GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!

Nope, I am not referring to soccer, I am more of a baseball girl. I am talking about boobs. More specifically: Boobs as food for baby! I originally planned to breastfeed for 6 months and evaluate from there. 6 months came and went and Caleb and I were still going strong! I made a new goal of 12 months and I can’t believe it is already here. Caleb is down to only one nursing session a day, first thing in the morning, and I’m sure I could easily wean him from it. Heck, most of the time he wails like a banshee between sides for NO reason anyhow. Pretty hilarious to see him sit up in the bed, start wailing, spot the booby, and then awkwardly lean forward for more. He is nothing if not creative! Surprisingly, it is actually me that hesitates to wean him entirely. I know I don’t have to yet and I could certainly keep going no problem. We are not on a timeline and Zach doesn’t care one way or the other. Best I can determine, my hesitancy to be done with nursing boils down to two main things:

  1. Emotional closeness
  2. Denial that my son is growing up

Emotional Closeness – Caleb has never been cuddly. Even as a tiny guy in the NICU he wasn’t nearly as snuggly as most newborns are. We have napped a total of ONE time together when he was about 2 weeks old. He hasn’t fallen asleep on my chest or hardly anyone else’s (Papa is quite comfy though!) since about the same time. Zach and I tend to cherish the rare moment when Caleb will stay on our laps or want to be held close. They are few and far between so we eat them up!  For that reason I have loved the closeness and emotional bond that breastfeeding creates. Perhaps if our guy was more cuddly I wouldn’t think twice about weaning, but that one time in the morning is often the only time during the day I get to be that close to Caleb where he is content.

Denial – On many levels, like all parents, I am in denial that I am now the parent of a one year old toddler, not a baby. Sure, he’ll always be my baby *cue Mariah Carey* but Caleb grows more independent every day. He is already the independent type so every little accomplishment seems more like a leap away from me. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be pretty darn excited when he can wipe his own booty, but even that I can (and will have to) handle for a while longer. Time is just flying by and somehow I feel like I’m left in the dust. Everyone around is changing, growing, doing new things and I feel like I’m frozen in time. I know I have to let go but I thought that would be in a few years when he starts school, rides his bike, and later learns to drive and moves out on his own. I did not expect to ‘let go’ of my son in any way, shape, or form in his first year or so of life! For me, though, I suppose letting go will soon mean weaning him entirely from nursing. Part of this denial too I believe is roped in to my grieving for Dad. I put off designing Caleb’s party invites for weeks because somewhere in my mind I couldn’t acknowledge that yes, he was turning one, and no, Dad wouldn’t be there to see it. Each milestone Caleb hits is another that I also grieve about because my dad isn’t here to witness it. So often Mom and I look at each other and say how much Dad would enjoy this stage of Caleb’s life, the laughing, silly, easily entertained, innocence of being a toddler. Letting go of nursing will be acknowledging that Caleb is growing up which, 1) I’m not ready for and 2) my Dad is missing out on.

I guess the jury is still out on the exact timing of weaning. My best guess is it will just happen one day when I’m dead tired and I tell Zach to just give him some soy milk in his straw sippy because I am not moving a muscle.

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Filed under Baby, Breastfeeding, Caleb, Grief

Absence makes the heart grow fonder…umm, here’s hoping.

You have probably noticed (or I sort of hope…) my absence in the blogosphere as of late. Considering writing is a great outlet for me in general, I thought blogging might help channel my grief into something constructive. Maybe I should because I feel that grief is still pretty taboo in our culture. Then again, I’m private about my grieving process and I don’t know that I’m ready to lay it all out there. Might be better to do a series on it a couple times a month or something. I don’t want this to be such a Debbie Downer of a read. I welcome tears but usually more due to laughing so much, not pure sadness. There is a time for that, but I don’t want people to avoid my blog because it always makes them sad! Yikes!

So much has happened since my last post! Here is a run down:

  • I celebrated my first Mother’s Day with an outside baby! Though a few days late since Zach had a show that day. Instead of sweating in the heat at his show, Caleb and I spent the day with my Mom watching the Royal Wedding on the DVR and eating crumpets and baked brie. I did get my FABULOUS Lucky Elephant bracelet as a gift from Caleb and Zach. Perfection! I wear it often.
  • After much harassing of my friends and praying I’d win, I WON a gorgeous bracelet from the Lucky Elephant! It is a triple wrap Sundance and I adore wearing it!
  • Zach celebrated his first Father’s day and we enjoyed a meal out with his family. His gift didn’t arrive until just a few weeks ago, but it was worth the wait. An amazing handstamped silver guitar pick from Under Her Charm! The owner is so sweet and was very excited to be adding some Hebrew to match Zach’s tattoo as she has a Hebrew tattoo as well! I love meeting people that get as excited about things as I do!
  • The day after Father’s Day we found out some fantastic news: Zach’s brother Jason and his fiancee, Alison are expecting! Due in early February! We are SO thrilled for them and anxious to know if we’ll have a new niece or nephew.
  • I have launched a new little business venture on the ever-popular Etsy! My new shop, Sweetpea a la Mode features onesies and T’s in fun colors with trendy ties! I am about to add some new product lines as well with numbers for birthdays, initials, and some girly things, too! I am loving getting in touch with my sew creative and fashiony side. Fabrics are my new vice.
  • I cannot believe it but Caleb is now the big O-N-E. How the heck did THAT happen?! Didn’t we just meet him and welcome him to our family as a tiny little baby man? Now he is ONE?! His rock ‘n’ roll party was a blast and he loved being the  center of attention. He is quite the little ham these days. Not walking yet, but he was sure showing off his standing skills for everyone to “oooo and ahhh” over. He demolished his slice of rainbow cake and got lots of great presents! Poor guy was exhausted but slept great that night!
  • We received the great news that my brother Robert, seester (in law) Colleen, and their sweet baby Samantha will soon be living in DALLAS! And by soon I mean a few weeks! We knew for a while that they would be coming to TX and likely Dallas, but the final word came and next thing we knew they were hiring movers and planning the big trek. We are all thrilled they will be much closer since DC is not somewhere we can visit too often. Caleb and Samantha can grow up together and I won’t feel like a bad auntie missing out on all of her wonderful stages!

That is the main breakdown for now. But to keep you coming back for more I will 1) make a pact with myself to blog frequently and 2) leave you with some incredibly adorable photos of Caleb…I know you are all really here to see him anyhow.

Caleb's 6mo shoot!

With his big puppy, Angel

Modeling his Sweetpea a la Mode onesie!

What fun, I'm ONE!

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Filed under Baby, Breastfeeding, Caleb, Crafts, Faith, Family, Sweetpea a la Mode

See ya later, Alligator. . .

My dad's goofy smile

On March 17, 2011, my family said, “See ya soon” to the most wonderful man I’ve ever known, my dad. After 18 days in the ICU, 11 on a ventilator, Dad met his Messiah in heaven. None of us expected that his pneumonia would take this turn. Even his doctors and nurses were shocked because previously he was the picture of health and very lively and strong at 56. The memorial service was perfect. About 500 people came, many wearing bright colors and cowboy boots. At the end of the service the pastor did a salvation message and at least 6 (we haven’t confirmed with him yet since the service) people who knew and loved my dad, now know and love my dad’s Savior, too! Such a wonderful bright light in the darkness of our grief. My mom was so very brave and was able to read a note she wrote to my dad. My brother and I were not as brave as our wonderfully strong momma. We both chose to have someone else read our words for us. In my case, the pastor’s wife read mine. Here is what I shared about my Daddy at the celebration of his life.

I have always been a Daddy’s Girl. As long as I can remember my Dad has been the number one man in my life. We went to father-daughter dances, Girl Scout camping trips, dates, and outings to the gun range. When I was sick in the middle of the night, I called for Daddy, not because Mom trained me to as he would always claim, but because it was Dad that I wanted to cuddle with. Dad introduced me into a world of music, drama, and laughter with a large variety of movies. I watched so many black and whites I would swear they were color. To this day my favorite movies are mostly those that my peers have never heard of, half are musicals and the other half star Cary Grant. My passion for movies was constantly cultivated by my Dad.

Dad always encouraged me and Robert to go for our dreams, whether that meant being a CEO, a photographer, or a parent. He desperately wanted us to have college degrees, even if it was in underwater basket weaving, because he knew the value the world put on that piece of paper. Unlike my brother, I never knew what I wanted to ‘do’ when I grew up other than being a mom. My Dad would always tell me, “It’s ok, we’ll figure it out when we grow up.” Dad was often Mom’s third kid. He would crack jokes at inappropriate times, make mischief with friends and work colleagues, and eat cookies or cake for breakfast. He also instituted ice cream sundaes for dinner. Dad always scooped because everything food was in mass quantities, this included ‘Rock of Gibraltar’ scoops of Blue Bell.

I could go on for days talking about the funny things Dad said and did and giving examples of the strange things we do as a family because of Dad’s sense of humor. However, the most important thing about my Daddy is that he truly is the earthly example of a heavenly Father. He loves unconditionally; I can only remember one or two times in my entire life where I was truly angry with him. He has a way of making everyone he talks to feel as though they are the most important person in the world. Dad never met a stranger. Dad adopted my friends as his own and took on the protector role, offering to shoot or hunt down any offending boys. He loves to spoil me and my mom, but never to the point of rotten. He can make anyone laugh through tears and remind them that life will go on. In everything Dad does, he lets the love of God flow through him in a way that is effortless and truly indescribable.

Daddy, I miss you more than words can possibly say. I have been so blessed to have you for 25 years. I see so much of you not only in myself, but in Caleb. In the movies I watch, the weird things I come up with to say, and the BBQ sauce I make I will always be reminded of a wonderful man and a loving father. I am so glad God gave me to you and Mom because I couldn’t have chosen any better. I know that every time I see a classic car or I think of a quote from My Blue Heaven I will have to stop myself from calling you. Thank you for being the most incredible Dad I could ever imagine; sacrificing all that you did for my and Robert’s sake. You are truly the greatest man I will ever have the privilege to know, to love, and to be loved by. I love you bunches, and bunches, and bunches, and bunches. Socks up, boss. I will see you soon!

Love – For all Eternity, Your Little Girl

TCU Graduation - Dec 2008; Dad was SO proud

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Shine bright, firefly, shine bright.

I wanted to post on Valentine’s and had even wanted to share a craft or something, but alas, I did not plan ahead. Plus I felt much worse on Monday and blogging just wasn’t my priority. Zach had to work but I still had a wonderful Valentines. I spent the entire day with my little man, who didn’t know it was Valentines but did try to eat his first Valentine from his friend Rowan. Cute, but not good since it was covered in glitter! Zach got me the cutest cupcake charm for my bracelet. I’d been wanting that one for quite awhile. If you don’t know, I have a bit of an obsession with cupcakes, as food, decor, you name it! I also woke up to find chocolate covered strawberries, a card, and beautiful flowers waiting for me on the raised bar in the kitchen! We may not have spent the day together but I still enjoyed it. Our anniversary is Friday and I much prefer to make a big deal of that given the choice between the two.

My big priority for this Valentines was to remind people around me that they are loved. Valentines so often makes those without a significant other feel as though they aren’t good enough, are worthless, inadequate, and, the worst feeling, unloved. Despite what commercials, cards, flowers, or chocolate say, getting these things does not determine worth as a person or strength and deepness of a relationship. Whether or not you have someone special in your life romantically – You. Are. Loved. Our Heavenly Father loves you more than you will ever know or understand. He loved us while we were yet sinners. For God so loved the world that He gave His Son. We are His beloved. I did my best to remind those I came into contact with, especially those that I knew were ‘alone’ on this day of Love, that THEY are loved, deeply, beautifully, and eternally by our loving Father. What a wonderful gift – unconditional love. And all because we merely exist.

Today, I am heartbroken. Seems odd to say during a week so full of ‘love’ – Valentines and our wedding anniversary, but heartbroken I remain. A sweet and beautiful woman of God went to be with the Lord early this morning. Sarah Chidgey Hughes was just 27 years old when she met her maker. A teacher, a newlywed, a fun-loving beautiful soul. Sarah was a member of our church here in Houston and while I was never blessed enough to meet her, I read her blog, especially a lot over the past few days. Sarah and I would have been amazing friends if I had had the pleasure of knowing her personally. This fact was clinched by her blog post on November 19 that you can watch here, in which she excitedly tells of her new mixer given to her by a friend. It is apple green and beautiful, which I take to mean it was a KitchenAid. She mentions how as a girl she wanted to get married so she could get a great mixer. This was the moment I knew we were kindred spirits. I used the say the exact. same. thing. From following Sarah’s journey, I like so many others, feel that I have known her. She shared the ups and downs of her life with cancer. One that started so easily only to return quickly and with a vengeance. Her blog is addicting, in a good way. She is so real, so uninhibited, and so funny! Always upbeat and positive through the pain and the trials. Even when you can tell it was a tough day there is still a smile and a sweet surrender to her God. Something Sarah would always say and her blog sign off was – Shine bright, firefly, shine bright. If you grew up in church it likely reminds you of “This Little Light of Mine.” Today the colors are more muted, the sky isn’t as blue, and we mourn the passing of a sweet spirit in Sarah. We know where she is and that she is happy, pain-free, and undoubtedly has the angels rolling with laughter, but that doesn’t make the ache of her absence any easier to bear. Please be in prayer for her husband, Eric, and all of her family and friends.

In honor of Sarah,

Shine bright, firefly, shine bright. Just some thoughts . . .

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Filed under Baby, Caleb, Faith

Circle of Sickness AND Giveaway!

No, no, I am not giving away our sickness, though I would like it to GO AWAY. Zach and I have been sick for about 3 weeks on and off. Sick, almost better, one of us gets sick and the other follows suit. Caleb had a cold and got over it but now he has a fever so off to the pediatrician’s we will go tomorrow. Zach has bronchitis, I have swollen glands, and baybay is just not himself. Poor little man.

It’s been a rough couple of week actually. I ended up with a staph infection on my chin. Yes, you read that correctly. My chin. I am JUST that lucky! My love of ripping things off of my face finally decided to take revenge on me. One awful blemish that hurt like Hulk Hogan was pinching my chin turned into a red, swollen, scary mess of infection. That resulted in a trip to urgent care after the dimwit at my derm’s office didn’t call back until 4pm when I called at 1pm and then acted like I was nuts to ask if I could come in right away. Not my fault you didn’t call me back sooner, pal! Urgent care was ok. I got mega antibiotics and was told I couldn’t breastfeed on them. Also called the pediatrician’s office to double check that since the doc didn’t seem to know what he was talking about. Nurse said that no, I could not breastfeed. That means for a week I had to pump and dump. I pretty much wanted to cry pouring that milk out and I have a new respect for pumping mamas. I hated it and I don’t know how anyone does that exclusively. I had about 4 days of frozen milk in the freezer and I am so blessed to have two friends who gave me milk for Caleb. We didn’t have to buy any formula, woohoo! Pretty awesome if you ask me. Mamas, don’t ever throw out your extra milk! Donate it to a local milk bank or give it to a mom you know with an infant. Share that Liquid Gold wealth! A big thank you to Ally & Mikayla, Heather & Jackson for sharing with Caleb. To add insult to injury I went to my OB yesterday for my annual (joy!) and found out that I COULD have breastfed on those antibiotics. I pretty much wanted to scream at that point. Word to the wise, always call your OB office about BFing questions. They apparently know a lot more. My doc said they have the most up-to-date references and guides for medications and what will go through breastmilk. At least I know for another time.

Enough about sickness. We are just praying we’ll all be better ASAP. Anyhow, now on to the GOOD STUFF.

I mentioned that along with the redesign I would be doing fun things like sharing crafts, recipes, and giveaways. This giveaway is not through me, but my friend who is the lovely author of Our Growing Garden. She often reviews items and then has something from that brand or company to giveaway. This one is a Scandinavian clothing company with some freakishly adorable kids and baby clothes! Go directly to her giveaway post by clicking here and enter away. I promise not to be too angry if you win instead of me. Take a look at how she operates her giveaways as I will be taking my cues from Our Growing Garden for how to run my giveaways. I am so lucky to have some amazing ladies to use as a guide for things like this!

I also wanted to mention that I will be doing personal reviews of baby items as well. Something I meant to mention before! Watch out for those posts and be sure to bookmark them for future reference or to pass along to expecting mamas you know. Word of mouth is always the best kind of referral for anything, product or service. Hope y’all are all staying warm and well, unlike the Artsy Fam…

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Filed under Baby, Breastfeeding, Caleb, Giveaway

Why yes, we are still alive!

First, many apologies for my accidental hiatus. It was not my intention to disappear for nearly 3 months leaving everyone hanging. As you might have noticed I have done some work and given the blog a much needed facelift! It is still a work in progress but overall I’m happy with the big changes. I enjoyed making my custom header so much that I was actually a bit sad when I was finished. I foresee that I could waste spend many hours creating these types of graphic designs. The possibilities are endless and just too fun! In that regard, I would like to give a shout out to the awesome freebies which made my custom header possible: Pugly Pixel for the great papers and medallions, and in general for guiding me to other great things like the pencils, polaroid frame, etc. The Graphics Fairy for the fantastic vintage sheet music, and to Persnickety Prints for the background paper. Thanks to Pugly Pixel (oh and Hannah B for tipping me off about Pugly) I now have an obsession with what I will call digital photo graphics design. By that I mean that the objects used are all photos of actual objects pieced together in a scrapbooky type of way that gives it a real-life look and artsy fartsy feel. You should see the Photoshop file for my header…it is insane!

Now that THAT is out of the way, here is the skinny, in bullet form, of what’s happenin’ lately with us:

  • Early December: Mom, Caleb and I took a short trip to visit Great-Grandma Miller. TOO FUN!
  • Mid-December: Zach had surgery on his ear for a cholesteotoma (he will post on this soon!) AND my gorgeous niece, Samantha Joelle was born…same day as the surgery!
  • Caleb’s First Christmas: way too many gifts but so abundantly blessed by our families! (Mmmm, new TV/bluray/AppleTV)
  • Mid-January: JJB show at Houston House of Blues and Caleb’s first big concert!; also, the big move to a larger place complete with washer/dryer!

That is the big stuff that went on since I last blogged and I plan to go into more detail about those things soon but to do it all at once would be one HUGE post!

Along with the new look and feel of The Artsy Family I have some other big plans for the blog! The first being my very first giveaway! E’vrybody say, “YEUH!” I also want to start posting every other day or so and doing super spiffy things like featuring some swell ladies who are MOMpreneurs, craft ideas, recipes, and photo tips. I might delve into fashion some (it was my major after all!) but given the current state of fashion and the overabundance of 1980s throwbacks I’m not certain I would be too fair to the topic. We shall see. At any rate, just a preview of some of the great things to come here at the Artsy Family!

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Filed under Baby, Jud Johnson Band, Music, Photography

Birth Story: The Dramatic Conclusion

Waiting for the contraction...

After getting permission to push, it was maybe 2 pushes and Caleb’s head was showing! J____ had to called the doc again and tell him to hurry. I told her to tell him to hurry because I wasn’t going to wait any longer. They said I could push, and by golly I was going to do it! Just the knowledge that I could push made the contractions much more bearable. J____ told me it would probably take him 5 minutes or less to get there, that Dr. C was known for moving quickly when need be. I prayed to myself that he’d skip the elevator and take the stairs. Once J____ had called Dr. C the room suddenly filled with people transforming my labor room into a delivery room. I don’t even know where they all came from but there were probably at least 7 people who flooded into my room and got to work like crazy ants, readying the baby bed, pulling out lights, and literally taking apart my bed to make a delivery table. It seemed like an eternity but in reality Dr. C arrived very quickly, suited up, and I was pushing. After only a few pushes and less than 10 minutes later, at 5:30pm, Caleb Michael S____ entered this world. Right before he was born one of the nurses asked me if I wanted to touch my baby’s head. I quickly and a bit harshly replied, “No!” She must have thought I was nuts, but my thinking was why don’t I just push him out and I can touch his little head all I want. After 37 hours of labor I was very eager to be done with the process. I remember that last push where Caleb came out all at once and the total relief that labor was finally over and my son was here. There is no feeling like that in the entire world, and I felt every moment leading up to it.

Pushing...

End of the big push...he's HERE!

I did not get to have the Kodak moment of Caleb being placed on my chest, Zach cutting the cord, and the both of us reveling at this new little life. Caleb was not breathing when he was first born and the doctor quickly cut the cord and got to work to get that little scream out. To be honest, I did not entirely know what was going on at the time, only that things seemed to be going differently than I had thought. After a few minutes, or maybe less, Caleb was screaming at full volume and announcing that he had in fact, arrived. The doctor actually rubbed Caleb’s back raw trying to get him to breathe. He apparently took a big gulp of fluid right as he came out which hindered his breathing abilities. The cord was also wrapped around his body. Not his neck, but he was tangled up a bit and this might have been the reason he was so small at birth. He likely was no longer getting the proper nutrition through the umbilical cord near the end of the pregnancy.

Caleb being born

Relief and probably some confusion

Our wonderful doula, Megan!

Once he was breathing and bundled up, I was finally able to hold my tiny little man. There was nothing like seeing his little face for the first time and holding him close. 9 months, 37 hours, and in one moment I became a mom. My labor was longer than most and shorter than some, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I am so glad that I made the decision to have a natural birth and even more glad that I was able to stick to my goal even when things changed and strayed from what I had planned. Labor certainly would have been easier if it were faster and much less painful without the pitocin, but in the end that is what it took to get my son into this world. The pain of labor is something that I still can’t really describe even after experiencing it. There is nothing I can compare it to in order to make it understandable to someone who hasn’t been through it. Labor hurts. I think that is the best thing to tell any mom-to-be. Not to scare them, but to be truthful that the delivery of their baby will likely be painful and emotional, but neither are a bad thing. God has equipped women with all of the resources necessary to grow, nurture, and give birth to human life. That includes the ability to handle the pain of childbirth, both physically and emotionally. In a strange way the pain of labor is a good pain, a productive pain. It is not pain without reason. Each contraction is one step closer to meeting your baby. You will never have to do that contraction again once it is over. All of the pain is towards an end goal, that, without fail, will be realized; a baby will be born.

Getting Caleb presentable

Tiny boy!

My precious little man, so perfect!

I understand that not all women want to feel the pain of childbirth. Those who do not have their reasons just as I have my reasons for wanting to. For myself, I am thankful that I experienced a natural birth and I wouldn’t have it any other way. There were many times throughout labor, especially when my contractions were hard and on top of one another that I thought, “Why am I doing this? I must be nuts. Why on earth didn’t I get an epidural?” I did not necessarily enjoy the pain of each contraction, but I am glad I felt that pain. I want to feel every contraction of each of my children’s births. If I don’t experience those aches and pains I cannot fully experience that wonderful euphoria just after delivery that no drug on earth could ever create. I have arrived at my destination and labor is finished, but an entirely new journey has just begun.

Together at last

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Filed under Baby, Caleb, Labor, Pregnancy