Life Update

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It feels like years have passed since I last posted! It also feels like whenever I do post now, it is just for a quick update! Well, such is the life of a mother. Unexpected, busy, and messy.

I’ve taken a part time job as one of our county’s sexual assault advocates. As you can imagine this is hard work, and can demand a lot of decompression time after a training or shift. So far, I haven’t had to work face-to-face with survivors, but the research and training a lone is rigorous and for me, can only be taken in small doses.

When I’m not doing that, I am trying as best I can to be present to my family and cherish them. Getting a first hand look at the atrocities humans commit against one another intensifies my instinctual desire to bond closely and love on my children. To leave them without a desire to look for an imitation of my love elsewhere, and to find certainty and confidence in it.

Both jobs have been equally exhausting and rewarding. As rigorously as predators are planning their evil, there are amazing humans planning prevention against them. My work has strengthened my faith in humanity more than it has robbed me of it.

In any case, that is why I have been so absent. I’m still taking time to care for myself. Zumba, weight lifting, tea, and books have all consoled me and relieved my stress at different times these past few weeks. J and I celebrated our 5th anniversary and have been making some plans to really focus on that success next month when the calendar is less congested. Until then, we are just taking it a day at a time.

Wishing you well, readers! Have a good week.

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Unconditional Love

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When you think of toddlers and babies, your first thought is probably not “unconditional love.” I mean, they tantrum when you won’t run on the TV, cry when you walk in the room, and even say “No like you, mama.” The unconditional love I’m talking about is one that doesn’t see my weight, skin color, or life accomplishments. My kids don’t care that I never went for my masters degree, they don’t care that I’m a solid 40 lbs overweight, and they don’t care that I’ve been swearing under my breath since 6 am.

All they see when they look at me, is the mama who has nurtured them from birth, snuggles with them on the couch, and plays with them during the day. Even on my worst days as a human being, Sophie still wants to give me a good night kiss. Her love sees beyond my failures as a mother. When I am at my limit, and exasperated because Cora won’t sleep, she gives me the biggest grin as I attempt to swaddle her again for the 1,000,000th time. At this stage in life, my babies don’t hold grudges (even if I WON’T turn the TV on). There is a bliss to their innocence and ability to be easily distracted. A simplicity and forgiving spirit that I wish I had, but one that I am thankful to be the recipient of.

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Cora, 4 Month Update

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Didn’t I just do one of these? I can’t believe how fast she is growing! Cora is sleeping better, fussing less, and smiling more. She still wakes up throughout the night, but the period of time which she spends sleeping has increased to 4 hour chunks, which makes getting up a little easier. Still no teeth in sight, but don’t let her get your knuckle in her mouth or she will bite, HARD. Cora is as active as ever, rolling around on both sides, kicking her legs like crazy, attempting to sit up when she is put in a reclined position, and standing in her exersaucer. Despite all the energy she burns, she has still been able to pack on the pounds. She loves being lifted up into the air while I say “super baby!” That usually gets me a smile and some giggles. We still giver he a pacifier, and she shows no sign of giving it up any time soon, which is fine by me since it does its job of pacifying her on a daily basis.

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We like to hold her up like she is standing, and then pretend to have Cora chase Sophie. Both of the girls get a kick out of it, and so do we! Cora is extremely alert, loves conversation, eye contact, and physical touch. The epitome of an extrovert!

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My new ring sling has become our best friend. Since she likes that constant contact and attention, being worn in a baby carrier is the perfect solution for us. Sophie didn’t like being confined by any type of carrier or wrap, but Cora couldn’t be happier.

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We are bonding a lot better, especially now that we are both getting more sleep, and allowing our best selves to shine through, even in the tough moments. The more we learn about Cora’s personality, the more we fall in love with her.

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Cora Update: 2 Months

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If babies could be manic depressive, that’s what Cora would be. Her 3 moods involve screaming melt downs, emotionless stares before eventually sleeping, and hyperactive kicking while smiling. Of course the happiest of those moods is the rarest, which has made her entrance into our family difficult. To be frank, I’ve had a hard time bonding with her because half the time I’m just as mad as she is during those colicky fits of screaming, and would love nothing more than to drop her back off at the hospital. It may sound cruel to you, but for any one who has had a baby with persistent colic, these feeling are quite normal.

Of course the mom guilt sinks in the moment she settles down and transitions into one of her smiley moods. Some times I think, She’s my baby, I love her, how was I ever mad at her? But then I remember 5 minutes later when she is inconsolably screaming again. I’ve cut out dairy, eggs, soy, shellfish, gluten, peanuts, and now raw vegetables. Desperate to help her in anyway I can, I’ve cut out what used to be the majority of the foods in my diet to help Cora, but it hasn’t seemed to make much of a difference. It seems hopeless….

…at least for now. The pediatrician, as well as other veteran moms, have told me that this doesn’t last more than 4 months, which means we’re already halfway through the hardest part! I know I may come off as cold and distant when I talk about Cora, and in some ways I do feel distant from her. It makes me sad to think that this newborn stage was my favorite part of Sophie’s infancy and possibly the most irritating part about my time with Cora. I have to remind myself though, that I DO actually love her. It may not *feel* like love all the time, it may not console me like emotional love would, but the love I have for my child is protective and strong. I try to calm her when she’s upset, I give up eating most foods just at the possibility that it may help her, I pray for her, I clothe her, I’m constantly making sure she’s safe, and I’ve fostered a loving relationship for Sophie with her. Recalling these things reminds me that just because the love feels different doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Plus, every time we lock eyes and she flashes me a big smile, I feel a glimpse of that traditional “warm fuzzy” love that I used to have with Sophie. Lucky for me, the ore time passes, the less colic she seems to be suffering, and the more smiles I get!

Now. in terms of milestones Cora is incredibly strong! Even from her first week of life she has been picking up her head and moving it from side to side. Now, at the 2 month mark, she has even more control than before. She responds to light and sound, and has began cooing back when you make noises at her. She loves attention, to be admired and talked to. Her smiley eye contact is by far, her most endearing trait.  Her screaming is perhaps the most… sanctifying? Even though she’s a tough cookie, I love her to death and love watching her grow and become a bigger part of our family.

And that’s Cora at 2 months!

Our Last Date

The week Sophie was born, I have a very distinct memory of Justin and I going to see whatever X Men movie was out at the time. Despite my love of Hugh Jackman, I wasn’t eager to go being a few days over my due date, but my mom convinced me saying that the time of “just the two of us” was limited, and I should take advantage of the “extra” time I was given, being past due. Its a find memory that J and I recalled frequently during tough times during our first year with Sophie.

At 38 weeks, J lured me up to Pittsburgh to go to The Cheesecake Factory, with coupons for 2 free slices of cheesecake. There was no blizzard like we’ve had the past week, the sun was shining, and it felt so nice to get out of the house.

Now, I recommend a small date or even full on “babymoon” vacations to other women I know who are pregnant. The third trimester is tough, and little outings like this help the end to be a little more bearable! My mom comes in this weekend and I can’t wait to see her. It will be nice to have the extra help and maybe get to sneak in another date before baby arrives.

Valentine’s Day

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We all know it’s coming up!

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a Catholic, and so it should come as no surprise to you that Valentine’s day is more symbolic to me than just the cheesy, Hallmark version that gets perpetuated every year. You may be surprised to know that the Catholic church actually knows very little about St. Valentine, except that he was martyred, and many of the stories and miracles attributed to him [that occurred during his lifetime] and dependent more upon legend than fact. Being a student of literature, and particularly fond of fiction, this doesn’t pose a problem for me, as there are plenty of moral lessons to be learned from fictitious tales. Different depictions of St. Valentine’s arrests tell that he secretly married couples so husbands wouldn’t have to go to war, while another variation of the legend says he refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, was imprisoned and while imprisoned he healed the jailer’s blind daughter. On the day of his execution, he left the girl a note signed, “Your Valentine.” This is how the tradition of leaving “valentines” is said to have begun.

Either way, this was a man who was the depiction of love; love of God. His example of love, in any of the given stories, is one to be celebrated. It brings to the forefront of my mind, not only the love I have for my family but also my love of God [which is arguably more important]. So yes, I hang cheesy, red and pink heart decorations around the house. My husband and I exchange gifts and usually go out on a date. We even exchange gifts with Sophie, as that was a tradition my mother used to with us that always made me feel special and loved. Not to mention, I like an excuse to eat chocolate just as much as the next person.

So take time this weekend to tell the people you care about that you love them! There’s nothing stupid or overrated about showing love and appreciation to the important people in your life.

Hubby’s Birthday

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J turned 28 yesterday and we had the most fun celebrating him this past weekend. So, let me take a minute to brag about my husband… pretty much every morning, for the past 10 weeks, J has gotten Sophie out of bed, allowing me to sleep in, he feeds her breakfast, gets her dressed, brushes her teeth, and then tucks her into bed with me [and some times my cell phone on “kids mode”] before he leaves for work. This allows me to sleep in even longer, as long as Sophie is content to be in bed with me. That is just ONE of many things he does to try and make my life easier.

Since we plan on moving in the near future, he’s only showed me more how great of a father he truly is. He works hard to provide for us [and clip coupons for us], making sure we have enough food for the week [thank you coupons], that I can have the heat on as long as I want during these frigid Ohio winters, enough clothes [thanks again to coupons], and finally a home. Becoming a home owner is a big deal, and as the sole provider of this family, I’d think the process would stress him out or be a burden on him, and all I’ve heard are remarks of anticipation from him, and how he can’t wait to build a home with me and our 2 baby girls.

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He is silly, makes me laugh, is kind and tender to this overly-emotional, some times seasonally depressed California girl. I feel so blessed to have him in my life, and I couldn’t have concocted a more perfect spouse for myself if I tried. Now, I’m not saying he’s perfect, that’s definitely not the case… but I see where his weaknesses collide with my strengths, and vice-versa. Furthermore, I see how our chemistry together will help us to raise beautiful, God-loving girls.

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So happy birthday to the best dada and hubs I know! You bring so much joy to my life!