (and remember) WHY people who are into fitness are always so happy and jazzed about it. It may suck while I’m doing it, but afterwards I feel amazing. In a month’s time I’ve dramatically increased my strength and helped ease a mean, nasty, fiery spot of post c-section nerve pain / scar tissue in my lower, right abdomen. My classes are varied, ranging from pilates and yoga to cardio and weights.

    Is it hard? Sometimes it’s so hard. But the reward has been amazing. I finally feel like my body is waking up and my mood has bloomed into something much happier and optimistic. I’m more patient with my children and kinder to myself. I even managed to say no to my favorite ice cream and amazing looking cake at work this morning. It’s exciting and it’s humbling.

    I still have a long way to go and weight to lose before I even hit my pre-pregnancy numbers. I often have to do modified moves at my Piyo and Body Attack classes, but I’m doing it. And really, that’s what matters.

    Here’s my picture for my Piyo Challenge group I took this morning. We had to take a whacky planking picture.

    P.S. Thanks to Cassie for encouraging me to write this post.

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