Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Five Favorites (v. 8)

Traveling with Grace has been a learning experience. I heard on the radio last week, in a "confessional" type program, a mom who wishes she had traveled more before having her kids. She said all parents thought this, and went on to say her laundry list of reasons why traveling with kids stinks.

Grace has traveled a lot - a handful of longer car rides, two plane flights, and two 1k mile round trips for Christmas and a MLK weekend/ on the residency interview trail, and all by her four month mark. But I hear, the older they get, the harder it becomes (for some parents).

I get it - it requires a lot more planning, lest you forget something essential (like, her binky). Here are my top 5 traveling with babies (sleep edition) favorites:

{one}

PATRULL Nightlight/sensor IKEA
We were given ours, but $3.99 is worth it times 10. It turns on when it is dark, stays on all night, and isn't overly distracting to other sleepers in the room, yet still light enough that Grace can see her hands in front of her face when she wakes up. Also comes in pink and white. Super easy to toss in the bag and go. Win-win-win.

{two} + {three}

Kidco - peapod travel sleeper ($69.99)

It's the ultimate travel bed with the way it folds up tight - easily in carry-on, if necessary. Big enough for kids up till 3 years, we put a soft blanket down, and then put Grace on top with another blanket and binky. We were half a foot away, and it great for late night feedings and daytime naps. Based on how our daughter sleeps, it works for us. We did not use it when she was under 6 months.

This picture was drastically brightened so... fuzzy wuzzy is my iPhone.

I love this thing. I love it so much, I am not giving up the one we bought for Grace. Grace has a new one, and I have one in our room. It helps me sleep, and if mama sleeps, the world is a-okay!

That elephant ($22.50) is reallyreally great too - my MIL bought it at Target, and it is just bedtime gold. Nothing says "Go to bed, Grace!!!!!!!" like stars projected on the ceiling and a lullaby tune for up to 45 minutes. My mother (who has been visiting) was amazed how easily Grace goes down with it!

{four}


Also available in super cute stripes and other patterns
Okay, Hanna Anderson ANYTHING; but especially delicious pajamas. You will start singing The touch,/ the feel/, of coooooooottttten/ (the fabric of our lives!) after feeling how soft these pajamas are.

Warning: these comes in women sizes. You will be tempted to buy. (Do it!)

{five}

Sleepsacks: sleep wherever.
We forgot ours for the above pictured trip, but this sleep sack is classy. It keeps the babies warm, and makes them look good. Can we say, double win?

Girlfran looks good:
Sleepsack and wubbanub
Shout-out to Grace's wubbanub, which convinces me that life is better with the little pleasures.

Joining with Hallie for more fabulous favorites!

Monday, April 14, 2014

When People Make Mistakes (But Not You!)

Life, in all its glory, is pretty messy. Sin skips and trips us through life as we try to be faithful and nothing halts us up more than the compare and contrast game.

You know the game: Why did she do that? Can you believe he said that? I would never…

You would never… lie or cheat, commit adultery or covet your neighbor’s good fortune, speak poorly about another to the advantage of your own reputation?

The golden rule — to love our neighbors as ourselves — is not a friendly suggestion:  It is a commandment of God, and it teaches our heart to love until it hurts. And it will hurt, sometimes. Loving another does not mean liking them. It means giving them the benefit of the doubt, holding your own tongue from a harsh rebuke, gentle counseling when they are taking the wrong path, and forgiving.

It means training your mind to combat the vices planted by jealousy: why not me?

Instead of why-not-me, try, What does God have planned for me?

We all have a different story to tell, a different vocation to fulfill, and our own life to lead. None of us are in charted waters all our life; mistakes will happen. Things will not go as planned; but do not give up hope! God wants the kind of relationship where you wrestle together through the rough patches, like Jacob, unwilling to let go until he received his blessing.

As Holy Week approaches, let us remember that Christ died for us and our sins, and your neighbor and his sins, and that lady who honked her horn at you, and the co-worker whose jokes rub you the wrong way, and the guy who would not just take a hint. Instead of stewing, turn toward prayer. The Book of Lamentations, Job and the Psalms are full of frustrations.

Saint Ambrose wrote in Explanatio Psalmorum (XII, 1, 4, 7-12),
“In the book of Psalms, the way for progress for all men is to be found, and there lies the medicine for the health of all. Whoever reads it, will find the way to cure the wounds of one’s own defects with a specific prescription. Whoever takes the trouble to look at it will find, as on a training ground for virtues, various kinds of exhibitions. And one can choose for oneself, whatever one considers most suitable. The prize is thus more easily within one’s grasp.”
The reality is, we are humans prone to sin. Only God is infallible, and it is wisdom that recognizes our own fallibility as well as that of others’. Instead to dismissing or condemning, we should see others’ weaknesses as an opportunity to be a non-judgmental listener, a support system, and/or, someone to pray with and for them, and hope that they see our own weaknesses in a similar merciful light.

It does no good to say or think: If I had been in that situation, I would have acted differently. We can only learn, and lean more on God. Jesus, I trust in you. Holy Spirit, fill me with courage – give me the words to say.

The sooner we remember that we are responsible for loving God above all and our neighbors as ourselves, the sooner we can forgive as our Heavenly Father forgives, and love as our Heavenly Father loves.

Originally post at Ignitum Today.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

My View (vol. 8)

Last weekend at Pensacola was glorious. It rained almost the entire time, but the company was divine, as was the view.


Our little family enjoying the breeze on the last day.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Evolution of a Smile

"How do you get her to smile that amazing smile all the time?!" my sister-in-law texted me yesterday.

Stephanie, this is for you - courtesy of your brother's excellent photography skills.


"Okay, I can handle this..."


"Hi Mom! Oh my gosh, hiiiiiiii!!!"


"I'm exhausted."


"And... I'm up! Let's take another!"


Wiggle-wiggle-wiggle-wiggle.




C'mon gooseberry...




Finally, a workable product:


Was the picture worth all the effort?


Yes.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Answer to Your Problems

The answer is a nap.


A nap won't directly solve any problems, of course. A clear mind, however, is innovative, focused and less emotionally-charged than a tired one. My problem-solving skills increase ten-fold if I am well-rested.

Am I currently well-rested? Well... not by any standard definition. I am, however, wiser than my former mindset that the minimum amount of sleep will carry me through life. Perhaps in the short term (college), sleepless night were a badge of honor. But now, when I hear babbles or crying through the baby monitor, I want to cry back. No no no no no no no no not now. It's 2:30 a.m. It's 3:30 a.m. It's 4:30 a.m. It's not time to get up. It's still dark outside.

When people ask me if my life is forever changed by having a baby, I think they really mean my sleep habits. So, I give them the un-wanted two part answer, complete with clauses:
  • No, because babies are a positive addition and not a waste of resources or time. I do not feel less of myself and more of a mom - I feel more myself, more a wife, and more a mom. Vocations grow out of love, and hardships (early wake-up calls, teething monsters, etc.) are borne out of love because they were created out of love, give you love, recieve your love. 
  • Yes, in all practical senses. I now have a small human being who depends on me. Grace could die without me, as I am her food source. Her father and I also provide for her emotional needs, protect her, and dress her in cute outfits. I am also way more tired than I ever thought possible, and I drink more coffee to compensate.
  • Clause 1: There will be struggles. The two weeks after Grace was born, my mom made me take naps, more than when I was little. (I, unfortunately, grew out of those too quickly.) Even now, Will makes me go to bed almost every night because I dwaddle and relish in all my "free time" - forgetting, of course, that Grace is a ticking time bomb just waiting to wake up and be fed and whose diaper might even need a changing. And if it's in the middle of a REM cycle, so be it! And if I'm having a particularly crabby day and he happens to be home, he gives me the "Sleep when your baby sleeps, Julie" speech and shuts the door behind him. 
  • Clause 2: It feels good to be coddled. Baby-raising (and growing!) is hard work, and it's okay to let someone take the lead and take care of you, be it your husband, parents, in-laws, siblings, friends, or community.
  • Clause 3: You will be tired, and you will be happy.
I should also say that I am a terrible sleeper. I love sleep, but falling asleep is hard for me. As a result of having a baby, I'm actually becoming a better sleeper simply by merit of being forced to recognize that I go to sleep now, or tomorrow I'll be the creature from the Black Lagoon. I'm also just plain beat by 10 p.m.

Post-feeding: this sleeping baby is tired because she woke up at 6:30 a.m.!
Sleep helps us tackle the big problems, the little problems, and the in-between tasks of the day that require much energy and concentration, and mostly focus. When I get a decent amount of sleep, I can make morning mass, have a good breakfast, exercise, be moderately productive around the house, write more, remember morning and noon prayers, and be mostly sane when Will gets home.

You know, the good things in life.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

My View (vol. 7)

Pensacola, our weekend getaway.

And thanks God, for this beautiful life!

Will's grandparents met here and are buried here; it's my first full day here. I'm excited to explore and dip Grace into her first body of water. Today is overcast, so we're playing Scrabble before heading to the beach in an hour or two. It's so good to be with old friends, on the water, and away for the weekend.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Rambles of a Fool

A family update, sort of, since today is a giant game of two truths and a lie. So here's my truths (and a teeny lie, maybe.) 

This weekend, we spent a lot of time helping Grace with her right hand and arm. There are mixed opinions on what "delayed" means for a six month old, but she vastly prefers her left hand and arm, so she was evaluated today. It's not a cause for alarm (Will was quite pleased how much she flailed it around a few nights ago while distressed), but it raise a few flags. We want to have her evaluated early to see what we can do with her at home, and, if necessary, get her the help she needs to help better develop her right hand and arm's motor skills. Legs working great, and she's flying by all her other milestones!  

Little Lefty Baldwin
The weather is really nice down here, and I'm torn between taking Grace out on walk after walk or face the music... err, laundry. I've had to come up with a rewards system for myself to motivate myself, but mostly, I need a new routine. Grace is starting to really take regular naps now, so maybe it's time?


My ideal day: mass in the morning; home for coffee and breakfast; play with Grace; nap time for Grace/ writing time for me; Grace up - lunch; afternoon walk + play; Grace nap/ chores/ start dinner/ writing; Grace up; dinner; family time; family rosary; Grace books + bed; clean up from dinner; my time; bed time.

What really happens: Grace wakes up between 2-3:30 am, ready to play; She gets up again between 5-6 (Will retrieves her); I am groggy till 10 am; play with Grace and clean up; forget to go to mass; nap time for everyone (Except Will, who is gone at school); lunch time; afternoon prayer; more play time and clean up time while also answering e-mails; maybe exercise; fix dinner; run errands; nap time?; fall on the couch in defeat and watch a show; clean ALL THE THINGS; play time with Grace; Will home for dinner; I wonder how the house got messy again so fast; family rosary walk; books + bed for Grace; Julie time; bed; Grace wakes up; put her back to bed; bed.{More or less... okay, less. Definitely less, plus more editing/ e-mails/ reading.}

Baldwins cheer for UK so now, so do I!
Will's contract, etc. arrived from PA, and my flight to Philadelphia has been booked - my MIL, Grace and I are house hunting at the end of the month! Bank hunting too, and definitely visiting the Promised Land (a.k.a. IKEA). Mostly, I'm feeling good! I've [very recently] had to stop myself from Google searching "residency spouse survival stories" and "how to survive residency" ... not that I'm not thrilled: I'm just "realistic" about my future.

When I was a nanny, I was lucky enough to work for two fantastic families. Even better than that, I worked for two EM doctors. Not only were they gracious enough to let me pick their brains, but their lovely wives gave me even more insight and advice, and I got to experience the kind of hours and schedules I can expect in the future.

There are a lot of pluses: Will won't be on call. Will won't ever be on call.
Then, there are the cons: Will is going to work extremely long hours for the next three years.

I think my husband is so lucky to be entering the field he loves; a field where he gets to help people get through their immediate crisis. It won't be easy, and I know it'll be frustrating at times, and I know he'll thrive. With medicine, it's amazing how much a person's personality seems to dictate their field of interest, and Will seems to be made for this. I'm excited to watch him jump back into clinical work, as well as continue his research interests.

And really, I'm just amazed at how God uses his mercy and love to lead us by the hand through the darkness of life. Life, where nothing is guaranteed, and all love is taken at a price. Love in God, however, is rooted deep, and faithfulness shows how a path we took by accident can lead us through the woods, and a tree we barely noticed before is the one giving us shade.

As I really grow in my marriage and in motherhood, I get to know myself more and more. As I learn how to cook better, and find small victories, I relish in feeding my family. As I continue to write and read for pleasure, I love being off the hamster wheel of deadlines [sort of... types the EIC of Ignitum Today, contributor, etc.]. Or, to put it better, I like not being paid to write about things I didn't really care about, or have interest in expounding upon. I really like exploring my writing interests more.

I like finding my limits, and being okay with them. I like indulging a little bit more, organizing a little bit more, and getting outside more and more.

It's easy to watch people's lives now via social media and compare your life to theirs: don't. Don't ruin your ability to be happy by wishing on another's star. Don't always want and never see what you already have.

There is a line in Caritas in Veritae about the Church being responsible for creation -- and so are we: our own life is the greatest creation! It's not as hard as we'd like to think to cultivate a bit more beauty in this world. Here are a few things I am doing:
  • Take the time to dress well
  • Make the bed
  • Tidy the house
  • Open the windows to let in fresh air 
  • Talk a walk; admire scenery
  • Read a good book
  • Keep an art journal
  • Spend less time online
  • Have regular prayer times
  • Write one thank you note or letter
  • Indulge in a hobby
  • Have a picnic (inside one fine too, if weather dictates)
  • Explore the library (especially the main branch); enjoy visually appealing books, like graphic design, anatomy and physiology, 
  • Learn something new, for fun!
  • Buy flowers (I like tulips best)
  • Drink tea or coffee from a tea cup
  • Cook/ bake something that smells as good as it tastes
(Anything you like to do?)

This lady is the most beautiful part of my life!
Okay, I've abused my readership enough. Off to keep working on my pet project of putting all my pictures/ videos into new locations. Post to follow, obviously.

Happy April!

P.S. I really hated this video of the Lion King cast singing 'Circle of Life' on a plane... don't watch it.