Friday, January 29, 2010

Picking up

I hate the house being a mess. My husband hates the house being a mess. We go through cycles of thinking of doing something about it, deciding to do something about it, talking about what to do about it, and occasionally even doing something about it.

Here's what I've been doing recently that's working:
Geting up. After the baby's morning feeding at 530 or 6 (already Third is more organized than I--he's put himself on a schedule somewhat), I get up. I might be so ambitious, once Third is asleep again but before Firstborn wakes up, as to get dressed and make myself breakfast. Doing this means I get breakfast, which is a good motivator. Today I had ranch scrambled eggs with kielbasa and mozzerella. After that I work on dishes, figure out firstborn's breakfast, and maybe work on laundry. And veg a little. So the day starts out with food and minor accomplishments, and when Firstborn wakes up, I'm ready for her.

Child labor. Never too early to start. It's good for her sense of self-worth and work ethic, now and into the future. She's really not helpful yet, but it's an investment in her future and my own (hoping she will help cheerfully when older). Should I find time to work on dishes and laundry, she can open and shut drawers and cupboards. She can carry plastic or metal items (and probably breakables too, but I haven't been so bold yet). I can, in fact, give her a stack of tupperware and tell her to put it in the tupperware cupboard, and she is likely to do so. Well, now it's rubbermaid, but that doesn't work as well as a noun and some of my heirloom pieces predate the change. While she isn't really helping much--it may take longer with her help--another major non-obvious benefit is tat she's not getting into anything else while I'm working.

Teaching personal responsibility. This has been a major good change. Okay, I've done it two or three times, but I'm gonna stick with it, really. Before naptime/bedtime and meals, Firstborn picks up her toys. (And in the space of that sentence, we did it again! Go us. I think there's some sort of time differential though... within that sentence, hours passed for me, but only seconds for you.) She needs direction. She needs help. She needs very specific instruction. I do most of the work. But I try not to criticize/correct her work where unnecessary (if the car goes on her couch with her stuffed animals, no big deal--okay, I moved it. But in philosophy I shouldn't have). And by making it her job instead of mine, it helps me stress less, even if I'm still doing the bulk of the work. Not to mention--she won't be twenty and a half months old forever. I have to remember I am investing in the future, teaching and instilling habits that I hope will last a lifetime--habits I wish I had.

Getting all the dishes done before bedtime. If they don't all fit in the dishwasher, they get handwashed. If the dishwasher isn't full, fine. Being in the dishwasher counts as done (and I run if it is full). Just out of the sink and off of the counter. This is something I managed for a little while when pregnant with Third, but then didn't keep up with--but it's a good practice and makes me feel better about things, and now I'm back on top of it again.

Making Daddy's lunch at night. Not really picking up/cleaning, but he appreciates it, and like keeping things picked up, it's a way to bless him. If I wait till morning, when Third is up (and sometimes Firstborn), it's kind of hit or miss.

That said--we didn't do any of this last night when we got home from Bible study at 830. But now the toys are picked up, and... the toys are picked up. Still working on those dishes.

The things we should be doing:
Vacuuming. Probably more than once a week... but once a week would be a start. I imagine our motivation will increase when Third starts wiggling around on the floor and eating things he finds.

Putting away things right after we use them. The little things like hanging up coats when we come in, cleaning up dishes and Firstborn's tray after meals, restocking diaper bags after going out, taking care of mail as soon as possible....

Third needs a bath more often. No, babies don't need baths every day, but twice a week would be a good start. Setting days for it could help. Every night wouldn't be awful--to get him towards a bedtime routine. Firstborn gets a daily bath (almost always) and likes it in theory, but complains about getting her head wet. And having her head rubbed. And getting it wet again. And having it dried. And the whining gets to me a lot... which makes that whole rejoicing thing I mentioned last post hard. Any suggestions or advice would be appreciated.

I used to do the guinea pig cage and litter box weekly on Mondays. Having a set day seems to help me. Hasn't been consistently weekly since Third was born, nor have I even been making any effort to put it on a certain day.

So I am a long way from perfecting this... a very long way... but we are working on it.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

In the midst of struggles

I just lost a huge, marathon post on some of my struggles right now.

Maybe there is a reason for that?

The important part is not the struggles.

Here is what is important, so perhaps it is appropriate that it be the bulk of the post rather than a footnote.

The one task I can be completely sure, in this life, that God has appointed for me is to care for the children of my womb, because God and God alone opens and closes the womb. My special area of ministry and missions is in my home, where I am called to be a servant to my husband and my children. While I may struggle with some aspects of what I am called to do, at times, my attitude should not be one of resentment, reluctance, fear, or even just getting through it:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice!
Philippians 4:4

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as if working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Colossians 3:23-24

Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:58b

For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:10

So when I make my husband a lunch--the one thing I do just for him that has no benefit to me--I need to do so with as much cheer as if I had been asked to do so for Jesus. When I spend time with my daughter--who I am so blessed to have--I need to focus on her and love her like that was the most important task in the world--and in truth, it's hard to think of many that matter more. When I wake at night for the third time to feed my beautiful new baby boy, I need to do so with joy and with thankfulness. And as I prepare this temple for the possibility that the Sovereign God of all the universe, the Master Artist who created every living thing, might once again choose to join with my husband and I in using us to create His newest masterpiece, and use me to nurture and grow a new soul created in His very Image (what greater honor or privilege could there be?), I need to give myself to that task with my full heart, rejoicing that all of this truly is for Him.

Sometimes I try to live like that, though I usually fall short. Self-sacrifice? Yes, but what better things could I do with my self? God's divine purpose for my life goes far beyond what I could come up with.

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Friday, January 22, 2010


Wearing my baby is such a sweet, wonderful, common-sense... theory.

I love the idea--my hands are free to handle household tasks and cuddle older children; baby is snuggled warmly and safely against me; supposedly, with some types of carriers, he can even breastfeed while I move about my daily business.

One of the differences between theory and practice is that in theory, there's no difference between theory and practice.

For me, I can't seem to make it work.

I have tried the breastfeeding-in-sling thing with Firstborn. It might work with practice, but I can't see making it work while in motion, so what's the point?

It kills my back. I've tried three types of carriers and every one is bad for my back. I end up in pain after even a few hours. Granted, carrying the baby around is at least as bad, so Love or I will often wear Peter when we are out and about and that's the easiest way to do things. But wearing Third is not an every-day around-the-house option because of this.

Skin to skin contact is supposed to be one of the best ways to convince a little one to breastfeed, though, so last Saturday I decided I was going to wear Third all day, at least for the day. The back pain was worth it to get him "back to breast." I used a carrier where plenty of skin would be exposed, stripped him to his socks, and buttoned a sweater around him. Not modest, perhaps, but I wasn't planning on going out.

Firstborn was most interested in my "baby shirt" and wanted one herself, so we found her a toy carrier so she could wear a doll--very cute.

Ideally I also would have done nothing but tend to the baby all day--but that wasn't happening. So I tried to do normal things--things like baking and unloading the dishwasher. Saying that I had my hands free would not be quite accurate. I did, yes, but there was also this large baby between them, impeding my vision and range of motion. If I bent over, I had to support him with at least one hand. Everything took twice as long as usual, at least. And anything that would require having something against my chest or stomach--like doing dishes in a sink or carrying something big--would have been an impossibility.

He also was not waking up well that day--maybe because he was too comfy, or maybe because he was getting sick--but I blamed comfiness and by Firstborn's naptime I was just holding him a lot, and putting him down when I had to do so.

I also don't cloth diaper or cosleep. I've tried making my own baby food and bread, but have never done much. (I'm not breastfeeding, either, but that I'm giving my best shot!) I admire all those fun crunchy attachment parenting things... but for various reasons, they don't work for our family.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Well overdue for an update

I'm really bad at updating my blog on a regular basis....

So I have a beautiful baby boy, Peter Sidney III, who not only has his daddy's name, but was also born on his daddy's birthday, 27 years later.

He had kind of a rough start--he would not breastfeed, had jaundice, was on the bottle, went back to the breast, was not gaining at all on the breast, went back to the bottle and refused to breastfeed at all, did not reach his birthweight until 3 weeks, but then was almost caught up to where he should be at one month (nine pounds!), had a mild tongue-tie divided....

Third is six weeks old today, is occasionally doing some nursing (15 minutes this morning--the most he's done in three weeks or so), and we are all (Daddy, Firstborn, Third, and I) recovering from a nasty 24-hour bug... at least, we hope he's recovering. We worry about him quite a bit with all he's been through.

I could tell my body was getting ready for the birth the weekend before Thanksgiving, but it was three weeks before he came. I was in active labor that stalled out at least 4 or 5 times, sometimes for hours.... We went to the hospital a couple times before I said I was going to just wait three hours and if I hadn't had the baby, figure it wasn't the real thing. But when it did happen, my water broke, and one hour fifteen minutes after that, he was born. Would have been quicker if the hospital people hadn't been trying to take vitals and stick me with an IV and such. We were just 46 minutes into Daddy's birthday, so we figure that's what he was waiting for :) On an interesting side note, Firstborn was born on Daddy's work anniversary, we realized recently. Maybe the next little one will have a special birthday too?

I have been pumping, and that's about half of what baby is eating, but with pumping, feeding, eating, and working a little on potty training big sister as well, it's hard to get everything done... with breastfeeding, skin-to-skin, pumping, and feeding are all one activity at the same time, and no cleanup is needed. So it's been a challenge to find time for it all--especially skin-to-skin, because that's the lowest priority. I need to work on that.

Firstborn loves her brother although she also would like more attention--she is always wanting someone to read her books. I give her as much attention as I can.

It is amazing how much she is growing--she is sensitive to others' emotions (some of her favorite words are happy, sleepy, and crying). She can say "Babylon Five." (We really don't watch that much TV...) She is working on potty training--don't know if she gets it yet. She's putting words together all the time--baby cup, baby shirt, baby crying, baby sleepy, daddy sleepy, baby sleeping daddy....

I am very blessed.

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