Being a Parent Hurts Sometimes

While my roast beef, Swiss and horsey sauce sandwich browns in the toaster oven, the timer's steady ticking provides the background music to my somber thoughts.

(I fully intended that to be over-dramatic.)

I realized today that my parents probably didn't enjoy disappointing me. They really did have my best interests at heart when they said no. They did not enjoy seeing me cry about it. No, this is not the first time I have realized this fact, but it is the first time I have really understood it from their end.

My son is evolving before my eyes and I have noticed a subtle shift in his behavior. No longer just an infant, he's displaying wants as well as needs. For example, he was eating my mother-in-law's hair the other day... had a huge clump of it in his mouth. When we took it out of his mouth he tried to grab it again. When she pulled her hair back where he couldn't reach it, he screamed in protest. He threw a fit because we wouldn't let him chew on grandma's hair. Babies need to eat. Babies need to sleep. Babies need their diapers changed. I'm sorry, but babies do not need to suck on hair as opposed to their pacifiers, which clipped on their shirts, are more than available for all their sucking and chewing needs.

This was the context in which I decided it was time to begin sleep training my son.

(Oh my gosh, this horsey sauce is burning a hole through my nose and opening up the floodgates behind my tear ducts!)

The same changes in his little brain that allow him to prefer hair to a pacifier and pitch a fit about it, also allow him to choose to stay awake when he needs to sleep. Over the past few weeks, he has repeatedly made this choice, and he has gotten more and more tired to the point of screaming for no reason. It has become a battle of wills. Parents versus Baby. Play versus Sleep.

Last night I finally gave in to the nagging voice that kept tell me to "be the parent and make him go to bed when he needs to, not when he wants to." I was fully prepared to hear his cries for hours. Except... he only cried for 15 minutes, maybe 20. Tonight he only cried for 18 minutes exactly. He slept. And slept. And slept. If's he's sleeping, he must really need to sleep, which means he hasn't been getting the sleep he needs for several weeks now. No wonder he had such a short little temper - he was always tired like me. Now I'm slapping myself for not recognizing this sooner.

I still don't like hearing him cry, and he protests for a lot longer during the day when I try to get him down for a nap. I think he's just not used to sleeping in his crib during the day and that is what needs to change. I want him to associate his crib with sleeping to the point that just looking at his bed makes him think, "Hmm, I'm kind of tired, I think I'll take a nap."

We'll see about that....


The Baby Whisperer

In my family, we refer to Barry White as the "baby whisperer." It started in the car on the way to a friend's house. My baby was really tired, but was too fussy to fall asleep. The radio was all commercials and silence was unbearable with a screaming baby in the backseat. Shuffling through the glove compartment, I came across a CD I had completely forgotten about. Barry White's Greatest Hits. No sooner did the word "baby" slip out of the car's speakers in Barry's signature velvety deep voice, when my pumpkin promptly fell asleep without an ounce of protest.

Don't ask me why I had Barry White sitting in my glove compartment; I'll never tell. And don't ask me why Barry White is so good at putting babies to sleep; I'll never understand it myself. Ever since that day, Barry White has been our go-to-guy when our little man is fussy. Barry never fails us. His CD is always packed when we're planning a long car trip. In a pinch, we'll create a "Barry White" station on Pandora. Our favorite lyric repeats something we find ourselves saying all the time as new parents:

"Baby, sweet baby... what am I going to do with you?"

The only problem we have with Barry White is the nature of his music. Barry White is great for babies. I believe there are a lot of babies out there who wouldn't be here today if it weren't for Barry White. I'm just not sure I want my little boy singing about how those babies got here, if you catch my drift. I wish he sang about horses, angels, lambs and twinkling stars. If he had put out a lullaby album during his lifetime, I bet it would have made it onto every pregnant woman's registry.

I'll keep turning to Barry when my baby's got the blues, but in the meantime I'll be looking for a replacement. Any suggestions?



Everyone knows that when a baby falls asleep, you should put him in his crib and either take a nap yourself or do one of the other million things on your list... but I often don't.

I don't know how many more chances I will have to look down and gaze at this tiny face in my arms. I might blink and realize he is fifteen and too big or too cool to fall asleep in my lap. If I don't listen, I might forget what it sounds like to hear these tiny puffs of breath, breath that smells something like sugar or hazelnut. It's no wonder they've named a flower after it. How is it that babies smell so good?

If I lay him in his crib, I would miss the occasional happy sigh, the sleepy smile that flickers across his peaceful face as he dreams (of what, I wonder?). I wouldn't feel his tiny fingers search for a fold of my shirt or my thumb to grasp. I might not catch that first waking glimpse or the grin that follows when he realizes I'm still there.

So even though there are dishes to wash and laundry to fold, I hold my child instead, watching him sleep, whispering a prayer of gratitude.

Thank you, Lord, for this child, this blessing.
Keep him safe and show me how to raise him.
Let him always know how much he is loved.


A Birthday Cake that Says "I Love You"

Last summer I took up cake decorating as a new hobby when I offered to make a wedding cake for a friend. The wedding cake turned out wonderful and I decided I would like to make more cakes. Since then I've made a few birthday cakes and a few just for fun. I'd like to think I'm getting better at it. I would love to take a cake decorating class and learn how to make those gorgeous flowers out of frosting. One thing I do not want to learn is how to work with fondant. I know it is all the rage right now, but I hate the taste, so I'd rather not go there. I don't want to spend hours working on a cake that I won't enjoy eating afterward.

This is the cake I made for my mom's birthday this weekend. It's so colorful - an experiment with food coloring. I baked two 9" rounds and cut them with a big heart mold that is supposed to go with my cheesecake pan. I used a Duncan Hines mix (coconut) and made my own frosting (buttercream). It was really tasty - I had two pieces! I think coconut cake is my new favorite!!


Purple Pizza

A.K.A "Adventures in Food Coloring"

Bought a few boxes of food coloring last week for the birthday cake I made for my mom's birthday (which is on Sunday). We love to make homemade pizza, and when I was making the dough the other night, I had the urge to squirt purple into the bread machine at the last moment. It made for one really weird looking pizza. I decided I must do this again when Micah is old enough to appreciate it.

I'll post pictures of the cake after my mom sees it first. It turned out really cute!


Enjoying the Journey

This week I blogged about the importance of "Daddy Time" on the Families Baby blog. My inspiration came from my husband and my son playing in the next room...

My husband will be the first to tell you that playing with his little man is no small task. Thinking of silly ways to entertain our four-month-old comes much easier to me. I can move quickly from one trick to the next, while my husband struggles to keep up with Micah's 5 minute attention span. "I can't wait for him to get older" is his mantra. He wants him to be able to say what he wants instead of cry. He also wants him to be able to move around on his own. Women cringe at this sentiment, knowing how quickly babies grow into the next stage, which has its own difficulties, but I understand his frustration. I felt the same way when we were dating. (I can't wait to get married - I'm tired of driving home every night!!) There are just certain stages in life that we can't wait to finish - college, looking for a spouse, planning a wedding - and it's hard to enjoy them, even if there are plenty of things to appreciate about each stage. We begin to focus on certain goals so much that we start to resent the journey. Before we know it, our goal is achieved and a fragment of history, and what is left? Did we waste all that time waiting for the next big thing and miss out on all the fun in between?

God enjoys the journey. You can tell just by looking around at creation. He could have populated the earth with a bunch of full grown adults, but instead he created pregnancy, babies, children, and childhood. In fact nearly everything in creation starts out small and grows. There is a reason trees take decades to reach their full height. There is a reason he doesn't wave a magic wand when we begin a relationship with him and turn us into the perfect Christian. We reach full maturity in Christ when we enter the gates of heaven; until then we embark on a spiritual journey of epic proportions. He slowly molds us through life's experiences, His perfect wisdom (the Word) and the power of His Holy Spirit. I think we should take a cue from creation and savor every bite of life. Every breath is a gift from God, who is the giver of life itself. Every moment deserves our full gratitude and appreciation for everything we receive.

Whenever I'm tempted to wish any part of Micah's "babyhood" away, I try to focus on all the good aspects (he can't run away or talk back, for example) that are unique to this season. I am trying to share these with my husband as well. In the meantime, I enjoy watching Micah bore a soft spot into Eric's heart with all his cute little antics.


I'm a Better Mama When I'm a Better Daughter

While perusing blogs tonight, I found something that really struck a chord.

The Barefoot Mama: "It's important to identify what impedes you as a mom and then prayerfully and purposefully design ways to fulfill those needs and structure your time in the home in order to attain a balance for yourself"

I've just discovered Kelly's blog through comments and I must pause and say, "Lord, you really know how to introduce me to the right people at the right time."

For me, "those needs" are primarily spiritual - specifically time spent in prayer and studying God's word. I'm a much better mama when I'm a better daughter. Spending time with my heavenly father each morning sets the tone for the entire day. It determines whether I stick to my priorities, the measure of patience I have for life's everyday hangups, the peace in my heart, and the smile on my face. I don't want Micah to know a mommy who doesn't intimately know her Savior. I desperately want him to know a mommy who will teach him, through example, what it means to love and serve the Lord with all his heart and soul... to find strength in God alone.

Reading Kelly's blog cemented a decision I made yesterday to sacrifice that last hour of sleep in the morning. Micah's naps were becoming too unpredictable to count on them for quiet time. Quiet times fell by the wayside for a while because of this, and my heart suffered greatly. You can only go so long on your own strength before life's stresses begin to eat away at your peace and joy. Who on earth lives a life without some type of stress or ongoing problem? In a sin-plagued world: no one. We were never meant to live a solitary life - we were created to live in relationship to our creator. You can only talk on your cell for so long before you need to plug it in - and spiritually, we are all living on a very short battery life. Jesus said "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." Apart from Jesus, YOU CAN DO NOTHING. You may think you are doing all kinds of things, but is it fruitful? Is it meaningful?

For me, skipping my time with God each morning greatly impedes my success as both a mom and a wife. Sacrificing that hour of sleep in the morning not only gives me an opportunity to worship God with my obedience and devotion, but forces me to trust him to provide me with the energy to get through the day. I'm not going to lie, I don't think it's a coincidence that the rare opportunity to nap in the afternoon magically appears when I start the day off right. My little guy will decide the only place he wants to take his afternoon nap is right by his mama, and his tired little mama is only too happy to oblige.


Best Picture EVER

This is by far my favorite picture of Micah... in his little four month life.


Tempt My Tummy Tuesday - Pecan Banana Bread

This recipe is part of Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, hosted by Blessed With Grace. I found this banana bread recipe on Taste of Home's website, but it originally called for walnuts. I substituted 2 ounces of chopped pecans. It turned out amazing! I made it just the other day and it's almost gone already.

Best Ever Banana Bread


* 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1-1/2 cups sugar
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 2 eggs
* 2 medium ripe bananas, mashed (1 cup)
* 1/2 cup vegetable oil
* 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk**
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1 2-ounce package of chopped pecans


In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, combine the eggs, bananas, oil, buttermilk and vanilla; add to flour mixture, stirring just until combined. Fold in nuts.
Pour into a greased 9-in. x 5-in. loaf pan. Bake at 325° for 1 hour 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Yield: 1 loaf.

**Don't have buttermilk? Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup, then add enough milk to make 1 cup. Let it sit for five minutes and then use however much the recipe calls for.


Quality Time

Eric and I were discussing ways we could spend more quality time together. Our problem, like many other married couples I'm sure, is that our hobbies are... different. You will never catch me on a computer playing Counterstrike. You will never see Eric with a ball of yarn and a hook in his hands unless you travel back in time to his childhood when his grandmother taught him how to crochet. We can't figure out what brought us together except for the fact that we think the same jokes are funny and the same goals in life are worth pursuing. We are also incredibly attracted to each other, physically, but that is not something I want to publish on the internet for my son and his friends to read in fifteen years and become horribly embarrassed about. Or maybe I do.

Micah, your father and I are extremely attracted to each other in the physical sense.

As far as hobbies are concerned, we have found common ground on the following territories:

1. Cribbage
2. Ping Pong
3. Movies
4. Scrabble
5. Yahoo Euchre

Often our conversations go something like this:

Me: "Do you want to do something?"

Eric: (Picturing the scrabble board or some other activity I'm likely to suggest) "No, that's okay, babe."

Isn't that horribly sad and pathetic?!

So. Quality Time... we decided to see if we could use his parents' old PlayStation since his sister, who still lives at home, really wants a new system. I think she wants an X Box. I think Eric will compromise his Gamers' Integrity by playing a little Wheel of Fortune, Packman, and Bejeweled with me.

What kinds of hobbies do you share with your spouse?


The Sound Every Mother Lives For

My favorite part of the day involves finding new ways to make Micah laugh. His giggles are often muffled by his fists, which he stuffs in his mouth constantly. Lean in too close, and he'll grab your mouth or nose with his dripping hands, smearing spit all over your face. Does that stop me from planting five hundred kisses on those chubby cheeks of his? Not in a million years!

Yesterday he turned four months old. I can't believe how fast time is flying by. Everyone told me this would happen, but I never understood just how right there were until now. He is so active, so playful, and oh so opinionated! I feel like it was only yesterday that he fit right between my crossed arms. Today his long legs sprawl over my lap and onto the couch. He's wearing 9mo/12mo sleepers. Where he got his height, I have no idea!

He looks so much like my husband, it's scary.


A Visit from the Great Grandparents!

This week my dad's parents drove across the Midwest to visit and meet Micah for the first time. I have to admit I was a little worried in the weeks leading up to their visit. You see, up until about a week ago, Micah was pitching a fit whenever anyone would try to hold him... except for me. He would be fine for a few minutes, then suddenly his eyes would widen and his bottom lip would curl. Tears would brim and in seconds he would go from cooing to screaming at a volume that would likely burst your eardrum if you stood too close.

Then one day, Micah woke up and decided he was no longer a one woman man. Now he is a little charmer, talking and smiling at whoever carries him around... as long as they hold him the way he likes. I mentioned yesterday that it's "his way or the highway," well this especially applies to how he wants to be held. He used to enjoy snuggling with his head tucked into your neck or looking over your shoulder. Now he strongly prefers to be carried facing out with his legs dangling so he can see everything in front of him and wiggle at will.

He can still burst your eardrum if you happen to be nearby when he gets a wet diaper. If he is playing and happy, and then all of a sudden he starts screaming like someone pinched him, chances are he has just wet himself. It is during these moments of near hearing loss that I close my eyes and envision a potty seat sitting upon a golden throne with angels singing hallelujah in the background. I look forward to ditching the diapers for smiley stickers and m&ms and ninja turtle underwear. (Do they still make ninja turtle underwear?)

Anyway, back to the visit from the Great Grandparents... it was a joy to see my granny hold my son, play with him, and rock him to sleep. I am so blessed. Micah has gotten to meet all four of his Great Grandmothers and two of his Great Grandpas. I don't think I ever got to meet any of my great grandparents, even as an infant. Four generations gathered around the patio table to enjoy my dad's amazing beef tenderloin, seven layer salad, cheesy potato casserole, corn on the cob and Sprecher soda on Tuesday night. I really wish we all lived closer together. My Grandparents are heading back home tomorrow morning and it will likely be a very long time before we see them again. If my sister ends up moving in the fall as planned, we're really going to be spread out. We better make the most out of August and September!


Wants to See the World

Micah is developing an interest in his surroundings. No longer content to lay back and nap during car rides (unless he is tired, of course), he leans forward to look out the window or around the vehicle. His reclining infant carrier is not condusive to sitting up, however, so sometimes it takes a small circus to keep him entertained when he is not able to sit up the way he would like to.

It's interesting to see such a strong personality at just four months old. "It's his way or the high way." I can already tell we're going to have our hands full as we train him up to be a well behaved and Godly young man. He is stubborn and spirited. Fortunately, these qualities have the potential to make him a great leader if kept in check and given a proper outlet. He is also very sweet and when he's happy, you can't wipe the smile off his face. Every day I find new ways to get him to laugh. He already loves to roughhouse; he is definitely a boy.

Today I put together his new stroller and we took it for a spin around the neighborhood. What a difference sitting upright makes! He actually enjoyed cruising around for once. Before we used a stroller frame that his infant carrier clicked into - but he would always cry unless he was asleep. I was convinced that it was because it forced him to lay back and I was right! Our neighborhood is still largely undeveloped, so there are plenty of paved roads without traffic - perfect for walks. Built on the side of a hill, this neighborhood really gives your calves a workout! His eyes were wide with curiosity as we walked up and down the hill on the empty road. I pointed out grass, rocks and wildflowers. We spent about 15 minutes outside until he got a little too tired and started whimpering. I'm going to start taking him out every day unless the weather is bad. He really enjoys being outside! What little kid doesn't?


Devotions for Moms

I am on a quest to find all the best online devotions -- specifically for moms. Do you have a favorite online devotion that is geared towards moms? E-mail me the link and I will add it to this list!

Manna for Moms
Megan Breedlove writes devotionals for moms based on timeless stories of motherhood and her experiences with her own children. Megan is a mother to four children and has a master's degree in marriage and family counseling and a master's in religious education.

Proverbs 31 Ministries: Daily Devotions
Proverbs 31 Ministries is committed to bringing clear Biblical teaching to women in every walk of life through our conferences, retreats and church events. Their daily devotions offer today's busy women encouragement as they seek to draw closer to the heart of God. Written by a terrific team of women willing to be real with their struggles and their faith, you'll find their words relevant and refreshing. (Description taken from Proverbs31.org)


Daddy-Son Bonding Time

Universal Man Law: Men bond on the couch.

Micah has discovered that the world is much more interesting when you're sitting up, and therefore throws a fit if you lay him on his back on the floor. He's fine in his Bumbo, fine if you put him on his tummy, but on his back? Oh no-no-no. He has been staring at the ceiling fan for four months now, you know, and he's had enough of that.

The easy solution, of course, has been to prop him up on the couch. He loves this view since he can watch all the action. Give him a few toys (or a blanket) to chew on and he's a happy camper. Big daddy Eric is happy, too, since he doesn't have to tote the little guy around on one arm all night.

Look at Eric, doesn't he look great? He's lost over fifteen pounds in the past month. Ladies, doesn't it frustrate you how quickly men can shed the weight? It's as though they merely think about weight loss and it happens. Eric has worked really hard, though; he has been eating a low carb diet and cutting out most of the junk food. He has been working out as well. He does this routine with a 45-pound weight that I can't even peel off the floor, and he tosses it around like a dinner plate. I'll settle for being able to carry a 15-pound baby for several hours.