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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Please visit me at my new blog address...

Life is full of changes. And here's one of them: I've moved my blog to Please stop by and say hi!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Mother Is a Warrior

My little one spent four days at Texas Children's Hospital. It's a wonderful hospital with special people working to bring children back to health. But I hope to never return.

Our stay began two Fridays ago (Valentine's weekend) after a trip to the ER. Michael had been cranky that week, not wanting to be put down. That was highly unusual for my active baby boy, so I was not surprised when he developed a fever. We took him to see his pediatrician two days in a row, but Michael's illness was dismissed initially as teething, then, after some swelling in his eye, as a virus.

I wanted to believe the doctors and tried to dismiss my feelings of dread as the anxiety of a first-time mother. I also didn't want negative things written in my son's chart, because who knows what goes in there? What if he really got sick one day but I wasn't taken seriously because I was demeed as uncooperative in an earlier visit? I just wanted to be nice and have a good relationship with everyone at the pediatric clinic.

But on the third day, Michael's eye swelled completely shut. I could barely see the tips of his long lashes. I called the pediatric office to have someone tell me what to do, since they clearly hadn't thought it was a big deal. I tried not to panic and waited for a nurse to call me back. My heart fell just a little once I talked to her because her tone of voice suggested a distracted worker that felt bothered by a needlessly anxious mother. She said she'd have to talk to the doctor.

After waiting for about 45 minutes, I let go of any desire to be "nice." I was exhausted from lack of sleep due to my sick baby, and just plain irritated that my concerns had been belittled all week. I'd tried to keep my cool and be nice to everyone, but I felt that being "nice" to strangers was being unkind to my son. So I called the doctor's office again and demanded to speak to a nurse because my son was rapidly getting worse and I needed to know if it was serious. After waiting another half hour, we left for the ER.

The nurse finally called back as we were on our way. I told her thanks, but no thanks, we'd decided to go to the ER. The nurse was beyond irritated with me at this point and showed it when she said that the doctor had just told her that he would need to see "her" again. Because there are a lot of "hers" named Michael. (Yes, there are some, but it's not the norm.)

This was the last straw for me. After giving Michael's information three times, the nurse still hadn't taken a good look (if any) at Michael's chart. She probably hadn't seen that we'd been to their clinic the previous two days and was clearly bothered by this woman on the phone demanding her attention.

(Here's where I have to say that I understand irritated callers. I had a job many years ago where I had to take calls from customers having trouble with their computer systems. If they had to call about a problem, they were already in a bad mood. I expected it and just talked them through it.)

Back to our story...I received no sympathy or empathy from the nurse. I asked if the doctor would be able to see Michael right away. I will never forget her tone of voice as she said that "she" would have to wait for more than an hour. It took every ounce of civility in me to say that we would just go to the ER. But it wasn't enough because the nurse hung up on me.

So I pushed aside thoughts of our FORMER pediatrician and focused on the ER. After a CT scan, the doctor found what appeared to be an abscess in Michael's right eye socket, which told him that there was an infection around the eye. They take that sort of thing very seriously because there's a danger that the eye would become infected, too, requiring surgery and a possible loss of vision.
So they put an IV in (awful experience, just imagine your baby screaming in fear and pain and knowing that it had to be done) to give him antibiotics intravenously and sent us to TCH in an ambulance.
I cried as Michael got the IV. And I cried as his car seat was strapped to the gurney for the trip to TCH. I was scared for my little one and wondering if there was something that the doctor wasn't telling us. At TCH we were told that Michael would be in the hospital for at least five days, so I knew that it would be an exhausting week. I was already running on empty and didn't know where I would find the strength for the coming week. I was afraid that I would finally pass out from exhaustion and not be able to wake when my baby needed me.

My brother-in-law's wife is a nurse at TCH and lives close by, so she met us in the ER with my mother-in-law, bearing food and Tylenol (for me). She helped us know what to expect and smoothed the way for us, which we so appreciated. The next four days were rough for me and Garrett, but Michael's fever came under control and the swelling in his eye went down. We were so happy to see both of his big beautiful blue eyes (I love alliteration).

We were discharged from the hospital early and sent home to give Michael oral antibiotics. We also have to irrigate his nose twice a day (think of a neti pot from h-e-double hockey sticks). Not fun, but we've learned that Michael won't always be happy about decisions we make concerning him. He won't always understand that sometimes we have to allow something unpleasant in his life to protect him from something worse.

That was a lesson I needed, in more ways than one. Sometimes I've had my feelings hurt when it seemed like God wasn't paying attention to me during difficult times. I won't know on this side of eternity how many ways He protected me while I pouted over hurt feelings.

I also learned that I can't value "niceness" over "kindness." It's not necessarily nice to hold my son still so that my husband can irrigate his nose. And it sure didn't seem nice to allow nurses to work at getting another IV into his tiny veins. But it was the kind thing to do and protected him from further illness.

So let the world be warned: I will not allow the expectation of "niceness," of wanting people to like me, to control me and dictate my actions, especially concerning my son. God formed my little one in my womb, giving me a divine appointment as Michael's mother. Being a mother is not for the faint of heart and sometimes requires fierceness. As a mother, I'm a warrior, fighting for the best for my child. I desire wonderful relationships with everyone that I come in contact with, but I will not allow "niceness" to edge out kindness in regards to my family.

Look at this face. Home from the hospital and happy to see his toys. Who wouldn't be kind to him? But those who aren't better watch out...there's a warrior assigned to him.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

10 iPhone Apps That I Love

A while back I made the bold statement that an iPhone is the new must-have item for mommies. I also made a wishy-washy statement about maybe one day writing a post about my favorite apps. And now, six weeks later, here it is. My sense of urgency is clearly alive and well.

I'll come out of the closet and say that an iPhone is a dream come true for a Star Trek lover. It's like my own personal communicator device. Sometimes, when I'm standing in line at a store or wherever I experience five seconds of boredom, I whip out my iPhone and start poking at the screen with the same urgency as Captain Picard on an away mission. Except it's quite probable that I'm just doing a crossword puzzle and not trying to detect how many life forms there are in a twenty-mile radius.

(And by the way, raise your hand if you loved the latest Star Trek movie. And raise your other hand if you never before picked up on the chemistry between Uhura and Spock. Yeah, that's what I thought.)

But even if you’re not a nerd Star Trek lover, iPhones probably hold some appeal to you. So feel free to chime in if you’ve submitted to its siren song and have your own favorite apps that I haven’t mentioned.

Baby Brain


I’ll start off with a baby-related app since new-mommy stress was the inspiration for this post. Baby Brain (and similar apps) provides the ability to track nursings, bottles, and diapers. I remember my first couple of months as a mom as a sleep-deprived haze of diapers and feedings. I was focused on my baby and usually couldn’t remember the last time I took a shower, much less which side to start on during the next nursing. It was such a relief to me to be able to track feedings without writing it down or trying to remember anything. I tried out several of these types of apps and concluded that the “perfect” app is really a matter of personal taste. If you’re interested in this type of functionality, search for “baby” in the app store and find something that you like.

Awesome Note


I would like to crown the inventor of the sticky note as King (or Queen?) of Great Ideas. How did anyone ever survive without them? But you can’t take them everywhere. That’s where the Awesome Note app comes in. It provides the ability to organize notes into folders, with each folder containing multiple notes or a to-do sort of checklist. It also provides the ability to jot a quick note to yourself. I use it to keep a to-do list, grocery list, blog post ideas, recording Michael’s milestones…the list goes on and on. You can also customize the font and backgrounds for each note. It is truly a note-taker’s delight.

All Recipes


I have a friend that reads cookbooks like they’re novels. I’ve given her at least two cookbooks as gifts, and I’m sure there will be more in the future. I also have several cookbooks, but for some reason I totally forget about them when trying to come up with something to make for dinner. Maybe it’s because getting on my computer and searching is so much easier. So I was super excited when I came across their app. One morning I wanted to make sausage gravy, which I’d never made before, so I did a quick search using this app. And voila, there at my finger tips was the perfect recipe. I’m hungry just thinking about it.


Icon_CrosswordsRemember all those nights during the first couple of months of parenthood when you joyfully rose at all hours with your newborn baby and stared into that precious face while nursing or giving a bottle? Yeah, neither do I. I was just trying to stay awake. I read somewhere about a dad that fell asleep in a rocking chair while holding his baby, and the baby ended up with a broken arm. So I was terrified of falling asleep holding my little one. The Crosswords app was my saving grace during those late night and early morning hours. It’s hard to fall asleep while trying to think of a four-letter word for boot, with ‘s’ as the third letter. Garrett has laughed that he often woke up to see my face in the glow of my iPhone. And I laughed when we started giving Michael a bottle and my dear husband could participate in those nighttime feedings. Muahahahaha!

YouVersion Bible

Icon_Bible I love me some Scripture. This app is handy-dandy for those times that you’re trying to think of a verse but have only a couple of words to work with. And it could also be great in church if you forget your Bible. Just be prepared for some dirty looks since people will probably think that you’re checking your email and not reading a Bible in the coolest way possible.

Praying God’s Word Prayer Cards

Icon_PrayingGodsWord I just found this app today and already love it. It’s based on Beth Moore's prayer cards, which I have at home but hardly ever look at because the big box of cards intimidates me by their shear number. One of the great things about this app is that you pay for only as much as you want. So, instead of buying the big box of cards, it’s like buying only the subset of cards that you need. The app allows you to mark “cards” as favorites for easy access. Perfect.


Icon_Facebook Everybody’s favorite stalking website has one of the best apps out there. Since becoming a mom, I don’t get to play around on my computer as much as I used to. So I’m thrilled that I can stalk catch up on my family and friends’ lives whenever I have a few spare minutes. This app also has the ability to sync with the contacts on your iPhone and download profile pictures. And that just makes me happy.

Photoshop Mobile

Icon_PhotoshopMobileThis is the perfect app for impressing your friends with your mad camera-phone photo-taking skillz. I can take a picture of my little one being cute, crop it to perfection, and text it out to anyone that cares, and even some that don’t care much at all. They can all think that I have an extremely steady hand and never know that my hands shake like Jell-O in a bumper car. I’m shady that way.

My Love

Icon_MyLoveI was thinking about saying “I heart this app,” but that’s lame even for me. So I’ll just say that I like it, I like it a lot. Why? Because this little app is speed-dial to my husband. Sure, I can just go to the Favorites menu in my Phone app, but who has time for all those extra taps? I like it that I can put this app on my home screen without having to open the Phone app. They also have apps for My Mom and My Dad and My Sister and My Pet Rock…ok, I made up that last one, but you get the idea. Very handy. Very handy indeed.


Icon_MercyMe This app is just a whole lot of FUN and proves that even a group that comes out with awesome songs like “I Can Only Imagine” and “Word of God Speak” can have a sense of humor. The app provides access to useful stuff like concert dates and their blog, but it’s totally worth downloading just for their “Cover Tune Grab Bag” videos. Do yourself a favor and watch the “Stayin’ Alive” and “Eye of the Tiger” videos. And then wish that you could be their new best friend and participate in all the Silliness and Shenanigans.

Now it’s time to hear from you – what are your favorite apps? What app deliciousness am I missing?

Monday, January 25, 2010

I met some real live bloggers!

My first week as a SAHM was TOUGH!

We started off the week with Michael having a temperature of 102, so we took a trip to the pediatrician on Monday. Turns out he had a sinus infection. We started him on antibiotics, which I knew would clear up the problem, but I was so concerned that he would still be feeling sick at the end of the week. It was a big week because my baby brother was getting married!

Here's the happy couple...

Aren't they gorgeous? And check out that ring. Baby brother did good!

Anyway, we had family come from Puerto Rico and Ohio to participate in the festivities. One of my cousins arrived first, on Monday night. He stayed with my parents, but came over on Tuesday to visit and to meet Michael. I was a bit stressed that day because Michael was still very sick, and we just noticed that morning that one of his eyes was swollen. We thought maybe he'd hit himself with one of his toys, but weren't sure if it was something more serious that we needed to be concerned about.

But it was all good because you know what? My cousin is about to graduate from medical school and got here a few days before the wedding so that he could interview for a residency to specialize in pediatrics! Can you believe it? We got our very own house call! My cousin assured me that the swollen eye was most likely due to the infection and should be cleared up with the antibiotics. One of my sisters, who's a Physician Assistant, also called and instructed me to use the antibiotic drops that we'd been prescribed after Michael was born and had an issue with his eye.

I was so thankful that God had made so many arrangements so far in advance so that Michael could be healthy and happy by the day of the wedding. And I was also thankful that Michael didn't get sick until after my last day at work so that I could concentrate on him and not have outside distractions. Sometimes the kindness that God shows me and my family is almost too much to bear.

So the week began with some stressing and very little sleep, but I had an invitation for Tuesday night that was a nice reprieve. I'd been invited to a dinner for local bloggers, arranged by Missy and Amy. I was so excited to meet other bloggers, and I can't even tell you exactly why. After all, I'm a classic introvert and would usually prefer to stick needles in my eyes rather than meet a group of strangers. But maybe I was excited because I love the whole blogging thing and want to start taking it more seriously? Or because I was starved for some interaction with other moms? Or because I needed to escape from the house for a little bit? All valid reasons, for sure.

I almost didn't go so that I could take care of my little one. But my husband was so sweet to insist that I get out of the house for a while and let him take care of the baby. So I went to the dinner and enjoyed good conversation with some neat ladies. Here's a picture:

I'm the one in the front that looks like a sumo wrestler.

Kind of makes me look back fondly on these days:

This picture was taken about seven months ago. At least back then I looked pregnant for a reason.

The other ladies, on the other hand, all looked great. Here's a list of who's who in the group picture (stolen from Missy's blog).

Top row:
Julie/Elisharose News, Amy/Mom's Toolbox, Beth/Not a Bow in Sight, Ashley/Life Beyond the Pink, Lindsee/Lindsee Lou, Missy/Barefoot Family, Amanda/Baby Bangs, Kristin/Kiki's Crowd

Bottom row:
Missy/It's Almost Naptime, Callie/Smith Live, Heather/Step Inside, Debra/One Girl, Kristen/We Are THAT Family, Sumo Wrestler, Allison/ It Feels Like Chaos, Michelle/ Usr/bin/mom.

After the dinner I went home to relieve my husband from baby duty. By Wednesday, Michael's temperature was consistently normal, and by Thursday the swelling in his eye had pretty much disappeared. Just in time to party with the family!
We're about to start a new week...will this be a "normal" week? Is there such a thing?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

My dream has come true!


That's pretty much what I texted to my husband last Friday as I walked out of work for the last time. Over the holidays my husband and I decided that it would be best for our family for me to resign from my job and become a stay-at-home mom. Because, in case you didn't know, being a working mother is JUST A BIT HARD. I won't bore you with all the gory details of what a nightmare it's been to try to be a good wife and mother while working for a company that only paid lip-service to employee work/life balance. So I'll bore you with only a few details: massive stress, lots of tears, exhaustion, and barely surviving.

I'm stressed out and exhausted just writing about it.

(shaking it off)

SO ANYWAY, my experience as a working mother was not a good one. I'm not going to say that it's more difficult than being a SAHM. I'm also not going to say that being a SAHM is more difficult than being a working mother, although it seems like I hear "Being a SAHM is the hardest job in the world" every time I turn around. My (pretty worthless) opinion is that people that say that are usually making a veiled jab at working mothers (the words "passive aggressive" come to mind). And I'm sure that's born out of the belief that SAHM's are not valued or appreciated. The bottom line is that every situation is different and we shouldn't judge someone until we've walked in their shoes and don't judge a book by its cover and i before e except after c...I think I lost my way there, but my very long-winded point is "Being a parent is the hardest job in the world" and I'll leave it at that.

MOVING RIGHT ALONG.....I'm so excited to finally be able to focus on my family. I've got plans. Big plans. But I'm trying to rein myself in by focusing on a few important things:

  • Spending time with my husband. Garrett and I have been in Survival Mode for far too long. Before I resigned from my job, every minute of my day was spoken for. We hardly ever went on dates anymore. And even just laughing over silly things had become a rare occurrence because I was always too stressed to relax. But we are committed to changing that and making time for each other.
  • Spending time with my son. Even though I worked from home a lot, I needed to turn care of my son over to a nanny so I could, you know, WORK. I can't tell you how it broke my heart to hear him laughing and having fun during the day, and then being too tired/stressed/exhausted to play with him for the little bit of time I had him before bedtime. That in itself was enough to keep me in a constant state of depression.
  • Making home a sanctuary. It got to the point that the only time the house looked presentable was when we were expecting someone over. Which meant that a lot needed to be done to make it that way. Which meant that I had an all new reason to be stressed and to stress out my husband. I want better for my family.
  • Getting healthy. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes fifteen extra pounds. Then comes a baby in a baby carriage along with a few more pounds. The stress and downright lack of time has not aided my efforts at weight loss. Ask Dr. Oz. He'll tell you.
  • Deepening relationships. Survival Mode does not include meeting friends at Starbucks, taking a walk with a neighbor, or even going to Bible study. If I don't get friend time, and soon, I'll have to create imaginary friends. And there's no guarantee that they'll even like me.
  • Becoming a better follower of Christ. I put this at the end of the list to show that I've let it fall to the wayside lately. And I hate that. I won't be able to do any of the things above if I don't stay connected to my Savior. And, quite frankly, I miss Him. I still pray and cry out to Him and have felt His comfort and guidance, but I've missed all of the focused time I used to spend on my relationship with Him. I need that back. And my family needs for me to get it back, too.
I do plan on contributing to my family financially by doing some type of part-time work eventually. But Garrett and I have agreed that I need at least a couple of months to get my bearings at home and get into some sort of rhythm. And did I forget to mention that baby boy is teething? And has had a nasty cold? And started crawling at five months? And hasn't stopped since?

It's a good thing he's so cute.

In the meantime......need financial advice? Contact my husband, Garrett, at! (Hey, gotta keep the lights on, you know?)

Friday, January 1, 2010

By the way, I'm not fishing for a compliment

"I can live for two months on a good compliment."
Mark Twain

I orginally intended this post to be about resolutions I would not make for 2010, but who needs to begin a year with such negativity? And, quite frankly, Michael doesn't nap long enough for me to create a list of such length.

So, instead, I would like to share with you one resolution that I will make: I hereby declare (echo echo echo) that 2010 (echo echo echo) shall be The Year of the Good Compliment ! (echo echo echo)

In my very humble opinion, we don't hear enough nice and sincere things about ourselves. In Pretty Woman, Julia Roberts says about the words people say to us, "The bad stuff is easier to believe." When I first heard that, I felt a bit heartbroken because I knew it to be true.  But I submit to you that Good Compliments can dim the memory of ugly words. The more I think about it, the more I think that giving a Good Compliment is one of the kindest and worthwhile things that I can do.

But a compliment is not kind and worthwhile if it's just flattery. The difference between a Good Compliment and flattery is veracity and motivation. If I say, "My hair is all jacked up" because I see copious amounts of frizz and random pieces sticking out like twigs in a mudpie, but my husband responds with, "No, it looks great," I know that he's just saying that to get us out the door and in the car. It's not kind because if I went out like that people might start looking for a tin cup to drop money into. And it's not worthwhile because I would just give him a dirty look and sit back down to get to work on my tossled tresses.

(By the way, my husband has never done that.)

(At least I don't think so.)

Good Compliments are easily recognizable and remembered for months and maybe even years. For example, about four or five years ago my sister Julissa complimented me after a Sunday School class for not skipping over the topic of fasting in our study of Matthew and doing my best to make it interesting. Notice that I remember the details of the compliment and not just that she said a nice thing.

So I resolve that I will do the same: look for a positive thing to say about someone, compliment them on it, and follow up the compliment with an explanation. An example could be, "You are such a good mommy. I can tell that you put a lot of effort into preparing for your son's birthday party. The invitations and decorations were just adorable." Or, "You are a great friend. You could have been doing a million other things during your free time, but you chose to stay and keep me company."

Those are two real-life examples of good things about people I know. But here's the sad part: I told the first person only half of the compliment, and didn't give the second person the compliment at all, even though I thought it. Why is that? Why can it be so difficult to tell people nice things? Does anybody have any thoughts about that? Please share in the comments.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Emptying my brain before falling asleep

It's 2am, and my brain has officially slowed to a crawl. I'm listening to the rustle of my little one moving around in his crib. I say "rustle," but I really mean "the slightest noise amplified unnaturally by a baby monitor made for worriers like me." Shhhhh....he's still now. Oh blessed sleep.

I should be asleep too, because if history has taught me anything it's that I'll be listening to a crying baby in about three hours. Then we'll have our first cuddle of the day as I consider that I'm such a privileged mommy to have such a wonderful baby boy.

So I should be in la-la land right now, dreaming about poopy diapers or that annoying little song that the Jumperoo plays over and over and over again, punctuated by elephant and monkey sounds. But a tornado watch flashed up on the TV screen a few hours ago, and I immediately went to red alert.

Actually, I first tried to figure out which is worse, a tornado warning or a tornado watch? I always get those confused. Because a warning could mean, "Hey, I'm warning you that a tornado, it's a-coming!" But a watch could mean, "I'm watching a tornado right now! Run for your lives!" And then I thought, "Whatever! I see the word 'tornado' and that can't be good!"

So once my internal red alert was established, I pictured myself hearing the wind pick up and running to Michael's room to swoop him up in a motherly football hold in preparation to fly down to the closet under the stairs, kicking the dog and cats out of my way, and screaming for Garrett to follow me. Because I'm thoughtful like that.

Understandably, that mental state was not conducive to sleep. A panic attack...yes. Slumber...not so much.

I decided to stay awake for a while longer and see how this whole tornado situation panned out. It reminded me of the first few nights that we had Michael home. He was so teeny tiny in the bassinet. More often that not, I slept at the foot of the bed so that I could rest my hand on his chest and make sure he was still breathing.

I remember thinking that I wanted to just stay awake and watch over him, knowing that it was impossible to sustain that level of watchfulness for long. I was so frustrated with the limitations of my humanity. But almost immediately I remembered that God "will neither slumber nor sleep." And it hit home like never before that nothing catches Him by surprise.

Oh boy, was I relieved. I still watch over Michael, and have even sat in the rocking chair in his room a time or two while he slept. But rather than watching and fretting, I watch and ponder. I ponder the turn my life has taken the last few years, the fulfilled dreams of a loving husband and beautiful child, and the knowledge that I can go to my own room to sleep and leave Michael in better hands.

Speaking of sleep, it's now 2:45am and I need to sleep while I can! Here's to hoping that my dreams involve something other than diapers and baby toys.