Friday, August 28, 2015

Casting stones.


Gilbert resident Cherish Peterson is making national news for accidentally leaving her infant in a shopping cart outside a grocery store and driving away. She returned 40 minutes later, immediately turning around once she'd realized her mistake. In the meantime, the baby was found by an off-duty officer and taken to a nearby hair salon. He was examined and found to be perfectly fine. Reports say through the entire ordeal, the baby never even cried.

You can watch the news story and read the transcript here.

This is a mistake in the vein of many others which parents of all types frequently make. As a parent or child care provider, have you ever accidentally forgotten to buckle a child into their car seat and drove around like that? Have you ever lost your child in a store or forgotten to pick them up from school? Has your baby ever rolled off a bed, couch or changing table on your watch? Have you ever left a baby or toddler in the bathtub for "just a second" to retrieve your phone or quickly aid another child? Has your child ever escaped from the house and run into the street?

Each of these common scenarios -- and yes, they happen OFTEN -- could end very badly, sometimes even in death. But most of the time, we don't think to involve law enforcement when our friend or sister's child takes a nasty spill off of a changing table. Instead, we are the first to offer words of consolation and comfort, saying, "It happens to the best of us."

"Don't beat yourself up about it."

"You learned your lesson and I bet you'll never let that happen again."

Not the case for Cherish Peterson. She's taking a LOT of vitriol for her mistake, most of it public scrutiny from people who don't know her at all. And although reports initially said she wouldn't be charged with any crimes, she is now facing a misdemeanor for child endangerment.

Don't get me wrong -- leaving your baby behind in a parking lot is a terrible misdeed. I'm not trying to excuse this mother's grave error. But it is no worse than the many misjudgments parents make on a daily basis, some even intentionally! Is this particular situation only important because the mother got caught?

I'm particularly incensed that Cherish Peterson is being charged with a crime. It's not difficult to see she already feels deeply sorry for what she did. Just watch the video. She is completely distraught over it. And Cherish clearly loves her children; she knows she made an awful mistake, she feels horribly, she's being crucified in the public square -- regardless of a criminal charge, she is never, ever going to forget another child anywhere, ever again.

If, after watching her emotional apology and reading the reports, you still feel Cherish Peterson is a bad mother deserving of a criminal conviction, put yourself in her shoes. If you did the same thing, how would you feel? I can only imagine myself in this situation. I have left my purse in the shopping cart a few times and as I drove back to the store to find it, I was in a complete panic. Over a purse. If it were my own baby ... I'd be livid with myself. I would cry myself senseless and probably wouldn't leave the house. I would probably never forgive myself. 

But would I call the cops on myself and demand to be charged with a misdemeanor? No. And, be honest -- neither would you.

Would Cherish Peterson be prosecuted if her story hadn't gone viral, if bystanders hadn't blasted pictures of the infant all over the Internet, if the judge and jury that is social media hadn't shamed her so mercilessly? I don't know. Makes me wonder.

If you dare to throw stones at Cherish Peterson, you better NEVER make a mistake like she did. All those things we talked about before -- children darting into streets, babies not buckled into their car seats, babies rolling off furniture, parents leaving their children unattended in the bathtub -- you better be SO vigilant. You better never take your eyes or hands off your kid because if you do, something bad will eventually happen. And when it does, you better pray no one ever witnesses your indiscretion, lest you end up the target of scorn for all of social media and a convicted criminal to boot.

"[S]he who is without sin, let [her] cast the first stone." We all know that statement means no one is perfect. So, let's have some mercy on this poor mother. Her whole life has been forever damaged -- not only because she made a mistake, but also because others couldn't resist hurling their rocks in her direction.

Cherish, if you're reading this ... I'm crying with you. You're a good mom who made a terrible mistake. But, you've learned your lesson. I bet it will never happen again. Don't beat yourself up about it. It happens to the best of us.

Go, and sin no more.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

D-MER: The dark side of breastfeeding.


This is something I've wanted to write about for a long time, but couldn't bring myself to do it. The emotions associated were too fresh until recently.

But I'm ready to talk now. I have realized my story could help many mothers to keep breastfeeding, even when it's really difficult.

In April 2014, I had my third baby, Clara. After briefly breastfeeding my first child and nursing my second baby for nearly a full year before he weaned, I figured I knew all there was to know about breastfeeding. I thought the beginning might be rough since four years had passed since my last baby, but I believed once I crossed the hurdle of the first few weeks, it would be easy again. Just like riding a bike.

Then came the gloom and doom.

It happened every time Clara latched on, right before my milk let down. You know that feeling you get in your stomach when someone shares tragic news, or when you're really homesick? That gut-wrenching feeling would sneak up on me each time I began to nurse.

This sadness would quickly swell into ultimate sorrow. My heart would race and my breathing would become sharp and fast. Then, I would involuntarily cry; tears would stream down my face, completely beyond my control. Horrific thoughts entered my mind. Often, I wished I could die.

This intense feeling would last about a full minute, sometimes longer, and then gradually subside until I was done feeding my daughter. It didn't matter if I was on my phone, talking to people, watching television or distracted in any way -- it still happened every time I nursed.

At first, I chalked it up to the post-partum blues most moms get right after they give birth. But three months in, it hadn't abated. In fact, it seemed to be getting worse, and I anticipated each feeding with dread. During the rest of the day, I felt pretty normal -- a little tired, sure, but certainly not depressed. But man, when it came time to breastfeed, that awful, grievous feeling would take over. It felt like an evil force was plunging me deep into the darkest abyss of sadness without any hope for escaping.

One day, I was pondering on this strange occurrence when I recalled a thread I had seen on a parenting forum years before. It discussed a condition called D-MER. I'd only skimmed the thread, vaguely remembering something about discomfort associated with breastfeeding. I shamefully remembered how at the time, I thought the woman discussing it was crazy. But now, I know she was not. At the soonest opportunity, I got to my computer and Googled this phrase:

"feeling intense sadness while breastfeeding"

All my questions were answered here.

I found out that D-MER is short for dysphoric milk ejection reflex. I learned it is "a condition affecting lactating women that is characterized by an abrupt dysphoria, or negative emotions, that occur just before milk release and continuing not more than a few minutes."

The site explains there are two hormones that regulate milk release. Prolactin is the hormone that signals for milk release or ejection in nursing women. To keep the breast milk from coming out all the time, dopamine (the "happy hormone") regulates the mother's prolactin levels. So, in order for the prolactin to do its job when your baby is hungry, the dopamine must decrease rapidly. In some women, this sudden decrease in dopamine causes the dysphoria associated with D-MER. It can manifest as sadness or homesickness (like I had), anxiety and even anger. As the dopamine levels rise again, those negative feelings dissipate.

Now, it's important to know that D-MER has nothing to do with pain or nausea when nursing. Those are different conditions. It is not psychological, either, like postpartum depression or psychosis. It is simply a hormonal response.

After reading about D-MER, I was relieved to know that what I had was explainable and somewhat normal. But, knowing about it didn't make the feeling go away -- it still came and went, every time. The site did say as my baby got older, the dysphoria would lessen and that most D-MER cases go away by six months postpartum. I clung to that hope and began to notice when it lessened, vanishing completely around Clara's six-month mark. What a relief when I could finally nurse without feeling that awful sadness!

Here's something kind of crazy, though. Despite delivering three babies, D-MER was something I had never personally been told about. Not by obstetricians, pediatricians, midwives, nurses or even lactation consultants. It was not in any of the literature I brought home from three different hospitals or obstetric practices. I had only ever seen it mentioned in passing on a message board, many years prior. Yet it was something so terrible, it almost made me give up on breastfeeding!

I mean, who wants to go through that torture 5 - 8 times every day? Nobody. But since I'd never been warned it could happen, I wondered if I had some significant problem with breastfeeding, or if I was experiencing some kind of psychosis. Thank goodness Google cleared that all up.

Something DID help me get through it, though, and that was talking about it. Once I knew what I had, I began telling people -- my husband, my mom and my close friends. Their sympathy alone made a difference.

Also, being aware of the D-MER and understanding what caused it didn't make it go away, but it helped me handle it better. I knew that it would end after a few minutes and I would feel happy again soon.

If you have these feelings when your baby is nursing, just know you're not alone. You are not crazy; you do not belong in a psych ward. You have D-MER. It will go away eventually. The intense sadness/anxiety/anger you are feeling during breastfeeding is not rooted in reality but is simply a hormonal response. Remember that, and don't let it get to you.

And maybe it's just too much and you want to quit breastfeeding. Only you can make that call. If you feel it's best for you and your baby to switch to formula because the D-MER is making you miserable, go for it. Breast isn't always best, and maybe severe D-MER is an example of a situation that warrants bottle-feeding. I fully support moms who do what is best for their family, whatever that may be.

Have you or a loved one ever experienced D-MER?

Thursday, July 2, 2015

How do we look upon sin?

About a month ago while we were staying with my parents, my sister came home from church. It was the first Sunday of the month -- Fast Sunday -- which means instead of a regular sermon, members of the congregation are invited to share their personal testimonies from the pulpit. She mentioned how a number of congregants related sentiments like, "No matter how far you fall away from Him, God will always, always love you." My sister said her bishop did eventually get up and remind the congregation that while God does indeed love us and always will, He "cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance." Which means, He doesn't allow sin to enter His kingdom.

I've been thinking about this a lot, especially recently. Here are my somewhat-jumbled, hopefully-coherent thoughts on the matter.

First, I do agree no matter how much we sin, God will always love us. Remember, He is our Father. And a parent's love is (or at least, should be) unconditional. No matter how many times my children unroll the toilet paper, punch each other in the face and generally behave like holy terrors, I will always love them. And when they get older and make really terrible choices, even when they shatter my heart into a million pieces, I will always love them. And God, being a perfect parent, will always love us, too. Even when we break HIS heart, over and over again.

God loves us, and that is why he looks upon sin with the least degree of allowance.

Think about it, parents: if we love our kids so much, why do we make rules for them? Isn't that oppressive and cruel? No -- we love our kids and we want them to become the best people they can be. We don't want them going into society, unrolling toilet paper all over the place, punching other people and being holy terrors. So, we set boundaries to help them turn into decent adults and live up to their potential. But, we ultimately allow them to choose, committing to loving them no matter what.

Here's another reason why God looks upon sin with the least degree of allowance -- His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, paid the ultimate price in suffering the sins of all humankind. God could never tolerate sin in the face of his Son's beautiful and heartbreaking Atonement. If so, He would cease to be God.

God does not want us to sin, but He knows we will. That is why he provided a Savior. But Christ did not atone for our sins so we could make mistakes with wild abandon. He requires us to follow Him, be baptized and keep His commandments. He asks that when we sin, we repent in full humility. We need to correct our sinful behaviors before He will cleanse us.

The Atonement is not a free car wash we can simply ride through without even exiting the vehicle. Instead, it is Christ standing with a bucket of soapy water and a sponge, ready to help us wash the car by hand. He requires our best effort. That is the only way a true change of heart can occur.

Now, how should we look upon sin? Some may argue that we should be like God and not tolerate any sin of any kind, ever. Even others' sins. But to that, I say, do you intend to obey all the commandments? Don't forget Christ's admonition to "judge not, that ye be not judged" (Matthew 7:1). I am so glad it is not my responsibility to decide who is a sinner and who isn't. I cannot possibly understand the hows, whys and whats of everyone on Earth, but God and Jesus Christ do. So, I'll gladly leave the judgment to them.

Photo by Mark Mabry

Also, we can look to Jesus Christ's example. During his mortal life, He associated with sinners. He did this not to accept or excuse their behavior, but to invite them to change and follow Him. How are we to help others come unto Christ if we abandon them the second they slip up? We can't. In fact, by doing so, we may even encourage them to turn further away from Him.

However, in our own lives, it's a different story entirely. We are all personally responsible for ridding ourselves of sin. We shouldn't allow it in our own lives, ever! When we realize our errors, we should repent as soon as possible to restore the Holy Spirit in our lives. We can and should testify that sinful behavior is evil, but going beyond that -- such as pointing out specific sins in others -- is the kind of judgment Christ warned about in Matthew 7:

"And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye."

In other words, if you're going to help people remove the splinters from their eyes, you better be darned sure you don't have a two-by-four hanging out of yours.

Now, what about when society as a whole is engaged in sinful behavior? Again, as baptized members of the Church, it is our duty to "stand as a witness of Christ at all times, and in all things, and in all places." We can do this by living the commandments and being a good example of righteousness. We can testify of truth to others when the Spirit influences us to do so. We can exercise the right to vote for or against measures that coincide or conflict with our moral convictions.

But, we must not judge others.

So, how do we look upon sin? With the least degree of allowance -- in our own lives. We should repent immediately when we realize our mistakes. We shouldn't allow misdeeds to fester and corrupt us.

We can help others by living as an example, testifying of truth and exercising our right to vote when applicable. And most importantly, we can also reach out in love, as the Savior did. But He is the Savior of the world, and He has the power to judge the sins of others where we do not. We must be careful not to cross that line.

What can we do, then, when those whom we love are engaged in sinful behavior? Here are some suggestions:

-- Love them as you always have. Be kind and respectful.

-- Continue to associate with them, since abandoning others goes against the principle "love thy neighbor." Have them over for dinner, game night, play dates, etc. Invite them to your family functions and events.

-- Share your belief in gospel principles when the Spirit invites you.

-- Pray for them.

-- Avoid contention and arguing.

--Let go of what you can't control.

Remember, we're all on life's journey together. We all have different struggles and strengths, and NONE of us have mote-less eyes. God knows us perfectly and He will judge us fairly. And while He does love us and will always love us, He does not want us to sin. He wants us to repent and be made whole so we can inherit all the blessings He has in store for us.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

I believe in this.

When the Supreme Court decision to allow same-sex marriage in all 50 states came down last Friday morning, I had a million thoughts and feelings, as most people did. But before blasting an opinion piece on it, I decided to wait. I wanted to mull things over, figure out how to articulate best how I feel and execute it carefully.

So, here we go.


---------------------------------------------

I believe in a lot of things, but here are just a few of them:

I believe in a loving Heavenly Father and my Savior, Jesus Christ, who is God's Son.

I believe we are all God's children.

I believe God gave us the agency to choose for ourselves, and He wants us to have every opportunity to do so.

I believe the consumption of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs, as well as coffee and tea, is harmful to the body, mind and soul.

I believe in always being kind, no matter what.

I believe in standing for your convictions.

I believe God has ordained marriage between one man and one woman.

To me, marriage between one man and one woman is a sacred and holy institution. This is a religious belief I hold dear, and no matter how many people disagree with me, the right to believe it cannot be taken away. Thanks, Constitution!

Why is traditional marriage so important to me, as an LDS person (Mormon)? I believe God is married to our Heavenly Mother, and They intended for Their children to marry in the same fashion. I believe They set the pattern for us to follow with the creation of the first mortal children, Adam and Eve. I don't believe they were merely the first humans to inhabit the Earth, but I believe they were also married by God in the Garden of Eden. I believe God's ordination sealed their companionship, permitting them to bring children into the world. I believe we are supposed to follow their example so we can someday become like our Heavenly Parents. This is not only a personal belief, but also a core teaching of Mormonism. It is a very significant part of my faith.

However ...

I do not believe it's my place to judge others. I don't know why some people are attracted to the same gender, to both genders or to no gender at all. But I believe they are my spiritual brothers and sisters and they deserve respect and kindness. I am so relieved I don't have to judge anyone for their choices or actions. God will see to that. My responsibility is to love my neighbor and share the Gospel with them. That's all.

I do not believe in blocking others from accessing agency. It is now legal for gays and lesbians to marry in this country. And I believe in obeying, honoring and sustaining the law. I also believe the Constitution was inspired by God because He wants us to be free to choose and think however we see fit. I believe in equal rights and fairness in the eyes of the law. And just as my abstinence from alcohol doesn't infringe on others' right to drink, my belief in traditional marriage cannot stop gay couples from marrying, either. What a great country we live in, where all kinds of religious and personal beliefs are allowed to co-exist! It would be even better if we could figure out how to do so peacefully.

I do not believe "the gays will ruin America." Since the ruling came down, I've read numerous sentiments in the vein of, "Oh, now that gays can marry, all the children are going to suffer and divorce will be rampant and we're all gonna DIE!!!" These thoughts disappoint and depress me. But I'm choosing to be optimistic. I hope that since everyone can marry now, people of all orientations will choose to commit to their significant others for life and do their best to provide stable homes for their children. I hope that we will see stronger relationships and greater respect between parents and children in general. I hope that married people will value the commitment they have made and appreciate its importance instead of running straight to court at the first sign of martial stress. I hope we will all be more conscientious of how our choices affect those around us, particularly the children, because -- "I believe the children are our future!"

If anyone is ruining America, it's the selfish, prideful, angry and violent people who reside here. Those adjectives can apply to people of all genders, orientations, races, economic statuses and religions. It's our personal responsibility to see that we don't contribute to the demise of this great nation, no matter who we claim to be.

I do not believe in being argumentative or mean.
I've seen people on both sides of this coin acting so cruelly toward those with whom they don't agree, and it's disheartening. Here's a little secret I've learned in life -- you don't have to be friends with everyone, but you can always be friendly. What do snark and scorn accomplish? Do you honestly think that yelling at someone or calling them names, either virtually or in person, will win them over to your way of thinking? Guess what, it won't. Don't be a bully. Think before you speak.

Remember, LOVE WINS. (See what I did there?)

Oh wait! There's one more thing:

I believe people who believe differently can be friends without judging each other.
A few years ago, I went to lunch with four other blogging ladies here in Arizona. I knew from reading their blogs that one was a nutritionist, one was very vocal about the importance of eating whole, raw foods and one was gluten- and dairy-free. The remaining blogger was very thin, and I assumed (perhaps wrongly) that she watched what she ate, too. At the time, I was beginning to care more about the importance of a healthy diet, and I felt immense pressure about what to order at that restaurant. I felt like all the food-conscious eyes were on me as I selected what to eat. I ended up settling on an underwhelming and really lame (but healthy!) salad, and I was so mad at myself. I succumbed to imagined peer pressure instead of doing what I wanted to do.

The thing is ... all four of those ladies probably wouldn't have cared too much if I had chosen something greasy and delicious instead of that salad. I am still in touch with all of them on a regular basis and as I get to know them more, I realize judgment isn't their thing. I can eat what I want in front of them and they'll still like me!

My point is, you and I can be friends, even if we disagree about food. Even if we disagree about marriage, even if we disagree about education, about parenting, about religion, about the best place to go on vacation ... doesn't matter! Friendship is more than finding people who are exactly like you and deleting them from your life the second they don't conform anymore. We are better than that. We are evolved humans and our close relationships should transcend our differences.

I believe in this.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Moment-capturing.



It's late in the evening, and I'm sitting in my week-old home. Dill is playing church basketball down the street; all three kids are snoozing in their freshly-painted bedrooms. I'm sitting on my comfy couch in my family room, admiring my beautiful, clean, white kitchen when all the sudden, it hits me:

At this moment, everything is pretty darn near perfect.

I'm taking a mental photograph of this so one day, when everything feels not-even-close-to-perfect again, I can remind myself that these times of peace and wholeness do come.

A month ago, when I was frantically throwing my whole life into boxes, simultaneously hating and mourning my first home (talk about an awkward feeling!) and dealing with the insurmountable anxiety that comes with major change, I could not envision this moment. All I saw were document signing appointments, realtor phone calls, inspections, appraisals, walk-throughs, storage units, moving trucks, packing, packing and more packing. Living with my parents and two youngest sisters AND their puppy for three weeks. Driving them all totally insane. Then, packing up and moving AGAIN. Then, painting the interior of the new house (because what parent of three children wants flat white paint throughout their entire home)?

Well, we got through it all. Sure, there are still pictures to be hung, miscellaneous items to be unpacked, garage shelves to be reassembled. But those things are not crucial. They can wait.

The crazy-stressful mandatory stuff: it's done.

And, why am I telling you all of this?

Because you're probably going through something hard, too. And I want you to know that the hard stuff will end. Life is about ebb and flow, give and take, here and there. It's not all hard. Sometimes, if only for a moment, it's basically perfect.

Just don't forget to pause for a minute, breathe in, and gratefully enjoy the peace.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Breastfeeding: The end of an era.


On May 1st, I breastfed my baby for the last time.

It was a surprisingly unceremonious occasion. By that point, Clara was only nursing once a day -- first thing in the morning. And it was mostly for my convenience, as it bought me some time to rest in bed before having to get up for the day.

Though we enjoyed it for a full 12 months, Clara and I have both outgrown breastfeeding. She is far too busy exploring and eating solid foods these days, and I was more than ready to stop.

When I realized it was time to drop that last morning feeding, I made the decision and stuck with it. Dill was home those first two days, so he got up with Clara and fed her breakfast as a diversion. Five days have passed since the last feeding and she hasn't cried for it once. She hasn't tried to lift my shirt or bite my shoulder. My instinct was correct -- Clara is just as "done" with breastfeeding as I am.

It's a bittersweet thing, moving into a new phase of life with your child, but also mourning the simplicity of the early days. I will miss the ease of pacifying my child by simply nursing her. It comes so naturally. It's a basic instinct on the part of both mother and child -- baby cries, mother knows exactly what to do.

But babies grow into children, who grow into teenagers, who grow into adults, who don't need their moms as much anymore. This is the natural progression of things and I need to accept that.

Some people may judge me for only breastfeeding for a year and for being somewhat nonchalant about stopping. Remember, everyone is different. All babies are different and all mothers are different. Clara simply wasn't all that attached to nursing and neither was I. It's true -- I haven't shed a single tear over the end of this era. That doesn't mean I'm heartless. I'm sure I will miss it someday and will look back on those times with fondness. But, I am also ready for the change.

I thought about writing a "How to Wean Your Baby at 12 Months" post, but I decided not to. Breastfeeding is such a personal thing. And just because it was easy for us doesn't mean it will be a cake walk for everyone else. In my experience, each mom knows best when and how to transition their baby from breast to cup. A one-size-fits-all approach to weaning doesn't exist, so I'm not about to try creating one for you.

However, having gone through this twice now, I can offer some tips that may make the transition a bit easier:

--Introduce a bottle or sippy cup long before you wean so your baby will be familiar with their new source of liquids once the process begins. It can be hard for a baby to learn to drink from a cup, so it's helpful to establish this skill before they must rely on it to quench their thirst.

--Eliminate the less ritualistic mid-day feedings first; then, move onto the harder ones (first morning and bedtime).

--Heed your baby's cues. If he or she doesn't express a desire to nurse, don't push it. It is common for babies to drop feedings once they start eating solids. A baby knows when to eat and will give cues if they are hungry.

I do NOT recommend quitting cold turkey. As with any major change, weaning should be a gradual process. Drastically dropping feedings can lead to clogged ducts and mastitis for you and emotional distress for everyone. I understand sometimes it has to happen this way, but try to avoid hurrying things if you can.

Also, unless your baby is demanding to be done, (like my Carson did), try to nurse at least a full year. Though babies receive most of their nutrition from solid foods by then, breast milk is still a reliable source of important nutrients.

And most importantly ... don't force anything. There's no rule that says you MUST stop breastfeeding your baby at a year. If you're both not up to it, keep going! Who cares what people think? Like I said before, every baby is different; every mom is different. Do what works best for you both.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Final Chair picture.

Would you even believe if I told you that one year ago at this very moment, I was snuggling my 10-hour-old baby in the hospital, thinking maybe epidurals are as wonderful as everyone says they are?

Yep. My baby is ONE today!

Here's a progression collage so you can see how much the wee one has changed over the months ...


And finally ...



Whoop! There it is.

Clara had some tubes installed in her eardrums about two weeks ago, and life's been dandy ever since. Imagine always feeling like you're ears need to pop and hearing as if you're submerged in water, then taking a 5-minute anesthesia-induced nap and waking up with no pressure in your ears and normal hearing. That's about all there was to it! Since then, she's more responsive, less fussy and has been talking a bit more, too! The other day, Dill picked her up and she very clearly said, "Dah-ee!" It is so exciting to see the changes in her.

Basically, ear tubes are AMAZING and I will sing their praises until I'm in the grave.

Clara has a bunch of teeth in her mouth, eats everything in sight, loves to crawl and climb (but not walk), adores the people she knows and is really skeptical of those whom she doesn't. We're talking, tears, meltdowns, refusal to be held ... sigh. I suppose I was lucky to have two kids who had zero concept of "stranger danger" and I should count my blessings. Maybe we can somehow lovingly convince her that other people aren't scary monsters who want to eat her for dinner and she'll outgrow this phase before too long? Let us pray.

In other news, we sold our HOUSE! In one showing. I know, try not to hate us. I am so relieved though, because living in a "model home" with three kids, one of whom likes to crawl behind you and undo all your cleaning and organizing, it the pits. I actually considered locking my kids outdoors at one point to prevent any further disarray in the "model home." Also, imagine my panic when the first showing is right during my EVMCO concert and poor Dillon not only has to get the "model home" ready but also corral the kids all by his lonesome. Well, apparently I should have more faith in the man because not only did he pull it off, but they offered more than we asked the very next day! Kudos, Dilly-Pie.

So anyway, we're on our way outta here and I'm feeling all sorts of emotions over it. Happy that we will be moving closer to Dill's place of work and we'll all get to see more of him. Sad that I have to leave so many great friends and neighbors behind. Discouraged by how expensive homes are in Phoenix and they're not all fancy and clean and cute like they are out in the East Valley. Unsure about where my kids are going to attend school. It's a whirlwind of feelings, people.

But for now, I'm going to quit worrying and savor this day. I'm going to forget about house-hunting for a while and have some pie and cake for my last baby's first birthday tonight. Bittersweet. They really do grow up too fast.