Archive | September, 2013

{Repost} Breathe in freedom.

28 Sep

So our Minnesota trip was a little rough. It was great seeing my parents but Emma had a hard time napping and sleeping at night – I think it must’ve been that she was in a new place, and she has a little bit of a stuffy nose. I’ll admit that I was VERY angry that Emma needed to be bounced and rocked, and sometimes held, or she refused to sleep. I was there to help my parents and she was making that next to impossible.

That situation, combined with the rest of everything going on and my general feeling of ‘meh’ and stress, has sent me back to blog posts from last year, to remind myself of the Truth I was learning then, and am still learning – or needing to relearn – now. That’s where this post comes in. It’s just as true now as it was when I wrote on June 1, 2012. Enjoy.

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When your body is challenged in yoga and weight lifting, the natural response is to hold your breath. We need to be reminded to breathe with the movements. Inhale, lift. Exhale, lower. Inhale vitality. Exhale tension. It may not seem like it at the time but breathing actually makes the postures and exercises easier because it gives you something else to concentrate on than just the muscle fatigue and supplies your muscles with oxygen.

I’ve been thinking about this the past couple of days because I realized that this applies to life too. This week, I have felt tired and lazy. And I found myself emotionally gritting my teeth to “just get through” the week – essentially, holding my breath to survive.

But is that really what God wants for me? Are I really reduced to just gritting my teeth to get through life?

The trouble is that I associate the fullest life with being on top of things, things going my way, falling into place, being easy.

The fullest life is still available even when life isn’t that way (which is often). Even on the days, weeks, or months when things are hard, I’m tired and feel overwhelmed, and everything feels like a burden. Instead of holding my breath to survive, I can breathe through life’s challenges with God. 

Just like holding my breath doing a Half Moon, it seems easier and less painful to not think too much and just go through the motions. To not care. To resign myself to life being crap for the next few days.

In reality, I’m making the situation worse. And when I actually think about what I’m doing, it seems ludicrous. Why do I think that hard situations are easier to handle without God?

It’s because I think He’ll make me (wo)man up and deal with the situation. And the last thing I want to do is deal with the situation. I want to escape, withdraw, ignore.

What I forget, though, is that living in dependence on God is where I find joy always. Not just when I feel up to it, or when life is going well, or when I’m naturally happy. Always.

I also forget that living in dependence on God doesn’t require me to feel me up to it, or life to be going well, or me to be naturally happy. In fact, living in dependence on God comes most easily when I am starkly aware of my weaknesses and insufficiency. When I feel too small for something too big. When I’m struggling with the same thing yet again. When I’m having trouble even mustering up the energy to not give up.

I find freedom in acknowledging reality. Instead of shutting down and going through life on autopilot, I can admit that the situations I’m facing are affecting me and that it’s not all coming up roses. Jesus promised us peace in the midst of difficulty – not peaceful circumstances.

I stop trying to change reality. Once I acknowledge the tough circumstance, I stay there. I don’t try to change, fix, or manipulate it. That’s God’s job. My job is trust. This is the challenge I come back to time and time again. Asking me to live with God in the midst of my weaknesses and insufficiency is like asking a dog to walk on its hind legs. It’s not impossible but it takes a lot of work to actually stay there because it’s not my natural inclination.

I focus on the moment and give thanks. In yoga, you breathe with the movements to get your mind focused on the here and now. Stop thinking about all the things you’re going to do later in the day, all the bills and laundry and dishes piling up at home. Live in the now. Jesus told us this too: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34). I especially like The Message’s paraphrase:

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”

And the best way to live in the moment (I’m discovering) is to give thanks, for everything. Specifically. Audibly. Remember God’s blessings. Remember His faithfulness. Remember His grace.

This post wouldn’t be complete without a quote or two from Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts:

“Life is so urgent it necessitates living slow.”

“Life change comes when we receive life with thanks and ask for nothing to change.”

Nothing to Do But Trust

19 Sep

The past couple of weeks have been rough. It feels like everything has hit all at once. Work is busy. Emma hasn’t been sleeping well. Travis is traveling for work and now working Saturdays because of their crazy workload. Colorado got pounded by rain and devastating flooding. It’s hunting season, which means I got to spend my Monday night after Emma went to bed grinding and vacuum-sealing antelope meat. And the worst of it all is that we got some bad news about my mom’s health, so we’re making an impromptu trip to Minnesota this weekend.

All of this has caused me to think a lot about trusting God in trials, and why we cling to the hope of the gospel in times like these. Some days, the only answer I have is Peter’s: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” I trust God because what else is there to do? God doesn’t always answer our questions of WHY. He doesn’t always show WHERE He’s leading us, or WHEN we’re going to get there. He just asks us to trust. Trust that He is good and loving. Need proof? Look to the Cross.

I’ve been loving Laura Story’s song Blessings lately, especially the lines I bolded below. Such a great reminder that God is bigger than our human reactions. Bigger than our worry, our fear, our discouragement. He’s weaving a bigger story. He has a plan. And the pain and trials of this life aren’t meaningless or inconsequential. God is revealing His will for us through them, and using them for His glory, even if we can’t see HOW right now.

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We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
And all the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your word is not enough
And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not,
This is not our home
It’s not our home

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near

What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise

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“My flesh and my heart may fail but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26)

“I believe. Help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)

“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” (2 Corinthians 5:1-4)

Why We Are Sleep Training (When I Swore I Never Would)

18 Sep

The road to sleep training for us has been gradual and not nearly as bumpy (or full of crying on either mine or Emma’s part) as I expected it to be.

THE BEGINNING

We first tried letting Emma cry herself to sleep when she was around 8 weeks old. It was a hail-mary stab at maintaining sanity but she screamed so loud, and her face was so red, for those 10 minutes that I decided that was not the method for us.

When Emma was around 3 months old, there were still some times when she was so upset that I got upset and had to put her down and walk away. Fifteen minutes later, she was crying just as hard  – and now even she had little tears running down her red face. The only way she’d had cried herself to sleep would’ve been out of sheer exhaustion.

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Emma’s red face (Don’t worry, I did not leave her there to cry)

During that time, I was still holding Emma for the majority of her naps. I know, I know, you’re not supposed to do that. But she wouldn’t sleep for longer than 40 minutes if I put her down, and if she didn’t sleep longer than 40 minutes for any nap, she got overtired and cranky. So I chose to deal with the issue of a baby napping in my arms instead of feel the wrath of an overtired baby. (And it ended up not being an issue anyway.)

THE TRANSITION

With the deadline of going back to work approaching, I started putting Emma down in her Rock N Play Sleeper for more naps, fully swaddled. I alternated between holding her and putting her down, so that she’d still have some good naps, but also get used to being put down. When I went back to work, Emma was put down for all of her naps in a Pack n Play, so that moved her even more toward napping well on her own, as well as in a location other than her Rock N Play, and flat on her back.

Around the time Emma turned 4 months, my friend Charlotte (who takes care of Emma while I’m at work) mentioned that she was putting Emma down when she was slightly awake, and just patting her a bit while Emma fell asleep on her own. I was encouraged by that, and started doing it too. (It has been so helpful to learn from someone who knows a lot more about babies than I do!)

During that same time, Emma found her hands and LOVED to suck on them. So we started swaddling her with one arm out. It was easy for Emma to get her other hand out of the swaddle though, so the swaddle was more for just keeping her from whacking herself before falling asleep.1072261_603040393059620_1545140901_o

Yummy hands!

Luckily, ever since we got our Rock N Play Sleeper at around 7 weeks, Emma has slept really well at night. She slept 5-6 hours straight at 2 months, 7-8 hours at 3 months, and 9-10 hours at 4-5 months.

THE PROCESS

A couple weeks before Emma turned 5 months old, we started putting her down for naps and bedtime fully awake. What changed? Three things:

1)      Emma had become so much more aware of her surroundings, it sometimes seemed counter-productive to bounce her to sleep — like our presence was keeping her awake.

2)      She can entertain herself. Emma loves playing with her feet and talking to herself. So when we put her down awake (but not overtired), she enjoys hanging out for a bit and then falling asleep.

3)      Her cry is different. It’s no longer the “I’ve been abandoned” cry, but instead the “I don’t like this” cry. Or when she’s really crying, it’s the “I’m so tired, I can’t get to sleep” cry.

My one condition for agreeing to try sleep training was that I wouldn’t implement or obey any hard and fast rules. No “You can’t pick her up before 10 minutes” or “You can’t pick her up at all” or “You can’t hold her for a nap ever again.” I know they say the most important thing is to be consistent, but I’d rather listen to my intuition than rules. They say that if I pick her up when she cries, she’ll learn that if she cries, I’ll come. I say, isn’t that what I want her to learn? That I’ll be there for her when she really needs me?

So I set a 10-minute time limit. If she’s still crying (and not just whimpering or whining) after 10 minutes, I go in and bounce her. If she’s REALLY crying, I go in sooner than that. If she took a short nap and I can tell she’s still tired but won’t let me put her down, I hold her. And guess what? She’s still making progress.

Something that has really helped with this process is that we figured out a nap and bedtime routine that Emma likes and that calms her down before sleep. When she was younger, Emma hated baths, books, lotion, getting dressed, and would cry the minute she got swaddled, so I was at a loss for what to do as a pre-sleep routine. But now she LOVES the bath and has even stopped crying when we take her out. She still doesn’t like books, or getting her arms put in sleeves, but loves being massaged and having us sing to her.

Our nap routine: When we notice Emma getting fussy or turning her head like she’s tired, or rubbing her eyes, we take her into the nursery, put her sleepsack on and rock her for a bit while singing her a song. Then we turn on her white noise, put her down, say “It’s time for a nap,” and walk out.

Our bedtime routine: About an hour before Emma should be in bed falling asleep, we give her a bath. She plays for about 10 minutes, then we wash her and take her out. We dry her off, put a diaper on, give her a little massage with lotion while listening to music, and put her pajamas on. Then we sit in the rocker, sing a song or 2, and pray. After that, we put her sleepsack on and I nurse her one last time. Then we turn on her white noise, kiss her, put her down and walk out.

Out of the Swaddle, Into the Crib

Until the week that Emma turned 5 months old, she was still sleeping in her Rock N Play Sleeper, with one arm swaddled out. But we finally took the plunge. Since she could get her arm out of the swaddle so easily, she was practically already unswaddled. So for one night, I swaddled her with no arms in (just wrapped it around her waist). She slept straight through the night. The next night, I put her in a sleepsack instead of a swaddle and put her down in her crib. She again slept through the night! She’s been in the sleepsack and crib ever since. So that transition was really easy.

I think the transition was so smooth because she had gotten older, gotten used to sleeping on a flat surface at daycare (and for a few naps at home), and liked to play with her hands and feet. She loves to scoot around in a circle in her crib now!

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Emma’s first morning waking up in her crib (I removed the pillows after that – didn’t know she could get to them in the corner!)

THE CURRENT STATUS

Emma still has trouble falling asleep on her own every once in a while, especially if we put her down when she’s overtired. Bedtime can also be a hard time. So I still bounce her a couple times a week. But overall, she is doing great. There are times when she falls asleep with no crying at all. Sometimes, she whimpers a little for a few minutes and then falls asleep.

Her naps are longer during the day now too, but for the past week or so, Emma has woken up a lot at night – which makes me wonder if she’s going through a growth spurt. She’ll talk to herself for a while and I give her the chance to fall back asleep on her own. Sometimes she does. Other times, I get up and nurse her. Again, I refuse to follow rules instead of my own intuition.

THE CONCLUSION

I will say, it has been very relieving to be able to just put Emma down for naps and bedtime, instead of spending several minutes (or tens of minutes) bouncing and rocking her. Even if I go back in to bounce her when she’s really upset, she has less energy for crying (so she falls asleep faster) and my patience is much greater. I hardly ever feel angry at her anymore, whereas before, when we were bouncing and rocking her all the time, it was sometimes a major fight and frustration.

I wouldn’t change the way we did things though. I do feel confident that we gave Emma what she needed at the time, and that she wasn’t ready for sleep training until now. I feel like we’ve nudged Emma to learn to sleep on her own, instead of forcing her. And we don’t expect progress to be continually forward – it can be two steps forward, one step back.

It helps so much when they get older! For future babies, I’m not going to worry so much about pampering them when they’re young, knowing that as they get older, they grow more independent.

So my encouragement to any new moms out there is to be patient. Trust your instincts, be willing to forego the ‘rules’ and give your baby what he or she needs. Instead of worrying about all the milestones down the road, or all the hypothetical problems or issues that could arise, learn your baby, adapt to their needs and do what works for them.

Obviously, I’m still learning, and I was so hesitant to do sleep training that I probably wouldn’t have without encouragement from Charlotte and Travis. But it has been helpful for us, and I believe, for Emma.

Let me know if you have any questions about our experience!

Community Christian 5K Recap

15 Sep

Yesterday, I ran my first race since June 2012, when I ran my first (and only) full marathon. I can’t run nearly as far now as then, but I’m faster!

The night before the race, Emma had her worst night of sleep in months. She woke up every 2-4 hours, which is very abnormal for her. The only nice part about it was that she was in a good mood whenever she woke up – instead of crying, she’d just lay in her crib and talk (aka. ‘squawk’) to herself. My longest stretch of sleep was 4 hours. After being up with her 4 times, I asked Travis to get up the last time so that I could stay in bed for another 40 minutes.

Anyway, not quite the way you want to prepare for a race but oh well. I had a cup of coffee and cinnamon raisin bagel with peanut butter before the race, dropped Emma off at my friend’s house, and made it up to the race site about 20 minutes before the race started.

It was a very small race so it only took me about 5 minutes to get my packet and go to the bathroom. I found my friend Cathy and her husband James just a little before they asked the runners to move into the street where the start line was. Then they said the start was still 15 minutes away so Cathy and I did a slow jog around the block to warmup.

My goal for the race was to at least run faster than an 11:00/mile pace, and if I beat my previous 5K time of 33:43, that’d be great too. Cathy wanted to see if she could beat her husband so we agreed to not run together.

I thought about taking my phone so that I could keep track of my pace and the mileage, but in the end, I decided to just enjoy the race and push myself by feel.

Finally, the race started and we were off. I settled into a nice, strong pace and kept Cathy and James in my sights for about the first .5 mile. Then they were gone. I kept running strong. I was pushing myself, but not too much. It was downhill, which was nice, but I knew that meant an uphill later so I couldn’t go too crazy.

I had no idea how far we had gone, but I figured it had to be close to a mile at least. I ran past the aid station (stopping for water would have just thrown off my pace) and then saw a sign that said Mile 2. ‘Holy cow!’ I thought. ‘That’s the quickest 2 miles I’ve ever run!’ It didn’t quite seem right, but if it was, I was going to kick this 5K’s butt!

Around a corner, there was another mile sign. It also said Mile 2, with an arrow to the right. Um, what? I took a right and found the uphill. I walked a bit at the top of the hill and was told by a flagger that first time through, we had to do another loop. Second time, go straight.

On my second loop, I saw the Mile 1 sign, which I had missed before. So I was just now coming up on Mile 2. That made more sense.

We passed the aid station again and were directed by another flagger to turn right for Mile 3, making a smaller loop than the first time, but not too small to miss the hills! I walked a bit again at the top, so I could catch my breath.

Even though it was only 65 at the start, the sun and (rare) humidity made it really hot. I was getting tired, and couldn’t accurately judge how long we had left. But I kept pushing it, reminding myself that I wanted to beat my old 5K time, and that I hadn’t been pushing it for 2 miles only to give up at the end.

We passed a different school and I thought we were getting close, but I saw runners far ahead of me… climbing another hill. Bummer.

I muscled up the last hill long enough to see one of Community Christian’s buses, so I knew where we were – and that the end was close! I crossed the finish line strong and grabbed a water, banana, and half a bagel from the volunteers.

I felt confident that I had made my goal of running faster than an 11:00 pace but had no idea of my time. I found Cathy and James, and we stood around talking until they posted the times. James had beaten Cathy, but she wasn’t too upset. Men…

Finally, the times were up. I finished in 31:52! That’s a pace of 10:17/mile, I later figured out, for a new 5K PR! YAY! I was very happy with that. Cathy finished in 29:50 and James in 26:19.

This was my first time doing a really small race (there were about 130 runners), which I’ve always wanted to do because I figured I’d at least have a shot at placing in my age group (which is now 30-39! I feel so old.) But when I looked on their website, it said they would award ‘the fastest in each age group’, which I took to mean only THE fastest (one person). I was mistaken though, and I got 3rd place in my age group. So I actually got a medal! YAY again! (Cathy got 2nd place in our age group. The 30-39 Female winner finished in 25:12.)

So my first race back was a success AND fun. I’m glad that I didn’t take my phone. The mile signs kept me guessing, and I ran on feel not on time, so I didn’t get discouraged.

About the race itself – it was the inaugural race, and a small one organized by parents instead of race professionals, but I was very impressed. They had a decent website, with all the pertinent information included. They sent out a pre-event email with lots of details. There were a ton of volunteers and even though the course could have been a little confusing, their flaggers were very helpful and it wasn’t confusing at all. The course was also USATF-certified and they posted a course map online (though I didn’t realize that before the race). We were instructed to park in the Target parking lot, and they had a shuttle taking people to the school (even though it was only like 2 blocks away). And the race proceeds benefit the school, which is where Cathy and James’ kids go. I would definitely do this race again!

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Me and Cathy

I’m unfortunately not going to be able to do the triathlon relay this coming weekend (long story) but I’m already looking forward to doing another race. I’M BACK BABY!

And quick sidenote, this is my 700th post!

Emma Grace: 5 Months

7 Sep

Emma is 5 months old (almost 22 weeks) today!

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She has changed SO MUCH over the past month – and really, just in the past couple of weeks.

First, she found her toes (aka ‘piggies’). She LOVES sucking on them and whenever she has her diaper off, they’re up in her mouth. (The cloth diapers make it hard to get her feet up there.)

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Second, she looks around and actually sees stuff a lot more. She loves looking at the toys and gadgets attached to her jumperoo. She’ll follow the dogs as they walk around and watch them while they lick their paws or pant after a run. She notices the butterfly toy attached to her carseat and reaches up to play with it. When she drops a toy, she sees where it goes. If she wants to play with it again, she’ll reach for it. When I have her in the Baby Bjorn while I shop, she looks around and occasionally looks up at me and smiles when I look back (melts my heart!).

1265687_622033064493686_1965744258_oHer increased awareness of her surroundings has also started making nursing a challenge at times. She’ll pull off and look around, especially when Daddy is doing something close by. It’s the worst in the evenings, when my milk supply is lower, so I’ve had to go into the nursery and nurse her in the dark and quiet.

Third, she LOVES taking baths. I’ve started giving her one every night, instead of every other, since she enjoys them so much. We’ve also moved her small bathtub into the big bathtub, so that she can splash to her heart’s content and not get water everywhere. She’s still not a huge fan of getting out of the bath and getting her pajamas on, but she calms down when I massage her legs and feet with lotion.

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Fourth, she can roll over! Only from her belly to her back so far, but still, she can do it! Now tummy time is really a challenge, because she only stays there for a minute at most before rolling over. Here’s a video of it.

Fifth, she has transitioned to falling asleep on her own, in her crib, without being swaddled. This was a very gradual process and I think it deserves its own post. So I’ll leave it at that. But she’s such a big girl now! (And yes, I know that we’re not supposed to have pillows in the crib. After finding her like this in the morning – with her facing the opposite direction – I promptly removed them. She’s more mobile than I thought!)

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Sixth, she is getting very close to being able to sit up on her own. She’s still pretty wobbly but babies learn things so fast that I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s sitting unassisted by 6 months. So much fun!

Emma5Month 014 (Large)Other notable things:

  • She’s been in our little kiddie pool 3 times now. She definitely doesn’t like the water when it’s cold, but she really enjoys being in the water otherwise. I plan to start swimming lessons with her in the next couple of months.
  • She’s easier to take places. She no longer hates her carseat with a passion, so we can take her shopping or out to eat and have her sit in her carseat, content, for 30-45 minutes (with toys of course). But we’ve also eaten dinner too late several times and one person has to take Emma outside and walk around so she doesn’t have a meltdown.
  • She loves being held up in the air like SuperBaby, and has a good time when held upside down. Which is good because Daddy loves doing stuff like that.

We haven’t started solid foods yet, but I’m planning to buy a highchair soon, and having her get used to sitting in it while we eat dinner. I’m planning to start solids more around 6 months. Breastfeeding is still going decently well. I’ve been a little concerned about my supply the past couple of weeks, and I’ve had to supplement with my freezer stash a couple ounces here and there, but overall, it’s not too bad. I think the main things are that Emma needs to nurse longer and I need to drink more water. So we’re working on that.

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And that’s Emma at 5 months!

Running with a Stroller

6 Sep

Even though I said I was going to start running more than once a week, I haven’t. But at least I’m still running that one time a week. And I can finally see my frequency going up because….

I’ve started running with the stroller.

This is a milestone in 2 ways:

1) Emma used to only last 10 minutes in the stroller (in her carseat) before having a meltdown. Now, she can hold toys and enjoys looking around, so she’s content for up to 30 minutes.

2) Pushing a stroller while running is a crapton more work. Especially when I lock the front wheel to stay straight (like you’re supposed to). The stroller wants to veer to the right slightly, so I’m continually pushing on it to stay in a straight line.

The first run I did with the stroller was around our block a couple of times. MapMyRun on my phone said that it was a mile, but Travis doesn’t believe that. Based on my pace though, I believe it! (If it’s not right, I’m REALLY slow!)

strollerrun1The second run I did was around a small lake (pond?) near our house. One lap around it is roughly .5 mile so I did 4 laps.

strollerrun2One side of the lake is slightly hilly (or at least it feels like it with a stroller!) so I was very pleased about my pace. Maybe I can have a ‘fast’ 5K yet.

Speaking of which, I officially signed up for the Community Christian 5K on September 14! The race raises money for the school, and my good friend’s kids go there. She’s running the race too.

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Another one of my friends is going to watch Emma (since Travis will be in Wyoming hunting antelope). I’m very excited. Races are so fun.

Do/have you run with a stroller? Any tips?