Thursday, November 24, 2011

30 days of thanks

I've seen many people joining in on a "30 days of thanks" activity in which they describe something that they are thankful for each day in November. Instead of sprawling them out over a months span, here are my 30.

I am thankful for:
1) A hard working husband that supports our family so that I may stay home with my boys

2) My family - even though we may be far in distance, I cherish their relationships more than I can express

3) Free health care for all of my family members. I knew I married an Alaskan Native for a reason :)

4) Heat, so that we may keep warm during these long and chilly winter months

5) Great friends who can lift my spirits and give me company when I need it most

6) My fantastic sleeping 3-month son that only wakes briefly to nurse in the night. I appreciate the sleep!

7) The humorous things that come out of my toddler's mouth. Not a single day goes by that he doesn't make me giggle!

8) The opportunity to complete school earlier than anticipated...even if that has caused me lots of extra stress

9) To be a woman that has experienced pregnancy, birth, and raising my own children. I know some are not so fortunate

10) Convenient drive-thru banks that allow me to stay in my warm car without dragging two kiddos out into the snow

11) Nap time! Enough said.

12) Warm showers to rejuvenate my body and mind

13) Financial aid that has allowed me to further my education without financially burdening down my family

14) Second hand stores that allow me to buy perfectly good items for cheap!

15) Alaska PFD's. The annual payouts have allowed us to create a substantial savings account for our children (something very important to me as a parent)

16) Movies. They allow me and the hubby to wind down together at the end of a long day, and they also occupy Lucas when I need to hop through the shower or complete any important tasks.

17) To live in a time where informed decisions and availability of knowledge allowed me to have the birth of my dreams

18) Internet. I feel like the answers to almost anything are only a click away

19) To live in state where nature can be seen in its most beautiful form

20) Music. It has the power to lift up my spirits and create positive feelings and/or a happy atmosphere

21) Smiles from my children. They light up my life and remind me how blessed I truly am

22) My blog. It not only allows me to document my children's lives and vent my frustrations, but writing is my alone time for reflection

23) Airline miles. I have been able to return home a handful of times without any cost to myself

24) Babies! There will always be babies being born and that assures me that I chose a realistic and rewarding profession

25) To have worked out a childcare arrangement for my children that I am comfortable with and appreciative of

26) Lucas' preschool. They graciously accepted him early and that allowed him to create bonds and friendships with his classmates. It has also allowed him to grow into a more independent and confident child

27) For relatively happy and easy going children. When I think they are being difficult, I reflect on behaviors of others and remember how easy I have it most of the time

28) To be married to a handyman who can build/fix anything that I ask him to!

29) For recordable story books. Watching my children look through a book while listening to a familiar voice read to them is absolutely priceless...especially due to our distance.

30) To be a doula and be able to witness the beautiful journey of life as it unfolds before my eyes
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Enjoy this day with your family and friends and don't forget to reflect back onto the things that you are thankful for.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

3 Months

Three months already! I honestly can't believe it. I've decided that I am going to do a quick write up on the 23rd of each month so that I can remember what my little man was doing and be able to document how much he changes over his first year. So here goes:

Levin now weights 16lbs 8.5oz (95th percentile) and is 24in long (75th percentile). He gained two pounds and two inches in one short month. He sure is a chunk! I've already had to clear out the closet a number of times, but at the moment he fits into 6 month baby wear.

He is more attentive than ever! He is already grabbing for toys and entertaining himself with small items. I love catching him gnawing on the dangling toys from his play mat and his car seat.

He enjoys sitting in his bumbo (thank you, Chelsea!) and watching all of the happenings in the house. He's very observant and takes interest in everything that we, dishes, eating, etc. I don't think we're going to be able to use this seat for much longer though because those chunky thighs of his are starting to get into the way. Just this morning I had to wedge him down into it and nearly had to wrestle him out!

He is such a cheeser, too! He is almost always smiling and trying to get my attention. In fact, he loves any attention that he can get. If anyone tries to say hello, he lights up instantly! His smile is to die for and the little tongue always pops out when he grins. Lucas did the exact same thing as a baby, too!

Levi and I debated back and forth whether he was big enough for his jumper, and he proved me right! I can't believe how big he is and that he can support his body in this thing. He doesn't quite understand the concept of jumping just yet, but he's becoming a pro at swinging and twisting himself around. Yeah, definitely the size of an average 6 monther!

Levin is also a wonderful sleeper. He takes 3 naps during the day, and only wakes one to two times at night. He is pretty predictable and sticks to his routine well. Although the naps may vary a tad, he wakes up at the same time every morning with a huge diaper explosion. At least he's regular, right?!

He still nurses regularly, enjoys showers, and loves to be worn. He instantly falls asleep once he's in the car seat and is quite the wiggle worm. I think he'll be rolling over here before too long!

I've heard a number of mothers claim that their second babies grew faster (or at least the time flew by faster) and I have to completely agree with that statement. I feel like he's becoming more and more independent by the day and although I love to watch him develop, I'd be fine with a little blob for a while longer :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

First Birth

I finally got to attend my first birth...and it was everything that I hoped it would be. Honestly, I nearly cried when the baby came out. It was beautiful!

The mother chose to labor in the tub at a birth center and the majority of my comforting measures were verbal. But there were times that I had to use touch and massage to help get her through some of the stronger ones. I brought Levin along for the ride and he behaved so well the entire time. I'm fortunate to have such an amazing little guy!

I left there feeling more confident than ever in my decision to join the birthing field. This is exactly where I am suppose to be! No doubt about it.

I chatted with the birth assistant on my way out and decided that I want to look in that position a bit further. She was floored when I told her this was the first birth that I attended. She went on and on about how much of a natural I was and that the midwives at this facility would absolutely love me. She urged me to consider going through the proper training to do what she does. She is also currently in the same nursing program that I am about to start and told me not to worry so much about the work load of the program. Although everyone tries to scare you into thinking its so demanding, she said it isn't half as bad as she expected. So I gave her my business card and we are going to meet up and chat some more. What better relief than to get advise from someone currently in the program. I'm excited!

How amazing would that be?! A birth assistant at a free standing birth center? I think that a perfect position for me! Next week I'm also meeting up with a fellow doula who just recently started working as a birth assistant herself. Hopefully she can give me a sense of whether this is something that I truly want to pursue.

So yay for birth and beautifully big babies! I left there in such a baby high and cannot wait for another experience! I'm officially craving some more baby action :)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Audiology: take one

Since I had a homebirth, all of the standard hospital procedures weren't done on Levin. I opted not to have erythromycin placed into his eyes, we chose an oral dose of vitamin K as opposed to the intramuscular injection, and he didn't receive an initial dose of hep B. (we did get that for him at his checkup though, so don't worry).

I recently received a letter in the mail from the State of Alaska that informed me that hearing tests are now required for all newborns. The letter needed to be signed for and it had a $6 postage sticker on it, so I knew it was something that I shouldn't take very lightly.

I never felt it necessary to test my child, but I definitely don't have any opposition to the test itself. But to be honest, I feel like a hearing assessment is unnecessary and pointless for us at this point in time. Obviously, had there been any reason for concern, I would have taken him in. But Levin has always been very alert and responsive to his environment. Always. I frequently examine my children, both physically and developmentally. Levi and I have naturally done so and I would never have thought for a moment that Levin needed any test to tell me that he can hear. We always make noises and ensure that he turns toward the sounds and move objects and ensure that he can follow them with his eyes. I know that Levin can hear. A test isn't going to reassure me that.

But needless to say, I decided to take him in anyways. The native hospital takes wonderful care of all my boys and I really wanted to stay in their good graces. I'm not out to be difficult and stand against something so petty, but the letter did get to me somewhat. I felt like the state was making me out to be a bad mother for not doing something so 'important' and that they were trying to push me into doing something that they felt was crucial. I have a lot of opinions about our modern maternity care system and I honestly feel that a lot of unnecessary interventions are taken. Some things are vital, but others aren't always necessary. And although hearing tests can prove useful in detecting early problems in some, I just didn't feel it was necessary for my 3 monther. Thankfully, Levin was a big, healthy, full term baby. His development has exceeded my expectations and there have been no areas that I feel need to be evaluated.

And just as I had expected, the appointment was indeed a waste of my time. I was not told that baby needed to be sleeping and his appointment was timed perfectly for after his two hour morning nap. Because I wasn't given proper instructions, the test was not able to be completed. We literally tried to test his right ear for 45 minutes until I stepped up and said that I needed to go. Never have I had to reschedule an appointment because my child was too happy. That was definitely a first! Levin was wide awake, smiling, batting/kicking, and cooing his little heart away. I think he really enjoyed all of the attention!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Stretched too thin?

I've been in a bit of a funk lately and I'm finding it difficult to snap out of this semi-depressed state that I'm sinking into. I'm busy, tired, and stressed, but I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that winter is here. Oh, joy.

This is the beginning of our fifth Alaskan winter and I honestly have no desire to experience it. It's dark. It's gloomy. It's cold. And I'm miserable. I thought that being as active and busy as I am these days would make it easier, but it's been just the opposite. I feel like hibernating inside my house until May. Maybe even June.

I feel as if I may really be stretching myself too thin. Some days it's physical, others it's emotional. I work hard to care for my children and keep up my home, all while maintaining a social life and running the million and one errands I seem to always have to do. People literally depend on me and I'm the kind of person who doesn't like to let others matter what the cost is to myself.

I've also taken a big leap into Lucas' preschool that I didn't anticipate from the start. Being a co-op means a great deal of parental involvement, but I didn't expect that I would exert as much energy into the school as I do. Being a board member places a lot of pressure on assuring the school is operating at its finest. However, this is really important to me. I want to ensure my son is receiving the best and that the families that I have gotten to know and love, are too. Being a working parent means that I have to prepare snacks, facilitate with art, occupy and assist the class...all while juggling Levin. We no longer have a Director, and the VP just stepped down, so a lot of pressure has been placed onto the board to fill those roles. I am also a member of the advertising committee and helping to coordinate field trips for the school. I am not complaining about these roles because I am happy to be a part of such a great organization and a part of these wonderful children's lives, but I suppose I didn't realize how much energy I would losing. It seems like there are only a small number of parents that truly put forth the effort and expectations that are needed, so a lot of unnecessary work gets placed onto us. And honestly, there are others doing even more than me! (Although toting a baby around too does give me a bit more of a challenge). I think I've come up with an answer for myself: I will soon be dropping down my status as a working parent. With school about to begin, I think I can justify increasing my tuition in lieu of working my required days. I hate to have to do that, but it sounds like a better fit for my lifestyle at the moment and I'm okay with that.

Emotionally, I feel somewhat drained at times too. I live life caring for others and don't feel like I always get taken care of myself. I hold my own and do whatever I need to do, but I sometimes lack that emotional boost that I need for my own sanity. I don't get much me time, nor do we even have much couple time these days. And it's not strictly because we now have two kids. It's because work is consuming, appointments need to be kept, and routines need to be followed. Life is busy and my needs sometimes get lost in the madness. I get it.

Trying to pinpoint all of this frustration seems to stem back to my acceptance into nursing school. We've discussed our future plans on many occasions and it all revolved around my completion of school. Now that the window has opened and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, I feel like racing through it as fast as I can. An invisible countdown has begun and I feel like it just can't come soon enough.

And I also feel guilt. Although I work hard, my husband works harder. He is outdoors in this bitterly cold weather working so that he may provide for his family. He is working a job that is physically demanding and sometimes working on days that should be his to rest. All for the sake of our family. I feel guilty for even getting frustrated with him too. He honestly makes my life more difficult and creates far more work on my plate. But when I think about the big picture I feel so guilty that I'm even bothered by those petty things. Yet, he has freedom. When he's off work he can do whatever he wants, go wherever he pleases, and refrain from activities that he wants to avoid. When he's off work...he is free. I, on the other hand, am not. My job never ends and I am working, in a sense, 24 hours a day. Which all rolls down to jealousy. And that right there is what I feel the most guilt over.

I feel like that super nice person that always gets taken advantage of. That super nice person that goes out of her way to help others, yet receives little to nothing in return. That super nice person who goes through life trying to care for everyone but herself. I'm not one to ask for help, nor do I often accept any that is offered. It may sound stubborn by I feel like no one should have to take on any of my burdens, or be put out of their way on my account. But honestly, only a fraction of these feelings are about my roles as a mother and wife. I truly feel like the nice guys do always finish last. I get led on by people I trust, pushed into things I don't want to do, and left on the back burner more often than not.

I feel, I feel, I feel...that seems to be the revolving theme here. It's great to feel, but not healthy to ignore those feelings. So here I am. I'm writing, venting, and trying to purge these negative feelings away. Getting these thoughts into words can only mean that I can now move on and work to better them, right? Lets hope so.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

1st dental check-up

We just got home from Lucas' very first dental checkup and I am still in shock over how well it went! I expected this appointment to be a complete nightmare...honestly. Mr. Independent doesn't even like for me to help him brush. Was he really going to let a stranger examine his mouth and brush his teeth? Apparently, yes!

From the moment we got there he walked right on in like he owned the place. He strutted on back to our area and climbed up into the chair...but only after getting three different compliments on his adorable hat (thanks mom!).

The dental assistant was extremely kid friendly and she explained absolutely everything she was going to do. She also pulled out all of the instruments and let him see how they work. When it was time to raise up the chair, Lucas got to push the button. That was an instant hit.

Lucas got to pick out a new toothbrush (he chose a light-up Spiderman) and she got to work. He insisted on wearing his gloves during the exam too. Kids are so funny.

He was fully cooperative during the x-rays and followed directions to a T. Afterwards we got to see the images on a screen and she showed him his big boy teeth that are waiting to come out!

The assistant cleaned his teeth while he sat back and relaxed. He thought the water sucking straw was hilarious and laughed that it tickled his mouth!

So all in all...his teeth are extremely healthy! He was instructed to let me help him brush and floss at home also. We got home and he immediately opened up his goody bag. Look at all the fun things they give kids these days. Dentists sure take bribery to the next level!

He's now been flossing and playing with his new toothbrush for the past 20 minutes. I guess they really made an impression on this kid!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Children are funny...when they find something that they like they become absolutely obsessed with it. I remember how my younger brother would watch the same movie for weeks on end. Lucas is definitely in that same boat!

Thank goodness there are three different Toy Story movies. Seriously. If not, I would probably lose my mind. (Although to be honest, I don't like him watching the third one because it's too dark..and pretty creepy.) Goodness, as I'm sitting here typing Lucas literally just woke from nap and came to ask if he could watch it. Obsessed I tell you!

I probably shouldn't have told everyone that he liked it so much because he got an insane amount of Toy Story games, books, and figurines for his birthday. But I barely saw him for days afterwards. He was far too busy playing with his new stuff!

Ever since his party I have heard almost nothing but Toy Story references. I decided to make a note in my phone and secretly jot down each time I heard him quote something familiar. Here goes:

*Not today, Zurg!
*To infinity and Beyond!
*Look, I'm Picasso!
*Were you scared? Tell me honestly.
*Run like the wind, Bullseye!
*This is not's falling with style!
*Ohh my little sweet potato!
*There's a snake in my boot!
*You're my favorite deputy.
*Woody's roundup!
*Nice big Andy's room welcome!
*A stranger from the outside. Oooh!
*The claw!

He's covered in tattoos, too. So if you were wondering, yes, that is indeed a Toy Story tattoo on his forehead. I must have gotten so used to it because I took him to preschool and didn't even realize it was still there! When I picked him up his teacher told me that it was a total hit with the whole class. Apparently all of the kids liked his little green three-eyed alien! And he calls them "smoozies" for some reason?? Maybe I missed that scene...

Last week I was raiding the local used kid store for a larger winter coat and Lucas spotted a Toy Story jacket in the bundle. Thank goodness it was his size because there was absolutely NO persuading him on any other option at that point. His mind was set!

And he even runs around the house singing "You've got a friend in me!"

Obsessed, obsessed, obsessed!

His giant talking Buzz says a bunch of quotes, but my favorite of them all is "where there's danger...there's a space ranger!" If you know my son's middle name then you'll understand why it fits so well :)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pirate Parrrrty!

On Sunday, we had Lucas' 3rd birthday party...pirate style! We rented out a newer bounce place in town called Pump it Up and the kids got to run wild and do what they do best. It was an absolute blast and Lucas had such a great time. The timing was perfect too because the kiddos were all exhausted by the end and napped wonderfully for their parents. A total success in my book!

I searched online for invitation wording and nothing truly caught my interest. So I combined some together and created this:

Shiver me timbers, Lucas is turning 3!

Ahoy me mateys! Ye be invited to Captain Lucas’ pirate party! Chart yer course for Pump it Up and come dressed in yer pirate best! Join our crew where all the swashbuckling and jumping fun will be found!

Arrrr you coming to the party? RSVP…or walk the plank!

Lucas absolutely loves pirates so I had been planning this party for quite some time. Thanks to the lovely Pinterest (my newest addiction) I was able to find lots of cute ideas and inspirations. There were a lot of stipulations on the food aspect of the party and we were only allowed to bring fruit/veggies, chips/crackers, and cake/cupcake. So I had to get creative!

I made funfetti sailboat cupcakes (vanilla for Lucas and chocolate for me!) along with cookies topped with gold coins!

For the fruit platters we made orange sailboats and watermelon sharks filled with grapes! Hubby did a great job carving them out!

I also had a bowl of goldfish and of course, Pirate booties! I think it all came together perfectly!

I feel very blessed to have made such great friends here and for the connections we've recently made with other families in his preschool. Lucas was shown nothing but love and was showered in gifts. Thank you to all that made this day so special for my big boy...I still cannot believe he is THREE!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Bath vs. Shower

Sometimes I think there is something seriously wrong with my children. What kid doesn't like to take a bath? Both of mine apparently.

When Levi was out of town, the bathing job got pushed back onto me. During my pregnancy I didn't have the energy to lean over the tub. Not to mention how difficult such a task gets with a big belly in the way. The boys started showering together and it was so convenient on everyone that we just kept it up. It turned into fun time and they would both disappear for a good 30-minutes. I couldn't complain!

Lucas went through a phase where he was terrified of the tub. I try to give him some slack since he was born in Alaska and swimming isn't something that he does often. But Levin? He was born in water! What's his deal?

When Lucas was a few months old his nurse suggested that he shower with daddy on occasion to promote bonding. It worked well and he seemed to enjoy it. So we decided to do the same with Levin. And what do you know...he loved it too!

He didn't fuss one bit and was actually smiling during half of it. He was accidentally squirted in the face with the shower head multiple times and that didn't seem to phase him at all.

So there you have it...both of my boys are showerers. Maybe things will change once Levin is old enough to sit and they can actually play together. But until then, daddy is on shower duty. And that's just fine by me!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Full term mamas!

Both of my November clients are officially full term! This means that I am now on-call and just waiting to be whisked away during their labors. I'm so excited to help welcome these two little boys into the world!

I had a lunch date with one of my clients and her husband the other day and the conversation that struck in the car with Lucas was too funny not to share. He asked where we were going and I mentioned he was going to meet a lady with a baby in her tummy, and that I was going to go and help her when he was ready to come out.

L: "But mom, you're not a doctor"
Me: "I know, but I'm still going to help her. Do you remember when Levin was ready to come out and we called Shine?"
L: "Yeah. But why do you want to be a midwife?"
Me: "Because I love babies and I want to be there when they decide to come out."
L: "But we already have a baby"
Me: "I know, these babies aren't going to be ours. I'm just helping their mommies"
L: "Oh, ok." (with an added sigh of relief)

So without coming out and saying it directly, it seems like Lucas is quite content with just Levin. As long as I don't bring these babies back home with me, I think I'll stay in his good graces. Silly child!

I'm somewhat anxious and nervous, yet calm and excited all at the same time. Both women are delivering at free standing birth centers and since they each have multiple children already, I half expect their labors to be quick and easy. And lucky for me, Levin gets to join.

I am one of those women that most hate and/or are envious of. I have amazingly easy and gentle labors that to me, are also enjoyable. Seriously, I would give birth a hundred times if I could! It's such an empowering experience and it makes me feel like I'm on top of the world.

I realize that my own personal experiences giving birth are not what the typical woman goes through. I feel somewhat hypocritical being a Doula myself because I never wanted, nor did I feel like I needed, any labor support. I hope that I don't go into future births blindsided by any drastic differences in our experiences. I don't fear that my support will pale because of this, but I sure hope that my expectations are not higher than they should be.

I've heard from plenty of Doulas that every birth is unique. Each experience allows them to learn something new and they continue to gain new insight. I am so excited to experience these first two certifying births of mine and witness the miracle of life unfold before my eyes!


I am so happy to have my husband back...and so are the boys. But I sure have some strong empathy for those without support now. Being a single mom is downright exhausting!

Between the hustle and bustle of the kids, the house, meals, preschool, and the large to-do list I'm trying to complete before school begins, my body honestly feels like jello. I rarely got more than an hour to myself and my attention was literally focused on the boys from the moment we woke, to the moment they slept...and then even times in between. Although it would have been nice to focus on some of my own things after they both went to bed, I just didn't have the energy. Instead, I went right on down with them.

Showers were a rarity and I completely slacked on grocery shopping. The toddler tantrums were at their worst and I had to utilize my friends company to keep me sane. Point is, you don't know tired until you've played the solo parenting act.

But even through all the balancing and juggling, I always managed to maintain my home. With the exception of toys lying around, my home stayed in tip top shape. Which made me realize...husbands are far more work than children! Honestly.

In the 11 days my husband was away I did:

*2 loads of laundry
*emptied 2 bags of garbage
*ran the dishwasher ONCE

He's only been home for a short amount of time and I already feel like I have laundry coming out of my ears. Not to mention I'm constantly picking up after him and now resuming back to real dinners (which equals lots of dishes). I'm so happy to have him home but it has truly opened my eyes to the million roles that I play. I think I need a vacation!