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 and click "buy a sling" or go directly to my webstore ( 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 and click "buy a sling" or go directly to my webstore ( 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 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 ( 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!!!


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