Why my husband is husband of the year

>> Friday, December 21, 2007

I have been telling my hubby for awhile that I wanted/needed a laptop. Our computer is downstairs in our basement so it makes it challenging for me to get work done for my sling business and the all-important blog-reading in. This week has been Crazy with a capital C around here so hubby said I could open my Christmas present tonight before we leave for Florida tomorrow. Well, he surprised my socks off with the most beautiful HP laptop a girl could hope for!! I LOVE IT!! Now I guess I have to follow through on all my promises to be extra-productive. :) Thank you SO MUCH hubby!! You truly deserve an award for this!



>> Thursday, December 20, 2007

Waiting is what Advent is about. Waiting for that glorious day of Christ's birth. Learning how to wait for his second coming. Learning how to be content to wait.
I have said before that I love that about the Advent season. The build-up, the anticipation. Then comes Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and we celebrate the event we have been waiting for. The waiting is exciting because we know what it is we are waiting for. Something good. The One who is the author of all good. Our Saviour. Our King.

But what if we aren't sure what we are waiting for? Is the waiting still exciting?

A few weekends ago, I got a phone call from my mom that my Grandmother was in the hospital and on the ventilator and they thought this was going to be it. After a few days of touch-and-go, she began to recover and is now doing better but they aren't sure for how long. We wait. For what we aren't sure.
My sister, whom I adore, is going through a trial of her own. Circumstances she can't control are getting out of hand and we just want the whole situation to be done. More waiting. Waiting for the clouds to pass so she can again bask in the sunshine.
And me, I am waiting with my family in both these situations. And I am waiting on other things too, some a little more personal. And learning to be quiet in the waiting to see what God may have to say to me during this time. Times of waiting in my past have been powerful. Waiting for my dad to come home from the Persian Gulf war. Waiting for both my children to be born. Waiting as God slowly teaches me about my true identity as His child.

The waiting of Advent is almost done. Christmas Eve is only a few days away. But there is always something we are waiting for. Lord, teach me to be content, excited, and not afraid in the waiting.

I have been praying this prayer to help during my waiting.... If you need a "waiting-prayer," check it out.


Check me out....

>> Friday, December 14, 2007

...at Steph's blog Adventures inBabywearing. I guest posted for her babywearing tip of the week. It was fun but a little intimidating. Check it out for some cute pics of Lucas wearing his little sling! :)


Babywearing in the news

>> Thursday, December 13, 2007

Babywearing is popping up all over these days. Here is an article about babywearing in a local suburban newspaper. Don't forget to check out your favorite celebrities wearing their babies either here at my photo gallery or here at this celebrity baby blog. You may be surprised where babywearing turns up next! :)


My prayer as he sleeps

>> Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Lord, please protect him as he sleeps. Restore his body, his mind, his heart. Let his dreams be filled with trucks and snowplows and other things that bring him joy. Give him the rest he needs to grow healthy and strong and wake up rested and ready to embrace the day. Lord, whisper to his soul. Whisper of your love for him and the plans that you have for him, plans for a hope and a future. Whisper those plans to me too, Lord, so that I can adequately prepare him to serve You and love You with his whole self. Give me eyes to see his strengths and gifts and wisdom in how to cultivate them. Keep me from leading him astray. Keep my faults and shortcomings from stealing his joy or crushing his spirit. Forgive me for losing my temper today and increase my patience for tomorrow. Help me to discipline so that he learns right from wrong but not so much that he loses his independent, fun-loving spirit. Help me to sing with him even when I do not feel like singing so he too will sing during the times of his life when he doesn't feel joyful. Help me to laugh with him and build towers with him and read enthusiastically so that he always retains the joy found in those things. Let the words from my mouth be uplifting and encouraging and never disparaging or out of anger. Lord, hear my prayers for my son and for me as his mother. Protect us, keep us, endear us to each other and to You. Thank you for entrusting this precious child to me. May our days be filled with joy and may I always point him back to You, the creator of all joy.


Touchdown Tim

>> Sunday, December 9, 2007

I wouldn't be a true Gator Fan if I did not at least acknowledge our sophomore quarterback Tim Tebow, or should I say Heisman-Trophy Winner Tim Tebow!!! HOORAY! He is the first sophomore ever to win the coveted prize. He's the youngest of 5 kids, born in the Philippines where his parents were missionaries. He was home schooled his entire life and has the most outstanding character. I would be lucky for Lucas to turn out to be such an amazing young man. An amazing football player and an even more amazing person! Way to go Timmy!! Gator-Nation is so proud!!


First big snow

>> Thursday, December 6, 2007

We had our first big snow of the season two days ago. A good couple inches which has left the ground covered in crisp, white snow making it feel all the more like Christmas is coming! the morning after the snow fell, Lucas looked out the window of our bedroom and said "WOW! Daddy, no!" (no = snow). I took Lucas out to play in the snow for the first time yesterday after nap. He wasn't sure what to do at first but then started getting into it. We made a little snowman and I tried to teach him about snow angels. We may have to save that for the next big snow. For now, we'll just enjoy our little winter wonderland while the snow is fresh and clean and beautiful.

Here is a video of Lucas in the snow. Don't feel obliged to watch. It's mostly for the grandparents. He is cute trying to build a snowman though. You also get a glimpse of my naughty little Beagle. So if you want to see my cute baby and my cute puppy, or you just need a taste of beautiful winter snow, proceed! :)


Submission and my true self

I attended a women's Christmas brunch at a local church yesterday morning. It was the culmination of our 3 month Bible study on the book of Proverbs and this morning the author of the study guide we used came to speak to our group of about 200+ women while we ate pastries and fruit. As a friend and I were heading back from the buffet to our table, I commented to her that I felt very out of place. I had my wet hair in pig-tails and was wearing an old pair of brown cords with tennis shoes. A last minute shower and the season's first big snow could be blamed for my lack of style this morning, but really that is how I dress most of the time. Most of the other women there were much more "put-together." A nice sweater, classy clothes, every hair in place. I can sympathize with my bloggy-friend Drea who recently went to an event and felt a little under-dressed. I definitely felt that way yesterday morning.
As I am sitting at my table feeling a little insecure about my ultra-casual look, I hear the speaker make the following statement: "We as women might not have as many issues with the concept of submission if we felt secure about who we really are and what our true self looks like." Hmmmm. Interesting. I have never before connected the topic of submission with how much or how little I am in touch with my true self. I can see how that statement could be true. I don't know that I have "issues" with submission at all, but I guess that depends on how you define the word.
Submission, as in I stay home popping out kids and live only to serve my husband's every whim with no concern for my own needs or desires... I have issues with that. I am all about serving my husband and my son. I think God has called me to do that as wife and mother. But I think I deserve to be served too. I think God meant it to be that way, for us to serve each other. But I digress.
There are other kinds of submission. Submission to God's leading and the events/obstacles/challenges He places in our path for specific purposes. Is that the kind of submission the speaker was referring to? Do I have "issues" with submitting to God's authority over me because I am uncomfortable with my true self. I do struggle with being comfortable with who I am beneath the surface. I often find it hard to be content with who I am and not always be trying to be something else, something better. There is definitely a place for self-improvement. Choosing to change certain things about myself and my life in order to be a better me.
But do I also need to submit to whoever it is that God has created me to be and learn to rest in that? If we talk about submission in those terms, her statement makes perfect sense. Of course I will be happy to submit to the girl God made me to be if I feel secure and confident in who that is. It is feeling secure and confident in that girl when I am still deep in the middle of the journey towards discovering her that is the challenge. So maybe I do have issues with submission. You wouldn't think it would be so difficult to submit to the Creator of all things, to the One who is my protector and my shield through whatever may come my way. I should
want to submit to Him. Wouldn't that just be easier? It would be, and I do want to. But I still find myself struggling with how to be comfortable in this skin, content with the person that I am.
What if the people I admire, the people I want to call me friend, my community.... what if those people don't see value in the true me? That is very scary. That is complete rejection. What if submitting to God and finding my true self means that I will not be accepted by the community of people that I have decided are valuable to me? Does that mean I just don't fit in there but I would somewhere else? Would the "somewhere else" be fulfilling?
I am a big fan of the HBO series "Sex in the City." It can be riske' and a little crude at times, but I love the interactions of the four girls and the questions they ask about relationships and love. It is entertaining to me. I love seeing the fashion and watching their stories unfold. Admitting that I like this show does not necessarily fit with the side of myself that I play to others. I have commented to my husband before that I am little too "worldly" for my Christian friends and a little too "Christian" for my non-Christian friends. But somewhere in the middle is the true me- a girl who loves God whole-heartedly but also likes to shop and watch "Sex in the City" and read gossip magazines. Is that scandalous to say?
I love high fashion but I wear jeans and yoga pants. I don't pray as often as I should, I don't brush my teeth everyday, I sneak chips when I am feeling down or tired, I watch "The Hills" on MTV. These are the things that I shouldn't say out loud for fear of... well I don't exactly know what I am afraid of but I know it feels uncomfortable. I know there are things about me that I can and should work on changing. The teeth brushing thing is one of them after my visit to the dentist today. Praying more regularly is high on that list too. But my heart is good and I am slowly discovering who I am at the core and what the outward expression of that girl looks like. Submitting to my true self, to the girl that God created and values as His child - easier said than done.


And the winner is...

>> Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Pickel from MyTwoBoys! Hooray!! I hope you enjoy this book as much as we do.

Everyone else... you can go here to get one yourself or just stop in your local Border's Bookstore!
Thanks for entering and giving me an outlet for my Christmas energy. Merry Christmas y'all!


In the spirit of Christmas...

>> Friday, November 30, 2007

"This is the stable, dusty and brown,
in a quiet corner of Bethlehem town."

My husband and I are between churches right now. Our old church, which we dearly loved, doesn't exist anymore and the circumstances that caused that to be true continue to grieve my heart. The reason I say that is to say that we are looking for ways this advent season to teach our almost- two-year-old how rich and wonderful this time of year is. It is a deep, meaningful holiday that teaches us so much truth about God's love for us and our proper response to that love. One of the things that made our church so amazing was the tradition and liturgy of advent. Being in any church at advent is powerful, but for us being a part of the advent liturgy made us feel the anticipation of Christ's birth and then the all-consuming rejoicing with the angels on Christmas Day. It moves your soul unlike anything I can describe. I love that sense of being able to close your eyes and worship through sound and smell and get a small taste of what it must have been like to be the shepherds in those fields listening to the angels sing "Hosanna!"
I have recently had conversations with a dear friend on how best to do advent with little ones and have browsed this awesome blog about other families' advent traditions. Both have been very thought provoking and inspiring for me in this process of trying to make this season meaningful for my family. I went to Borders the other day in an attempt to find books to include and I found this one: "This is the Stable" by Cynthia Cotten. It is wonderful. It is a simple telling of the Christmas story with the most beautiful illustrations and poetic verse. My son sat on my lap today for 15 solid minutes and I read this book over and over, neither of us getting tired of the repetition. The pictures remind me of Barefoot Books (although this is not a Barefoot Book - but they are wonderful too by the way!) as the artwork is a similar style - colorful and bright and eye-capturing. Lucas loved pointing at each page and naming what he saw... "donkey," "star", "baby Jesus." The story is true and simple but somehow it touched me. I love things that are beautiful and allow me to feel the depth of meaning and emotion that are always under my surface. This book did that for me. We both really like this book.
I liked this book so much, in fact, that I bought an extra one to giveaway to one of you. If you have a little one and are looking for a good book to read with them during this time of celebrating Jesus' birth, comment here and I will draw a name at random on Dec. 5. I will mail the book to you right away so you can read it through Advent with your child/children. If you don't mind, please post about this somewhere on your blog if you have one and tell your friends to help me get the word out a bit.

I know this isn't all we will do to teach Lucas about the beauty and mystery and profound love that is this season. But it is a start. And I am happy with that.

Also, don't forget that time is running out to get a discount on a new sling. Visit my website babyloveslings.com and click "buy a sling" or go directly to my webstore (store.babyloveslings.com). Use coupon code GIVEAWAY for 15% your total order until Dec. 7. Get a jump on that holiday shopping for yourself or that favorite mama on your list.


Baby wearing pictures

>> Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I just updated my photo gallery on my website with some fun new babywearing pictures. My website has other pics too including a celebrity baby-wearing gallery but here are the BabyLove Slings pics. Enjoy!

Also, don't forget that time is running out to get a discount on a new sling. Visit my website babyloveslings.com and click "buy a sling" or go directly to my webstore (store.babyloveslings.com). Use coupon code GIVEAWAY for 15% your total order until Dec. 7. Get a jump on that holiday shopping for yourself or that favorite mama on your list.


Christmas is coming....

>> Monday, November 26, 2007

Last Friday, we drove downtown to see all the city lights while listening to Christmas music on the radio. We didn't get out of the car (the easiest way to do city lights with a toddler if you ask me) but we rolled the windows down and watched the lights and listened to the sounds of the city. "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas..." (did you sing it in your head?)

I actually put up my Christmas tree last night in preparation for a playgroup party at my house today. This is the earliest I have ever done it. The tradition in my house is that the tree stays up until Jan. 7 which is my birthday!! We (o.k. mostly me) like to extend the party around here. :) We had a great little book exchange with the playgroup kiddos this morning and I am feeling the Christmas bug start to bite! I had my first glass of egg nog last night and I just ordered this adorable apron for my son who LOVES to cook with mommy and is getting into painting and other crafts. He will look so adorabable! You can get your own cute gift from skimbaco.com. She is giving away a $200 gift certificate too. I know that would put me in the Christmas mood. How 'bout you? :)

What puts you in the Christmas spirit? Music? Parties? Shopping? Spending time with friends and family? I don't know that I love Christmas the holiday as much as I love the feeling, the spirit, around this time of year. I love the house feeling festive and picking out gifts for my loved ones. I love that everyone starts focusing on spending time with people and showing them how much they mean to each other. I love how our priorities seem to shift at Christmas. We aren't as concerned with the "doing" as we are with just "being" and experiencing the season. At least that is how it should be. I don't always get it right, but that is why I love Christmas.
Christmas is the perfect season for people like me. I love to give gifts and get them. Mostly because a well-given gift expresses so much love and regard for the person. I give gifts out of love and I feel loved when I get them. I love to be hospitable and entertain well. Christmas is the perfect season for that. I love to plan meaningful events with people that I love. I love to decorate and make things look pretty. Again,
this season is for me. I hope this season has its joys for you too. We should all take the time to just "be" this Christmas with those we love.


How moms are like football kickers

>> Saturday, November 24, 2007

I am a football fan, mostly college. I think there is no more entertaining and engaging sport to watch. Especially when the game is close or my Gators are winning. Tonight I watched a great game between the Tennessee Volunteers and the Kentucky Wildcats. 4 overtimes!! Very exciting. In any given fall weekend, whether it be college or pro, there is at least one game that is decided by a field goal or less. The whole team works so hard all game and it comes down to the skill (or sometimes luck) of one player - the place kicker. He makes it, he's the hero. He misses, he's the goat. That's a lot of pressure for one person.

My husband and I had a conversation recently that left me feeling like that place kicker on whose back the outcome of the game rides. -- Our son is pretty polite for a 20month old. He regularly says please (with words and with signs) when asking for things, he says "bless you mommy" if I sneeze, and he loves to say "thank you mommy" when I play with him or give him something he has asked for. It is pretty adorable, actually. So I asked my husband, "Do I get credit for Lucas being polite? Did I teach him that?" His answer... "I think that's just part of his personality." Really?

So here is my question: As mommies we are usually the ones on whom the day-to-day task of raising our children falls. It goes well, we are the heroes. Our children will be thanking us in their valedictorian and Pulizter Prize acceptance speeches. Not so well, the goats. They will be sitting on Dr. Phil's set explaining how we ruined their lives. But in situations like this with my polite toddler, is it o.k. or appropriate for me as my son's mother to get credit for teaching him to be polite? Granted, we have a long ways to go before we can actually say he is a polite child. At this stage of being a little sponge, he is polite. At least I think so, but I don't know a ton about what is a normal amount of politeness at this age. Why is it, though, that we as moms are quick to blame ourselves when things aren't going well but reluctant to take the credit when they are? When Lucas doesn't nap or gets yet another cold, I tell myself that I haven't trained him to sleep well or that I exposed him to too many germs. But when he learns to count to 10 (which he can almost do) and can independently solve a puzzle that says "5 and up," what is my role in that? Do I get the credit for that too, or only the bad "obviously learned" things? This is staring to feel like a nature vs. nurture argument which was not my intent. I fully recognize that both forces are always at play, in almost everything. But it struck me as odd that my husband wasn't forth coming with the praise for a job well done in teaching our son to be polite and I was definitely looking for that praise to come my way. After all, if he didn't learn it from me, where did he learn it? Is it selfish of me to desire compliments in how I have raised my child? I am pouring my life, my whole self into shaping this little man. When it goes well, is it too much to ask for people to acknowledge the fruits of my hard work? My mother-in-law is always talking about how exceptional Lucas is and how fast he is learning things compared to all the other children she encounters (and she encounters a lot working with the kids at her church). But she has never once connected Lucas' advanced skills to my efforts. Should she?
People say all the time, and I have said it plenty to others, "Your child is so cute" or "He is such a smart kid." I have a friend whose son is extremely intelligent. He was saying words I still can't say when he was 18months old. I know I have told her that I think he is super smart. But have I ever told her that she is obviously doing a good job raising him? I don't think I have.
I should (and you are BTW). Her and all my other mommy friends who are doing amazing jobs raising their kids.

So that is how I feel like that lonely kicker, coming out onto the field with a job to do and a lot of people watching with expectations that I won't let them down... although we won't know if my field goal wins or loses the game for at least a few years still.

Side note- my husband reads my blog regularly but never comments.... this might be the perfect time to start, dear. I would love to know your thoughts. :)

2nd side note- my southern fellow football fanatic friend posted about the same game I was watching. She had a lot more riding on it than I did and it all turned out in her favor... check it out!


My life is different because...

>> Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Michelle at Scribbit's November Write Away contest has challenged us to write about what has made our lives different. Here is my story.

Almost 4 years ago to the day, I had a day I will never forget. It was my first pregnancy and as with all pregnant moms I was overflowing with anticipation and dreams of motherhood and meeting this life that was growing inside me. For me this pregnancy was especially joyful. I wasn't sure this would ever happen for me. About 8months earlier, I had surgery to remove large tumors from my ovaries that my doctors were convinced were cancerous due to the alarming rate at which they grew and the gross abnormality of all my blood test markers. By God's grace and miraculous touch, it was not the doom and gloom they had predicted and I was just fine. The tumors were gone and I was healed. My life is different because of that moment.
By the time my husband and I were headed for our 20wk. ultrasound that Tuesday before Thanksgiving, we were soaring with excitement and biting nails to find out if we were having a little boy or a little girl. But it was not the day we were expecting, not even close.
I won't bore you with the details of the day even though they are so deeply etched in my mind that it is as if they happened only yesterday. Phrases that echo and haunt me still... "something's not right," "amniocentesis," "lungs won't develop," "terminate." My life is different because of that moment.
I carried my son to a week past due. They all said he would come early and that he would need surgery and a breathing tube right away. He came 8 days late at the end of April but didn't ever cry. He was chubby and beautiful and clasped my finger when they wheeled him next to me. He opened his eyes to see his mother and in a second I was changed. My life is oh so different because of that moment.
My son died three days later. No surgery could help him. Only Jesus and He chose not to this side of Heaven. I was scared to watch him go but it was peaceful and almost sweet. My husband and I sat with him in a room and held him and sang to him as he took his last breaths. He went to be with Jesus and I was strangely calm. My life is different because of that moment.

Different because I thought there was no hope and God gave me hope. Different because all natural signs pointed to no life but I knew God had created this life. Different because I saw the face of God in my little boy who with all his physical limitations was created in God's image just like me. Different because in a moment when all conventional wisdom would say I should feel fear and anger, I felt peace. Questions yes, but peace at least for that moment. My life is different because I lived through an experience that would break so many. And some days though I feel broken, I know that I am whole because God is filling in the broken places just like He did during all those moments. My life and all things around me may be telling me one version of truth. But my life is different because the source of all truth whispers to me "I love you." "Even during the hard moments that will change you, especially during those moments... I love you."

2 years later, my son Lucas was born in March. As all mommies know, my life is definitely different because of that moment. And almost every moment since.

11/23 Update: I won!! Well, runner up, but I got an award anyway! Yay!
The Write-Away Contest hosted by Scribbit


Thankfulness as medicine to my soul

>> Tuesday, November 20, 2007

After 4 days of stomach flu going around my house, I am left feeling totally wiped out. Taking care of a sick toddler and husband in the midst of fighting my own bug is exhausting both physically and in any other way imaginable (I have to give hubby credit for letting me go to bed at 6:30 last night - thanks dear!!). There are several other situations in my life right now that are draining me mentally and emotionally too. Bottom line: I am kinda at the bottom of my emotional/physical/mental barrel. But God knows when we can't go further and gives us something to put a little more gas in our tanks... I went to get Lucas out of the crib after his nap today. I had heard him wake up about 20min prior but couldn't pry myself off the couch. He was just talking up there and seemed content. When I went to get him, he had somehow pulled the picture that hangs above his crib off the wall. He looked at me and pointed to the picture and said "Ickey's brother, Micah" (he calls himself Ickey). I was stunned. He has said "Micah" before when prompted when we are pointing to pictures or at the cemetery. But today he recognized his brother and new it was his brother. He then leaned over and kissed the picture. "love you, Micah." I started to cry but not out of sadness, well maybe a little. Sad that Lucas and Micah won't know each other this side of heaven. But mostly tears of thanks. Thanks that I didn't have to orchestrate Lucas learning about his brother. It happened naturally, which was what I prayed for. Thanks that God gave me this little bit of medicine to comfort my soul which makes me feel comforted all over. Thanks that two days before Thanksgiving in the midst of physical exhaustion, I am reminded of what I have to be thankful for. My boys - hubby, Micah, Lucas and even Hadley (my beagle)... I am thankful for them all.

P.S~I am also thankful to Drea for my new blog design. Thanks Drea!


A rite of passage of sorts

>> Thursday, November 15, 2007

Lucas' first haircut!! After months of arguing with hubby about it, I saw the picture of him wearing his turkey in the sling and realized he needed a haircut. And with family pics scheduled for this weekend, today was the day. He sat in a cute little car and watched a trains DVD. He sat more still than I have ever seen him and was the perfect little salon-goer. He got a certificate and a balloon and an official pic and a baggie of his hair. A momentous day for sure!!
The certificate should have read "Lucas Brown's last day as a baby; his mommy is a little sad but she's trying not to cry. It is just a haircut." But is is more than that to me. As we walked out of the salon, he looked up at me and said "Thank you, mommy" as if on cue. I couldn't keep the tears away after that. Is it lame to cry at your kid's first haircut? If so, guilty as charged. My baby is a little boy. My handsome little boy!!


Cooking with Turkey

>> Wednesday, November 14, 2007

This time of year, we all start to drool as we think of all the yummy Thanksgiving treats just around the corner. Sweet potatoes, stuffing, pumpkin pie... and of course turkey. Most people are planning on how they will cook their turkey, but not my sweet little Lucas. He cooks with his turkey! This morning he brought me his sling and this stuffed turkey and said "mama, ing. tickey, ing." So I help him put turkey in the sling and he ran and played and whipped us up some breakfast in his little kitchen. I think Lucas' turkey is one of the few that get to help prepare the meal instead of becoming the meal. That's my sweet, sling-lovin' boy!


An interview with me

>> Tuesday, November 13, 2007

My friend at Crunchy Domestic Goddess sent me these interview questions.. SO fun! Here it goes:

1) You've got 18 months of being a mama under your belt now. What one or two things in this journey called motherhood have surprised you the most?
I think what has surprised me most is the ups and downs of it all. The highs are so high and the lows can be devastating. I am surprised at how wide the emotions swing. When he frustrates me, I feel overwhelmed and ill-equipped. But then there are those moments where I am equally overwhelmed by loving him so much and feeling like I don't want these days of him loving me so intensely to ever end. Motherhood is equal parts hard and life-changing and yet the most rewarding thing ever!
I guess another thing that has surprised me about motherhood is how isolating it can be. A good friend of mine and I were pregnant at the same time and our babies were born 3weeks apart. We talked a good game about how we would hang out with our newborns together and spend so much time together. I think we maybe saw each other once a month for the first few months of our babies' lives. It was too easy for me to just stay home and not add any extra work on myself by going on long outings with my newborn/baby. Once I broke out of that a little and as my son got a little older, I started to realize that motherhood is easier when you do it in community. Being able to share your struggles and have a shoulder to lean on makes all the difference in the world. And being able to be that shoulder for someone else feels good too, like I am helping ease the burden for my friend even if just a little. We all need each other.

2) As a seasoned baby wearer, what advice do you have for mothers who are looking to purchase a baby carrier?
Ask around. What do your friends use (so they can help you if you need it)? Ask yourself when and where will you be using it most of the time and find a carrier that will meet those needs. Learn what advantages there are for different styles. And choose one that you will feel pretty wearing. It's like the ultimate mommy-accessories... your carrier and your baby! :)
My biggest piece of babywearing advice though... Don't give up or be intimidated after trying a carrier only once. So many people tell me they tried a sling with their baby and he/she seemed too squirmy and so they must not have liked it. It takes mama and baby a few tries and maybe a little direction in order for everyone to feel comfortable. But it is SO worth it! The benefits are immeasurable and the convenience is a must. The learning curve is small but you do have to give it a little bit of effort to get the most out of ANY carrier you choose. With just a little practice though, you will be on your way to cuddling your baby and doing your grocery shopping at the same time!

3) What little known fact about you might surprise some of your readers?
I am a fan of hip-hop/ top 40-ish music. It is my guilty pleasure that I don't really feel that guilty about. I love to turn my radio on and dance to a hip beat of Justin Timberlake or old-school Britney or N'Sync (not many better dance songs than "Bye,Bye,Bye"!). I love to dance and anything that has a good beat, I am so down. I also love James Taylor though - so mellow and smooth and fun to sing along with. I think music is such a strong outlet for emotion, of all types. I have days when I want to dance and sing with Kanye West and then I have days when it is Fernando Ortega and Chicago. Depends on my mood and my activity of the day.

4) Chocolate or vanilla?
Vanilla actually. Vanilla ice cream (preferably BlueBell for my Southern friends!) with fresh berries on top and a generous helping of whipped cream... yum!!

5) Let's say you are going to be stranded with your family on a deserted island for 90 days. What 3 things would you take with you and why?
Stranded,eh? ... and my family is there? ...
I would bring suntan lotion so we could get good tans but not burn (no sense in coming home pasty), a "Deserted Island Cuisine" cookbook so we wouldn't get bored with meal planning, and my laptop (I don't think me or hubby could go 90days without e-mail and internet). O.K.- I don't actually own a laptop, but a girl can dream. :)

Practical answer: a dry flint to start fires for warmth and cooking/ purifying water, a tarp for shelter and fresh water collection, a book of local wildlife so we could know what was safe and friendly and what to stay away from. This is the science -nut coming out in me.

That was fun, Amy! Thanks for sending those. I hope y'all enjoyed reading my answers as much as I did thinking about them.

Now it's your turn. If you want to be interviewed, leave me a comment including the words "Interview me." I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions. If you don't have a valid email address on your blog, please provide one. You will update your blog with a post containing your answers to the questions. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.


to wean or not to wean...

>> Friday, November 9, 2007

This is the question floating in my head.... My son is 19months old and has always loved to nurse. He is a big comfort nurser, wants to nurse to sleep even now. And I have SO enjoyed nursing. All the cuddle time, the satisfaction of being able to nourish and comfort him in that way. I love his little eyes looking up at me. I especially love when he tries to laugh or smile during mid-latch. That is so funny. I still love to nurse him... sometimes.

pictures: Lucas nursing @ 4months, from a mommy's eye view

The problem has become that my milk supply has substantially dropped off. I stopped pumping 'cuz I hate it. He only nurses 1-3x day when he first wakes up and before bedtimes and occasionally when he needs comforting. My supply is not gone completely but I don't think he gets enough per feed to fill his tummy. But he doesn't really care. He just wants to sit there, latched on, until he falls asleep or something better comes along. It gets very agitating to me, somewhat painful, for him to nurse with those shallow sucks for extended periods of time. He went through a phase where he didn't seem that interested and now he asks to nurse ALL the time. He has been waking up at 4:45 and I have been trying to bring him into our bed and nurse to get him to fall back asleep. He nurses for 30-45minutes but doesn't fall back asleep. He just wants to lay there and nurse until he is done which I have no idea how long that would take. I get agitated and physically uncomfortable long before he reaches that point.

He seems old enough to wean, I mean I know he is. But he asks for it and it still calms him and comforts him so much. I don't want to give up this soothing-tool for times like airline travel or falls when it is the easiest and most efficient way to calm and quiet him. I love the bond, the closeness. Weaning would be a concrete sign that my little baby is no longer really a baby. Those are the emotional reasons. But is the physical evidence contradicting? I think I want to nurse, but I am ready for him to be done after about 10min and he is just getting started. Not because he is getting feed physically, but because it is soothing to him. I know he is going through so many developmental things and learning about the world around him. He likes the comfort or closeness with mama (and I do too) but I can't ignore that I get physically uncomfortable if it goes on too long. How do I ignore his precious pleas for "more nursies" with the cute signs we taught him and his big brown eyes staring at me longingly? I feel selfish and torn. I want to cuddle my baby and meet his every need... does it have to be in this way? How do meet these same emotional needs (for me and for him) in a way that is soothing and pleasant for us both.

I am so conflicted. My hubby sees how agitated it makes me (I'm sorry I keep using that word- it is just so descriptive of how I get) and tells me to wean. But I don't know if I can do that to Lucas. Or if I want to.


More giveaway lovin'

>> Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Thanks so much to everyone who entered my giveaways! I have loved reading all your comments and visiting so many new blogs. It is like making dozens of new friends without leaving my family room! ;) Congrats to Sarah from She's Crafty... and Michelle(coolmomof8)!! They are the lucky new owners of a ring sling and a Tummy-2-Tummy DVD respectively.

For those of you who didn't win but would still be interested in a sling or a DVD, please visit my BRAND NEW webstore!! I am offering 15% off all orders of $50 or more now through Dec. 7. Just enter coupon code GIVEAWAY at checkout to get your discount. My hubby and I have worked hard to get it all ready for you so that with the click of a mouse you too can be the proud owner of a new ring-sling. Click here or visit my website (www.babyloveslings.com) and click on "buy a sling" to get started. You'll be lovin' the freedom of having your hands free while snuggling baby close.

Buy it for yourself. Buy it for your favorite mama or mama-to-be. She will thank you, I know it! Tell your friends. :) Thanks so much to all of you for your interest in my little business. I hope you come back from time-to-time as I work through my motherhood journey and share about why babywearing has made me a better mom. Blessing to all of you and happy baby-wearing!!


The cutest, yet very frustrating, Dino ever!!!

>> Thursday, November 1, 2007

So we did make it trick-or-treating with our friends. He took a 15min nap in the car on the way to meet them and woke up surprisingly refreshed. We had fun and Lucas looked super cute. He loves dinos so we went with that although the costume may have looked more like a gator... it was awesome either way!! We went to a local retirement community with a friend where the residents were having a little party and trick-or-treating for the kids. It was awesome to see Lucas interact with the residents and how their faces lite up with all the kids running around. Then after a brief visit to our Aunt Julie at work (who just got engaged!!), we went to our friends' house and trick-or-treated with them for an hour or so. It was a good ending to a very frustrating day.

It is so amazing to me how someone so little can make me SO frustrated. When he doesn't nap and I think he should, I can't keep it together. I know I have a problem with expectations. If my husband tells me in the morning that he will be home at 6:30 and he gets home instead at 6:45, I freak out. For those 15minutes I am pacing, wondering why he has let me down and why I don't have help when I think I should. But, if he were to tell me in the morning that he won't be home until 7pm or later, then I am not mad at 6:45 when I don't have help. I expected it. It is the same with Lucas' naps. If I mentally expect to have a break at a certain time and he won't nap, I start this domino chain of frustration and self-pity. The more frustrated I get with him, the more likely he is to get upset and not settle down to fall asleep. I become a mom I hate, I don't want to be that mom. It becomes a really vicious cycle.

How do I keep from letting myself expect things to be a certain way? Do I tell myself all day that he will have no nap and hubby won't get home until after meal and bed time? Then I will pleasantly surprised if things turn out more fortunate than that. Is that the only way to stop that first domino from falling? I would like to think that there is a better way. Maturity, discipline... I don't know. I often close my eyes and pray for God to grant me peace and calm and keep me seeing the big picture. It works for a little while. I sometimes have to just put him in the crib and close the door. We are not "cry-it-out" people. That has just not been our style. Sometimes, though, I just need a few minutes of quiet before I try again.

Lucky for me, Lucas is very forgiving at this age. I think it is God's mercy on mothers, especially first time mothers, that our children don't develop long-term memories until age 2-3. That might give me some time to figure this out. As soon as I am ready to give up and let him play, he smiles and looks at me and says something totally adorable that melts me back into reality. He isn't doing it to frustrate me. He loves me and I cherish him. That is hard to keep on the forefront of thought when I really need a break and he won't stop screaming.

No one told me this thing called Motherhood would be so trying but so rewarding too. I love that little dino... he definitely has a loud roar though!!!


Giveaway #2

>> Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I thought I would go ahead and post my second giveaway so as to brighten your day and mine - it has been rough around my house today. We just got back from Florida last night visiting my parents and had a million errands to run and Lucas WON"T nap at all which always makes the day so frustrating. He needs his sleep, he really needs it. When he doesn't get it, everyone suffers. And on top of that, it is Halloween and we had fun trick-or-treating plans with some of our friends. Who knows if that will happen now. Anyway.... on to the free stuff.

I am giving away a copy of the babywearing instructional DVD Tummy-2-Tummy. They have done an awesome job of showing you the step-by-step for pouches, ring-slings, mei tais, and wraps. I signed up to be a distributer so I could offer it with the ring slings I make and sell. I think baby-wearers of all expertise levels can benefit from this DVD. It is really good.

So leave a comment here, making sure I have a way to contact you if you win (some people didn't on my last giveaway). I will close this giveaway on Sunday at midnight and pick someone Monday morning.

Thanks to all who have visited my blog through the giveaways! I hope you come back! I will be offering a discount on my slings and free shipping in November for those who found me through this giveaway. So check back next week for more info and the checkout code. Have a safe and fun Halloween! :)



Fall Y'all Giveaway!

>> Monday, October 29, 2007

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

It's giveaway time in the blogosphere! I have been wanting to giveaway a sling online for awhile so why not jump on this particular bandwagon and join in the fun. Plus, how could I not participate in something with "y'all" in the title!

I am giving away this ring-sling. My slings are all handmade (by me) from 100% cotton batik fabrics. The rings are aluminum and super-strong. The fold is triple stitched for extra security.
Ring slings are, in my opinion, the most versatile of all baby carriers. You can use them from newborn all the way to 35-40lbs. and there are so many different ways to wear it. The weight is distributed across your back so as to not overburden your shoulder. The are also great for discreet public nursing.
This sling is a beautiful creamy beige with cream colored swirls. The fabric is light and breathable but strong. No more frumpy baby carriers - you will be stylish and hip carrying your little one around in this sling. Plus you will have your hands free to do whatever - push the shoppping cart, chase your other children, put on lipstick, ... you choose!
Those new to baby-wearing, you'll wonder how you lived without it. Your sling comes with a detailed picture instruction booklet so you can get started right away. If you already have a sling, you can't have too many. You wouldn't not buy a pair of fashionable pumps just' cuz you already had a pair of flip-flops. :)

If bold and pink is more your style, you could also choose this sling if you win. You'll be sure to catch people's attention and feel like the most stylish girl on the block.

Just comment on this post if you want to win this sling and make sure I have a way to contact you if you win. I will close the contest on Friday 11/2 at midnight and will randomly select a winner on Saturday. I will be posting another giveaway later this week so check back. Anyone can enter. Be sure to tell your friends. Check out the homepage for bloggy giveaways for literally hundreds of giveaways from generous mommy bloggers out there. Thanks for checking out my site. Good luck!

P.S~ For those mamas who don't win this sling, I will be offering a discount in November for anyone who tried to win. So don't dispair, you can still get a beautiful sling of your own! :)



Beach therapy (aka Babywearing on the beach)

>> Sunday, October 28, 2007

My Southern friend and I agree on many things. Two things we disagree on are which college football team is the best and which is better, mountains or beach. Yesterday, her team won and mine lost (boo,hoo). But at least I got to spend most of the afternoon and evening playing in the sand and letting the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico wash over my feet and take all my anxieties out to sea. I love the mountains too, but the beach to me is my therapy.

There is something so calming about hearing the ocean waves hitting the shore and feeling the sand retreat from under your toes with each wave. I love the beach in all weather. I have a history of being quite the sun-bather (although not much since having kids for obvious reasons) and love the feeling of the sun warming my skin as I lay perfectly still on the sand. But I also love the beach in the rain, almost more than the sun. I love to watch the rain fall on the water and the sand and bask in the grandness of God's creation as the dark clouds move over the water. I love the beach when the air is crisp and the wind is strong enough for kite-flying and wind-surfing (one of which we did and the other we watched yesterday). I love the feeling of my feet buried in the cool sand. I especially love watching Lucas learn to love all that too. As we drove up, he smiled and started to excitedly say "beach, mommy, beach!" That's my boy!

There is something magical about the ocean, something mysterious yet transparent. I feel so connected to my Creator when standing in front of some of His best work. At the beach and on the ocean, one can witness both great storms and great calm. I have lived through many hurricanes and witnessed all too first hand the devastation that insues. You can even see the broken pier in the picture above. But to be on the beach on a day like yesterday, with the warm waters perfectly calm despite the wind and the almost vacant beach, one can't help but think that God Himself must find great pleasure in the glorious pink and orange sky as the sun sets over the horizen. I stood there, holding Lucas, and hummed "How Great Thou Art" as we watched the sun sink. I couldn't think of anything more appropriate to say. Just down the beach, a couple got married surrounded by their friends and family as the sun set behind them. So perfect. I have always imagined that when Jesus returns, it will resemble a cloud when the sunlight is passing through and the rays of light are streaming out from all sides. The beach at sunset, in the rain, in the sun, in the wind, in a storm or silent calm... all points to a creative and amazing God.

I need to soak it all in, enough to get me through the cold Chicago winter. And get me through the moments when I feel far from calm and far from He who created me and the beach that I love. I have moments of both great storm and great calm too. Maybe that is why I feel so deeply tied to this place. I got home and didn't even care that my Gators lost. I was on a beach-high. The mountains are amazing too. But for me, it doesn't get much better than this.

The obligatory picture of Lucas in the sling on the beach... my sling goes EVERY- WHERE with me.


Little Angels

>> Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tomorrow is one of my closest friend's daughter's (Autumn Grace) 2nd birthday. She was still-born but is no less a part of her parents' and brother's lives... and mine. Some of you know but others don't...three and a half years ago, my first son Micah was born and lived for three days before going to be with Jesus. It was easily the worst moment of my life but yet, one of the best too. My son was born and grabbed my finger. Then I had to let him go and say good-bye.

I know the pain my friend feels and I want to live it with her. But not take it from her. The pain means it really happened. Our kids were real and we held them and touched their faces. We kissed their skin and tried to decide what part of their faces looked like us, just like all new parents do. Except we didn't get to keep them and we don't understand why God let that happen. But they are part of our family none-the-less. It surely seems like a nightmare - did that really happen to me? To my friend? Did I really have to live that and bury my child? How did I live through it?

There has been some recent discussion on another friend's blog about heaven and reincarnation, etc... I know the existence of heaven is not a given for everyone. But for me, it is. It has to be. It is where Micah and Autumn are now and wait for me and for all those that love them and painfully miss them. What I know for sure about heaven ends there though. I have so many deep questions about what existence looks like for our babies in heaven. Are they babies at all? Is their heavenly form still an infant or can my Micah walk and jump and swing a bat or throw a ball? Will he know me when I get there? Will he need me to be his mother? Just typing that makes me cry.

I wish I had profound truth born from tragedy to share. Truthfully, it has taken a lot just to get me to this still very broken point. No one knows why God allows sorrow and pain to enter the lives of His beloved. I only know that before Micah was born, I seemed untouchable. I could usually accomplish what I wanted. I got into the college I wanted. I got the scholarship I wanted. I got the job I wanted and way before I ever thought I would. I seemed to be able to work hard enough and be charming enough to achieve what I wanted. Then I had a major health scare that shook me up. Then Micah died and all of a sudden, nothing I could do would get me what I wanted. I couldn't sing praise songs at church or really even pray because I couldn't make the words come out of my mouth. I wasn't angry with God. I questioned the purpose of prayer and if it really made a difference. But mostly, I just asked God why. What lesson was this supposed to teach me so I can learn it quick and be done? But I couldn't work hard at that either. It was not for me to accomplish or finish. There is no spiritual merit badge for successfully walking through tragedy and learning the intended lesson. No neon lesson. No well-marked path back to happiness and joy. Just a simple word - walk. Just keep walking and trust that I will give you your next step. You can't do it, you can't even see it. You will not fall though you feel like you are sinking. Just walk and I will walk with you.

So, why tragedy? I have no idea. What is heaven like? No clue. Here is what I do know. My first son is with God and I will see him someday. I can't accomplish everything or charm my way into success. All I can do is walk and know that He is leading me. And tomorrow I will cry with my friend as we look at pictures of her beautiful daughter and visit the site where our children's earthly bodies lay. I will not say "it will be okay" or "she is in a better place." I will probably not say anything. We will just cry and feel the pain that makes it real. But we will both keep walking, even amidst the questions and hurt, because that is all we can do. That's all He asks of us, any of us.

Happy Birthday Autumn. Give my son a hug for me until I can give him one myself.


Locks of Love

>> Monday, October 22, 2007

I needed a change. So yesterday I went and got my hair cut. That always makes me feel somewhat renewed. My hair had gotten so long that the stylist asked me if I wanted to donate my hair. I had been thinking about that anyway but thought it needed to be longer in order to have enough. But, she cut 7inches off my hair and I guess that is enough. I will be sending it to Locks of Love. It feels kinda weird to have a braid of my own hair sitting on my desk right now. Kinda cool though...


Now for some sunshine

>> Sunday, October 21, 2007

All that I just wrote in the post below is truly my current state of mind. But, so as not to pull everyone down in the dumps with me... here are some recent pictures of Lucas that are like rays of sunshine that always burst through my little rain clouds.

Lucas playing in our backyard.

Lucas dressed as a leaf walking down the aisle with a bridesmaid at a wedding last weekend. I admit I was skeptical about the success of Lucas being a leaf in our friends' autumn-themed wedding, but it turned out to be super cute. An exhausting day for all three of us though.
Lucas was so tired, in fact, that he laid on the dance floor at the reception and said "night-night." If you know Lucas, you know how tired he had to have been for that to happen.

Still tired the next morning at breakfast....


When it rains, it pours

Life can be so overwhelming... I am in the midst of a funk... too much circling my mind...

I had my final Wheaton French Market of the season yesterday and it did not go as I had hoped. Most of my other Markets have been such a huge success. Lots of slings sold and lots of opportunities to meet local moms and share with them the awesome-ness of babywearing. Yesterday was no such day. I sold a few and meet a couple moms, but the Market was comparatively dead and I came home totally bummed. All that work for so little gain. I have already been feeling kinda stuck in this little business venture lately so having an off day didn't help matters any. I don't know how to make it take off. Do I learn to be content with what it is or do I need to find ways to build and find the time to do it?

On top of that, my son is sick...again. He had pneumonia on his first birthday last March and since then every little virus or bug or if the wind blows the wrong way brings us to the point of coughing and vomiting and nebulizers and then diarrhea and HORRIBLE diaper rash that doesn't respond to ANYTHING. It is almost more than I can take at times. Everyone has an opinion. Pediatrician: "Kids get colds. Use this cream." Chiropractor who had a table next to mine at the Market: "It's because he was immunized. Your home probably has mold. He needs extensive chiropractic adjustments probably not covered by insurance." Any number of people: "He has allergies. He has...." You get the point. I think there are shreds of truth in everyone's opinion but how do I sort it all and make sense enough to do what is right for my son? He is getting better now. But how long until we are here again, asking the same questions and crying the same tears of frustration? That chiropractor made me feel like the worst mom in the universe. It didn't take a lot of convincing.

I feel like I am struggling to be an entrepreneur and struggling to be a mom and struggling to be a good sister to mine who needs me right now and struggling to ... I could go on but shouldn't. I am trying to find the cheerful way to wrap this up and nothing is coming. I am not seeing the "big-picture" lesson in this particular funk.

At least my Gators won a big game yesterday. There's my silver lining...


First fall walk...

>> Friday, October 12, 2007

We took our first cold weather walk yesterday. After pumpkin-picking in 90 degree heat last weekend, the last few days have had highs in the 50's so fall has officially come to Chicagoland. I couldn't resist taking a picture of Lucas in his hat and bomber jacket. Don't let the flowers in the background deceive you... it was cold!

P.S.~ I found some cool contests today from two awesome mommies sharing their birthdays by giving gifts to others... Check them out!

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