Sunday, June 19, 2011

"I'm a big kid now!"

I love that I can say this next sentence: I have a potty trained child!! It was so much easier to train him than I though it would be and he has been accident free for days on end. If he does have the occasional accident, it's only one and it always tends to be after Levi is home (when they are too busy playing!) But accidents are very rare, and they are always easy clean ups!

He loves, loves, loves to pee on grass! We spent all day Friday and Saturday away from the house and even though I brought a spare change of clothes, I never had to use them! He has marked his territory all over town: our house, Goose Lake, the park, the zoo, our friends back name it! He has no problem whipping down those pants and aiming for the grass!

I thought for certain that #2 was going to be a hassle. I've always heard that it is the last to be mastered and often takes months to accomplish. Well, not for Lucas! Since the day we started potty training, he only had the one poo accident. He must really not like the feel of messy undies because he will not allow himself to go until he's found a potty. Lucky, lucky, me!

He constantly refers to himself as a big kid and I finally realized that he's exactly right. I had a happy/sad moment when I looked down and realized there was absolutely no baby to him anymore. Of course, he's always going to be my baby, but he is sure grown up. He talks in full sentences, has his own ideas and opinions about everything, drinks out of normal cups, and is potty trained. I have no idea how it all happened so fast, and right before my very own eyes!

A few nights ago he insisted on sitting in his highchair. This totally caught me off guard and I thought it was strange because he has not physically sat in that thing for well over a year. I thought it would be fun to play baby and see how much he has grown. Notice on the right how the slit in the highchair is level with his cheek, yet now it is just above his elbow?? What a big boy, huh?!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Staying Home

I read a statistic today that really got to me. Did you know that 50% of children under the age of 3 are cared for by adults other than their parents? Maybe it's just me, but I could not live with myself if I let someone else fill the mommy role in their lives. In fact, I do daycare for that exact reason. I have no problems watching other children, but there's just no way you'll convince me to let anyone else watch mine.

I take my role as a mother very seriously and see it as my duty to love, nurture, educate, and provide experiences for my boys. I don't believe that anyone can care for them in any comparable manner. Realizing that my son will soon be going into preschool both excites and worries me. He is only going to be enrolled into the part time class that meets two days a week from 9-12ish, but even this thought gives me anxiety. I know this is a service he will benefit greatly from and I am so happy that I have not had to give up any mommy time until now.

I am so blessed and fortunate to be a stay-at-home-mother and I never take that realization for granted. I know there are many women who have to work and I applaud them for taking an active roll in the financial stability of their family. I often wonder how things would be if the tables were reversed. I like to think that I would rather live in poverty than be away from my children...but I know that's not a reality. Would I really give up spending the day with them unless I absolutely had too?

Even on a day like day, where my patience has been repeatedly tested, I am thankful to be right where I home!

And even though this picture is a blurry mess, I absolute love it! I could kiss this boy ALL. DAY. LONG.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Enough Love?

I recently had an episode of such an overwhelming emotional connection to my unborn baby...and it was quite a touching moment. He was actively bouncing around in my belly and I envisioned holding him for the first time and kissing him on his sweet little cheeks. I have been excited, but until recently I have not truly felt the connection that I do now. His presence is nearing and my desire to see his face is almost irresistible! I am already beginning to think of us as a family of four and realizing how that affects us in every way imaginable (travel, holidays, etc). But even after all these feelings of joy I constantly seem to be asking myself if its going to last.

Will I still feel this overwhelming love for him when he his born? Lucas has been my baby for the past two and a half years and sometimes I fear that I could never love another person in the way that I do him. I have been fortunate enough to stay home and raise my son and the bond we've created with each other is unmatching, or so I seem to believe. Most parents have more than one child, and I know this, but does the second experience pale in comparison to the first? Am I always going to be comparing this little one to his older brother? Am I going to have unrealistic expectations for him? Will they find it necessary to fight for my affection? Or will I find myself favoring one son over the other as they grow? I have so many fears that the love I feel for this baby is not going to be the same love that I have for Lucas. But even if its not the same love, will it at least be equal love?

Levi is my rock. He supports me physically, emotionally, financially, and absolutely everything in between. When we got married I never imagined that I would love another person more than him. Becoming a mother hasn't made me love him any less, but I realize that a greater part of my heart had been reserved for my Lucas. He came into this world just when I needed him most and has been my everything from the moment I was able to call him mine. Starting our married life together was not easy being away from all of my family and friends, but we always had each other. Lucas soon became that constant presence where all of my love and energy was naturally shifted.

We recently watched an episode of the cartoon "Franklin" where he was preparing for the birth of his baby sister. He was really sad and told one of his friends his fear that his parents would love the new baby more than they loved him. His friend, who was a big brother himself, reassured him that his parents were going to love them both equally. He asked Franklin who he loved best; his mom or his dad? Franklin thought it was a silly question and said he loved them both. His friend explained that even though you love your mom and your dad in different ways and for different reasons, you love them both just the same. He claimed that it was the same with children...parents love them both equally, but may show it in different ways.

This episode touched me more than I expected and it honestly almost made the cry. I think it was exactly what I needed to hear. I already know that I am going to love this new baby unconditionally. He is a combination of myself and my husband and was created entirely out of love and excitement. We are thrilled to give Lucas a sibling and to enjoy raising a set of boys. But sometimes I just can't shake these thoughts in my head. My greatest prayer is that all of these fears will fly out of the window the moment I hold my son and share him with our family. Parenthood is definitely a roller coaster of emotions...even from the beginning. I guess everybody just needs a little bit of reassurance every now and again.

The power of support

Yesterday was a very big day in the realm of baby preparation. No, we didn't work on the nursery or buy items still in need. But I successfully got two ladies on board for the big adventures we are about to take!

The Southcentral Foundation offered in-home nurse visits for Lucas each month for the first year of his life. Nurse Rachael was a pleasure to work with and such a comfort to a new mother such as myself. I contacted her yesterday to inform her we are just a few months away from having another little one and she was beyond thrilled! She works with such a large number of families and it felt wonderful that she remembered us so well. She said she could never forget Lucas...he never failed to impressed her! He was always doing activities and talking sooner than he should have and she truly looked forward to seeing us each month. I am so excited that she wants to be a part of our lives again and offer the support and guidance to our family that we appreciated so much. It is a true blessing to have a service dedicated to the health and well being of your baby. Having someone involved to help diminish your fears, answer any questions, and praise your accomplishments as a parent is a service that every family should have. I'm grateful that my boys are native and receive such a fantastic service at no cost to us.

My midwife came by yesterday for an in-home prenatal visit and everything is going great! I've now been bumped up to bi-weekly appointment because my due date is fast approaching. She even offered to just come to me for the remainder of my pregnancy, which is great! The main midwife that we have have been working with to date is not going to be able to attend our birth. We were really saddened by this news because our family really grew to like her, including Lucas. The head midwife has been on vacation for some time, but she finally returned and was the one who visited us yesterday. She was the one that we conducted our initial interview with and I honestly forget how much we liked her! She was on the floor playing with Lucas and made herself comfortable in my home. She's super nice, knowledgeable, and experienced. (She has been delivering babies for 20+ years.) I'm really excited that we are going to have her at our birth! We were discussing who she was going to bring along with her and she mentioned that she may try to get an apprentice midwife from the valley to assist. I was immediately thrilled to find out it is the herbalist who I've attended a class with and even purchased products from. She is also the one who will be doing our placenta encapsulation, and she is a Doula as well! I contacted her yesterday and invited her to attend if she was available during my due date and she said that she was absolutely honored! I really like both of these women and I think that their combined presence is going to be a perfect mix for the birth experience we hope to have!

So all in all, I got great news from two ladies in one day! I'm very pleased how everything is coming together and very happy with the ladies who will be with us to welcome our baby into this world, and to follow his development for the first year of his life. Support is a power concept. It means a great deal to me to have such wonderful people by my side as we take the journey to parenthood once again.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Beginning Sushi Maker

Anyone who knows me knows just how much I love sushi! It's ridiculous how much I love it. I would probably eat it every day if I were wealthy and could afford to. The hardest part about being pregnant has been my inability to eat many of the rolls and such that I crave. Yes, there are many suitable alternates that are cooked and safe to eat, but its just not the same. When I was pregnant with Lucas I dreamed about sushi all the was such a tease. This time around I have been cautious about my choices, but there was just no way you could keep me out of a sushi restaurant for 9 months again. It just wasn't gonna happen! I've already made it a point that I expect delicious raw sushi within the first week of giving birth!

Last night a friend and I left our boys with their dads and went to a beginning sushi making class through Let's Cook Alaska. It was a wonderful class where we learned the basics of creating sushi rice, Japanese ginger-carrot dressing, rolls, and nigiri. And best of all...we got to eat our creations!

Considering this was a basic course, the roll the instructor chose to have us make was a California roll. This was the first roll I ever tried years ago and since becoming a sushi lover, I have not tried one again. Its a very Americanized roll with none of the raw goodies that I love so much, but it was a perfect first choice to learn how to make.

We were taught how to properly cut the avocado, cucumber, and crabsticks for them to fit most effectively. The sticky rice had been prepared for us in advance, but we were told the best rice to buy and how to prepare it in the most flavorful way.

After spreading the sushi rice across the entire sheet of nori, we stuffed it full of our goodies. Some people had a difficult time rolling it up properly, but I was a pro! It can be a little tricky and you really need to use the bamboo rolling mat to help distribute the pressure evenly. And you also need to ensure that you don't accidentally trap the plastic wrap inside...that wouldn't make for good eating. Once rolled you want to wrap it up in the plastic wrap and let it chill in the fridge for a few minutes.

Our next project was to make some nigiri. We were able to chose between tuna or shrimp. Of course I was drooling over the delicious and fresh cut of raw tuna, but had to resist for my baby's sake. The shrimp was placed on a skewer, boiled for 3 minutes, and then immediately dunked into cold water. I peeled off the skin and fanned it out similar to a butterfly. You take a small glob of sushi rice and shape it into an oval mound similar in size to the piece of fish you will be placing on top. You then add a small smear of wasabi which acts as the glue that binds the two together. You press it down and've made nigiri!

I was very impressed with the final presentation! After we all filled our plates with our creations the entire class (which is very small because this is taught out of a home!) sat together and dined at a large circular table. It was a nice end to the night and everyone loved their dinner!

I think it's hilarious that everyone can get full off of one roll. My friend told me that her and her husband usually share 2 rolls plus an appetizer. I laughed and bragged that Levi and I always get four rolls plus appetizers! I have this amazing ability to put away sushi like no other! Anyone that I've dined with can confirm. I may be tiny but I definitely don't mess around when it comes to sushi!

I can't wait to experiment some more and get really comfortable making my own homemade sushi! Dining out always costs us quite a bit...but I'm always satisfied with my food. I definitely want to take the advanced sushi class and learn some more skills. The class is a total of 2 hours, which includes the meal, so I think it would make for a perfect date night! Mine and Levi's very first date was out to sushi and it is such a large part of our relationship. We've done our best to pass on the love to Lucas. He has his own little chopsticks that he's gotten pretty good at using. His favorite things to eat are rice, flying fish eggs and of course, edamame - Yum!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Potty Weekend

Levi and I didn't really plan on making this last weekend our "intense potty training weekend," but that's exactly what it turned into. Lucas turned 2.5 last month and our ultimate goal is to have him successfully using the potty before his baby brother makes his debut in just a little over two months. I am a realistic person and understand that even if we get him trained there is a great chance that he will revert with the new baby. That's just what happens. But I went into this journey with an open mind and and no large expectations. I think that's the most important thing you can do for your own sanity. I've heard that potty training is the most challenging activity you conquer as a parent and it will test your patience time and time again. Here's to hoping it isn't entirely stressful and unproductive this time around.

After Lucas woke up on Saturday morning Levi changed his diaper and decided to put on a pair of underwear. I'll admit that I was a little shocked and wasn't sure if I was ready for the struggle ahead. We brought him into the bathroom nearly every hour and turned potty time into story time, which is one of his favorite activities. He would pick the book and we would head into the bathroom to sit. At the end of the day we had 2 successes and 3 accidents. We had put him in a diaper for nap, but the moment he woke up he asked to have his underwear back on. He obviously likes them! We started off to a great start and I was thankful that Lucas wasn't resisting this new process as much as I believed he would.

On Sunday we didn't have as much of a success. We woke in the morning to find that our vehicles had been broken into and Levi's cell phone had been stolen. It was kind of a frazzled day and we were both a bit frustrated about the entire ordeal. I think this had an affect on Lucas because he had only 1 success and nearly 5 accidents. We had errands to run in the morning and although I was extremely nervous leaving him in his undies in public...there were no accidents at that time! We came home to try and he pee'd while walking into the bathroom. After nap was just accident after accident and he really seemed to have lost interest. He pooped in his undies and after cleaning up that disgusting mess he insisted on putting a diaper back on. I think that stressed him out a bit and he really didn't want to try again.

As you can imagine I was a little hesitant on starting this all over again on Monday...especially having two additional toddlers for the day. But Lucas definitely surprised me! When he woke up I asked him to try and use the potty and he immediately said no. He was walking around the house holding himself and so I figured he had already gone in his diaper and just let it be. But he finally told me that he wanted to go potty, so off we headed to the bathroom. He sat down, smiled at me and said, "I'm going!"

He had been holding it the entire time and actually went on his own! Ten minutes later I hear him yelling "Yay, I went potty again!" I was in the living room and had no idea that he had even gone back into the bathroom on his own! I was amazed!

Not even 15 minutes later he ran back in to go for a third time! I don't know if he just wasn't going entirely each time and still had more, but he ended up going three times in a half hour time frame. But he initiated all of them and was successful each time so mama was a happy woman!

We decided to go the sticker reward route because he is quite obsessed with pirates and dinosaurs these days. He really enjoys earning a sticker each time he goes and can't wait for his next one. I've juggled back and forth between the bare bottom and loose pants vs. undies and loose pants and he seems to do the same both ways. The well known 3-day method out there claims you should wait for three months of bare bottoms before putting underwear on, but Lucas really likes picking out which pair to wear. Each kid is unique and I think we are just going to stick with this way of doing things for now and see how he does.

Like I mentioned before, I have no unrealistic expectations for this journey. He's done well before and then reverted back, so I know that may be a hurdle we have to face again. But my goal is to make it enjoyable and not pressure him too much. I don't want him to feel bad if he has an accident, but I most certainly encourage going in the potty as a better alternative. I'd like him trained before baby, but if we can't get that down my second goal is to have him trained by his third birthday.

Wish us luck!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Blossoming Bellies

I was finally able to get my Doula website published this week! Although I'm not entirely finished and I'd still like to make some minor changes, my goal was to at least get it online for potential clients to see. I am really excited to get my business started and finally attend some births!

I had a hard time coming up with a name and really wanted to incorporate how much of a blessing babies truly are. I tossed back and forth between a few potential names with 'blessings' in the title, but nothing truly caught my attention. I had a cherry blossom scent filling my home and it reminded me one of the visualization techniques I learned in my workshop in which you ask the laboring mother to imagine her cervix opening and softening like a flower. Blossoming Bellies instantly entered into my mind.

Please feel free to check out my new site, Blossoming Bellies! I am proud to be able to call myself a Doula and I look forward to helping many woman and babies in the miraculous event of childbirth!