Help a girl out

And take my wedding survey for me (it’s anonymous). It doesn’t matter if you’re married, single, dating, engaged…I just need feedback to help me figure out my next steps for wedding photography. Thanks so much!

And…if you’re on Facebook, I’d love it if you’d “Like” my page. 🙂

Game On

So my maternity leave ends tomorrow. I’m not gonna lie to you…I think it’s actually going to be harder this time than last time.

There are many reasons for this, but the primary one is this: when I went back to work after Anja was born, it was 20 hrs/week, and THAT’S IT. When I came home from work, work was done. I mean, I obviously still did chores and took care of my girl and had other things going on, but it was not the same as things will be now.

This time, I have a full-time job (being a mom and taking care of our home), plus a part-time job that tends to have full-time hours from May through October (photography). Even though I am very protective of our family schedule and try not to accept too many sessions, I find myself overwhelmed with all the work quite quickly.

Markus is not yet sleeping through the night, and that only makes things harder. Trying to do this job last fall while I was pregnant was difficult, but now…well, I can only imagine that some days it will seem next to impossible.

So, Lord? Some grace? Maybe teach Markus how to sleep through the night for me, since I can’t seem to teach him?

I don’t mean to complain at all–it has been a dream of ours to have me home while the kids are young, and I know that they are my primary ministry and my primary responsibility. But the extra $ don’t just come waltzing in by themselves, so most other things of life (friends, dates with Husband, anything leisurely) will have to be on hold for a time. A LONG time.

I am very thankful that I enjoy photography, or this would seriously have me in tears. And just being honest…I look at other families who are able to make it work on one income and I’m jealous. Husband works SO hard to provide for us, and he does a great job. But there is a disparity between what he makes and what we need that cannot be bridged by me simply “scrimping and saving.” And so I work. Father, let me do it with a good attitude, bringing glory to You. This is where you have us, and this is where we will abide.

Always Changing, Rearranging

We’ve been busy the past couple of weeks.  Not that that’s unusual for any family, I guess.  But busier than normal for us.  I got several quotes from local painters to do some work in our house, and since all were over what we were willing to spend, we jumped right in (as in, the same day) and did the work ourselves.

We’ve been trying to turn our old office/TV room into the new bedroom that will be shared by Anja and Markus (“before” picture below).  And the other, smaller bedroom that used to be Anja’s room will now house the office and TV.  It’s a really tight squeeze, so we’re getting rid of quite a bit of furniture (a sofa table, two end tables, a chair, and maybe more.  To make room for these changes (and the new big girl bed),  we’ve also been rearranging a lot of the rest of the house.  The hardest thing for me has been cleaning out closets.  I can’t believe how much stuff they hold!  Thankfully, God has really blessed me with the ability to purge right now, no matter my sentiments.

office before

I hope to post some “after” photos sometime soon, but who knows?  I’ve had my new camera for a week and a half and haven’t even opened the package yet!  That’s how busy we’ve been. Sad.

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040210 Grandma

My mom visited for Easter.  I made potato lasagna on Friday (not spectacular but decent…I’ll make it again), she took us out to lunch on Saturday, and we just took it easy after church on Sunday.  She looked through a photo album of me when I was a baby and agreed that Markus looks an awful lot like his mama.  Since Anja looks quite a bit like Husband (other than the blonde hair), I think it’s fun that my boy (for now, at least) looks like me.

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He’s such a chunk. So adorable!

Spring Cleaning

Our kitchen is the cleanest it’s ever been. Even cleaner than when we moved in (since the people who left didn’t clean the house before they moved out…is it just me, or is that really rude and gross?)!

It’s all due to Tsh’s e-book, Spring Cleaning for Normal People. I don’t get paid to plug her, I just really like her site and really like her e-book (and hey, what’s not to like about a book I can leave on my computer–one less thing to clutter up my house). I think I bought it two years ago, and though I’ve never done it in 10 days straight like the book lays it out, I’ve always appreciated her great tips and step-by-step process.  It makes me, a chronic multi-tasker, able to focus on one thing and get it done before moving onto the next.  That is HUGE for me, since I tend to start shining the sink and go, “Oh, the cupboards should be wiped down.”  Then as I wipe them down, I’ll inadvertently open one and decide that I should remove every single item in them and start organizing.  And my husband comes home to a giant mess, complains, and I respond that it’s all okay because I’m “organizing.”  Ha!  Piles everywhere….that is the name of my game.

I just commented to him that out of all the things I could have inherited from my family, why couldn’t it have been neatness?  I mean seriously, instead I got Mom’s thighs and Dad’s shoulders.  Straight A’s in high school don’t mean much if you can’t keep your kitchen counter clutter-free.  But I wouldn’t probably have the creative, fun side of me without a case of the messies.

Anyway, all that to say that I pretty much followed the kitchen cleaning part to the letter this time (I started with the kitchen since I haven’t gotten to it in-depth the past two years), and it feels AWESOME.  The only thing on the list I didn’t do is clean my oven.  It’s not in my genes.  That is the one part of my mom’s house that makes me feel all self-righteous.  I can run my fingers over her shelves and not find a speck of dust.  I can eat off her floors.  Her mirrors don’t have fingerprints on them.  Don’t get me wrong–I think it’s super that she’s so clean (remember, I wish I could be!).  But when I open her oven and see burnt-on scum, I feel all tingly inside.  Sorry to out you, Mom.  But nobody’s perfect, and I like that.  Your dirty oven makes me happy.

Anja, 30 months

There is no WAY you are 2 ½ years old.  At least, that is what I keep telling myself.  But here are a few tidbits about you at this age for posterity:

  • You are incredibly tall and incredibly verbal.  Most people assume you are at least three, if not older.  It’s fun that you can communicate so well and so clearly, but it is also hard that you are unfairly expected to act older than you are.
  • You love your baby brother.  Whenever you get near him, you hug him, kiss him, or sing to him.  And if he whimpers even the littlest bit, you come looking for Mama or Daddy to implore us to “help him!”
  • Tantrums have been taken to a whole new level.  We aren’t sure if it’s backlash for bringing Markus home, or just being two, but we are dealing with lots of behavioral issues.  A certain 7-hour battle over putting away Duplos comes to mind.  The term “strong-willed” seems a little weak when trying to describe you.
  • Along with that, you are incredibly bossy.  If we are playing with you, and not doing it “your way,” you will command that we do something differently.  We are working on this a lot, since we do want you to have friends someday!
  • You got your first salon haircut last month with Mama.  A little shoulder-length bob.  I’d been debating it since last fall, since you have such beautiful hair for a little girl I thought I’d leave it long, but the bob looks adorable, and I’m sure it will grow out enough for a ponytail by summer.
  • You still love swimming.  We were at a pool with friends last weekend, and you jumped and played and splashed with Daddy to your heart’s content.
  • You memorize books after one or two readings, and then recite them to us, to your “guys,” to whoever will listen.  Grandma thinks this is fabulous, and she has some videos of you “reading” to her.
  • You know your numbers and most of your letters by sight.  I understand the numbers thing, because we’ve done some working with magnetic numbers on the fridge, putting them in order and such.  But the letters?  Somehow, without my prodding, you seem to have learned to identify them and what sound they make.  One less thing for me to teach, I guess!
  • You love sweets.  Just like Mama, you have a sweet tooth—anything with carbs makes you happy.
  • You are still interested in trying new foods all the time, and are rarely picky.  Sometimes you go through phases where you won’t eat a certain food, but by the next week you’ve gotten over it.  We are SO thankful for this, because it gives us foodies the ability to cook and order what we want and just share it with you.
  • You sleep from 9/9:30 at night until 8:30 or 9 in the morning, and take a two-hour nap in the afternoon (once you get yourself to sleep, that is, which sometimes takes two hours of talking to yourself).
  • You are very mother-y, constantly feeding or swaddling or reading to your babies and stuffed animals.
  • At the same time, you are rough-and-tumble, almost like a little boy.  You have boundless energy, and you never walk anywhere, only jump and run.
  • You make up the most marvelous stories, which always make us smile.  And your one-liners are pretty fabulous as well.

Anja, even though you challenge us daily, we are so thankful you are our daughter, and we look forward to the years ahead!

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Markus’ Birth Story

Almost two months after he arrived, here it is!  Things have been hectic lately, plus I’ve been limiting my internet usage, so I haven’t had time to post as often.  But a friend encouraged me to get this done, and here it is, long and probably boring to anyone but me.  Hopefully Markus (or his wife) will appreciate it someday.  🙂

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Markus’ birth story actually starts a few weeks before he was born.

I woke the morning of January 1, and I couldn’t feel the baby moving.  I drank juice, had Husband press on my belly, ate something sugary, danced around…nothing.  I started to panic, and Husband suggested I call the midwife on call.  I did just that, and it happened to be my midwife.  My voice broke several times while I spoke with her.  I could tell she was trying to keep her own voice in check as she said, “Why don’t you come in and we’ll monitor the baby for awhile?”  We got Anja up, shoved some food and books in the diaper bag, and took off for the hospital.

When I got there (to the ER entrance, since it was New Year’s Day), they walked me up and got me settled in right away.  Within minutes they found Baby’s heartbeat.  I was so overjoyed, giggling even as tears of relief began streaming down my cheeks.  Baby still wasn’t being very active, so they made me eat more food and drink some juice to get things going.  After 90 minutes, they determined Baby was fine and we could go home.

The next morning, I went back for a scheduled ultrasound.  Baby had been breech up to that point, though my midwife had said at my appointment on Wednesday that she thought he/she had turned.  Sure enough, at 37 ½ weeks, Baby had turned!  No version or other procedures needed.  I was very pleased.

Strong Braxton Hicks continued all week.  I had never had them with Anja, so I was hopeful that they might help me progress more quickly than I did with her.

Around 2 a.m. on Monday the 11th, I started having real contractions, ranging from 7 minutes apart to 5 minutes apart.  This was about how my labor with Anja started, and hers lasted a long time, so I didn’t let myself get too excited.  When, at 4:15 a.m., they were still limping along, I had Husband come in and rig up the laptop for me so I could time my contractions with minimal effort (he wrote me a spreadsheet for it last time around).  As soon as he left the room, the contractions stopped.  Bummed, I went to sleep.

I woke up four hours later and went to the bathroom.  As I stood up from the toilet, a giant gush of water went all over the floor.  Pretty sure that I hadn’t left that much pee in my bladder, I yelled, “Husband!  Husband!  My water just broke!”  Fluid continued to trickle down onto the floor, so I sat back down and asked him to bring me the phone.  The midwife on call asked if I was having contractions.  Nope.  She said my options were to come in and be induced or to wait until labor started in earnest.  If I hadn’t started laboring by the next morning, they would probably induce me anyway.  I’m a big fan of The Natural, so I told her I’d wait around for awhile.

Contractions started soonish, but they were mild and far apart.  Around 11:00 a.m., they kicked it up a notch.  Husband called his sister at the school where she teaches and told her we’d probably need her to come be with Anja.  She arrived early afternoon as we were doing some last-minute packing, and we left for the hospital around 3:00.

Once we got all checked in, they monitored me for awhile.  My contractions had been about every three minutes, but as I sat on the bed, they slowed considerably.  Once they took the monitor off, Husband and I walked the halls, and my contractions sped up again.  I paused every couple of minutes and worked through a contraction while holding onto the railings or the wall.  Since I wasn’t having back labor this time, I found that deep breathing and a rocking motion were my best way to get through contractions.  Husband was thankful, as last time he had to press on my back every couple minutes for hours and hours!

After what seemed like forever (8 p.m.), they finally checked my cervix, and I was only dilated to a 5.  I felt like weeping at that point.  They reminded me that it took the longest to get there, and it would go much faster from here.  Not entirely encouraged, I decided to labor in the tub for awhile. My hospital has fabulously large tubs where even a pregnant woman can just float about.

I only lasted in the tub for 20 minutes or so; it got my contractions going even faster.  I decided to go back to walking, as it helped keep my mind off the pain better.

Around 11:00 p.m., they checked my cervix again.  I had told the midwife that I envisioned myself going at 1 cm per hour, and I had progressed to about an 8.  Yay!  I was feeling pretty fatigued, having only had about 4 hours of sleep the night before.  I asked if there was anything they could give me that would allow me to rest but not affect the baby.  They said the best thing they could give me was a tiny dose of fentanyl.  Drugs and I don’t mix well, and that proved to be the case with fentanyl.  Instead of feeling rested or having any pain relief, it made my whole body get the shakes, and my mind felt mushy like I didn’t have control.  Thankfully, the dose they gave me wore off in 20 or 30 minutes, so I was able to get back to business.

The nurse and midwife helped me with counter-pressure on my hips for awhile to give Husband a break.  I had the urge to push pretty much right away, so they let me do little grunts and kind of “pretend push.”  I climbed back out of bed and continued to labor on my feet.  Rocking and bouncing (by bending my knees) were the most comfortable way to labor.

I remember at one point leaning on the bed across from the midwife, looking her in the eye, and saying, “I don’t remember it being this hard!”  She just gave me a small smile and nodded.  How she could be so calm when I was clearly about to die was beyond me.

Soon it came time to push for real.  Around 12:45 I longed to climb back into the bed, but every time I moved in the least it would produce a contraction.  The midwife and I decided that I would try pushing while standing up, leaning on the bed.  I asked for an oxygen mask, and I held it and breathed into it when I needed to.  Husband continued to provide pressure on my back or hips as needed, and the midwife sat on the floor to keep track of the baby’s progress down the birth canal.

Anja had come out so quickly that I don’t remember the feeling of crowning.  Wow, is it odd and painful!  Having something so huge coming through between your legs is a very strange sensation.  After about an hour of pretty progressive pushing, Markus Scott came squidging out and the midwife caught him.  “It’s a boy!” she shouted, and handed him up to me between my legs.  The tears of joy and relief came, and I rejoiced, in awe over this little man of mine.  I’ll admit a bit of surprise over it being a boy.  I thought the pregnancy was so similar to Anja’s that it must be a girl.  Looking back, I definitely see some differences, but still don’t know that I would have been able to tell.

With some help I cut the cord myself (Husband did last time and didn’t really care to again) and climbed into bed to hold Markus while I delivered the placenta.

I tore again, though not as extensively as last time, so the midwife stitched me up herself.  They weighed Markus and informed a surprised mama that her boy was 9 lbs 1 oz (!).  Glad he decided to come a week early instead of a week late like his sister!  Because he was so big but I hadn’t had any complications, they tested him for diabetes three times in the first day.  He was perfectly normal. Just a big boy!

Markus was a champion nurser from the get-go, and within the first hour he had eaten on both sides.

We spent a couple of hours enjoying our sweet boy, then all tried to get some rest.

This is my job.

I began looking for a new rhythm in November, after I came home from my other 20 hr/wk job.  Photography was still eating 30-50 hours a week until Christmas, but I dreamed of finding order in each day, of making it count for our family.

After Christmas, I had time, which is a luxury I haven’t had in a long time.  I began crocheting, worked on a scrapbook (I have told myself that each child will have one, emphasis on ONE, and I can’t promise any more than that), looked at decorating books, read my Bible every day, planned and made nutritious meals and baked goods.

Markus arrived in mid-January.  One giant blessing begot one big mess.  We are back to square one.  Just when I think I have found a new rhythm, a growth spurt or a very tantrum-filled day ruins my illusion.  Flexibility, I’m thinking, will need to become my new best friend.  Flexibility and I have never gotten along very well.  I am Type A.  I plan my days almost to the minute.

I write to-do’s on my calendar, and they remain there for weeks, sometimes never getting crossed off.  This frustrates me.  But I have to let it go, tell myself that I’m on maternity leave, so work needs to take a backseat right now.  I have a brand new baby to hold, to love.

Reading blogs, responding to emails, commenting on Facebook, are all things that I enjoy, things that keep me sane, but that need to move down the priority list.  They are not my job.  They will not reap the same rewards of playing in an indoor “sandbox” with Anja, of reading her books and scripture, of singing silly songs and dancing in a tutu in the living room.  They will not replace holding my baby, sniffing his soft hair, and humming him lullabies as he dozes off on my shoulder.

Some things won’t wait.  When we are out of burp cloths, the laundry must be done.  My family must eat every night.  But the dust?  It will just re-settle within a day anyway.  And that pile of papers?  They’ll still be there tomorrow.  I’m pretty sure I’ve posted this poem before, but it is just SO important for me to remind myself that some things matter, and some don’t.

Song for a Fifth Child

By Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

Mother, O Mother, come shake out your cloth,

Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,

Hang out the washing, make up the bed,

Sew on a button and butter the bread.

Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?

She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I’ve grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue,

Lullabye, rockabye, lullabye loo.

Dishes are waiting and bills are past due,

Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo.

The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew

And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo

But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo

Look! Aren’t his eyes the most wonderful hue?

Lullabye, rockabye, lullabye loo.

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow

But children grow up as I’ve learned to my sorrow.

So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!

I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

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Sunday Sunshine 02.07.10

A friend of ours was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre’ syndrome this past summer.  Guillain-Barre’ is one of those syndromes that you hope you will only ever hear about on House, one you hope your friends and family will never get.

We followed her progress on a Caring Bridge site, and I am pleased to say (and thankful to God!) that she has made a full recovery.  She recently put up a video of herself re-learning how to walk, and oh. my. goodness.  It was amazing to watch!  We haven’t seen her in person since her experience, so it was very touching to see an actual video of the journey she’s been on (see below–be sure to note that the music is tongue-in-cheek…like our friend said, it’s good to be able to laugh at yourself).  Thanks for sharing, E!

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I came across this recipes site recently, and I am happy to share it with you all!

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I am a huge Antique Mommy fan, and this list of hers is chock-full of wisdom.

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As is this post (and the follow-up post) from Rachel at Small Notebook.  It was music to my new mother of two ears.