I love to decorate for the seasons. A few touches here and there just to celebrate - but this year I've been keeping it pretty simple. Here are few things I've done:
I used to have something different on this wall, but was craving a change. The two white frames were in my basement and used to be a hideous gold color, but I liked the detail so I decided to paint and use them. I had bought a straw wreath form last year and wanted something that said "warm and cozy" so I made this knitted creation. I didn't have a picture for the other frame, but I had a $1 black mat from the dollar store, a black sheet of construction paper and a white art pencil - so...I penciled in a few words that characterized fall. The three frames at the bottom cost $1 each on clearance at Michael's Craft Store. I painted them the light green color left over from the accent wall in our home and trimmed them in the same white as the other frames. The leaves are real leaves that I pressed. Since I had most of the materials, it cost me next to nothing. I haven't decided if I love it, but I definitely like it and it is all easy to change out for other seasons.
I spent a moment updating the girls' container play garden in the backyard from summer to fall. The mini-pumpkins are obviously fake - they have to be or the squirrels eat them. I also spent some time with the girls earlier this season making these rainbow webs from yarn and some sticks to hang from the playhouse window.
Really appreciated this post: http://jenwilkin.blogspot.com/2010/10/guarding-sabbath-for-our-children.html and know that myself and a lot of other NOVA moms I know would benefit from it.....
A fall family tradition for the past 3 years has been to visit Hollin Farm in Delaplane to cut our own pumpkins. It is beautiful out there at the foothills - especially during this time of year when all the leaves are changing. We like the pumpkin patch - which features a variety of cut-your-own pumpkins and gourds and it is fun to cut the kids loose to find their perfect pumpkin. There is really nothing super fancy about this place, but that is what we love. There is a corn maze and fresh farm apples for sale - and just a whole lot of fresh air and room to run around and pumpkins! A drive west always makes me feel refreshed.
I was just thinking again today about the tremendous resolve of my 4 yr. old, Maddie. I already mentioned that she decided to quit sucking her thumb. Well, it was a done deal from the moment she made the decision. There hasn't been any going back since.
One thing I noticed however, is that she is suddenly a lot less attached to her stuffed puppy. Puppy used to go everywhere with us and was highly requested -whenever she was tired, frustrated, sad, bored, etc.... Puppy sort of became a beloved member of the family over the past nearly 5 years. Her dad bought it for her in the hospital when she was born and she has loved that thing to shreds. Except, now we never see him. He stays in her bed all day and really isn't requested at all.
I thought this made sense, since previously at the moment she saw puppy, in went the thumb. The two always went together.
But then, there was a new realization. One evening when we were tucking her in, puppy was at the end of her bed and she kind of refused him when offered. The thing is that Maddie, realizing that holding puppy made her want to suck her thumb, made her own conscious decision to put away puppy as necessary in order to stop sucking her thumb. What child does that? I mean, this stuffed animal was seriously BELOVED. Her decisions go deep. When she resolves to do something, she follows through and she takes whatever steps are necessary to do so. She knows herself and takes stock before she commits, so her commitments are real. How she manages to do something that I and many adults fail at frequently is beyond me. I could take a lesson from her. And as I said before, I hope that she will retain that trait and that it will serve her well.
I caught her snuggling with her puppy in bed the other night when I checked on her before going to bed myself - but, she wasn't sucking her thumb.
So this is the final time around and I figured I'd better have a picture. I'm not really one for photo shoots, but we were dressed up recently for a wedding and I was going to let Matt snap a few shots. It was the end of the day and I was tired, I guess, because as soon as Matt started taking pictures, I started crying - for no apparent reason, mind you, except maybe hormones. And...the only pictures we got that look decent are of my face all squinched up or me wiping away tears. They are on Matt's phone right now and he is away at a conference, so even though I have a moment to post, I can't put them up today - but that just gives you something to look forward to. And, maybe we'll try to take a couple of pictures again sans the crying. Sometimes when you are preggo that is just the way it goes down, at least I'll have pictures to remember what pregnancy is really like.
Maddie has this particular facet of her personality that is really amazing. She can be extremely stubborn - but the positive side of that if she makes up her mind to do something, she just does it. The decisive follow through of that small child is a wonder.
For instance, she stopped sucking her thumb this week. Yep. Let me set the scene for you - she has sucked her thumb since infancy whenever she was sleepy. Also, she has a stuffed puppy (which serves as her security blanket) and it has long gone hand in hand with the thumb sucking. As soon as she saw puppy, in went the thumb. And for years, puppy went everywhere with us. Serious attachments to thumb and puppy, folks.
But, at her last two dentist appointments, the dentist has commented that if we want to avoid problems to her teeth caused by thumb sucking, we ought to try to start working on breaking the habit. This was kind of like receiving mission impossible in my mind. We began to talk to her a little bit about it, but she got upset at the idea. See, she hadn't made up her own mind yet.
Earlier this week, Matt randomly offered an incentive to her for bedtime. He asked her if she'd like to try having a bandaid wrapped around her thumb and then if it was still on in the morning and she hadn't sucked on it, he would give her a quarter. The first night failed. She cried at bedtime and took off the bandaid. We didn't make a big deal about it, I actually pretty much expected as much.
But - and here is what always happens - at some point she made a decision for herself and once the turn is made, she makes it hard and follows through. I guess sometime during the next day she made up her mind either that the quarter was really worth it or that it was going to help her teeth or both, because that night (no prompting from us) she stuck out her thumb and asked for a bandaid. And the next morning she casually showed it to her dad and received her quarter. Nor did she suck her thumb again that day. The next evening she again asked for a bandaid. When I tucked her in, as part of our prayers, I prayed that God would continue to help her with her endeavor and she looked at me like I was crazy and said "nothing is different here mom, except that I'm not sucking my thumb," like it was no big deal.
She hasn't sucked her thumb since. Last night, she wanted a bandaid again but when I went to put it on her thumb she had a hard time remembering which one she sucked on (it hasn't even been a full week) and said "I just don't know mom 'cause I just don't feel like sucking my thumb."
She is four. I don't know many 4 yr. olds who just make a decision to stop sucking their thumb. But this is only one example of her immense follow-though. I tell you, once she decides something, there isn't any wish-wash or debate or crisis...she just does it. The key is, it has to be her decision. I hope that it is a trait that she'll long carry and I hope it will serve her well and that the decisions she makes and carries through will be wise. It is fascinating to see the unfolding of the individual traits God has given to each of my children. This particular one in Maddie amuses and amazes me so!
I've got about a month to go until our son is born, but I've been pondering the birth. It seems like you can find technical and medical information in books and resources about what will happen if you have to have a c-section but there isn't always that kind of advice you are looking for from someone who has been there.
I've been there three times before, so I'm kind of prepared for what to expect this round if everything goes well. I just thought that I'd share a few things I've learned along the way and will definitely put into practice myself this time, just in case for some reason you find that a c-section delivery is necessary for you.
- Drink lots of water in the hospital, maybe hot tea - but avoid juice, soda, and milk for at least a day or two. Go with the liquid diet the first day even if the doc says you are allowed to eat other food and you are feeling hungry. One of the uncomfortable parts of recovery is getting your gastro-intestinal tract back into smooth functioning. You'll need to pass gas - and you'll be asked about this - but you don't really want to build up gas more than is necessary because it will be extremely painful - so the tips above really help with that. Plus, you're doc will also be looking for you to poop too and lots of water will help things stay softer. Also, when you finally do start eating regular foods again - go for food that has some fiber in it and eat a moderate amount (don't over eat even if you are really hungry).
- Take the medicine! Now anesthetics can work differently for different people. I've had an epidural, and epidural/spinal combo and a spinal and the spinal definitely worked the best for me. But in all cases, you eventually come off that anesthesia and start taking a painkiller in the form of pills. Alternating Percocet and Tylenol (I think it is Tylenol 3 or something like that) which is pretty standard -so that they overlap works wonders for me. The trick is to not let the pain get out of hand, because once it does it is really, really miserable and takes some time to get back to comfort again. DON'T try to tough out the pain at any time, BE ASSERTIVE with your nursing staff and if you are uncomfortable at all TELL THEM. I tell my nurses to just go ahead and bring me the medicine as often as I can have it and if for some reason they are slightly behind on time, I don't hesitate to ring for them. Those medications are safe for the nursing baby and in the long run will help you. You cannot recover well and deal with caring for a new baby if you can't sleep or rest because you are in agony. You just had major abdominal surgery and pain management is necessary - so make good use of it so that you can get better! I've been through poor pain management and good pain management - and good pain management after the surgery is key to a good experience. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.
- Let people help you, especially if you are not used to it. The nursing staff has to take care of you in some ways that challenge modesty and are a little uncomfortable for the self-sufficient or private person. Get over it. Let them help. Also, enlist help from your family, friends, husband - whoever is there. Stop doing everything yourself even if you can. Ask for what you need, ask for what you want. Manage, delegate, and then rest! Rest is very important. Don't worry about getting out of bed in the middle of the night to pick up the baby yourself because your husband is sleeping and you don't want to disturb him - wake him up! Ask him to bring the baby to you. Or the nurses. Or wake someone up for water if you need it. Take advantage of the help you have now to get better for when you have less help later.
- Tell your nurses what you need. If you need pain medication, make sure they bring it to you on time. You'll have lots of people coming in during the night to check on you - check your blood pressure, bring you medicine, check on the baby, ask you questions - it can get really annoying and can definitely interrupt your ability to sleep and get the rest you need to heal and take care of new baby. Just tell them you want them to come as infrequently as possible.
- Use the nursery if you need rest. One of the hardest things to get over is letting go of that precious new little one. Mom often doesn't want baby out of sight. I get that and I keep my baby right with me as much as possible. But again, rest is necessary for you to be a good mom and to recover well. The nurses who work in the nursery love babies and take good care of them. If you need to send the baby to the nursery for a couple hours so that you can sleep - DO IT. They will bring them back to you when they get hungry or whenever you request. In the meantime, your precious bundle will sleep peacefully under the watchful eye of someone else while you actually get some sleep. Being a new mom isn't easy - rest helps perspective a lot - for mom and dad. As I said before, let someone help you.
- Pack clothing (or send hubby for clothes) that are old and comfy and will fit your still poofy and now sore belly. Soft underwear with a wide band or no band at all are the best - though the hospital will provide funny mesh underwear for you which you may or may not prefer. PJ pants that are loose in the waist and soft and a loose t-shirt are great. You will still bleed and need to wear a pad even if you don't deliver vaginally - so old clothes are best. Bring a robe and some socks or slippers for walking around the hospital in. Let someone help you in the shower and to get on and off the toilet. You will be sore and need this help at first - especially if you labored before the c-section, your legs will also be quite wobbly.
- Bring a Boppy Pillow to the hospital to help support the baby while you feed him.
- You may shake a lot at first after the surgery - something like shivering. This is completely normal and due to the anesthesia. It may be uncomfortable or strange at first, but just try to relax your breathing and rest, it will go away after a short while.
- You probably will not want visitors the first day. You may choose to make exceptions for your parents or best friend, but it is wise to have your husband tell everyone else not to come before later on the second day.
- Recovery is not fun, but it does happen. The body is amazing - absolutely astounding. You will still need to prepare for some restrictions at home however. Again, ask for help as much as you can get it. While you are in the hospital, think positively. Use these couple of days where you don't have to think about preparing meals, or cleaning up after them, or taking care of a house, etc... to rest and to pray and to bond with your baby. Take the time to stare at your precious newborn, to talk to your husband, to work on nursing (make use of the lactation consultant). You may be working on recovering and stuck at the hospital for a few days, but make use of the rare opportunity to put all the rest of the world and everyone else's needs aside and just be with your husband and your baby - that time can be a very precious commodity.
Maddie: "Hope, you and I have a friendship like I'm peanut butter and you're jelly!"
Me:"Maddie, I need to wash your puppy" aka: her stuffed security animal Maddie: "no, I don't want you to because mom, then he'll smell clean!!!"
Me with broom ready to sweep up the tons of cheerios Ami poured out. Hope on floor: "wait wait mom! I just want to spell out my name first!"
And while Ami's vocabulary continues to grow rapidly, she still gives every affirmative answer as "aye!" unwaveringly. Never a yes, always an "aye!" Are you hungry? "aye!" Do you want some milk? "aye!" Do you want to play outside? "aye!" - the inflection changes to suit the mood of the question, but "yes" is ALWAYS "aye!" and it is terribly cute!