Saturday, 28 December 2013


IT'S A...

I *may* have bought the baby a thing or two when we found out.  :)

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Toddler Homeschooling!

Now that the girls are back in school, there's more time for homeschooling Zachariah.  Last year, we made an alphabet book.  So far this year, we've decorated an art caddy.
Orange is Zachariah's favorite color!
Practiced letters.

Gone on a nature walk at the park.
Yes, he's pretending it's a horn.

See the little lizard?
Jonathan caught it!
Jonathan and I were way more excited than Zachariah was.
We'll take these to the trading post at the Dallas Zoo and turn them in for points.
Beginning at the top, we have some bark from a tree, possibly an owl feather, a pecan, a cicada hull, a blue jay feather a persimmon and a burr oak acorn

Played with lacing cards...
And a magnifying glass.
And it's only Wednesday!!!

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

New school year, great expectations!

What a difference a year makes!  Last year, on the first day of school, we were all so nervous.  Ana had just had a breakdown, and we were plunging into a whole new world of mental health care.  The girls were returning to public school for the first time in five years, and Zachariah was going to be without his sisters for the first time in his life.  Everyone was on edge that morning, and it did not start out well.  I wanted to take my girls to school, just for the first day, and they wanted to ride the bus.  I wanted pictures of their first day back to public school!
Yep, that's the best I got.

This year, however,
In the carpool line

After school.  How gorgeous does she look at the end of the day?
She ditched the pigtaials sometime during the day.  Zachariah was super excited to welcome his sisters home from school!

They actually wanted me to take them to school so they didn't have to ride the crowded bus with all their first day of school supplies.  Both were excited to see their friends and no cranky first morning words.  :)  Yay!!!

Celestia is playing clarinet in marching band this year, and Ana is taking all Pre AP courses.  The middle school also has a new principal, and I have high hopes that he's going to be far more compassionate than the last one.  Here's to a new school year!

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

5 Things I Wish Every New Mom Would be Told About Breastfeeding

Last week, a friend had a new baby.  When we went to see her in the hospital, I got to snuggle a sweet squishy boy, who began to fuss and stuff his hand in his mouth.  I know that move.  "Looks like he's getting hungry, Momma.  Want to nurse him?  Want us to leave so you can?"  I could see the look of panic in her eyes.  One I'm sure I've had, too. "Um, that's not going so well...  It hurts!"  In that moment, I was so ANGRY for her!  I wish mothers were given more information about breastfeeding by their care providers when they were pregnant.  You can choose to take a breastfeeding class, but I know the one I took was woefully inadequate, and it's yet another expense associated with pregnancy that a lot of families understandably choose to skip.  It's been on my heart the last few days, so here I give you 5 things I wish every new mom would be told about breastfeeding.

1) Breastfeeding is a journey.  Yours will not look like mine, or your mother's, sister's, friend's, or anyone else's.  Neither will your journey with a first baby look like one with a second, third, or fourth child.  With each beautiful new life will come a brand new experience that sometimes can look more like National Lampoon's Vacation than a peaceful paradise.  So often we hear that "breastfeeding is natural" and assume that means it will come instinctively, but it doesn't.  You and baby will have to get into your very own groove, ant it will take some time.  That's OK.  Don't think that because you feel like you've got no idea what you're doing that you're going to fail.  We all feel that way at first.

2) Sometimes it just hurts.  I know, I know.  I just heard every lactation consultant and La Leche League leader scream collectively "It doesn't hurt is you've got the latch right!"  I call bullshit.  For the first few weeks it can hurt like a muthaf***er.  With my very first child, a lactation consultant came into my hospital room after I had her to see how breastfeeding was going.  I learned that I have flat nipples.  Did you know that was a thing?  I didn't.  So she brought me nipple shells to wear in my bra between feedings and an industrial grade pump to try and correct the problem.  The next day, she came back to observe me breastfeeding and got all up in our business and was trying to shove my breast further into my little baby's mouth.  Now, you may not have noticed, *snicker snicker* but I have rather large breasts and (TMI) proportionate areolas.  I am never ever going to have a child that is going to be able to get the entire areola in their mouth like you're supposed to, and she really ought to have been able to see that.  Despite that fact, it obviously doesn't mean that I am unable to breastfeed.  What it does mean it that I experience toe-curling, tear-inducing, don't-talk-to-me-while-the-baby's-latching, pain for a good 4-6 weeks after baby is born.  Even if you don't happen to have large, flat areolas, there is a human being sucking on you for dear life (literally) every two hours (at least).  That's just bound to hurt a little bit until your body gets used to it.

3) Cluster feeding is normal.  It was not until I had my third baby that I learned about cluster feeding.  My girls both had their own schedules that they settled into on their own.  Zachariah?  Not so much.  He would nurse on both sides for a good 20 minutes each, and then want more 15 minutes later.  Sometimes he might go for a 2 hour stretch, but his nursing pattern had no actual pattern, EVER.  Those people who like to try to shame mothers who nurse in public saying "just plan around baby's nursing times." clearly don't understand cluster feeding.  I may as well have sat around topless for about the first 8 weeks of his life.  He stretched out feedings a bit after that, but still never in any kind of predictable manner, and it was always prone to changes with growth spurts, teething, or just a general "I want to be close to mommy"ness.

4) Speaking of nursing in public, be like Nike and Just Do It!  Wear a cover, or don't wear a cover.  It's totally up to you.  Almost every state in the US (With the exception of Idaho and West Virginia) has laws exempting breastfeeding from public indecency.  During colder months, I favored the two shirt method - nursing tank with a shirt over it.  Tank and bra came down, shirt came up.  All the important parts are covered by a nursing child.  During the summer, Baby laying in your lap really covers most everything anyway, so go with it.  Some women prefer the over the top breastfeeding method.  As we've already mentioned, I'm pretty busty, so I'm not comfortable with it for me.  But you know what?  If I were, It would still be OK.  Do what makes you comfortable, feed your baby, and don't let anyone give you crap about it.

5) Hang in there.  Remember my first point?  Breastfeeding is a journey.  The first few weeks are ROUGH, and you'll continue to run into rough patches throughout your journey.  Teething, growth spurts, sleep regressions, sickness, all are going to impact nursing frequency, and some will also affect latch.  But if you hang in there, it is so, so rewarding to be able to provide such a sweet nursing bond with your baby.  Obviously, I love breastfeeding, or I wouldn't still be allowing my almost three year old to nurse, no matter how much he wants to.  It's worth it.

Last, but not least - (Did I say 5?  Think of this as 5.1) Just do your best and don't beat yourself up about it.  My breastfeeding experiences have ranged from exclusively breastfed to supplemented with formula and weaned early.  Maybe you nurse your baby for a week, maybe you nurse your baby well into toddlerhood.  Every little bit counts.  Whether you're a momma who has IGT, you have a baby with a tongue tie or lip tie, or it's smooth sailing from the beginning, hold your head high, feed your baby and create your very own beautiful journey.

Disclaimer:  I am just a mom.  You know your body and baby best.  If you feel like something is really just not right, find a good lactation consultant.  :)

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Toddler Speak

Combine awesome toddler speak with a mom who doesn't have the greatest hearing and sometimes I mishear some pretty funny things.

I heard "I don't want boogers on me."
What he said was "I don't want covers on me."

I couldn't for the life of me figure out what "Super hero sword" was.
It was "Super Hero Squad" (A cartoon)

I thought he asked "Mommy, you get my two red camels?"
What he wanted was "Mommy, you get my two red cymbals?"

Other Zachariah musings:

While pointing a LEGO "sword" at Jonathan "You killed my father, Daddy!"

When laying down to nurse "You have milk, Mommy.  It's yummy milk."

On having a skinned knee "I have skin on my knee.  It's a bad skin."

This afternoon's nap time conversation:
Zachariah: "I don't want blankets, my knee hurts."
Me: "You're silly.  Your knee can't hurt that much." (his knee is almost completely healed)
Zachariah:  "You're silly.  My knee can hurt.  It hurts much and much."

This picture has nothing to do with this post.  Except it's Zachariah.  And he's awesome!  :)

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Confessions of a Self-Medicated ADD Mom

I often tell people that I'm stupid before about 10 o'clock in the morning. They laugh, largely because I say it with a smile and I'm totally poking fun of myself, but no one really takes it seriously.  When I day "I'm stupid", what I really mean is that I'm unfocused.  Really, really unfocused.  So I drink coffee.  Lots of coffee, to be honest, but it helps me focus, big time.  This morning, as I was watching myself flit from one task to another, it occurred to me what I must look like to someone who does NOT have ADD and why so many people really don't get it when I say that I'm not a morning person.  So here you have it.  Early morning MJ.

I roll out of bed to get the girls off for school, and while I'm in the restroom, Zachariah wakes up.  I grab Ana's medicine out of the medicine cabinet, greet Z for the morning and go make sure that both girls are up and getting ready.  Check out the fence to make sure no tree limbs have taken it out in the storm so we can let Arynson out.  Manage to inadvertently say something irritating and mildly insulting to Celestia because, coherent thought?  She leaves in a huff.  Get a container for Ana's lunch and pour her medicine out, dropping two of the pills onto the floor in the process.  Find one, but not the other.  That's a problem.  Get Ana's lunch ready, all the time calling and reminding her of the time.  She finally gets her contacts in (I don't know how she managed to function without them for so long this morning), shoes on, medicine taken, lunch in her bag, and out the door just in the nick of time.  

Now I know what you're probably thinking.  "That's not so bad."  This is where it gets good.

Remembering the pill I dropped, I grab the broom to sweep.  Zachariah tries to get the swiffer to help, but I don't really want him in the kitchen in case he finds the errant pill and thinks it looks tasty.  I turn on Yo Gabba Gabba to occupy him while I'm sweeping.  As I'm turning on the tele, he grabs his guitar and begins wildly jumping up and down and begging for a guitar pick.  I know I've seen one somewhere recently, but can't remember where.  We look for a minute or two, unsuccessfully, but by now Yo Gabba Gabba is playing and he's placated.  Jonathan is out of town, so I call to tell him good morning and let him know that we seem to have come through last night's storms unscathed.  While on the phone, I go back into the kitchen, begin to sweep and think "I should get the coffee started so it's ready when I'm finished sweeping."  Go to wash my hands and notice that there's a couple of washcloths in the sink.  The washing machine doesn't have a load in it right now, so I grab the dirty cloths and throw them in the washer along with all the towels in the laundry basket.  Tell Jonathan good-bye and get off the phone.  It starts raining again, so I let Arynson inside and grab his food, which he hasn't finished and bring it in so it doesn't get soggy.  Finally get back to sweeping.  Zachariah comes in the kitchen, opens the fridge and asks for yogurt and pomegranate juice.  As he's not one to let anything rest, I stop what I'm doing, wash my hands, get it for him, and remember that I never finished brewing coffee.  Get him settled again with breakfast and go back into the kitchen to brew coffee.  While I'm setting the coffee up, I remember that Zachariah woke up as I was leaving the bedroom to get his sisters ready for school and I never changed his diaper.  Not wanting to forget the coffee again, I finish setting it up and mash the start button.  Whew!  I go take Zachariah's wet diaper off and send him to potty while I put the diaper in the wet bag.  Oh, hey!  There's the guitar pick we were looking for earlier!  Z comes in the bedroom and asks me to put a clean diaper on, and I suggest to him that he should wear underwear.  It would be really nice if he would potty learn.  He picks out a pair and goes back to watch TV some more.  Back to sweeping again.  I finally finish and determine that either the pill has rolled so far under the desk that no one will be able to reach it, or I actually dropped it back into the bottle and not on the floor.  That crisis averted, I pour myself a cup of coffee, which has finally finished brewing, and settle down to drink a little liquid concentration and blog.  I just don't do mornings.

Monday, 4 March 2013

In which I share a difficult (not so) secret

This post has (obviously) been sitting, unfinished, in blogger for quite some time.  Today, I felt the need to bring it to some kind of completion and publish it.

By now, you have probably heard or read the NRA's response to the December massacre in Sandy Hook calling for (of course) more guns.  While I will not express my feelings about that particular aspect of this speech, I do want to address a less publicised call for a national registry of mentally ill people.  Let me allow you to mull that over for a moment.  A national. registry. for mentally ill people.  Exactly who would be on this registry?  People with autism?  Schizophrenia?  Down Syndrome? Those who battle with manic-depression?  What about women who experience postpartum depression?  Teenagers who struggle more heavily transitioning into young-adulthood than others?  Should all of these people be stigmatised?  I ask you to consider, for a moment the people that you know and love.  Think about the state of the economy and just how difficult it can be to find even a mediocre job.  Now consider that approximately 1 in 4 adults suffer from some form of mental illness.  That means that unless you have fewer than four people that you love, there's a very good chance that one of them probably struggles in some way with some form of mental illness.  What good would a registry consisting of 26.2% of the population do?  Is anyone really naive enough to believe that the stigma of having to register like some sort of criminal is going to help someone who is mentally ill?  What do you think that's going to do for their chances of finding that mediocre job?  Forget about a GOOD job.  You are probably aware that homelessness in the US is at epic proportions, and that mental illness is listed as one of the leading causes of being homeless.  How would a national registry for mentally ill folks impact the homeless epidemic?  What about the unemployment rate?

Mental illness is no laughing matter.  It impacts us all in some way, yet of all the different kinds of illness a person can have, none is so gravely misunderstood, or so often swept under the rug.  Seeking help is confusing and overwhelming.  Mental health care is typically covered under a different plan than regular health care.  Even with insurance, care is costly, and can be quite difficult to find providers that do accept health insurance.  It seems that because there's no litmus test - mental health is not determined by a blood draw, or X-ray, but by people who talk about your feelings - that there are those who disregard these illness as unimportant or "all in your head".  A very wise friend once told me "You know, if someone has poor eyesight, we don't tell them 'Well, if you just pray about it enough, God will make your eyes better.'  We tell them to go to a doctor and get glasses."  As a Christian, however, that's often what people do.  Just yesterday, I saw this video stream in my facebook feed with an awful "pastor" saying that "No Christian ought to be on psychiatric drugs, period" (among other things).  Because, apparently, you can preach away a chemical imbalance. * cough * bullshit * cough *

All this is hitting very close to home for me for a very real reason.  My Ana struggles with depression and self-harm.  I've kept it quiet, but it's really no secret.  We live in a small town, and just a few weeks ago she was put in handcuffs in front of the entire school, as everyone was leaving, shoved in a police car, and taken to a mental hospital, as though she was not depressed, but a common criminal.  They know she struggles.  They know we're doing everything in our power to help her.  Doctors, medication, analysing every. little. thing we do.  All to try to make her understand just how loved she is and to help her get better.  Why in the world they thought that a child struggling with depression would somehow be helped by being humiliated in front of the entire school just because she had written her feelings down in a notebook and had a few very superficial cuts on her arm is absolutely beyond me.  Frankly, she had been having a rough week and was denied access to the school counselor, AND they neglected to contact us to let us know that she was having a difficult time of it.  This entire incident was absolutely caused by the school's actions.  You know what happened when the counselor at the hospital evaluated her (after the mandatory overnight stay)?  They called and said "Come get her.  I don't know why they sent her.  This could have been dealt with by her usual care providers."  I just don't even know how we're supposed to best help her.  I don't think homeschooling is the best idea, because she needs a LOT of positive reinforcement and a LOT of loving people in her life.  On the other hand, what's going on at school doesn't exactly seem positive, either.

I honestly don't really know where, originally, I was going with this post.  When I began it back in January, I think I had a very specific end in mind, but it has since flown the coop, so to speak.  At this point, I think I just want to raise awareness, as cheesy as that sounds.  Look around you today, and recognise that 1 out of every 4 people you see is probably struggling with some form of mental illness.  Many more of the people that you see - probably all - will have, in some way, been affected by it.  My Ana is a beautiful, highly intelligent, extraordinarily tender-hearted young lady, who happens to have issues with the way she perceives the world around her.  Family members, especially parents, of people with depression struggle (and are often more susceptible to depression themselves) enormously, as well.  They lie awake at night wondering what they did wrong, if something they did caused it.  Sometimes that answer is yes, but for the most part, it's not.  I have beat myself up (and sometimes still do, truth be told) until I realised that I am a good mother.  Not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, but good.  We could have gotten her help sooner - it's not easy to admit that you can't give your child all the love and affirmation that they need.  It's not easy to admit that, although you talk to that child and work with that child, that although you dedicate your life to giving them everything you possibly can, that you're not enough -  but the end result would have been the same.  Maybe not quite so many bumps along the way, but we still would have a child who struggles with depression.

One of the things I've discovered in this journey is that, unfortunately, you are going to lose some friends over it.  Because mental illness is so gravely misunderstood, people don't realise just how emotionally taxing it is.  Until you've got it under control, your whole life becomes all about how you can help that person.  So you end up dismissed as high-maintenance, or selfish.  Perhaps you have to cut back on outside activities, or spend less time with friends, and people resent you for it.  Whatever.  You probably weren't really mentally present for those activities anyway.  And obviously those people weren't emotionally invested enough in you to stick it out.  So give yourself a break.  The other thing I've discovered is that families of people struggling with mental illness need to stick together.  I wish there were some kind of online community to turn to (feel free to link me one if you know!)  I'm sure, if I looked, I could find a support group of some sort but, good golly, miss molly, where would I find time for it?

I guess what I really want to say is that if you or someone you love is struggling with depression or another form of mental illness you are not alone.  Don't be ashamed.  Don't be afraid to get help.  If you are a parent of a child who is depressed, it's probably not your fault. Don't wait another day to make that appointment.  Pick up the phone right now and find yourself a good doctor.  And when you're through, if you want to, give me a call.  I totally understand.