Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Lumps, car crashes, staples and more.

So, life lately. What can I say? A lot, actually. Let's go in chronological order.

In July, I found a large-ish lump on my rib cage. Lumps are kind of a big deal, so I had an ultrasound. The doctor says it's PROBABLY a lymph node but maybe not, so we're watching it for now and possibly doing a biopsy next month if it doesn't go away. It's still hanging around like it's my sidekick, so that biopsy is looking more definite with each passing day. Maybe I should give the lump a name. Trudy? Morticia? I'm open to suggestions.

In August, I accidentally crashed the front of my car into the shelving unit in the garage and it nearly pulled the whole right fender off. I promise, I'm not a total moron. It's REALLY tricky to park our crossover vehicle in a two-car garage with a very short driveway and no room to swing out due to poor planning on the developer of our community -- seriously, who puts grass and trees RIGHT behind someone's house when their garage is in the back?

Three body shop quotes later, the whole ordeal is going to cost $700. I definitely cried over that one.


Then, last Thursday, I was rocking out choral-style with MCO when all the sudden, I got a text from Dill. Dill, the man who never texts me, ever. It said, "Call me now!" So I did. And it turned out Carson had hit his head on something while rough-housing and "probably needed stitches," which turned into definitely needing staples. Bless Dill's squeamish heart, he took him to the ER that night because babies gotta eat and I have the monopoly on milk-making around these parts.

Three hours later, the two returned home, Carson with a fresh set of staples in the back of his head. Surprisingly, I'm actually not too mad about it because I honestly thought it would've happened sooner.

This is the part where you blur your eyes and scroll fast if you don't like blood and guts. Behold, staples:


THEN on Sunday, I'm sitting in church when Carson walks up to me with pink eyes and yellow goop in his eyelashes. In other words, CONJUNCTIVITIS!!! Without hesitation, I ordered Dill to take him to the nearest urgent care and get that crap taken care of because pink eye is the worst. Not because it actually hurts or anything, but because putting eye drops in a child's eye is more difficult than tying up a greased hog on a rainy day, and you have to do it not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES DAILY.

By the way, Dill didn't believe it was pink eye, but guess what? It was totally pink eye and guess what else? Dill had it, too! Oh boy. They probably picked it up from their emergency room visit. So all of us got it except baby Clara (so far). Which is why I'll be sporting glasses for the next week or so.

Any-hoo, in all that excitement, I'd nearly forgotten I was guest-posting on my friend Jen's blog, "Nothing Can Come of Nothing" for her Marriage Month series! I'm glad I remembered today. You should go check it out. I talk all mushy about how Dill and I met, discuss some less-than-fun aspects of marriage and also give a little marital advice. And Jen's blog is great, anyway. I really like her. You will, too.

Reminiscing on our cute little courtship helped me momentarily forget about all this junk I'm dealing with. So thank you, Jen, for the opportunity to remember the important things in life. I may have a lump on my ribs, a wonky right fender, a kid who looks like Frankenstein's monster and a family ridden with pink eye, but I also have the best husband and kids a gal could ask for.

In the meantime, if you have any tricks to getting a 4-year-old to cooperate for antibiotic eye drops, let me have 'em. Because really, it's getting ridiculous.

Friday, August 29, 2014

One-third.

Clara is four months old today, which makes her one-third of a year old! That's probably not crazy to anyone except for me. I swear, every day this little girl gets bigger, stronger and more expressive. And cuter, which hardly seems possible.


An evolutionary photo sequence would be perfect right about now, no? Therefore:


She can now roll from tummy to back, but not the other way ... yet. Though she is very close. She can, however, turn in a circle while laying on her back. I found this out when one morning a few weeks ago, I went in to get her out of her crib and her head was pointing in the opposite direction of how I'd originally put her down. She does it all the time now. Just scoots herself along until she's happy with the view.

Clara has Third Child Syndrome. Symptoms include infrequent fussing, long stretches of sleeping, greater adaptability and general contentment. In other words, she is basically the most easy-going, predictable baby ever. I've been talking to a lot of my third-time mom friends who agree that baby number three has been loads easier for them than their older two children were. It's just a theory, but I've definitely been seeing a pattern here.

Of course, it could just be that we're all finally figuring out this mom thing. Chilling out a little, taking things in stride, not trying to control everything.

Who knows.

I DO know that we all feel oh-so-lucky to have this Butterball in our family. She adds so much light and cheer to our home. I can't imagine life without her!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Suicide: What should we say?

This probably isn't the first post about suicide you've read recently and it probably won't be the last. Though I'm incredibly discouraged by the reality of mental illness and suicide, I am relieved that we are talking about it a little more freely these days. Open dialogue has the potential to help so many people. And since I have personally been diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorders, I understand how crucial it is to discuss these issues in order to empower people to seek help.

I've been pondering on how I would address the topic since I learned of Robin Williams' recent death. I've felt that I need to because my family and I have been directly affected by depression, anxiety, mental illness and even suicide. Unfortunately, much of what people are saying about these issues in the heat of the moment is incorrect, in poor taste or even downright cruel at times. So, I'm here to help clear the air.


On April 7, 2010, I lost my uncle CP to suicide. I will never forget the crushing anguish I felt when I heard the news. It was my 23rd birthday, just two weeks after I gave birth to my son, Carson. Dill told me right before bed, just hours after my family had left the house after a small birthday celebration. My parents and sisters acted like nothing was wrong the entire time they were with us, when in actuality, they were devastated by the loss and had been crying all day (I still feel terrible about that.) I didn't sleep that night. I sobbed off and on until the morning came, asking "Why?" and wondering where we all went wrong.

CP's funeral service was downright tragic. I usually cry at funerals, but within me there is always a hope for the deceased. I think things like, Maybe they're not suffering anymore, and I'll see them again someday. But not at CP's funeral. All I felt then was immense pain in the wake of his seemingly senseless death. I think we all did.

Like Robin Williams, CP was a light to everyone he knew, and he knew a LOT of people. He was so hilariously funny, he made everyone laugh. He was a talented craftsman who could transform a dilapidated shack into a luxurious condo, not missing a single detail. And everyone who knew him admired his vocal talent -- he was known for his spot-on imitations of various artists (Elvis being his most popular) and his ability to move a crowd to tears with his perfect, powerful singing voice. I had the privilege of accompanying him on numerous occasions. It was always an honor.

CP impersonating Elvis at our wedding. It was epic.

After CP's death, my family and I endured the immense grief that follows such a tragedy. Sleepless nights -- or, when we did sleep, nightmares. Unexpected tears. Sobbing sessions. Painful reminders around every corner. Endless questions. Unfortunately, the grief was not always made easier by others' attempts to lighten our load. Sometimes, when a person we love is going through something difficult, we don't know what to say, but we think we need to say something. And this is usually when we say the exact WRONG things.

"Suicide is selfish."

In the wake of a suicide, no one wants to hear that their beloved family member or friend was selfish. What does it really communicate about us when we call others selfish, anyway? It says we feel entitled to something another person has to give. We want their money, we want them to spend more time with us, we want them to live despite the fact they are in great pain and can't go on for another second. In calling others selfish, WE are the selfish ones.

Think about that.

And I'm sure if we knew exactly what a person was feeling and thinking when they decided to defy human nature and end their own life, we'd think of them as anything BUT selfish.

Of course, it's downright devastating that the person's spouse, children, parents, extended family and dear friends are left behind when a person commits suicide. But to cast blame on the victim? It's heartless.

"It happened because ..."

Some people feel a need to muse on the reason(s) the person took their life. They think determining the "why" will somehow make things better. If you must entertain these thoughts, please do this privately. Usually, those close to the victim know they suffered from mental illness and don't need to hear a layperson's point-of-view on the matter. The reasons behind their death are likely numerous and quite complicated, so there's no sense in trying to tie them up in a pretty little package. Also, unless you were very close to the victim, your reasons for their death are probably way off-base and can even come across as hurtful, such as saying the person was spiritually unwell or under the influence of Satan. These statements are seen as cruelly judgmental and aren't helpful in the least to those who are grieving.

(And if you post thoughts like these on your very popular, public blog, you'd better be prepared for some serious backlash. I'm looking at you, super-famous male blogger of the click-baiter variety.)

"It was a bad choice."


Let's get something straight: suicide is most definitely self-inflicted. But how often is a suicide victim in their right frame of mind when they die? I would venture to guess never. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, over 90 percent of those who commit suicide are diagnosed with a mental illness. And those are just the diagnosed cases. Other factors, according to NAMI, are chronic medical illness, past trauma and substance abuse. In fact, "more than one in three people who die from suicide are intoxicated." In other words, saying a suicide victim "made a bad choice" is a gross oversimplification.

After Mr. Williams died, I read a fantastic analogy on social media. It said contemplating suicide is like being at the top of a burning building with only the following options: to jump (commit suicide) or be consumed by the flames (suffer the pains of mental illness). Meanwhile, everyone at the bottom (family and friends) is telling them to "just hold on, help is coming!" But how can they know that? They're not going through this ordeal. They're not suffering. They're not faced with this insurmountable decision.

Sometimes, the victim chooses the flames. And sometimes, he jumps.

In short, there are too many unknowns about a person's mental state and decision-making ability when they commit suicide. Even IF they were coherent enough to make the choice of their own free will, we as outsiders can't possibly determine whether it was righteous or evil or even something in between. There is only one Judge who knows that -- our Savior, Jesus Christ. He is perfect and He understands us all completely. He is merciful and kind, and He has the final say on these matters. Everyone else is just guessing and making assumptions that usually hurt the ones close to the deceased.

Instead ...


When someone takes their life, whatever you do, don't judge the deceased person's character or their situation, and don't call them or the act "selfish." You might believe it's the truth, but that doesn't mean it's not incredibly cruel to say.

So, what should you say to someone who has lost a loved one to suicide? How should you act? Here are some ideas:

Be kind and sympathetic -- treat them as you would anyone else who has lost a loved one. Say things like,

"I'm so sorry for your loss. __________ was such a great person." Then, list some admirable traits they had that you will miss.

"I'm so sad to hear about __________'s death. If you'd like to talk about it, I am here to listen."

"I can't imagine the pain you're feeling right now. What can I do to help ease your burden today?"

Most importantly, just LOVE them! Give them a hug. Let them cry in your arms. Let them be angry. Bring them dinner or a special treat. Allow them to talk about anything or nothing at all related to the death. Everyone grieves in different ways -- some will want to talk at length about the person or their death, some prefer quiet, personal reflection. Leave them alone if they want to be alone. Follow their lead. But in everything you do, act in love. Ask yourself, "If I had just lost a loved one in such a tragic way, how would I want to be treated?" And remember that everyone is different and we receive and give love in different ways.

Source: National Alliance on Mental Illness, "Mental Illnesses: Suicide." http://www.nami.org/factsheets/suicide_factsheet.pdf

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Bye bye, hair.

My long-time readers and friends will remember when I took the plunge and got a pixie cut five years ago. (Yeah, can you believe it's been five years already?) Well, the postpartum phase has been pretty rough this time around in more ways than one, but my hair ... you guys. It's been falling out like crazy. Everywhere I go, there are hairs on my shoulders and back. Every time I wash it, I pull wad after wad of hair off my hands and as I do, I have to take deep, cleansing breaths so I don't hyperventilate and pass out from shock and disgust. My part was starting to get wider and wider and THEN, I found one of my hairs in my baby's mouth and said THAT'S IT. Last straw, blah blah blah ... I'm getting a pixie cut.

So I did. On Tuesday.

You saw my before picture on Monday when I posted the nursing camisole giveaway (which, by the way, did you enter?). But here it is again, in case you'd forgotten.


You're probably like, "I don't see any postpartum balding going on here," to which I say, I'm good at hiding it. Just trust me on this one.


And ... here's the after!


I was totally brave and got an asymmetrical cut. I figured if I'm gonna go short, I might as well have fun, right?

So far, I feel like this was definitely the right choice, especially considering the fact I only lost, like, three hairs this morning and it took a whole 15 minutes to style. It also makes me feel lighter and cuter. Like Tinkerbell. It's basically the best.

Short hair for the win!

And don't forget about the giveaway ... it ends on Monday! Even if you're not currently nursing, you might be in the near future. Or maybe you know someone who's nursing and what an awesome gift would that be? Or maybe you're nowhere near lactating, but you're sick of having two sets of straps on your body when you wear a camisole undershirt. Basically, if you have a pulse, you should enter this giveaway. The end.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Nursing in public: An Undercover Mama giveaway!

This post is sponsored by Undercover Mama. All opinions are 100 percent mine.

I've always been a bit shy when it comes to revealing skin, so before I had any children, I figured I'd feel most comfortable nursing covered when I was out in public. And for the most part, I did use a nursing cover any time I had to feed my second baby, Carson. I enjoyed the privacy it gave us. Carson didn't seem to mind it, either and even kicked and squirmed excitedly whenever I'd pull it out of my bag.

This one time, I was at Bass Pro Shops with a friend and her kids. Carson was probably seven or eight months old at the time. I didn't think he would need to nurse while we were there, but sure enough, he started fussing part-way through the trip. No problem, I thought. I've got my cover and I'll just go sit on that bench behind the big waterfall and feed him. Well, imagine my surprise when I looked into my bag and no cover was to be found!

As you know, babies have gotta eat, so I went ahead and nursed him without a cover, right there in Bass Pro Shops with all the huntin', fishin' and campin' dudes. But actually, it wasn't a big deal because it was the middle of the day and hardly anyone shops at Bass Pro during those hours. I was pondering on how nice it was that no one was around and I could nurse comfortably right there in the store when suddenly, a group of about a dozen "tourists" came walking around the waterfall with their cameras to admire the taxidermy, ooohing and ahhing like it was the Eiffel Tower or something. I can't even make this up! I wonder if any of them captured the real-life mama in the wild, feeding her young. They probably didn't even notice what I was doing, but it was hysterical nonetheless.

Since that event, I haven't really bothered with a nursing cover. I have found that it's pretty easy to be discreet without using one if you have the right underclothes on, and you can even wear any of your old shirts if you play your cards right. That's why I was so excited when Undercover Mama contacted me about reviewing their nursing camisole. With it, you can make ANY shirt a nursing shirt!

In essence, it's a strapless camisole that attaches directly to the clasp area of your nursing bra. When worn with your regular clothes, it looks like any other camisole and fits great. Here I am modeling a gray one with a cardigan:


The fabric is high quality and the cut is very flattering.

The cool thing about it can attach to your bra in two ways: hook or loop.

Here's a video to show you how simply it's done:


So basically, when your baby is ready to eat, you just lift/open the shirt on top, unhook the camisole and fold it down and then unhook the nursing bra cup as you normally would. Your back and midriff stay totally covered. How nice! Personally, I prefer using the quick and easy loop, but either way works great.

Now that I've raved about the Undercover Mama nursing shirt, let's give one away! Use the handy-dandy Rafflecopter widget below to enter. Giveaway ends one week from today at 11:59 PM! All entries will be verified. The chosen winner must be reached within 48 hours or I'll have to pick another one.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, August 1, 2014

Clara's digs.

When I found out I was having a girl, I immediately started scouring Pinterest for nursery decorating ideas. I'm a big fan of simplicity and cleanliness when it comes to decorating any space, but it seems especially appropriate for a new baby who needs calmness and peace.

Since we moved the big kids into the same room and needed to redecorate their room in a gender-neutral theme, I knew I wouldn't have the money for a total nursery overhaul, too. I planned to use all the baby furniture we already had, but I also wanted to freshen it up a little for Clara. I gave myself a small budget and went to town. Here's the finished product:


Old: Crib, glider, IKEA Lack side table (white), celadon green curtains (from Audrey's room), floral print rug

New:
Crib sheet and dust ruffle, handmade quilts from friends (hanging on glider and crib), IKEA frame, pink glittery C monogram (Hobby Lobby), IKEA framed artwork, glittery curtain ties (I made them myself!)

Here's a view of the other side of the room. As you can see, I moved quite a few items over from Audrey's old room since she and Carson now share a more gender-neutral room.



Old: Changing table/dresser combo, framed temple drawing from Pics-O-Andrea, silk tulips, Ikea flower lamp, IKEA small table lamp

New: Pink minky dot changing pad cover, IKEA Roman numeral clock

I chose to mix shades of green and pink with various patterns and mediums to make her room interesting. I also added a little sparkle this time -- in the form of glitter, of course.






I'm really pleased with how it turned out. I love going into Clara's room and I feel like it suits her personality so perfectly. Easy-going and cheerful, just like my sweet babe.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Return of the Chair: three months

It's the 29th of the month, which means my little sugar bean is three months old! A quarter of a year has passed since Clara made her crazy debut. Feast your eyes on this Butterball!


I love my fat babies oh, so much.

Clara is getting all sorts of cute these days, cooing and "talking" to whomever will listen. She lights up in smiles whenever anyone interacts with her. She LOVES her bath and goes crazy kicking and splashing all the water out. She's also totally content to chill just about anywhere for long stretches of time, so I'm getting a lot more done than I did when my other kids were in the infant stage. They seemed to always want to be held. She's happy on her lonesome as long as she has something fun to look at.

Did I mention she's sleeping through the night too? She started around the 2-month mark. I feed her around 6 PM; then, she sleeps until 10 and I wake her again for one more feeding. After that, she doesn't wake up again until around 5 or 6 AM. Yes, I realize this is a humongous blessing and I'm beyond grateful! My other two kids were equally as adept at sleeping when it counts, so it's all I know. God is keenly aware of how crotchety I can become when I don't get my sleep so He has given me good sleepers, I guess.

Clara is basically a dream baby. She really doesn't cry unless she's hungry, tired or very poopy. These causes of her distress are all easily ameliorated -- she's a great nurser and will eat anywhere, and she loves to be changed. If she's tired, all I have to do is pop a binky in her mouth and swaddle her and she's out for the count. I'm telling you: DREAM BABY.

My only complaint is she pukes a LOT. For instance, this morning I was nursing her in bed when suddenly, the partially-digested milk EXPLODED dramatically from her mouth, soaking herself, me and my side of the bed in one shot. She goes through about four outfits a day on average due to her "spit-up" frequency. I put spit-up in quotes because anyone who has dealt with this knows it's never actually just a little spit-up. We have a burp cloth or two in every room of the house and I do a LOT of laundry. The doctor said it was normal (despite my insisting that it's too much puke for any sane person to handle) so she's not on any medication for it. I can't wait until this phase passes and I'm sure Clara can't wait, either. It's probably not fun to constantly expel the contents of your esophagus and/or stomach day in, day out. It does seem to help when I don't eat dairy, so I've all but cut it out of my diet completely.

Well, that's Clara in a nutshell. She's a rollie-pollie ball of cuteness and fun. She loves her brother and sister and they adore her to pieces. I feel so incredibly blessed to have such an easy-going baby, especially at a time when I haven't been feeling so great myself. More on that later. I had some blood work done last week to determine the cause of my entire body being in near-constant pain. I'm sure I'll be blogging about it at some point. In the meantime, I'm just wishing and hoping it will go away.