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    Chiropractor Mama Dr. Dolly and professional photographer Elisa B. share about adventures in intentional and natural parenting while living in Virginia's beautiful Blue Ridge.
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Don’t cry over spilled blocks

When my son builds, creates, and interprets his innovations, my heart soars.  His bounding spirit so full of purpose and exploration is a constant reminder to look at things differently and to simple create.

Lately, everything he creates is related to dinosaurs.  Everything.

Together, we’ll build with Lego Duplo blocks to create something that looks sort of horse and giraffe-ish.  But, Calvin confidently dubs it a dinosaur–a specific type of dinosaur with specific dinosaur features.

For example, a tower of 20 colorful stacked bricks is…

a big, big dinosaurus rex with a loooong neck

Noted.

Actually, in this drawing, I can actually see the belly, a tail, and feet.  When I asked about the scribbles on top and what they were, he kinda shrugged and smiled, and then changed the subject. That was AFTER he named this drawing “Dinosaur for Daddy.”

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I want to encourage Calvin to play, create, and imagine.

But…

I kinda hate it when he dumps the legos allthefloor. ALLoverthefloor. allOVERthefloor. just before dinner time. or before we leave the home.

I mean, everything is all picked up for the evening and suddenly, I hear…

CRASH! Plastic bricks colliding with dozens of other plastic bricks into a heap of rubble on the floor of my recently picked up and very smallish living room carpet.

A few pieces tumble and roll under the couch and the dining table and my desk (did I mention we have a rather tight space?).

And then, my shoulders collapse.  I let out an audible groan.

Maybe it’s that I’m tired of our cramped, small space where tripping over a plastic brick or ball is just the daily grind because there is NO other place where my son can play.

Perhaps I just get tired at 6pm. Period.

Or maybe, my husband and I need to lighten up and just let our son’s free-form expression occur regardless of trip hazard and time of day. (Seriously, why must he dump the entire bucket on the floor RIGHT before we’re about to sit down for dinner.  Why then?)

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But, that’s not the only time he chooses to pull the bucket of plastic blocks out of their shelf.

Yesterday, he pulled them out at 7:55 AM–he and I needed to get out the door by 8 AM to greet a patient scheduled 30 minutes later.

I heard the plastic contents empty on the floor as I was scurrying about our apartment and getting ready to load up our gear and lunches into the vehicle.

That sound made me stop in my tracks.  Groan. Sigh. I asked my son, “Really?  Did you have to pour those out now?”

Because, let’s face it, two year-olds completely have the time concept figured out.  At the most inconvenient moment, THAT is when they need to go to the bathroom or create a giant mess, or completely take off every single piece of clothing that they’re wearing (just as you’re getting ready to head out the door).

Then, I just shrugged it off.  I asked him to help pick them up because we needed to leave to get to the office and we didn’t want to leave a mess.

Shockingly, without a protest, he picked up every single block and very quickly returned each one to the bucket.

That’s where I ruined everything.  As I dashed to put the bucket back on the shelf (because I just couldn’t wait for my son to do it himself), the bucket tipped on the shelf, and all the blocks poured out onto the floor.

I did it.  I spilled them.  (Hand raised high) It was ME!

I stopped.  Looked at my son squarely, and I said, “I’m so sorry.  I spilled all those blocks after you picked them up.  Mommy made a big mess.  We don’t have time to pick them up now, we have to leave.”

It’s okay Mommy.  It’s alright.

Blessed by the grace of a two year-old.

*Lego Duplo Brick photo by tlossen via Flickr.

Wordless Wednesday: 4 Generations

Almost wordless. I wanted to just write a short note to explain the significance of this post. I think this picture will be very special to Lucien in years to come. Here he is with his daddy, granddad, and great-grandfather (who is in his late 90s).

I have a very similar picture from my own childhood and I am the only child who has it (my great-grandmother passed away before any of my siblings were born). This will likely be the case for Lucien as well, so while he didn’t really seem impressed on the day, I do hope that he’ll appreciate the significance down the road.

Aren’t we lucky to have these photos as a lasting memory? I think so.

Lucien at 4 Months

This past week was a big one for Lucien, and in many ways a big one for me as well. He’s growing so quickly, I can hardly believe it. I had always heard moms talking about this but now that I’m experiencing it, I know what they mean!

On Monday Edward was holding Lucien and I came over to say hello and he reached for me! He has started showing a preference for mommy and daddy in the last two or so weeks, but this was new. I can’t express how loved it made me feel. Tuesday, I went to get him out of the car and he was reaching for the dangling toys attached to his car seat – just reached out and grabbed them as if to say “I’ve been looking at these for a while and today is the day I make them mine!”

Wednesday we had our 4 month checkup with Dr. Gelburd. We found out that he has grown three inches in the last 8 weeks and he’s in the 90th percentile for length and the 75th for weight (flip flopped from his last appointment. No wonder he has already grown out of almost every 3-6 month sleeper we have!). Can you imagine growing at a rate like that?

Thursday was my favorite day of last week, and it wasn’t for anything that happened during the day. Lucien cried during the night and as I went to pick him up from his crib to nurse him he put his arms around me and gave me a sort of hug around my neck – so happy to that I had come to get him. When I took him back to my bed we just sat there in the dark – just the two of us – snuggling for a few minutes. It was beautiful being alone together (Edward was asleep) in the wee hours of the morning. I’m starting to realize how quickly those feedings will be over.

Your turn: What are some of the moments you’ve enjoyed most about being a mommy? Did you enjoy those night time feedings?

Wordless Wednesday: Happy Boy Outside

Lora’s Story

It’s officially spring now, and so many of my friends are hatching chicks! My good friend Lora and her husband Eric are expecting their first child any day now (she’s currently about 36 weeks pregnant). It’s their first pregnancy, and they are expecting a baby boy (yay, boys!).

Breaking the News: We found out together. There was a suspicion as I took out the garbage and almost threw up. After that, we both looked at each other and said – maybe we should check to see if we’re pregnant. We were both excited!

Birth Plan/Prenatal Care: We don’t really have a birth plan, per se. I am pretty open to whatever I end up needing to do. I love the idea of a hospital in the event that there is a conflict – everything is there to help. Also, it allows us to be in a different place, without a lot of clean up. Birthing somewhere other than my own space feels less stressful to me. I like the idea of spending sometime somewhere else and then bringing the baby home and getting settled. We have gone through an OB who works with Martha Jefferson Hospital, and it’s been fantastic. We’ve enjoyed all of our doctors, and we feel very cared for.

Healthy Measures: I eat healthy and avoid too much junk food and the basic things you’re supposed to avoid – like mercury seafood and too much caffeine. I’ve also tried to exercise and get rest.

Wise Words: Some of the best advice I’ve received is this: Pregnancy is difficult and beautiful. Fluctuating emotions and feeling sick is normal. Be patient with yourself and with your spouse. Read about other people; stay in community. Eat what your body tells you it wants.

Memorable Moments: I’ve learned that hormones are extremely powerful. Loving your body is important because your body morphs so quickly. Getting a lot of women to speak into your experience is very good – it helps you feel less like you’re losing your mind and that many people have gone before you.

Talk, talk, talk, talk about what you’re experiencing. Take a birthing class; it helps to have an experienced third party speaking to you and your partner.

I cried a lot in my first trimester. I was a giant ball of hormones. One time I got a call from a friend asking me how I was doing. It was late, and my husband was getting back from a wedding (he’s a wedding photographer). He got home at 9, and I wanted a corn dog. We drove 45 minutes to Waynesboro to get me a corndog and I cried the entire way about how nice my friend was to call and see how I was doing.

Forever Changed: I have been so amazed at how profoundly a body can change. It has really challenged me to think about beauty – what it means to be comfortable in my own skin, despite how it looks or changes.

Being pregnant has also helped me understand the permanence of bring a person into the world.

Lastly, it has challenged me in regards to abortion – understanding more fully the psychological impact it must have on women to abort – especially after feeling the baby move around – kick, have the hiccups, response to sound and light. It has made me more empathetic to young women who find themselves pregnant in a precarious situation.

I look forward to meeting him and watching/experiencing him grow. I look forward to seeing what his personality will be, what things he will like to do, the thoughts he will have about life, etc. I’m looking forward reading and understanding what it looks like to raise up a child. I look forward to be challenged in my own selfishness and coming to realize how intensely my attitudes and behavioral patterns impact someone else’s formation.

PS We always try to give credit where it’s due – the photos included in this post were taken by Sarah Cramer Shields of Cramer Photo and Lora’s husband (and daddy-to-be) Eric Kelley of Eric Kelley Photography.

Heather’s Story

Heather is a good friend of mine, and is pregnant for the first time. She’s about 33 weeks along and expecting a little girl named Noel Virginia (I can’t wait to meet her!). I asked Heather to share some of her thoughts on pregnancy, and she was happy to oblige. I’m hoping to follow up in a few months when she is a new mommy!Finding Out: I took a pregnancy test a couple of days after I’d been feeling totally different (SO SLEEPY) and just had a feeling that something was up. With 3 positive tests, it started to sink in that we were going to have a baby! My husband got home from work that evening to find me sitting on the couch waiting for him. I can only imagine what look I must have had on my face, whatever it was prompted him to ask me “What did you buy?!” (hahaha). When I told him what that look really meant he was teary eyed and speechless for a few minutes…. it took a little while for the reality to sink in for both of us, we’re extremely excited to meet our baby girl!  

 

Birth Plan/Prenatal Care: After looking at our options and doing some research my husband and I decided to have our baby at home. Noel and I have been receiving excellent care from our midwife, Liz O’Shea. I’ve been going to see her every 4 weeks for a visit since I was 12 weeks along, we start going every 2 weeks until she’s born this week. We’re coming close to the end… I guess I should say the beginning! At 36 weeks she’ll come by for our home visit, making sure everything is set up and ready for our little girl’s arrival. 

 Healthy Measures: I’ve been watching what I eat – making sure I’m getting plenty of protein, not too much sugar (sometimes you just HAVE to have it though!) plenty of veggies, drinking pregnancy tea, and taking my prenatal vitamins. Exercising, drinking plenty of water, and trying to stay as low stress as possible. My hubby has been a huge help in reminding me to care for myself and our daughter!Wise Words: I’ve been so blessed to be surrounded with other mothers who have been encouraging me and keeping me focused on what I need to do for myself and my daughter. The advice just keeps coming and I’m doing my best to soak it in and apply it! What have you learned so far? I’ve been reading plenty of books on natural pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and caring for your child’s health, just to name a few – Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, by Ina May Gaskin, The Thinking Women’s Guide To a Better Birth, by Henci Goer, Ina May’s Guide to Breast Feeding, by Ina May Gaskin, How To Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor, by Robert S. Mendelsohn. I’ve also watched, The Business of Being Born, and Orgasmic Birth, along with various other videos provided by our Bradley Method class. The Bradley Method – Natural Husband Coached Childbirth – was a 12 week class my husband and I just finished with. They’re really big on nutrition, exercise and informing you of all of your options for making the best decision for your family. It was a lot of fun for my husband and I, and it really gave him a lot to think about and prepare for her birth. P.S. Everyone must read this just for fun!! – Belly Laughs: The Naked Truth About Pregnancy and Childbirth, by Jenny McCarthy 

 Memorable Moments: The first 16 weeks were filled with nausea and being exhausted. After that 16 week mark it was like flipping a switch, I felt SO much better! If you had asked me then if I’d plan on having any more children I probably would have slapped you! Now though my thoughts are completely different, I haven’t even met her yet and I know that this is TOTALLY worth it. Aside from some aches and pains of a growing womb and child I feel wonderful. Although I do have my moments of feeling fat and pudgy, I get over feeling sorry for myself when I remember that my extra fat storage is good for my little girl and in time it will be gone.  I think I’ll miss feeling and watching her squirm around inside of me, but I’ll get to hold my baby, so I think that will make up for it! I am looking forward to my next pregnancy … somewhere down the road of course. I think I’ll be better prepared for all of the little changes that occur during pregnancy and not freak out when something completely normal happens. For example leaking colostrum way before I thought it would be an issue – that was a weird sight to see, but totally normal.  I can’t tell you how many times in these past few weeks I’ve opened a door into or walked into someone with my stomach. Or seeing that tight space that before pregnancy would have been a piece of cake to squeeze through, then going for it only to get stuck! Also my nephews must think that my big round belly is a target for them to jump at – they do a good job of keeping me on my toes!   

PS For a complete sneak peek from Heather’s maternity session click here.

Evening Prayers

Over a year ago, I posted about our family’s bedtime routine with our son.

Calvin at 11 months

Our family routine has changed a little since then, since our son is more verbal and more interactive.

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After a bath, milk, and one or eight bedtime stories, Calvin climbs into his toddler bed.

I review with him all the fun things we saw or did throughout the day.  If I happen to forget a significant detail, he is quick to remind me.

Mama, we saw a big dog!  And, I ate like a dinosaur.

See?  How could I forget those things?

Next, we sing a few songs.  My husband and I are Calvin’s personal jukebox.  Songs can range from worship to modified verses of The Wheels on the Bus.  Have you ever heard the verse about what the dinosaurs on the bus do?  They go ROAR, ROAR, ROAR…naturally!

Finally, Daddy asks Calvin if he’d like to pray.

Calvin [pipes up]:

God bless Poppy. God bless Mimi.  God bless…[everyone he knows from relatives to friends].

Daddy: Calvin, who made you?

Calvin: God made me and dinosaurs.

Usually, Calvin’s Daddy launches into the next question, but tonight, Calvin had more to say…

Calvin: God made Daddy.  God made Mommy.  God made sharks.  God made turtles.  God made Nemos.  God made dolphins.  God made snakes.  God made bears.  God made Brickers {referring to our friends, the Bricker family}.

Do you see the pattern for his favorite animals?  Notice fuzzy kittens and ponies are not on his list.

Daddy: Calvin, why did God make you?

Calvin: Doooordy! [translation: glory]

He’s still learning the preposition “for His” preceding the word glory.

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After this verbal exchange, there’s usually 10 rounds of hugs and kisses.  Sometimes, Calvin wants to demonstrate different types of kisses: snake kisses, shark kisses, bear kisses, dinosaur kisses, puppy kisses, and the like.

There’s no big variation in his sweet little two year-old kisses, except they’re accompanied by animal sounds.

Before we leave his room, we always tell him we love him.

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Sometimes, I’ll hear complete silence a mere 5 minutes after we leave his room.  Other nights, he’s playing with his stuffed loveys in his bed and singing every song in his repertoire.

It’s times like these that I LOVE being Calvin’s Mama.

Shaking things up

A few weeks ago, I had a great post brewing in my brain about how I’m a little slow with the learning curve to adapting to motherhood, launching a chiropractic practice, and adjusting to my 6th home since 2007. Just gotta roll with the punches, right?

I do believe there is such a thing as too many major life changes in a short period of time.

Not that there’s anything I could really do about that…except pray for sanity, and that God would make me a good mother.  Still praying about that, by the way.

Ever since January hit, I’ve felt like I was on a roll.  I finally, ever so late, but finally, got this wife+mother+doctor+biz owner+blog editor thing figured out and into a sweet and groovy routine.  At last!

But, as life would have it, everything would have to pull a switcherooni on me, yet again.  It’s as if I had the rug pulled out from underneath my feet.  Instead of that sweet magic trick where everything stays put, I landed on my unsuspecting bottom.

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I was going to write about how I do major cooking a few evenings a week to accommodate the nights I work later at the office.  Also, to make our early Sunday mornings smoother before we dash out the door for the 8:30 worship service, I spend Friday or Saturday evening preparing a couple of breakfast quiches and early preparation for Sunday night’s dinner.

Ya see, that’s what I was doing up until about two weeks ago.  Blizzard or no blizzard, that routine was working for me.  I could keep up with the housework and food preparation, spend quality time with my son several times a day (and even fit in some morning “school” time), and still run a practice and a blog.

What happened?

My husband had to pick up an extra day of work.  We’re SO thankful he has the opportunity to do so, but it also means that the 1 day a week he was helping me at the office with administrative things (ya know, getting my lame-o Lenovo laptop to actually communicate with my printer), book keeping, other random business errands and tasks, and he could enjoy spending time with our son.

Now that he’s working 5 days a week, we’re forced to have our son spend a couple half-days a week in another family’s home.  It’s not the same as day care, but it’s still time when he’s not with us.  By the way, I LOVE this family…they have four wonderful children (two of them are very close in age to Calvin).  He LOVES to play with them, even though he clings to my leg for dear life when I drop him off (all morning long he asks to play with “tids”).

I struggle with adapting to my ever-changing office schedule, when to drop-off or pick-up my son that is most conducive to his nap schedule.  And this is KILLING me.

Sure, it’s a temporary fix until my husband can help out at the office again.  But the daily schedule changes not only impact my son’s nap time, but they’re throwing my whole routine out the window.

Starting over again at square one.  Here we go.  Let’s back up to how I felt a few months ago…and how I’d felt every day for the past couple of years. Aching for a glimpse of where this is going and when it will feel comfortable.

Then I ask, “Is this supposed to feel comfortable?  Is this what we’re supposed to be doing?  Is this temporary…or am I just going to burn out or survive?

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So thankful for some incredible women in my life.  A wonderful and uplifting phone chat today with my friend Michele helped me realize that times of transition and whirlwind are a way for God to teach us.  I’m paying attention and I’m learning very quickly the schedule priorities for my family and my business–everything else is fluff and gets chucked faster than a poopy diaper.

The regular prayers and words of encouragement from my husband, grandmother, and close friends (like Elisa, Kristin, and Allycia)  are the most treasured and meaningful gifts I could ever receive.

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One of those days

My son woke us up at 5:30 AM and he never fell back asleep–meaning I never really did either.  I’ve been super grouchy mommy all morning.  I grumbled through morning prayers over breakfast because I was SO-exhausted-not-gonna-survive-another-night-of-interrupted-sleep-or-i’ll-SCREAM!

Then, my son kept smiling and laughing…ever trying to coax me to lighten up.

Next, I spent at least 30 minutes making the bed [when it should have taken less than 5].  Someone (who shall remain Nameless) crawled beneath EVERY single layer of bedding while I tried to make the bed.

I relented.  We laughed, played peek-a-boo, and Nameless undid every hospital corner, and wrinkled every bit of smoothness on the sheets.  When it was all said and done, it looked as though I’d never even made the bed.  (Why did I bother?)  Obviously the laughter wasn’t enough to enliven my grumpiness.

At breakfast, I told my husband I was 1) tired, 2) hungry, and 3) grumpy.

He remarked, “Not necessarily in that order.”

After my husband left for his job interview, I tried rather unsuccessfully to get something done.  Just one thing.  Dishes. Laundry.  Well, that stuff doesn’t count when I’ve got posts, press releases, and thank you cards to write.  Right?

Well a certain Nameless encouraged me to dance with him while some lively tracks were spinning on the CD player.  Somehow, that lifted my mood just a wee bit.

Later, Nameless gave his stuffed dinosaur a drink of water from his sippy cup.  I couldn’t help but smile at his imaginary play.

At this very moment, he’s walking around in my beach crocs and using my martial arts bamboo fighting sticks as his walking sticks.

Some days I’ve just gotta learn to go with the flow and laugh.  Flex or break–those are the options.

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Three Little Women and a Baby

We returned home from Pennsylvania later than we’d expected Wednesday night.  In fact, we got home just in time for Calvin’s bedtime.  After being strapped to a car seat for almost 8 hours, we needed to give the little guy time to run around wreaking havoc on his toys (a.k.a. claiming his territory).  Calvin traveled like a trooper, but he definitely needed some cuddle time and stretch breaks along the way.

My favorite stop, other than the naked Homewrecker at Moe’s was the Virginia Welcome Center.  Not only does it have a statue of Thomas Jefferson and a flatscreen TV with the live weather forecast, but it actually had child/toddler friendly toilets in the women’s room!  Parents in the throws of potty training with your little ones, take note.  Whenever possible, stop at one of VA’s state welcome centers.  You’ll be glad you did!  Calvin happily did his thing, and I happily gave him hugs, kisses, and a fresh diaper.

Potty training is cool when we’re at home and we’re in a routine.  It totally goes awry when we’re out and about on errands.  Cal and I spent over 2 hours today runnin’ around from store to store in the truck.  Before we headed home, I changed his diaper on the tailgate of the pick-up in the parking lot.  No potty there, so I just put on a clean diaper.

As soon as we got in the truck and stuck in 5 o’clock traffic on Highway 29 South, Calvin started screaming his head off.  He’d pretty much been crying all day long, and I knew he wasn’t feeling well, but we were in a truck–in traffic–and aside from giving him various toys to play with (which he immediately threw with full force) there wasn’t anything else I could do to help him.  So, I did what any good mother would do, I turned up the volume on the radio and tuned out the top-of-his-lungs cries.  I had no idea what was wrong aside from the fact that he didn’t want to be in his seat and he wanted me to hold him, but neither of those were options until we got home.  As soon as we exited the bypass for home, he stopped crying.  Complete silence.  Then, he started giggling.  I was baffled, but glad he was suddenly in a great mood.

As soon as we got home, I realized what had happened: his diaper was completely full.  He had wanted to go potty, but wasn’t given the opportunity.  He had been crying in desperation to sit on the potty, and when he finally got it out of his system, he was good to go.  This is the child that will wake up from a nap and start crying because he wants me to put him on the potty.  Lesson learned: the next time I’m about to get entrenched in rush hour traffic, first, find a potty SOMEWHERE, and give Calvin the chance to go.

It was hard to read what my son wanted/needed today because if he wasn’t napping or nursing, he was crying.  He desperately wanted to be held at all times during the day.  If I put him on the floor for even an instant, he got fire-alarm-red-mad.  Such a strange response from a boy who is usually content to play by himself for 30 or 45 minutes at a time for several times during a typical day.  Was he unusually clingy because he’s still teething? [runny nose, red cheeks, and enough drool to fill a gallon jug]  Or was he having separation anxiety because he was suffering from attention withdrawel?

Over the past week, Calvin had been getting more attention from people than most Hollywood stars.  Wherever we went, he was at the center of the spotlight receiving smiles, laughs, hugs, and kisses from EVERYONE.  He had friends and relatives tending to his every need.  Want to walk around the store/house/funeral parlor/cemetary?  Ten-year-old Maddie was there in a heartbeat carrying him around and entertaining him with such love and tenderness.  Not far behind Maddie, two-and-a-half Livia was there patting Calvin on the head, feeding him snacks or offering him his toys.  I even left him in the church nursery with his Aunt Vicky and Cousin Emily during church.  Em said she kept him entertained by keeping his gaze.

Calvin ate up the attention and adored his lovely cousins.  Whenever they were with him, the looked like little mommies-in-training.  My favorite moment over the week was at the lunch after the funeral.  Calvin sat in his high chair enjoying turkey and green beans.  Soon enough, he was surrounded by Emily, Maddie, and Livia who handed him food, laughed with him, and totally provided his dining entertainment.  After all that adoration, of course it’s so anti-climatic to return home and spend all day with just me.

Forget lunchtime laughs and giggles–I was just happy to get him his meals on time.  Between wiping his ever-running nose and changing my shirts (a.k.a. my son’s giant tissue), I tried to comfort my son and unpack and do basic chores that had been neglected all week.  Well, doing dishes and laundry were NOT okay with my son.  He wanted me all to himself every minute of the day.  By the time his naptimes rolled around, I kept chugging away at the chores, but I was spent.  I took those moments to sit down and relax.

I miss those three little women.  They’re love and attention for Calvin was a glorious blessing last week, and I wish they could hang out with him every day!