Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Having a baby, of course, brings about a lot of changes in a person's life and in their personality. I've found some of the changes I've experienced to be quite humorous. Maybe you will, too!

Pre-Baby Katie: Would put on an outfit for the day, hate it, and ransack the closet hunting for a magical beautiful outfit to wear. The closet, of course, looks a hot mess when she's done.
Post-Baby Katie: Puts on an outfit for the day, hates it, and says "I hate this outfit. But I don't really care that I hate it." And wears it proudly anyway.

Post-Baby Katie: "I think the dust gives our furniture an added sense of texture and depth. Let's leave it there."

Pre-Baby Katie: Had meals planned out two weeks in advance...
Post-Baby Katie: Might have meals planned out two minutes in advance...

Pre-Baby Katie: Needed AT LEAST 7 hours of sleep to function.
Post-Baby Katie: "Woooooo hoooo!!!! I got to sleep for three hours straight!!!!!"

Pre-Baby Katie: "I love coffee!!"
Post-Baby Katie: "I NEED coffee!!"

Pre-Baby Katie: "You make money to spend money!!"
Post-Baby Katie: Second-guesses EVERY SINGLE purchase. Wishes she was in the baby product business so she could make more money...

Pre-Baby Katie: "I have a headache."
Post-Baby Katie: "Ok, I don't have a headache. But, still, no." ;)

Pre-Baby Katie: Lived on a schedule.
Post-Baby Katie: Lives on someone else's schedule.

Pre-Baby Katie: "People act like their baby's gas is sooooo bad. They spend so much money on GAS stuff! Babies get gas! It's normal!"
Post-Baby Katie: ...at the store buying every type of gas-reducing bottle, gentle-on-the-tummy formula, Mylicon drops, and gripe water. And apologizes to every mom she's ever judged for being obsessed with the air bubbles trapped in their sweet babies' tummies.

I'm slowly becoming a better version of myself. I'm pretty certain a second and third set of arms are about to grow in and I think God is going to grant my prayer for an extra few hours in the day. Until then, thanks for going on this little journey to Post-Baby Land with me!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Angel Kisses

It wasn't long after Maleah's birth that I noticed it. A little red splotch on her left eyelid. I figured it was just still a little red from delivery, but after twelve hours, it was still bright red.

The pediatrician came by that morning to tell us all about how well Maleah was doing. And she flippantly mentioned, "Oh, and you've probably noticed she has a birthmark on her eye. We call that an Angel's Kiss."

And immdiately, I knew.

I knew that there was no mistake that God gave her that sweet little spot on her eye. (I can't even type this without tearing up!) Every time I see it, I'm reminded that a piece of my dad lives on in Maleah.

There are no coincidences in life, and I believe God marked Maleah with this precious "kiss" to remind me of that. He is a pretty stellar God.

Sadly, this birthmark will most likely fade over time. I keep trying to capture it in photographs so we will always remember.

She also has a "stork bite" birthmark on the nape of her neck that is permanent. To me, that's God's little reminder that the stork visits whenever he feels like it... not just when we "plan". Our cute little surprise baby was no surprise to Him. :)

You can see the little red Angel Kiss on her tiny little eye. I love it... and I hope it doesn't fade like they say it will!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Being Content

Note: I wrote the majority of this post last week after struggling with envy and covetousness (yeah that's a word) a lot lately. I'm ready for Blake to be done with school so we can finally have two full incomes. But I know that the investment in his education we are making now will pay off in the long-run. "Short-term sacrifices for long-term success" is our mantra. Anyway, Dr. McKee's message yesterday was about finances and his words couldn't have been more timely. So, I wanted to finish this post and share it with you because God obviously laid it on my heart for many reasons. I hope it is as encouraging to someone else as it was to me.

My mom has always joked that my middle name is "Want". When we would walk through a store (any store - grocery store, department store, shoe store...), I would say "I want that!" at least half a dozen times, if not more. I have always wanted things and I will most like always want things.

Everybody knows Blake is working on his PhD so it's safe to assume you also know we have to live on a super tight budget. We have enough to pay our bills, go out to eat on occasion, and do the things we need to do and some of the things we want to do. But as I get older (and especially now that we have a baby), my desire for more stuff just grows. I'm nearly 30 and yet I still feel like I'm living the life of a college student. Living in a small apartment, driving a compact car, and shopping for clothes at the consignment store (which, actually, I prefer!!).

It's hard not to look at other people's lives and wish we were already "there". We will be "there" (meaning: earning two full-time incomes) in just a few years, but it's the waiting in between that is really hard. Having to sacrifice now so we can have later is tough.

But God keeps reminding me of Paul's words, "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." (Philippians 4:12)

That puts it all into perspective.

Blake and I aren't starving, our apartment (though small) is in a nice area and we like living there, and we both have working cars. We have a healthy baby and the support we need to raise her. We are both gainfully employed in jobs we both love. Things could be a lot worse.

And then I think about the little things.

Like how our rent covers pest control. I've visited houses in Tuscaloosa where there are more bugs than people. Roaches running rampant in the middle of the day and the residents don't even notice it anymore.

Or how I can walk, talk, and breathe all on my own. Oh, how so many people are denied those basic skills either from disease, physical impairment, or trauma.

What about how I have enough money in the bank for emergencies? Blake and I keep are fortunate enough to be able to keep an emergency fund. What is a crisis to others is already covered for us.

Oh, and let's not forget that I have the freedom to worship God openly, I don't live in fear of being mistreated for being a woman, and the water we drink has been deconaminated of diseases and bacteria.
I mean, I know all of that sounds so basic and so normal and a little cheesy. But the fact is, those things aren't normal for many people. Across the world, across the country, across town - people are experiencing life in a completely different way than me. I have so much to be grateful for, I just have to open my eyes to see it.

The way to combat envy and covetousness is to be content. The way to be content is to be thankful. And the way to be thankful is to divert my eyes from what I do not have and focus on what I do have. A few months ago, I posted a list of things for which I am thankful. It was little mundane things (and some big things), but it was a great reminder to me of all the things in my life that are good. Here's a new list of little things that I've been thankful for lately. I hope you come up with your own list and start thanking God for them regularly. Now, these things are small things because it's easy to see and be thankful for the big things. I mean, obviously, I'm grateful for Maleah. :) But that's easy. I want to look in the nooks and crannies of my life and be thankful for all God has given me.

1. Technology - I can share pictures and videos of Maleah with Blake's family in an instant and they get to be a part of her daily life even though they are far away.

2. The fact that there wasn't a black widow spider or roach in my house shoes this morning. No, seriously. This is something I thank God for regularly!!!!!

3. Keurig K-Cups - Usually I use a reusable filter and regular coffee b/c the K-Cups are so expensive. But I've allowed myself to buy the K-Cups because measuring out coffee into a tiny reusable Keurig filter on very little sleep doesn't sound like a good time to me.

4. Ruzzle - 'Cause I like word games and I like beating Blake at word games.

5. The Harlem Shake - I can't get enough of it.

6. Justin Timberlake on Jimmy Fallon EVERY NIGHT THIS WEEK. 'Nuff said.

7. Scripture songs (like Seeds of Faith: Seeds Family Worship) - I can't tell you how many Bible verses I have memorized thanks to songs like these! I love singing them to Maleah.

8. Snapfish coupons - I made a photo album of my mom's wedding for FREE (just had to pay shipping) and had our 2012 photo album printed at half price! Yippee!

9. The dry erase board I keep on our fridge - I write our weekly dinner menu & grocery list on there... otherwise I'd be a hot mess come dinner time.

10. Vacuuming - Yep, vacuuming. Nothing brings me more domestic joy than a freshly vacuumed living room. And with a new baby and lots of visitors, I've been doing a lot of vacuuming. It's my zen garden. :)

Runners up for The List: microwavable sanitizing bags for bottle parts, a husband who helps with chores and baby duty (that's a biggie, but I have to mention it!), colorful Sharpies, coffee, sweet tea, Coke, any caffeinated beverage, a cute hair cut, fresh rain and sunshine, the fact that our upstairs neighbors got rid of their dog/miniature horse, SPRING BREAK (another biggie!), and Dr. Scholl's arch support inserts.

See how much I have to be thankful for!?!?

It's hard to complain when I remember all the little things that make my life a happy one. I hope you take some time today and really think about and thank God for the good things in your life. You won't be able to do it without a smile coming to your face!

Blessings! You already have them. You just need to count them.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Six Weeks of Sweetness

Maleah Boo Boo (kinda like Honey Boo Boo except classier) is six weeks old as of yesterday! I keep thinking back to her birthday and what an incredible experience it was. She has been the most incredible gift we could have been given and we are so proud to be her parents.

One thing I didn't anticipate in parenthood (trust me, there's waaaaay more than one thing I didn't anticipate) was how much joy she would bring other people. Watching our parents, siblings, friends, and family interact with her is so exciting. To know that God has already used her to bring happiness and joy to other people is a blessing!

So, about these first six weeks. They have been the most challenging weeks of my entire life! You arrive home with this tiny little person who you're supposed to care for, nurture, love, and train. They tell you what should happen and how you ought to do things. But these little creatures are individuals and their uniqueness is up to you to determine. No one can tell you their quirks or their idiosyncracies. That's your job!

The first week of Maleah's life was exhausting simply because I had pneumonia. Thankfully it wasn't full-blown pneumonia, but it was enough to keep me limited physically. I couldn't talk at length or stand up/walk around for long periods of time. So, I relied heavily on Blake and my mom. Thankfully Maleah was pretty easy to deal with during that time. She just did the newborn thing - eat, sleep, poop 'round the clock.

The day before she turned three weeks old, I had food poisoning (and wound up dehydrated) and was literally stuck in bed for 48 hours. I laid down in my bed at 4pm Monday and got up only out of necessity until Wednesday afternoon. For about 24 hours, I couldn't even hold her because I was so weak. It was awful!!! Mom and Blake had to take care of her and me.

So the first three and half weeks we were just in survival mode. Maleah was the easy part. We did whatever she needed whenever she needed it - piece of cake.

Until I started to realize that we were in a never ending cycle of uncertainty. Anyone who knows me knows I am a creature of habit through and through. My body is trained to live on a schedule. I kinda go nutso when my schedule gets thrown off or when I have to rethink a routine. Not knowing what to expect from Maleah was really stressing me out. Plus, I had to figure out a pumping schedule in order to feed her since Maleah was not interested in nursing. There were days I'd call Blake nearly in tears asking him to come home early so he could hold her while I pumped. This wasn't working for anyone in our household.

Thankfully Maleah is a creature of habit, too. Within her first week, she was already eating on a consistent two and a half to three hour schedule. She'd start to rustle from sleep, you'd look at your watch and realize it was time for her to eat! Noticing that she was putting herself in a pattern, we decided to try to get her in a guided routine so that we could all be happy. So now she eats about every three hours during the day, stays awake for 45-75 minutes, naps 1.5-2 hours, eats, wakes, sleeps, over and over. At 7pm, she eats, we play with her for 10-15 minutes, and then we give her a bath, read a Bible story, sing, and put her to bed. That is my absolute favorite time of day. I've also started praying the Lord's prayer with her before laying her in the crib. It's just a very sweet way to end the day and I can always feel God's presence during these times with her!

We are still working on the overnight routine because for a while she was waking up frequently due to gas (I apologize for ever rolling my eyes at someone talking about their baby's gas - it is real and it is painful for them!!!). It was hard to figure out when she was up because of gas and when she was up because of gas and hunger. We started giving her gripe water at her night time feeds and that has helped. The past two nights, she's woken up around 11 and 3 to eat. (We tried to do the "dream feed" thing at 10pm, but she wouldn't take the whole bottle so now we just go to sleep & let her wake us up around 11.) We also feed her sensitive formula for her two overnight feeds because my milk was giving her gas, too. Since breastmilk can change with what you eat, we decided formula cut out the guess work of whether or not something I ate could affect her overnight. During the day, she doesn't really have gas issues so we think it's just from her laying flat and not always burping well at night. Hopefully as her digestive system matures, she won't have those problems anymore.

On Friday, we also started doing "progressive waiting" - AKA The Ferber Method (known as "cry it out" to most people). The approach he recommends is actually WAY different than I thought it was. He doesn't just suggest that you let your baby cry endlessly without tending to him or her. He suggests you "train" your baby over a period of 7 days (we are stretching it to two weeks) but gradually increasing your "wait times" before intervening when your baby is crying. In just five days, Maleah is already happier while she's awake, she eats full feedings, and sleeps more soundly. The past two days, she barely even makes a fuss when we put her down so we're not even really having to listen to her cry anymore! We make sure she is clean/dry, fed, and ready to sleep (that's a biggie - watching for the sleep cues). So when she cries, we know it's because she is tired. I'm sure not every day during this process will be easy, but we can already see the benefits for our sweet girl (and for us). I've been happier, calmer, and more relaxed since we started doing this.

While she's awake, Maleah is very alert and has discovered all sorts of fun things to do! She LOVES looking in a mirror - she's obsessed with herself! She will stare at the pictures of a book while you read to her, she can track objects with her eyes, she likes to look outside, likes to be held, likes being talked to... but my FAVORITE, most absoulte favorite is when she looks around for me or Blake. Catching her attention is the greatest feeling!

So, that's where we are now! We have a happy, healthy baby and we are loving every minute of being her parents!!