Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Quick Family Picture

It's been a little over 11 weeks since Ellie joined our family, and we couldn't be happier with her (unless of course she changed her own diapers and never cried).  She holds her head up really well now, and is even okay with a little tummy time.  Ben's tutoring is going exceptionally well and he is working hard to make math fun and easier than ever.  We've finished house-sitting and have moved in with Ben's wonderful parents.  We are so grateful for them and they willingness to put up with us.

So Ben is busy working, and I'm relatively busy with Eleanor, but when she is sleeping I have a tendency to get a little lazy myself.  So I've decided to write down some goals, perhaps a bit of a bucket list, but we all know that writing down goals is the best way to help make them happen.
1.  Get moved in (really, that should be finished tomorrow).
2.  Finish box of sewing projects
3.  Write a play. This has been a pet dream of mine for some time now.  I read a non-fiction book called Galileo's Daughter by Dava Sobel and I fell in love with the story.  I highly recommend it.  At any rate, I think it would make a great play.  One day I mentioned this to my mom, and she said "Why don't you do it?" or something to that effect.  So I've been working on it off and on, doing research on Galileo and his daughter, Suor Maria Celeste (she was a nun).  And on playwriting, because that is one of the few classes I didn't take in my many years in the theatre education program at BYU. Now that I've shared this secret little goal, I do feel a lot more motivated to do it.  I think the story has so much potential, and I really love writing.  It's something I always felt I was good at, but haven't had a lot of opportunities lately to do creative writing.  So now I better get to it. 

*Ben feels I ought to remind anyone reading this not to steal my idea.  I do own a sword.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Sabbath worthy post

I just laid little Ellie down to sleep, and Ben is taking a nap too (and so will I once I'm done here). Looking at my two favorite people sleeping away filled me with gratitude for the gospel, especially that I know that our families can be together forever as part of God's great plan of happiness for us, and how thankful I am for the Atonement of Jesus Christ that makes it all possible through repentance and his grace. So here I am expressing it. Enjoy.
Today I was nursing Ellie at church while the ward after us was having sacrament meeting and it was playing in the mother's lounge. I listened as a sister spoke about how her family was finally sealed together after each of the brothers and sisters had been married and sealed to their spouses. Just 10 days after the big family sealing, one of the brothers was killed instantly in a car accident. Obviously they were incredibly grateful for the powers of the priesthood that had sealed them together from time and eternity.
Even more interesting to me was that a few months later the mother decided to join a support group for parents who had lost children. She found a non-denominational group that specified that people shouldn't preach or discuss their own religious beliefs. She sat in shock listening to people whose children had died years, even decades ago, and they still hadn't pulled their lives back together. She desperately wanted to share her knowledge about God's plan of salvation, but was prohibited, and realized that she didn't really need a support group, that she had the best support possible through the gospel and the Atonement. All I can say to that is AMEN!
I remember one oft he two arguments I ever got into with an elder on my mission. He wanted us to set a date with a less-active woman's children for baptism. We had talked to the mom, and she wanted her children to have their own testimonies. I agree. The elder said (in essence), "C'mon. What kid really has a testimony that young." My reply was "I did. I knew when I was three." He looked at me in disbelief, but it's true. Now, I certainly didn't know everything, but I felt that it was true, and I remember that. My sister Sierra had died and my parents, being the wonderful people they are, taught us about the resurrection and that our family could be eternal. I knew it was true then, and I know it now. I have never doubted because of the teaching and example of my parents, and because of my own experiences in living and studying the gospel, in applying the Atonement in my own life and seeing it work.
I know God is our loving Heavenly Father, with infinite wisdom and love for us, his spirit children. I know he sent his Son to live a perfect example, to suffer for our sins, die for us, and be resurrected that we might enjoy the blessings of exaltation and eternal life. I know the priesthood and the fullness of the gospel were restored through God's prophet, Joseph Smith, and that he still has a prophet on the earth today, who teaches us and is directed by God. I know I am a daughter of God, with limitless potential and a divine calling.
It's kind of intimidating sometimes, to think about the enormous responsibility of being a mother; it's physical, emotional, and spiritual work. But then I remember that Heavenly Father is her Father too, and he has more vested interest in her well-being, and that I can turn to him for any kind of help. It's humbling. And awe inspiring. I love it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

2 Months Old and Ben's Business

Ellie is officially two months old. To celebrate, I tried make a video where she smiles at the right spot when I sing "If you chance to meet a frown..." She really does too, it's pretty funny. But I've noticed something about our darling daughter. She's a bit of a ham. I've pulled out the camera several times to do this, and she just starts grinning every time. I really shouldn't be shocked; look who she has for parents (and grandparents at that). So you'll just have to believe me when I say she does smile on cue during that song. It's adorable. In the meantime, here are some still photos of the cutest, silliest grin ever.

And asleep. How we love her. (PS. I made the hair bow. I'm pretty proud. I cut up some old white knee high and voila! headband for hair bows.)

While I've been at home making hair bows and taking pictures, Ben has been hard at work building up his tutoring business. And he is seeing some tremendous growth. He has even purchased a domain name and has an online site all about his business and thoughts on learning math. You can visit it at His dad-who is a fantastic graphic designer and illustrator-designed a logo for him, which now graces his business cards, website, and letterhead. I'm pretty proud that all of his hard work is paying off and he is doing more of what he loves, teaching. Go Ben.
(and Go Cougars!...we watched both games and are working hard at teaching Ellie the fight song)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A video

This is mostly to see if I can do. I took the video on my phone, so the quality is sketchy I'm sure. But she's cute.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Thoughts on Parenting Philosophies

In just two days Eleanor will be 2 months old, and though I still feel really new at motherhood, I feel as though I have learned some very important lessons so far. Let it first be stated that I love to read. I read for pleasure, comfort, acquisition of new information, out of boredom, out of stress, to fall asleep, to pass the time, to entertain, to enlighten, etc. Pretty much any excuse is good enough for me to go to a book. I like them. So one of the first things I did when I found out I was pregnant was to check out some books. First of all I wanted to know what to expect during pregnancy and childbirth. So I checked out that “What to expect…” book and a couple others from the BYU library (which I love!). I checked out a very outdated book on breastfeeding that was on my OBGYN’s list of recommended books (which reminds me that I meant to suggest that he remove it as it says it is okay to drink and smoke while pregnant and breastfeeding). At any rate, as my pregnancy progressed and after Ellie’s birth, I’ve done more reading and thinking about parenting philosophies. And I wanted to share some of my thoughts, because I have the tendency to think that I have good thoughts and other people ought to want to know them. That’s the narcissist in me coming out (or the yellow in me…Listen to me, my ideas are the best!). But really, in the end all they are are my ideas, they work for me. But it certainly doesn’t hurt to get opinions. So here it goes…

It seems to me there are two extremes in modern parenting philosophies, the hyper-scheduler and the hyper-bonder. The hyper-scheduler won’t feed a baby, put her to sleep, or bathe her unless it is on the schedule. While the hyper-bonder feeds at the first whimper, wears the baby in a sling every moment possible, and co-sleeps with the baby. Both have good intentions. The hyper-scheduler wants the baby to start learning a routine early on and it makes it easier for the parent to plan their days. The hyper-bonder wants the baby to be sure that they feel loved and bonded to the parent, even at the expense of the parent’s physical well-being. I feel there must be a happy medium. I think I’ve found it with Ellie, but it took some trial and error.

When Ellie was first born I really thought that “attachment parenting” seemed ideal, which leans to the hyper-bonder side. I had read about it, and liked many aspects of the philosophy. It touted that attachment babies were more secure and blah-blah-blah, while scheduled babies were distant and failed to thrive and blah-blah-blah. Of course I wanted her to feel loved and safe, to nt have to endure any long bouts of crying that seemed to fray both my nerves and hers. Though I didn’t co-sleep or use a sling, I did everything in my power to comfort her at the slightest whimper. I nursed on demand, swaddled, and rocked and held her until she was fast asleep. This seemed to go very well the first two weeks. Then again, newborns do hardly more than eat, sleep, and dirty diapers, and Ellie was no exception.

Then we moved. While staying with my parents in Pahrump for a few days before flying to Texas to rejoin Ben, Ellie developed a passion for fussing. She refused to sleep in during the day unless she was being held. She started “demanding” to be fed nearly every hour and a half. I was terrified that I had a colicky baby. I wanted to cry almost as much as she did cry. When we got to Texas things didn’t change much. She was a fuss-bucket who seemed to always want to eat, but when I feed her she wouldn’t take a full meal. I knew we had a problem. My mom continuously reminded me that it was okay for babies to cry themselves to sleep sometimes, but I in my naivete remembered that was against “attachment” ideals and I thought I could through my interventions make Ellie not need to cry anymore. I should have listened to my mother. She raised five fantastic children, and was certainly as qualified to dispense advice as a book. Unfortunately, I sometimes put too much trust in a book.

Enter my wonderful sister-in-law, Melissa. She is a wonderful mother and has three fantastic kids. Granted, she is a much more organized and in-control person than I ever have been, but I really trust her opinion. She loaned me a few books on parenting that focused on healthy sleep habits and scheduling. Wary as I was, I read them. We decided to give them a try and let Ellie cry it out in her bassinet when it was time to sleep. After just two days, Ellie would fall asleep quickly in her bassinet, even at her normally fussy times. She still fusses, just not as long. And she eats better too. She is a happy baby when she is awake and loves to make faces and smile at you. She still really loves to be a held, but it isn’t this terrible burden because my back is killing me for having rocked her for hours. (My back was hurting so bad from rocking and walking and swinging her that sometimes it was quite painful to pick her up in the middle of the night to feed her).

I was converted. Now, I don’t believe in hyper-scheduling, but rather this idea that parents should direct feeding and that it is crucial life skill for babies to learn how to sleep on their own. When learning to walk, you must fall down sometimes, and so it seems to me that in learning to sleep, sometimes a baby will cry. It seems like sleeping would be so instinctual that a baby wouldn’t need to “learn” it, but anyone who has dealt with an overtired toddler knows how untrue that is.

She is learning to delay gratification; she lets me know when she is hungry and I get to her as quickly as I can, but I don’t feel bad making her wait ten minutes so I can finish my dinner. But I still like to sing to her and rock her before I put her down, and if she wakes up in the middle of a nap and is clearly hungry, I feed her (a hyper-scheduler would insist she wait until the appointed time).

She is also learning to solve problems on her own, like how to fall asleep when she is tired. While Ben and I will always be there to guide and love our children, we won’t fix their problems for them. Otherwise they won’t learn. Heavenly Father certainly doesn’t fix all of our problems because it is crucial for us to learn from them. His hand is always stretched out, but we must be the ones to initiate contact.

I’ve learned a lot in my reading about parenting philosophies, but mostly I’ve learned that I have to do what feels best and right for me. Some other mothers may not be okay with the idea of letting a baby cry themselves to sleep. Others may think I shouldn’t feed her if she wakes up mid-nap. I don’t care. This works for us. Besides, you can’t knock it until you’ve tried it. It reminds me of one of my favorite scriptures, John 7:17 “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” Basically, if you want to know if something works, you have to try it. Well, this isn’t the case for everything (i.e. I don’t have to touch a burning candle to know that it will burn me), I think it applies in this instance. Mostly I’m just happy to be sleeping through the night and spending my days with a beautiful little baby she makes the funniest noises when she smiles and “tells me stories.” I love my baby and I want what is best for her, and I hope I will continue to grow and learn as a parent so that I can be the mother that she needs.

Here are the books I read that I really recommend, in case you even care.

On Becoming Babywise (you really have to read all of it, otherwise you may misinterpret stuff)

The Happiest Baby on the Block

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

The Baby Book by Dr. Sears (though with a little less enthusiasm because some aspects of their parenting philosophy didn't really work for me, though it is jam packed with other wonderful information)

Thursday, September 3, 2009