Sunday, July 31, 2011

What a Week!

Well, I attempted to post earlier this week.  In fact, I had an entire post written out.  Unfortunately, between my internet spacing out and the blog website malfunctioning, the post both failed to post and to save.  

My ear infection was really bad, and it took until about Thursday for it to even begin to feel like it was clearing up.  I guess that the moral of the story is to get to the doctor ASAP . . . and to find a PCP (primary care physician) who will actually give you an "emergency" appointment in the morning when you call up writhing in pain instead of making you wait until that night.

Natalie seems to be doing much better--the fussiness is not as constant, and we actually have times when she will sit happily.  She's been fussy today, but that might just be because we had her out all day at Hamilton Street Festival where the 57's played.  Pictures will be below!

Today . . . drum roll please . . . Patrick FIXED MY DISHWASHER!!!  I was literally so excited about this fact that I wanted to dirty up a bunch of dishes just so that I could load them in the dishwasher and not have to wash them by hand.  Keeping a clean home while taking care of an infant is hard enough without one's dishwasher being out of commission!

Our sermon was really convicting today.  I was reminded that, when trying to win souls for Christ, it is important just to listen and to be a friend.  Instead of jumping immediately to point out the sin of others, it is vital to first show them the love of God by merely showing that God's people care about the lives and well-being of those who are not Christians.  Yes, Christianity is "exclusive" in that there is only one way to God--through Jesus Christ--but it is also "inclusive" in that we are to radiate the love which God has showered upon us to others.  John 13:35 teaches, "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”  Not only do we need to love our brothers and sisters in the Lord, but we also need to love those around us.

I am making it my goal to get to know at least one person in the next month in the hopes that one soul will see that Christians love.  In my conversations, I hope to listen and care while gently pointing to Christ.  I know that I can be quick to jump to conclusions and that I have a tendency to be judgmental, so I pray that I will go into this with an open mind that I may best shine forth the light that has been given to me.

We'll see how it goes.  Whether it is going to the same cashier at ShopRite (mine is now finally open!!) every week or stopping the neighbor from the building across the street as she gardens, I am determined to step out of my comfort zone and to share the wonderful gift of God's love with others.

Patrick and Greg

Patrick and Greg

Sam, Patrick, and Greg

Sam on the Hula Hoop
Natalie and Marissa

Me and Inge Hula Hoop!
Patrick has some moves!

Monday, July 25, 2011

One Kid or Two?

Last night was probably the most difficult and the least restful that I have had since Natalie was born.  Two hours after she went to bed, I woke up writhing with the pain in my ear.  In fact, it was so bad that I almost went to the emergency room.  However, I did a little research and discovered that taking some Sudafed could help those with allergies and ear infections . . . seeing how I haven't taken my prescription allergy medications or any kind of antihistamine since Natalie was born, I figured that perhaps this was partly allergy induced.

After taking two Sudafed and a heavy dose of pain killers, I decided that I could wait it out until morning.  Natalie promptly woke up and wanted to be fed.  Once she was fed, she did not want to go back to sleep.  By this point, it was almost 2 AM!  I put her in her crib and decided that, since the monitor was off in our room so that Patrick could sleep, I would just stay up for a little while until she calmed down.  Unfortunately, Patrick had turned the monitor back on thinking that he might have to give her a bottle if I ended up going to Patient First (which was closed anyway) . . . so my sacrifice was a little pointless.

Half an hour later, Natalie was asleep.  She woke up again at 3, though, and cried for a few minutes before falling asleep again only to repeat this process every ten minutes for an hour.  At this point, I had moved to the sofa so that Patrick could get some sleep.  I was still in a lot of pain.  Finally, I decided at 4 AM to go and pick the baby up to see if she had a dirty diaper--she doesn't usually cry and then fall back to sleep, let alone do it for that long.  Immediately after I put her upright, she stopped crying, smiled, burped, and fell promptly back to sleep.

Once I was back at the sofa, I began to close my eyes only to hear several loud "MEOOOWWS!"  Apparently Pippi, thinking that it wasn't fair for me to be up and tending to the baby and not paying her (Pippi) any attention, decided that it was time to play.  In fact, she walked up dragging her favorite toy in her mouth and then proceeded to drop it by the sofa with a few yowls.  She was mad when I went back to sleep.

Natalie woke up again at 6:30 AM, and then she remained awake and fussy for most of the day.  Needless to say, I am utterly exhausted.  My house is a mess, and I have a doctor's appointment for my ear this evening . . . after 7 PM was the only time they could squeeze me in, despite my level of discomfort.

Anyway, instead of one kid it seems that I have two, and the older one is very much jealous of the attention that Natalie receives.  The minute I put Natalie down is the moment Pippi jumps up on me and refuses to budge.  She thinks that she is more fun than the baby because she can bring me her toys and play with me . . . and she doesn't require the level of care that Natalie does.  Poor Pips is used to not having to share my attention.

Natalie, on the other hand, also gets very upset when she doesn't have my attention (at this point, the doctor says it is still the reflux that makes her need to be held belly to belly all the time).  In fact, Natalie gets soooo upset in her crib that she scoots from the middle of the crib to the head of the crib and moves her body from being parallel with the crib sides to being perpendicular to them.  If she's really mad, she rolls over.  Yes, that's right.  My little not-quite-five-week-old has rolled over twice now.  The first time was last Monday and the second was this afternoon.  She is both strong-limbed and strong-willed.  Hopefully she'll lose the will-part.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

An Ear Infection and Blessings

This post will contain updates, a sermon "nugget," and thankfulness for the church home to which God has brought our family.

The good news:  Mommy has on her favorite pair of pre-pregnancy blue jeans!!!

I am so excited--all of the weight that I gained during pregnancy is GONE!  Unfortunately, the weight that remains is all in different places than it was before, so I have a long way to go before all of my clothes fit again.  Still, it felt absolutely amazing to be comfortably wearing my jeans again (no elastic waist bands!)!

The bad news:  Mommy has a really bad ear infection.


Natalie is on full day two of Zantac, so hopefully we will begin to see some marked signs of improvement with her reflux issues.  Watching her be uncomfortable and in pain has been very difficult.

Today's sermon from Pastor Taylor was on the importance of Christian community.  We were reminded how vital it is to come together as the body of Christ and to shine forth His love as a unit, as well as to pray for those believer's around the world who are a part of the community of Christ even though we do not know them.

It was wonderful to be back at our church again.  Just over a year ago, Patrick and I left New Covenant Presbyterian Church in an attempt to find a place more close to home.  Forty minutes one way, especially when we were trying for a baby, was just too far to be as involved as we wanted and it did not practically let us serve in the church.

After visiting a few places (one where the preaching was good but the people unwelcoming and another where the music was great but the preaching was "iffy" and the people less than friendly), we walked into the doors of our current church.  After being warmly greeted before the service, we were blessed not only by the message but also by those who surrounded us afterward.  We left thinking, "This feels like home!"

When we went the next week, one sweet woman told another, "This is Patrick and Erin--this is their second week in a ROW!"  That pretty much cinched for us.  The doctrine of the church was in line with our own, the messages were both challenging and encouraging, and we once again felt like part of a family.  Being located three minutes from the church (we could literally ride our bikes to church if we so desired . . . which we do not!), we have been able to host people in our home, serve through playing music and singing both for the church services and the youth meetings, participate in the choir, and take part in church dinners.  We love it.

Every week we are surrounded by people "drooling" over Natalie and asking us in what ways they can pray for our family.  Should I need them, I feel like I have an ever-ready support team waiting in the wings.  There are women to whom I can address questions (there are even a few nurses thrown in the mix!), men to whom Patrick can apply for wisdom, and friends whom we both have come to rely and love.

Having a community of loving believers surround us has been so uplifting, humbling, and amazing.  I praise God for our church and pray that He will continue to bless it.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Things I Have Learned Since Becoming a Mom

I have learned a lot of things since becoming a mom--some funny, some painful, and some just plain frustrating.  Since I believe that life begins at the moment of conception, I am going to include things that I discovered while I was pregnant as well.

#1.  Pregnant bellies are not always cute and round.

I remember the first time that I thought, "Oh my GOSH!  What will people think?!"  I was walking into Target when I happened to look down at my belly.  Instead of being cute and round, it was . . . lopsided and unsymmetrical.  Nobody ever told me that that would happen.  I was seriously bothered.  :-)

#2.  Going to the bathroom all the time is not just limited to the daytime.

Sure, I knew that pregnant women had to go ALL the time during the day, but I was under the delusion that it would stop at night.  Boy was I wrong.  I haven't had a decent night's sleep since last October!

#4.  Feeling the baby kick inside the womb is not all laughs and giggles.

It hurts.  Plain and simple.

#5.  Heartburn and reflux really are "that bad."

Enough said.

#6.  Mothers know best.

Certainly I had always heard this mantra, but now I  know it to be completely true.  Twice in the last month I have seen that my instincts are spot on: both with my recovery problems and with Natalie's gas and screaming fits.  After calling/seeing doctors, it was deemed that I had a serious issue and that she has reflux.

#7.  Late night feedings are not so bad.

I mean it.  Other than the initial, "Man, I just want to SLEEP!" things really are kind of nice once I settle down to feed my baby.  Looking down at her happy little cute face, so excited to be about to eat, any irritation at my disturbance melts away.

#9.  I will kill for this child.

You hurt my baby, you're in major trouble.  Although I have always been super protective of those whom I love (just ask about the times that my parents or my husband have had to keep me from rushing to call up someone who has hurt one of my siblings or my parents), this feeling has been magnified 100 fold now that I hold this precious child in my arms.  Guess this means that you'd better watch out when dealing with the rest of my family, too . . .

#10.  Pink outfits and purple hair bows do not keep people from asking her sex.

#11.  God must REALLY love us.

For as much as I love this little girl, for as much as she is the apple of my eye, for as much as I would rather take on all pain and suffering for her, God must really love His chosen people because sending His only Son to die in our place shows a love beyond comprehension.  

#12.  I will never tell a pregnant woman that she is huge, say "Are you STILL HERE?!?" or tell her my birth story unless she asks (you would be amazed how many people want to share horror stories with a first-time pregnant woman!).

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Don't Knock It Til You Know Us

Recently, I have had a few comments made to me regarding home schooling and it's lack of socialization and effectiveness.  Each of these statements have been qualified by a "You and your siblings are the exception--home schooling really worked for you, but it usually doesn't" or some such remark.

I'm going to stand on my soap box here for a minute or two and address these observations.

As one who was home schooled for twelve years and one who intends to home school, I know how most of the accusations against home schooling are untrue firsthand.

Growing up, most of my friends were home schooled . . . and most of these friends went to college on full scholarships and have turned out to be very successful (and sociable) people.

When I was younger, people would stop my family and ask us if were were home schooled because we were "so polite and able to carry on sophisticated conversations with adults."

Nine out of ten of my professors in college were thrilled to discover that I was home schooled because they felt that, from past experiences with home schooled students, home schoolers were usually very organized, respectful, hard working students who strove to do well.  They loved having home schooled individuals in their classes.

It is my belief that people are stuck back several decades ago in their beliefs and attitudes about home schooling.  Home schooling has become a well established "institution" in America and throughout the world, and time has proven that it is a viable, successful means of educating one's children.

Granted, I do know families that should not have home schooled (for various reasons), but I can only think of two out of hundreds at the moment.  There are children in public and private schools who struggle to succeed and who are shy/antisocial, but nobody comments on those students.  As with anything, there are always a few "bad apples" in the bunch, but it is unfair to judge the majority based on one or two cases.

Don't knock it until you know us.  I would dare anyone who thinks that home schoolers fail to be socialized and are under-schooled to get to know ten home schooling families.  If your opinion has not changed after that, then fine.  However, please do not lump all of us together because of rumors that you have heard or one bad family that you have seen.

Okay, I'm done ranting now.  I honestly would not be choosing to give up my career to home school my children unless I thought that home schooling was an effective, wonderful way of educating my children.  In no way am I saying that home schooling is the only or most elite way to do things, but I believe that it is the  best choice for my family.  I am proud to be a home school graduate, and I am excited to be a home schooling mom.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Two Years Later . . .

Monday was my two year anniversary.  It seems almost strange to think that two years ago I was preparing for my wedding day when on Monday I was making breakfast, nursing my almost four week old daughter, changing diaper number six of the day, and setting up my new bluetooth so that I can talk on the phone while doing these things.  So much has changed in the last two years, and I am a very blessed woman.

Natalie is four weeks old today, and she has been doing really well.  At night, she sleeps for at least one five and a half hour stretch.  She is a big eater and an ever-growing bundle of love and joy.  Now if only I can remain consistent as I attempt to train her not to scream every time I put her down while she's awake.  She does not need to be in my arms as I furiously bleach the bathroom or work with raw meat.

While some may feel that my college education has been "wasted," I feel that being a wife and mother is God's ultimate calling for me.  I now am beginning to take joy in having a clean house.  Not that I didn't love having it clean before, but now I'm actually motivated and am finding housework just a little bit more enjoyable.  My house is actually looking better now more often than it did before I had Natalie.  Weird, but true!

I love cooking for my husband, and, while I do have the occasional bags under my eyes, I actually don't mind getting up in the middle of the night to change diapers and feed Natalie.  In fact, it brings me satisfaction to know that I am able to let Patrick get good rest for work by getting up quickly when the baby wakes up in the wee hours of the mornings.

Life now is so much better than it was two years ago.  If I thought that I loved Patrick then, I had no idea how much more I would love him now.  After two years, we get along better, we have more in common, and we are continuing to grow as one.

It warms my heart to see him grab Natalie as soon as he gets home.  He hoards time with her before she goes to bed . . . and that includes changing her diapers and holding her as she fusses.  We spend time as a family and then time as a couple.

Recently, I was told that now that the baby is here, "He loves her so much--now you're just along for the ride."  This could not be farther from the truth--both the truth of reality and the truth of what the Bible teaches.  We believe that our marriage needs to be first and foremost--if our marriage tanks, so will our family.  If our marriage suffers, so will our children.  Children are a blessing and are important, but so is our marriage.  Please pray for us as we strive to build our marriage while we raise Natalie and the children that we pray will come after her.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Natalie Rae

Well, my last post seems rather funny to me now since I went into labor that night and early Wednesday morning.  Natalie Rae was born hearty and healthy at 10:22 PM on June 22, 2011.  Unfortunately, I had a a few complications and have had a few glitches in my recovery, so this post will be very short and it may be a while before I am really able to sit at the computer again.

God has been very good to us so far, and we are very thankful.  It is humbling for me to have to ask for and accept help in caring for the baby as I have an extended healing time, but God is teaching me great things during this time.

I am so blessed to have a beautiful baby and a wonderful husband.  Patrick has been so supportive during this time, and he has been caring for and protecting me and the baby in such a tender way.

Just wanted to give an update as to why I haven't posted and why it may be a week or two before I post again.