Friday, April 24, 2009

pictures

I mentioned in my last post that Shawn and I traveled to TN for a wedding Shawn was officiating. We had a blast, and Shawn did what I humbly think was an amazing job. Thankfully Jude slept through the actual wedding, but that also means I wasn't able to get any pictures. It was beautiful and my handsome husband cleans up well. I did, however, take several pictures of Jude in the hotel room. The weekend away was awesome for our family. Shawn and I had a blast on our road trip, and it was nice to have some time to focus on Jude without the pressures of work/laundry/dishes/dog.



tummy time on the bed with daddy

if that hand isn't actually in his mouth, it's on its way at any given moment



he'd been holding his head up, but then laid it down as if to say, "oh, i love this daddy of mine."



jude is shocked...but daddy does the same thing to me


zerberts! or raspberries...depending on how you grew up. that tummy is just beggin' for some kisses!

that face makes me want to baby talk. i'll refrain from typing it out, but it's about all the self control i can muster to not baby talk at the screen right now




jude and daddy chillin' in the morning. he laid there with his hand behind his head like that for a good fifteen minutes.


"hey here. whatcha doing? checking out mommy's blog? cool pictures, huh?"

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

easter

Jude's first Easter was certainly a fun one. I think the holidays have a habit of sneaking up on Shawn and I lately, so we didn't really plan much for Jude to do this Easter. We figure that we get a free pass on all holidays for his first year. :) If you have Easter traditions that you love and would like to share, I'd love to hear 'em - we're still trying to figure out how to make Easter special for Jude beyond just getting dressed up and going to church. We did have a blast at the Poore's home with our good friends Mike and Jill and their son, Logan. Logan did a great job hunting those eggs!




Excuse the squash on his nose, we had to feed him in the car on the way over.


Hunting eggs with Daddy


Logan shared nicely!


Finding his first Easter egg!





Easter morning picture with Mommy. Ignore the wonky eye.

We had a terrific Easter, and we really look forward to being able to explain the meaning behind it to Jude next year. We tried this year, but well - he was more interested in falling asleep.
Jude's begun to really laugh out loud on a regular basis, which of course, thrills us to no end and provides hours of entertainment. Shawn got Jude belly laughing, and I was actually able to capture it on camera - enjoy!

And then part two: A few minutes later, Jude was still laughing:

Monday, April 20, 2009

Matt and Patrice

I just wanted to pass along that there was a follow up story to Jonah's story written in the Winston-Salem Journal. Click HERE for the link. Please continue to keep them in your prayers.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

how to make baby butternut squash

We started Jude on solid food on his 5 month birthday, so I went ahead and prepared the squash a couple of days in advance. My friend Krista sent me this great resource for making your own baby food: Homemade Baby Food which is where I've gotten the bulk of my information. I'm actually finding that doing things like cloth diapering and making your own baby food seem to be trendy right now. I don't know if it's because the economy is down so frugality is more popular, if it's because of the organic push of the last few years, or if it's because going green is what all the cool kids are doing. I'm just grateful that there are so many great online resources. I don't know very many people here in Winston from whom to get advice about this stuff, so it's great that I can find so much great information online.



So in order to prove that making your own baby food is actually easy, I wanted to post step by step instructions as to how I did it. I started with butternut squash because I had squash soup that I wanted to make for Shawn and I, so I needed squash this week anyway. I would actually say that squash is probably one of the more difficult things to make. I made bananas a couple of days ago, and it took all of five minutes. I would imagine that any food that requires peeling involves extra work, but it was nonetheless crazy easy.



Step One: Ask Shawn what butternut squash looks like so you don't look like an idiot in the produce section.



Step Two: Find butternut squash in the produce section, and feel like a bit of an idiot carrying it around.



Step Three: Bring it home and let it sit on the counter for a few days. Wonder if maybe you're crazy for trying to do everything the hardest way possible.



Step Four: Cut the squash in half lengthwise after cutting off a strip of both ends to discard. Actually, start to cut the squash in half, then let Shawn take over because he doesn't trust your clumsy self with a knife.



Step Five: Lay the squash - "meat"side down - in a baking dish with an inch or two of water.



Step Six: Put the squash in a 400 degree oven for 4o minutes.



Step Seven: Scoop out the now softened "meat"





What the squash looked like completely skinned.



Step Eight: After taking out however much squash needed to make soup, put the squash in a blender and hit the "puree" button.




Step Nine: Add a bit of water (about 1/4 cup in this instance), hit puree again. Amuse Jude while he temporarily freaks out about the noise. Repeat step nine until the food is the consistency you'd like it - very smooth for new eaters, not as smooth for older eaters.




Step Ten: Spoon the squash into an ice cube tray designated as the new baby food holder. Nobody wants squash/banana flavored ice.





Step Eleven: Place cling wrap over the tray. As you'll see in later pictures, we had a bit of freezer burn, so I'm going to try foil next time.




Step Twelve: Place tray in freezer for several hours. Right under the pierogies, if possible.







Step Thirteen: Label a freezer bag, pop out the cubes, and place them into the freezer bag. Put the bag in the freezer.






Step Fourteen: To defrost, just take one cube out and put it in a bowl. Let the bowl sit in warm water for a few minutes.
Step Fifteen: Feed Jude the squash:



...and there you have it! At Jude's last appointment, he weighed 13 lbs 6 oz! He's still not a fatty pants, but he's growing at a great rate and seems to be doing really well. We're off to Tennessee this weekend as Shawn does his first wedding ever. Have a great weekend!

Monday, April 13, 2009

etcetera

Jude's first baseball hat...let the indoctrination begin!
Jude's first time in his jumperoo. This was taken a few weeks ago, he's quite proficient at jumping now.




Bathtime with Jude. We tried to keep it PG, but if you're listening carefully, you'll hear Shawn say, "bingbong." Fair warning. :)



Saturday, April 11, 2009

a letter to jude

Dear Jude,

Today, you are five months old. For five months we've been able to see you grow, develop, and learn with our own eyes. As I'm typing this, I'm watching you play in your Exersaucer. Where just a couple of weeks ago you had to stretch your toes to touch the bottom, your feet now rest flat and you're enjoying kicking them up and suspending yourself in the seat.

You've had a big month, sweet boy, filled with lots of "firsts." You rolled from your back to your tummy for the first time about a week ago. I think you would've done it sooner, but that cloth diaper gives your booty some extra weight to haul over! I was on the phone, making a Doctor's appointment, when you did it. Jude, you were so proud of yourself and quickly looked up to see if I noticed what you just did. I wanted to exclaim and shout, "yay!" but I'm sure the receptionist would've thought I was crazy. You also got your first hair cut this month! You had some crazy old man whispies behind your ears that flared straight out no matter what we did. Daddy finally decided it was time to cut it, so he trimmed it with his beard trimmer (with the safety on) while I held you. I think it tickled a little when we cut some of the hairs in the back, but you did so great! Almost all of the brunette hair with which you were born is now gone, and you're officially blond now. I was surprised by how bittersweet the trimming was - I got a little teary eyed as I was thinking about the hair that you grew in my womb. Nonetheless - you're one cute little blondie.
Finally, you had your first taste of "real" food this month! I made butternut squash, and you seemed to thoroughly enjoy it. We're now officially entering into the world of bibs, spoons, high chairs, and the airplane zoomy noise. I have a feeling this stage will be even more fun than the last.

Every day that you grow gives Daddy and I more glimpses into your personality. You have a very sweet heart that is sometimes tender and I even think compassionate, and you have a strength of will that is astounding. You now spend much of your day smiling and laughing, lighting up when Daddy and I make faces at you. You're starting to recognize the faces of people you see on a regular basis, and you really enjoy watching other kids. I have several favorite memories from the past month. It's hard to choose just a couple, but here goes:

- One day, you and I laid down on the bed, on our sides, facing each other. I was singing you songs, and you were amusing yourself with trying to get your fingers to my face. Right now, your favorite song in the world is "The Itsy Bitsy Spider." No matter how angry and worked up you are, that song will calm you down - even if only temporarily. You seem to find it hilarious when the spider gets washed out, you're in awe of the sun coming out, and at the end of the song you always look at me like, "Wow, Mommy. That old spider sure does have a lot of perseverance." In close second for your favorite song are, "The Wheels On The Bus," and "Victory In Jesus" (you especially like to hear about the mansions He has built for you in glory). Anyway, I'm getting severely sidetracked. I was singing "The Wheels On The Bus," and you were just cracking up when the bumps on the bus went up and down. Our faces were close to each other, and every time you laughed you reached out to my face to pull it close to yours. I'm pretty sure I sang that verse through five or six times because I was loving the sound of your giggle.

-You've started to imitate Daddy and I- very cool and very scary. You're working on making raspberries, and I love watching you do it the same way we do it.

-On nights when Daddy is home, he gets you naked and I get the bath water ready on bath nights. One night you guys were taking longer than usual. When I went to check on you Daddy had you - butt naked - dancing on the changing table to "Bootylicious." Daddy was singing, "I don't think you're ready for this, Mommy. I don't think you're ready for this, Mommy. I don't think you're read for this, 'cause my body's too bootylicious for ya, Mom." At least we're giving you plenty of fodder for your therapist.

You're a great kid, Jude and I have no doubt that God is working in you even now to reveal and execute His plan for you. Even at five months old, I can see Him molding you. I hope you know how much you're loved, I hope you understand how much Daddy and I cherish you, and I hope you sense that you are safe and adored. We love you forever, sweet boy.

Love,

Mommy and Daddy

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Coletrane and Me































I love our dog. He's a royal pain in the tush sometimes, but I do ultimately love him. He was my napping partner in pregnancy, curling up on the end of the bed while I napped early in pregnancy, and curling up right next to me on the guest bed when I found myself on bedrest towards the end. He let me cry right into his furry neck when I was overwhelmed and scared at the possibility of having a pre term baby, and he diligently keeps me safe when Shawn is out of town (even if he is a little over zealous in what constitutes a threat...he was very concerned about a snowman across the street one afternoon).

But about two or three weeks after we brought Jude home, I found myself hating our dog. Loathing him. I could barely walk for about a month after birth, so my Mom and then Shawn's parents took primary care of Cole while they were here. Shawn was able to take care of him most of the time after that, but once I could walk and I was home by myself most of the day with Jude and Cole, I almost couldn't stand the sight of him. One time he started pooping in the house, and Jude was screaming his head off. I was so frustrated that I just opened our back door and let Cole loose in our fenceless backyard. I ashamedly admit that I was half hoping that he'd just run off. To my dismay, he ran to the back of the yard, did his business, and came right back inside. Cole has an uncanny ability to decide to be particulary mischevious when my hands are full with Jude. He would bark just as soon as I got Jude down for a nap, or he would start chewing on something he shouldn't while I was breastfeeding and couldn't chase him down. Even when Cole would shake - jangling his ears and dog tag- right outside Jude's bedroom door, threatening to wake him - I would get so mad at him I'd clench my teeth, shake my fist at him, grab him by the collar, and drag him to his crate. I just couldn't handle him.

I knew my frustration with him was most likely projected frustration with Jude. After all, I couldn't really get upset at a helpless infant for not sleeping, but I COULD blame Cole. I couldn't take my sense of being overwhelmed and frustration at getting so little sleep out on Jude - but I could take it out on Cole. I couldn't yell at Jude when he was crying...and crying...and crying...but I could yell at Cole. Shawn noticed my increasingly short temper with Cole, and bought me the book "Marley and Me" for Christmas. It's an easy read, and I read it out loud while I was nursing Jude, so I worked through it pretty quickly. The story details the couple's marriage and then purchase of Marley...a hyperactive lab who was dubbed the world's worst dog. The wife (Jenny) was put on bedrest with their second child because of a risk of preterm labor (sound familiar?), and dealt with some postpartum depression after the birth. About three months after Jude was born, I read this excerpt from the book:

Complicating the sleep-deprived chaos that was our lives, our new baby had us terribly worried. Already underweight, Conor was unable to keep nourishment down. Jenny was on a single-minded quest to nurse him to robust health, and he seemed equally intent on foiling her. She would offer him her breast, and he would oblige her, sucking hungrily. Then, in one quick heave, he would throw it all up. She would nurse him again; he would eat ravenously, then empy his stomach yet again. Projectile vomiting became an hourly occurence in our lives. The doctors diagnosed reflux...Conor would eventually outgrow the condition and catch up on his weight, but for four long months we were consumed with worry over him. Jenny was a basket case of fear and stress and frustration, all exacerbated by lack of sleep, as she nursed him nearly nonstop and then watched helpess as he tossed her milk back at her. "I feel so inadequate," she would say. "Moms are supposed to be able to give their babies everything they need." Her fuse was as short as I had seen it, and the smallest infractions - a cupboard door left open, crumbs on the counter - would set her off.

The good news was that Jenny never once took out her anxiety on either baby. In fact, she nurtured both of them with almost obsessive care and patience. She poured every ounce of herself into them. The bad news was that she directed her frustration and anger at me and even more at Marley. She had lost all patience with him. He was squarely in her crosshairs and could do no right. Each transgression - and there continued to be many - pushed Jenny a little closer to the edge. Oblivious, Marley stayed the course with his antics and misdeeds and boundless jubilence...When he crashed through our small home, the bull in our china closest, I followed behind him, straightening throw rugs, righting coffee tables, and wiping up the spittle he flung on the walls. Before Jenny discovered them, I would race to vacuum up the wood chips in the garage where he had gouged the door once again. I stayed up late in the night patching and sanding so by morning when Jenny awoke the lastest damage would be covered over. "For God's sake, Marley, do you have a death wish?" I said to him one night as he stood at my side, tail wagging, licking my ear as I knelt and repaired the most recent destruction. "You've got to stop this."

It was into this volatile environment that I walked one evening. I opened the front door to find Jenny beating Marley with her fists. She was crying uncontrollably and flailing wildly at him, more like she was pounding a kettledrum than imposing a beating, landing glancing blows on his back and shoulders and neck. "Why? Why do you do this?" she screamed at him. "Why do you wreck everything?" Marley stood with his head down and legs splayed as though leaning into a hurricane. He didn't try to flee or dodge the blows; he just stood there and took each one without whimper or complaint. "Hey! Hey! Hey!" I shouted, grabbing her wrists. "Come on. Stop. Stop!" She was sobbing and gasping for breath. "Stop," I repeated. I stepped between her and Marley and shoved my face directly in front of hers. It was like a stranger was staring back at me. I did not recognize the look in her eyes. "Get him out of here," she said, her voice flat and tinged with a quiet burn. "Get him out of here now."

I can't say that I was entirely surprised when I found myself showing signs of postpartum depression. Shawn and I had talked a lot about how we would handle it if it did become an issue, and I talked to a few friends at length who dealt with it. We knew that it was temporary, mostly hormonal, and not something that was anyone's "fault." Still, I was surprised by the intensity of it, and my helplessness to change it or move past it. I was overwhelmed and didn't know how to deal with the stress, so I shut down. The feelings of being overwhelmed were honestly too much for me to handle, so I shut down ALL emotions so that I didn't have to deal with the stressful ones. I was flat, mostly monotone, and emotionless. Even Shawn asking what I wanted for dinner was too much. I felt like I was making a million decisions every ten minutes, unsure if any single one was the right one. I felt like I was forever trying to guess at the right thing, always fearful that my guess was wrong. Trying to decide what to have for dinner on top of that? Forget it. Mundane decisions were enough to break me down because I was already feeling the load of guessing and deciding and guessing again, and deciding something different. I distinctly remember being almost scared to be in crowds - especially church. I did my best to fake being happy and confident, but I knew someone would notice. I hated making small talk - my mind felt like a huge fuzzy mess - making small talk was way beyond what I could handle.

My brain was foggy, my eyes were empty, my voice was flat, and my emotions were nonexistent. Sometimes I would crack, though. I quietly cried myself to sleep after being up with Jude in the wee hours of the night for two or three weeks. After a few particularly trying nights, I'd wake Shawn up, hand Jude to him, and heave huge sobs of inadequacy, doubt, frustration, anxiety, and sadness. Poor Shawn didn't know who to deal with first - his screaming infant or sobbing wife. I was helpless to change the way I was dealing with my new stress, but for the life of me, I couldn't make myself feel emotion, smile, or get excited about much. Jude was a couple weeks late at smiling, and I deeply worried that he was stunted because I didn't smile enough at him. The first time he smiled at me was on his changing table, and I rested my head on the edge of the changing mat and cried. I was so relieved. It's a frustrating feeling - to want to be happy, but to feel incapable. I suppose I thought that to allow any emotion in would mean that I'd have to deal with the emotions of being overwhelmed, and well...I didn't have the luxury of time for a breakdown.

I felt like I was last on the list, and I resented Cole a little bit for even being before me on that list. When I could sit Jude down for a minute or two, Cole needed tending. Forget grabbing a quick shower, eating lunch, or even changing out of my pjs...Cole had to poop, needed food, needed water, or was barking like a maniac. I never wailed on Cole like Jenny did Marley, but I did take most of my frustrations out on him. The puppy never seemd to mind. He took my anger, screams, and mutters of "stupid dog" in stride. The only thing he seemed to do differently was to desire to be by my side (and underfoot) more, which only served to add to my frustration. No amount of yelling, pushing, or ignoring was enough to stop that dang dog from loving me uncoditionally.

I wish I knew exactly how it was that I came through postpartum depression. To be honest, I wish I knew that it's completely in the past. I still feel overwhelmed, but I try to handle those feelings a little differently. I run two or three times a week, and use that time to problem solve, to zone out, to vent frustration, and to just get away. I focus on eating healthfully and try to get as many fruits and veggies in my diet as I can. I do my best to talk openly with Shawn and my Mom when I find myself feeling helplessly overwhelmed again, and I head to the coffee shop or grab a bath when time allows. I started noticing that my ability to handle the stress was directly linked to how much sleep I was getting, so I let Shawn get up with Jude if I know he's not waking up out of hunger. Beyond that, my advice to anyone finding themselves in the middle of postpartum depression that isn't severe (if you have the desire to hurt yourself, your baby, or anyone else, please see a doctor now) would be to do your best to keep healthy, get rest, talk openly about it, take as much as possible off of your plate, and then wait it out. The hormones will balance eventually and you'll soon find yourself realizing that you've gone an entire week without a meltdown.

Shawn's not here as I write this, so I won't even attempt to describe what it's like from his perspective. I know it's not easy, though. I know he sometimes feels like he can't ever do enough to give me relief and I can't imagine how much this has worn on him for the past four and a half months. He's a great man, though, and a wonderful husband, and there's nobody else with whom I'd rather be taking this journey. If you're a husband reading this though, I can describe a few of the things Shawn's done that have helped. Perhaps most importantly, Shawn's listened and held me when I've cried. It's huge when he doesn't try to ask me why I'm doing so much and adding to my stress, but just listens to me. He's not complained about having to get up with Jude occasionally in the night, and he's glad to take Jude from when when I'm at my wits end.

Coletrane and I are slowly making up. He's still as obnoxious as ever - barking way too often, chewing on Jude's pacifiers, and pooping in the house - but my attitude towards him is starting to change again. He's barking because he's trying to protect Jude and I, he chews on Jude's pacifier because he doesn't know that it's not his toy, and he poops in the house because, well - he's the world's worst dog. And I'm starting to love him for that.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

a post while jude naps

Happy Saturday to you! I hope you're finding time to rest and if you live in Winston-Salem, to enjoy this ridiculously nice weather. I'm in the process of washing cloth diapers and am excited to dry them on the line today (I've been drying them in the dryer...which I think makes them hold the smell more, or on the back of our kitchen chairs...which doesn't exactly do wonders for our decor), and I'm thinking I might take Jude for a walk in the park a little bit later today. Shawn left yesterday to drive to Atlanta with a bunch of Jr. High students for CIY:Believe, so I got to bed a little earlier last night and am buzzing from that extra hour and a half of sleep (or it could be because I've had two cups of half-caff coffee as compared to my usual one...and I think I accidentally made it a little more caff than half this time). I used to get really bummed when Shawn was gone on youth trips that I couldn't attend, but about a year ago I started using his absence to "pretty-fi" myself - face mask, painting my toenails, nice long bubble bath, eyebrow damage control, etc. I still miss the living daylights out of Shawn, but setting some time aside to pamper myself made the time go more quickly. Obviously I don't have nearly the time with Jude that I used to, but I did manage a face mask and some eyebrow plucking last night after Jude went to bed.

I took Jude to the Doctor yesterday because our home scale was showing that he was steadily decreasing in weight and it actually weighed him at 12 pounds yesterday (compared to the 13 pounds it weighed him at about a week ago). I was concerned, but relatively un-freaked. It looks like our scale isn't weighing him all that well - he weighed in at 12 lbs 12oz at the Doctor's office. The Doc said he had gained about a half an ounce a day, which is well within normal range. Hooray! I had also noticed that he seemed quite reflux-ey lately and didn't seem to be eating as well, so I talked to the Doctor about his medicine. I wasn't sure if reflux medicine can just begin to lose its affect like that, but was assured that it can. She gave us a nine day sample of Prevacid to try. I think that's the medicine that finally did the trick for my nephew, Asher. Hopefully Jude will grow out of this whole mess soon!

If you'll allow me a brief aside, I need to let you know that as long as I've been writing this blog, I've pondered whether the "D" in "doctor" is capitalized or not. You may have noticed that I go back and forth between capitalizing and not...any grammar freaks out there know the protocol? You might wonder if I've also pondered the grammatical stability of my run on sentences that seem to abound. You may rest assured that I indeed do not. I'm a big fan of both run on sentences and incomplete sentences in my blog writing, as that's how I talk. In run ons. And incomplete sentences.

And now for one more aside. I've wanted to blog about postpartum depression for a few weeks now, and have even started a time or two - but I'm at a loss for how to address the topic. As Jennifer Knapp sings, "I've never been much for the baring of soul in the presence of any man. I'd rather keep to myself all safe and secure, in the arms of a sinner I am." I hesitate at laying my struggles out there for all to see, but I feel compelled to share. Towards the end of my pregnancy a couple of friends of mine shared with me (and their husbands with Shawn) about their personal postpartum depression struggles. When I realized I was in the middle of it myself, I took so much comfort in knowing their story, knowing they came through it, and knowing the signs for which to look. I also think their husbands helped Shawn know how to help and cope with seeing before him a very different woman than the one whom he married. So bare with me while I work at being authentic with you. This blog is as much a journal for me as it is a way to keep friends and family updated. I want to be able to look back at this time in my life -the good, the bad, and the ugly. I will blog about this topic, I feel compelled to do so, and hope to do so soon.

I think Jude is starting to stir from his nap, so I'll add a few more pictures from Jenn. Enjoy them and then get out there and enjoy the beautiful sunny Saturday!








I would say this is the look he has on his face most of the time - inquisitive and adorable.
















I'm pretty sure I'll never get tired of seeing him in that hat. My little elf. :)















Shawn was super excited about Jude's first Pittsburgh hat. Looks like Jude is, too!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

can you resist

...just eating up those cheeks?! If so, then you are a better person than I. My theory is that God put a magnet inside them, and my lips are absolutely powerless to resist. No sense fighting it - those cheeks are made for kisses!

Our friend Jenn from
Photographic Memories took some more shots of Jude this past weekend. He was much more polite this time - refraining himself from peeing on her props and even giving her a few smiles. If you live in the Winston area, I would highly recommend Jenn. Check out the pricing on her website - she's really not kidding when she says she only charges $40 for an hour long sitting fee, and then gives you the CD of edited images to print wherever and as often as you'd like. I don't normally "plug" people like this, but you have to admit - that's a killer deal! Once she has all of the images edited, I'll pass along the link to the online album and those of you who also cannot help but swallow Jude's cheeks whole (ahem...grandparents!) can feel free to print, frame, or make into a poster size to hang above your couch. ;) For now, though, I thought I'd pass along a few of the pictures that Jen has emailed to me. There will be more coming soon!