Tuesday, January 29, 2013

on progress, or the lack thereof.

So. I mentioned that I was embarking on a 52-week project to organize my home. I started with aplomb. Got things done each week. The first few weeks I was feeling pretty accomplished. I had some loose ends each week, but nothing that couldn't be tied up in an hour or two.

Then, Week Four.

Last week.


Last week was awful. And by awful, I mean awful. It started with the weekend. A lot of time spent out of the house. Not much time to devote to my project. Although I give myself seven hours each week (which, realistically, is enough time to complete each project I think, save maybe one), that weekend and all of its activity left me completely unmotivated. So, I did nothing. I didn't worry about it, since I knew I had Monday to finish (each week starts on Tuesday).

Monday came and went. Crickets.

That was pretty much a harbinger of things to come for the remainder of the week. Every day my daughter was fussy (teething), taking short catnaps and leaving me with not much free time. No biggie. Each day I would just wait until my husband got home from work and tackle it then.

No haps. She just fussed then too. So I would have just enough time to make dinner (except for one night when I put my son on dinner duty so that I could tend to her all evening) and that was it.

Add in some personal setbacks and it was a formula for... well... nothing getting done.

This week has not started out great either. Yesterday (Monday) came with more personal setbacks, plus my husband being out of town working and my son out of the house for the evening. I got the kids some pizza and me some Panda Express. And did nothing else.

Same thing today, which was supposed to be the start of Week Five.

I wish I could have a better progress report for you, my beloved tens of readers. I just don't.

I won't go into detail, but suffice it to say, last week was one of the more difficult weeks I've had in a long time. It had me wanting to check out of the wife/mother routine for a few days. It just seemed like I couldn't manage to do ANYTHING, much less do anything RIGHT. If I had the money, I would hire a maid, a cook, a nanny, a personal assistant, and a driver, just for weeks like last week. Alas, as I have access to none of those things, I was in pretty bad shape, even for me.

I am happy that I can now say that I am not feeling nearly as down about it all as I was. Once I had some time to step back and re-evaluate, I realized (or better yet, remembered) that I do not have to have it all together. I know that concept is anathema to many... at least on paper... but it's true. My kids still smile and laugh and play and are happy and enjoy each other. My blood pressure is inching closer to normal. I've lost 55 pounds without trying. My teenager loves to spend time with me and tells me everything that is going on in his life. That's more than many people have. So what if the hall closet isn't done and there are still clothes that need to be washed and that patch of dining room floor that I cleaned is now a mess again?

I also remembered that starting with Week Thirty, I had run out of things to do. That means, I really do have plenty of time to just start over where I've stopped. This week, that is what I am going to do. I am going to take Week Five to tie up all of my loose ends from previous weeks and relax. Next week, I'll tackle that hall closet.

I know some folks asked for progress before/after pictures. I'll do that too.

I hope your week is off to a lovely start.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

organizing my home.

This year, as with every year, I take some time at the start of January to make lists. I am a chronic... nay... pathological list-maker. I will admit that there have been times (once or twice) in my life when I have made lists of lists.

Sometimes, the lists are fairly stupid and useless. Other times, the lists help me focus. In all reality, many times the lists help me focus and are a great motivator.

Such is the case with one particular list I made on the second day of January. I decided to start a new Project 52.

I know... "Dude. You didn't even finish your Project 52 in 2011. And your photography P52 here... well... where are the pictures??"

You would be right to ask those questions. In 2011 I was going along swimmingly. A self-portrait, family portrait, art portrait, iphonearoid, and video log each week. I kept that up for half a year. It was an ambitious undertaking, now that I think about it.

Then, my mom died. And I didn't feel like doing much of anything, least of all any of that. So I stopped.

Then I found out I was pregnant. And sick. And tired. And largely unmotivated. So, still no-go on the project.

Needless to say, it was dead in the water.

As for this year, I have taken pictures of my Hope every week, but I have been lazy with the cleanup on my computer so I have a lot to catch up on with the uploading and sharing.

Thankfully, I don't need a computer with sufficient memory to complete this new Project 52. Just some elbow grease and stick-to-itiveness.

I am taking this year to organize my entire home. One week at a time, one project at a time.

I am currently on Week Three.

And this is something that I am going to share with all of you, so that you can join in too, or follow along, or armchair judge, whatever you want to do.

I was asked to take before and after pictures, but sadly I didn't even think of that for the first couple of weeks. Maybe I'll do it for Week Four.

Here's how it is working for me: I decided that the only way I was going to get anything substantial done around here, with my little ones and my energy level being factored in, was to make a list of everything I wanted to do, then take each thing and devote a week to it. I even broke that down further to an hour a day. So, a total of seven hours for each project.

If the week comes to an end and I haven't finished, so be it. On to the next project. I am NOT beating myself up over this ish. If I fall off for a day, or a few days, I will not take any time whatsoever to sit around and assess how much I suck. I'll just get back to it the next day.

The good thing is, by the time my list got to Week Thirty, I had run out of things to do! Soooo, I have SEVERAL weeks until the end of the year that are weeks of pure grace. Meaning, I can just go back and tackle whatever it is I have not yet finished. Starting back at Week One.

I am going to share a little bit of my list with you. If this is something that you think will work for you, by all means, make your own list and get to it! You may find that you also have more weeks in the year than things that need to be organized. If so, breathe a sigh of relief! And have a glass of Moscato to celebrate.

A sampling of my list:

Week One: dining area
Week Two: kitchen
Week Three: laundry (meaning, EVERY bit of laundry in the ENTIRE house, done)
Week Four: hall closet
Week Five: bedroom closet
Week Six: bedroom
Week Seven: nursery/girls' room
Week Eight: nursery closet
Week Nine: living room
Week Ten: bathroom
Week Eleven: boys' room
Week Twelve: outside closet

When I sat and made this list, there really was no rhyme or reason. I just quickly rattled off room by room (in Evernote, which by the way is a TOTALLY dope app that I have used for a couple of years and HIGHLY recommend) and then realized that I had managed to give myself easier projects to start off. Whew. The harder projects are being micro-managed. For instance, living room: one day will be bookshelves organized, another day will be all music organized, and so on. Then, starting with Week Thirteen, I moved on to things that I wanted to paint, shelves I wanted to put up, things I want to hang on the walls, furniture that I need to procure, et cetera. And I broke those projects up by room, and of course gave myself a week for each room. Week Twenty-Nine says I need to have all important papers in a filing system in file boxes (or binders).

Week Thirty is blank, as are all the weeks following.

This, to me, is do-able. I have felt accomplished every day that I have worked on this, even if I haven't been able to devote a full hour to it. And there have been some days that I didn't get anything done. I have not completely finished any week yet, and I am fine with that because what I HAVE actually done looks soooo much better, and feels better and lighter. Plus, with the coming weeks, if I happen to complete any ahead of schedule, I'll devote the extra days to pick something to revisit.

An added bonus: my husband and little ones have pitched in. My little ones cleaned and vacuumed the hallway and stairs and the entire area is spotless. And my oldest son did a major clean-up on his room, so when I get to the week for his room, there really won't be much to do. I'll be able to go back and tackle leftover stuff from a previous project.

And in the end, all of that pent-up nesting that I never did while I was pregnant (because I just didn't feel like it dammit. What.) will come to fruition and my beloved TLH (Teeny Little Home) will be a lovely nest.

Are you in? Does this sound like a worthwhile project for you? Leave a comment below; let me know what you think and how you will make it work for you!

Monday, December 31, 2012

on living.

I've neglected my blog for a good many months now, but that is not to say that I have neglected journaling in general. This second half of the year, it has just been a lot easier to sort of "micro-blog," by way of Instagram or tiny Twitter updates. I go through phases sometimes where I want to post more bullet-type things, or just say many things in pictures. It is during those times that I give blogging here a rest.
But I do always have something to say. I have many things to share.

Every year at this time, I reflect on how my year has been (as I am sure everyone does), and for the past several years I have thought of one word to be a theme to carry me through the next year.

2012, on the whole, was a very good year from start to finish. It was not without its trials, as life is never without trials, but we definitely saw more triumphs than we did defeats. And even with defeats, I cannot really say that that is truly what they are... We always get back up after we fall. We've fallen many times. We've gotten up many times.

But 2012 was definitely a better year than the one before it. 2011, with all of its lovely good memories, also brought with it much grief and sadness. It also brought calamities and unexplainable and irrational hardship.

This year has not brought such things.

This year brought a second and third trimester of a pregnancy. Although morning sickness remained the entire time, and although my final months found me dealing with increasingly painful sciatica, panic attacks, and at the end of it all a scary spike in my blood pressure, I was able to walk through it with clarity and peace. I slowed down, enjoyed my time on mandated bed rest, laughed through one particularly potent false alarm, finished a baby-name announcement video which we all now cherish, and was able to fully prepare myself physically and emotionally for my daughter's arrival, all the way down to painting my toenails and rubbing down my swollen ankles and feet. Indeed, her birth was THE easiest I've ever had, and all of my births have been easy. (I know I have yet to share her birth story... Heck she's eight months old now as of yesterday so I might as well just wait until her birthday.)

This year my husband started a new job. It's the same line of work that he has been doing for the past several years, but a new company. And what a blessing it has been. To sit back and watch The Lord transition us and provide for us the way He has really did so much to bring peace and healing to my heart. We've seen some incredible blessings since he started this job.

One of the blessings was being able to spend time in Houston while he was working out there this summer. For the first time, we were able to join him for the duration of an assignment instead of traveling back and forth due to my job obligations. After Hope was born, I decided to leave my job teaching so that I could focus on getting better physically (my blood pressure was still alarmingly high) and also travel with my husband and stay with him. The kids and I had never been to Texas before, and we had two of the most enjoyable months we could have ever desired. We did so much, saw so much, experienced so much, and came home (after a week-long and work-related detour in New Orleans) with the most awesome memories.

This year I met new relatives, both on my side and my husband's side. And a lot of family healing and reconciliation also took place.

I added to my phone's camera roll until I had no memory left. I added to my Instagram archives until I had over 1600 photos. I witnessed a lot of blessings and favor poured onto my husband and my oldest son. I watched my small ones grow in grace, kindness and sensitivity. I watched my smallest one GROW.

And I end this year very thankful for my family, our new addition, our times of rest, our times of plenty, and even our times of lack, for I feel like we have learned even more about leaning on God and fully trusting Him this year.

And so, with 2013 looming in the next hour and a half, I am excited about putting my One Little Word for 2013 into action.


I plan to strengthen my relationships, forge new ones and find creative ways to serve my friends and family. I plan to make my great marriage even better. I want my walk with Jesus to deepen in ways I never dreamed it could.

I also plan to get back to blogging here on the regular. I am happy to report that I have not lagged one bit in my Project 52! I take photos of my sweet Hope every single Monday with Niki and with my iPhone, and I have since the Monday afternoon when she was born. I will find some time to share more of those photos of her, because she is such a sweet doll baby.

I hope everyone who reads this experiences great, overwhelming joy and abundance in this new year.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, July 26, 2012

my project 52: a new hope, via iphoneography (for now).

Well, life has kind of gotten in the way of getting my computer looked at these last couple of weeks.

Life, meaning taking Hope out to many public places can still be pretty sticky, thus stressing me out to the point of a headache. (Though I must say, I haven't had a really bad headache since last week. Progress!)

Two Sundays ago, my husband left for Pasadena for a month on a project. It has been hard without him. Expecting him to come home every day, letting him have time alone with Hope when I need some time alone for myself (and sometimes I just really need it), hearing his voice, knowing he's on his side of the bed at night... all of that being on hiatus has left me really sad. I have fought it through prayer and  trying to get as much rest as I can, as well as trying to keep the little ones busy. Luckily, they have been pretty chill and have not gone stir crazy, which is a good thing given the temperature being close to triple digits on some days.

And Hope. There's always Hope.

She turned twelve weeks on Monday, which means she is officially no longer a newborn. She is now an infant. No more skinny, wrinkly legs and feet, no more newborn diapers or newborn clothes. She has outgrown them.

Now she carries on many conversations with us, treats us to lots of laughs (she has the cutest laugh), she sits up many times on her own (although I am always right there), she has a favorite toy, she still throws up the occasional gang sign when she's nursing, and she has many dresses and bows to look forward to. I have kept up the picture-taking every Monday, and I make sure I get several on my phone as well. That is a big help since right now I have been unsuccessful in getting the photos off of Niki onto my computer.

Here is what Hope has been up to over the past two weeks.

It's so hard to get one of her when she's not fidgeting about.

She was laughing at her favorite toy.

Some cute slippers. She kept kicking the left one off her foot.

And these last two were Monday, at twelve weeks old.

I am praying that I will make it out this weekend to get my computer looked at, so that I can get these other photos up. There are some real gems in that camera. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

my project 52 has hit a snag.

The good news is, I have not missed one week of taking photos of my sweet Hope. Even the days where the day almost got away from me, or we both were exhausted, or miserable, or I had almost forgotten, I have managed to not miss a day. If I can keep it up, I am going to look back over this year's photos and be so glad that I stuck it out. The subject matter, of course, makes it very easy to continue.

The bad news is, my computer is sick.

My little Macbook is four years old, and has seen many miles of travel and jam-packed years worth of data and memories. And now it's acting up. My Preview app which is used to view photos that I have taken and edited is not working properly. It opens, and behaves as though it is pulling up a photo, but then the photo does not display. Also, even after deleting what seems like an inordinate amount of stuff, my photo program still will not import any new photos from my camera due to lack of memory. So I am still trying to find more things to delete.

Until I can get these two things to work, I cannot post the photos of my little one here. Sigh. I fear I may have to take her in to the Apple Store to get fixed.

So for now, the pictures are still sitting on Niki's memory card, waiting to have something done with them.

Meanwhile, baby Hope is ten weeks old today. Double digit weeks. She is growing, eating and sleeping, and smiling and cooing, and fussing a little less (except in the car), and losing her hair in the back. A tiny little bald spot has already manifested. Teehee.

She's reaching for things and grabbing things and sitting up sometimes with no assistance from Mommy's arms, and loving her brothers and sister. And Daddy and Mommy.

She is wiggling her feet and toes and hands and fingers (still throwing up the occasional gang sign), and even the more unpleasant activities, like passing gas, still seem adorable.

And since I cannot share the photos from my camera just yet, I will just post a few from my iPhone, chronicling the last couple of weeks.

Her beautiful eyes.

Another one of her eyes. It came out looking like an old painting.

Caught one of her many smiles, without the photo being blurry. She has such a pretty smile.

And this one was from today. Her big sister thought she would look cute wearing one of her Barbie's crowns. And big sister was right.

I am REALLY hoping this computer will get healed in the next week or so.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

project52: a new hope, week eight. (to be continued...)


This stupid computer.

I know it's not really stupid. It's four years old and just has way too much stuff on it, even though I feel like I've already deleted three years worth of stuff. It's not allowing me to upload more photos at the moment, so I didn't get them loaded on Monday. Here I am, two days later, still trying to delete things.

And I was so excited to share Hope's snapshots from Monday.

God willing I'll have enough room to share them on this coming Monday. Sigh.

In the meantime, let me say a few things about my wonderful Hope.

She has been decidedly less fussy this week. That has allowed us both more time to rest. Praise the Lord. She's been sleeping well, and so have I. There have been a couple of days that I have still had the awful headaches creep in, but the extra rest has certainly helped. (Now, as for trips in the carseat, that is still a small nightmare...)

Hope's legs are gloriously chubby now. And she has a belly on her. So sweet.

The swirl of hair in the back of her head is still there.

She's spending more time in her bassinet without fussing right away. That's a good sign. (I'm trying to ease her into it.)

She loves her siblings so much... engaging them, looking for them when they disappear, smiling at them and "reaching" for their faces.

And speaking of smiles, hers are so joyful and lovely. And she smiles a lot. She accompanies those smiles with gobs of coos. She is very vocal and has a lot to say. It makes us all very happy.

She is a real gem.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

project 52: a new hope, week seven.

This week has been difficult.

My sweet Hope has had mild improvements with her digestive issues, in that she has not been upset through the night anymore. However, some days are worse than others, and she is fussiest in the afternoons. Granted, not every single afternoon, which is a good thing. But Monday was one of those days. We had a lot to get done on Monday and between trying to get everything taken care of and her cries of discomfort, I ended up with a splitting headache that lasted for hours and would not go away no matter what I did. I did not get as many pictures of her as I usually do, because it hurt my head to even move.

I did take a few though, out of sheer determination.

Daddy was able to get her to sleep for a little while, and that's when I snapped a few shots.

She was seven weeks old on Monday.

Pretty girl.

When she is not fussing, she is staring up at us with her marvelous sparkly eyes and giving us all kinds of coos and smiles. On Saturday she discovered she was quite capable of bouncing up and down on her legs, and every time she did it she looked so excited, like she felt so empowered or something. All of those moments make the fussy times for her and the migraine-y times for me seem not so bad.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

project 52: a new hope, weeks five and six.

This baby is sleeping peacefully right now, and I am about to have some chocolate milk and take my medicine before bed. But first, posterity time.

Last week was extremely difficult for both mother and baby. I was able to get some photos of her on the day of her five-week mark, thankfully. That in itself was a minor miracle. There were some moments when she was not fussing, and I took full advantage. I cannot get over her supreme cuteness.

This week has been slightly better than last week. On Monday, Hope was six weeks old. She has still been fussing quite a bit, but every now and then I get these five to ten-minute pockets of calm (sometimes even twenty minutes) where she just stares at me and smiles and does all manner of cooing and oohing and aah-ing. She is sweet as can be.

And these photos are truly craptastic. But my goal this week was just to get something, since time was not on my side. I want to remember her hands, her feet, her expressions, no matter how awful the photo comes out. I was able to get what I wanted to remember which was my only objective.

Moving feet.

Her gangsta hand. She has her hands in this position 50 percent of the time. The majority of the remaining 50 percent consists of her hand displaying the number four.

Pretty girl. With her little angel wings forming above her ears. And I don't know why I call them angel wings. I just do.

Heehee. This one looks like the photos I took of my teenage son when he was an infant. I miss film. Even disposable film.

My Hopey is the sweetest little flower.

Monday, June 11, 2012

on recovery, chapter four.

It is 11:11 p.m., and I am finally getting a few quiet moments to write.


Last week was horrific.

Not a day went by that I did not have a splitting headache at least some part of the day (but usually all day). And by splitting, I mean just that. I am not one who gets headaches on the regular, but I have always sympathized with people who get migraines. My oldest son used to get migraines often. I am convinced that some of the headaches I had last week had to have been migraines. I have a high pain threshold (or so I'm often told by my husband) and these bastards had me about in tears. And that was after waiting for the Motrin to kick in. It never did.

The only thing that would help was lying down. That is, if lying down weren't difficult. Not only was I miserable, but my sweet Hope was just as miserable. She cried and screamed. Every day. For the majority of the day. She did take a nap or two each day which was not the normal amount; she usually sleeps more than that since she is still in that newborn stage. Last week, she didn't. My husband and I gave her some of those gas drops. The first day that we gave them to her, they seemed to work quite well. The three of us got about an hour of relief. The other days were guessing games, however.

What made last week extra hard is the fact that my blood pressure medication makes me drowsy in the mornings. Drowsy to the point where I feel like I've pulled an all-nighter. So, in the mornings until between noon and one I would feel so sleepy and run down, but couldn't rest because I couldn't keep Hope calm. Not with nursing, rocking, sitting up, nothing. Then in the middle of the night for a few nights in a row, she was fussing up a storm. No sleep for us there.

And I have misplaced my stool softeners. Have yet to find them. So it's back to going to the bathroom with trepidation at best and terror at worst.

I did manage to get some snapshots of her last Monday. I have not missed a Monday. Getting time to blog (meaning, when she is not fussing or I am not busy with something else) has been an unsuccessful endeavor this past week. Even tonight, as I type this, her moment of calm is beginning to subside and I may spend the next hour trying to get her to sleep (and stay asleep... not wake up after ten minutes).

So, in the few fleeting moments I hope I have left, let me say that yesterday was the first day in a long week that I did NOT get a headache at any time during the day or night. Hope is still fussy, but at least yesterday (and today, I might add), I haven't had migraine-like pain to exacerbate an already stressful situation.

And yes, I am stressed. Sleep deprivation and a baby in pain will do that to you.

Friday night and Saturday night were a tad better, as there were a couple of hours of quiet, during which time I tried to rest as best I could. And Saturday afternoon I got a couple of hours to myself to run a couple of errands. My oldest went with me, but my husband stayed home with the baby. That was a sanity-saver.

I have been trying to keep up with milestones great and small on the Momento app on my phone. Last week was such a horrid week that my brain was just mush and whenever I thought to write something, I couldn't do it right away because I was either tending to her or to one of the kidlets or to myself, and by the time I had a quick minute, I had forgotten what I wanted to write. Frustrating.

At least I remember that my six-week postpartum check-up is this week. I'd hate to forget that. My husband would hate it too, and I would never hear the end of it. Haha.

Hope's hair is starting to curl a little bit on the sides. Little angel wings are beginning to appear (those little curls right above her ears. Natalie had them too.). She is also smiling at her siblings often, and also at my husband and me, when she isn't crying. Her feet and hands are no longer wrinkly at all, her skinny bow legs are now fatter bow legs, and she is on to the next size diaper. Sweet pea.

She is six weeks old today. I got a few craptastic pictures of her (nowadays I get more craptastic shots than gems) because I was photographing frantically hoping the ticking time bomb of gassy fuss would not detonate long enough for me to get three or four shots. I had about a two-minute time window, and I was nervous. Oh well. I guess they can't all be acceptable.

Nevertheless, I will share them (hopefully) tomorrow, along with last week's, Week Five. I say hopefully because I'll need another window like the one that is currently open, where she is calm and actually sleeping. God willing, she will be. And I won't have a headache.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

project 52: a new hope, weeks three and four.


After a couple of harrowing nights, I am finally able to get this posted. Hope has been really fussy for most of the weekend as well as Monday and yesterday. Her fussiness was at full steam during the evenings, which is when I am normally most alert and able to carve out a few minutes to blog. Didn't happen Monday. Then it didn't happen yesterday. Today, her fussiness is a bit less, and I am so glad. Bless her wee heart. Her little stomach doesn't seem to be upsetting her quite as much, which is a good thing. And my husband was kind enough to let me have some time alone so I could do some work on my computer. I love him. He really can be the sweetest.

Ahhh, so now, this beautiful bundle of baby in all of her intense beautimousness.

First, last week. She was three weeks old. Here is what she looked like last Monday.

Her eyes are like these beautiful marbles.

Little baby feet. Not so wrinkly anymore. And her legs are getting fatter. Heart.

Caught her in mid-motion.

And now, Memorial Day.

This past Monday, Hope turned four weeks old. A full month. There were points in the day when I wanted to cry, because yet again, here I am with a wee one that is growing and changing a little too fast for me. But oh, the sweet changes. She studies me so intently, recognizes when her siblings are in the room, coos so softly, and, like all babies, looks like an angel when sleeping. And she loves snuggling with Mommy and cuddling with Daddy. 

This is what she looked like on Monday.

"Who is it? Who did it?"

Those marbles for eyes again.

My heart is all aflutter.

Luckily, she is still resting peacefully. 

Whoops. Spoke too soon. 

Luckily, I am done.

Monday, May 21, 2012

project 52: a new hope, week three. (darn technical difficulties!)

My daughter is three weeks old today. I have some photos that I took today that I was ready to share, but my Internet connection keeps going in and out and the photos won't load. Sigh.

I will include those photos of her and all her cuteness in next week's post, because I am done fooling with this tonight.

But I will say that earlier today, I noticed that she folds her legs up by her stomach a little less often, preferring to keep them stretched out. She's used to being out of the womb now, and in that regard, a little less newborn-ish.

And she stares at me, and I stare back at her. And so many times, she gets a little smile going. And we just love each other so much. Her wonderful sweetness fills my heart with incredible joy.

-natty posted this using BlogPress from her iPhone.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

on recovery, chapter three.

In two more days, on Monday, my youngest daughter will be three weeks old.

She loves to stare up at me. She smiles often. Involuntarily, yes, but it is still nice to see.

She eats a lot. She sleeps a lot. And she recognizes and turns toward her daddy's voice. She also seems quite interested in her siblings' faces.

Earlier in the week, on Wednesday, I noticed that her legs and feet are slightly fuller now, and less newborn-wrinkly. Her thighs have a little more fat on them. Her precious little thighs.

Then yesterday (Friday, Postpartum Day 19), I took her out by myself for the first time. I had to go to my midwife/obgyn office at the hospital to have my blood pressure checked. That was... an ordeal. I am discovering that she definitely does not like being in her car seat. Talk about stressing out.

But my postpartum recovery period is getting better. I used the last of that knit underwear that they give you at the hospital. Finished that up yesterday. And there is a lot less bleeding. I am also less fearful of the bathroom now.

I also weigh less now than I did when I found out I was pregnant. I do wish I had a scale handy at home so that I could weigh the baby.

A considerable amount of weight loss in not quite three weeks (about 23 pounds) is good news. The not-so-good news is, I am now on blood pressure medication.

My blood pressure was still high when they checked it yesterday, so they put me on medication for it. I have to go again next week to have it checked. My hope is that in the coming weeks everything will level off and I will be able to come off of the medication. This is abnormal, according to my midwife, especially because up until 37 weeks my blood pressure was always normal or low. My game plan is to start exercising more regularly once I am fully recovered. That should help a great deal.

Meanwhile, I feel it is a small price to pay for such a treasure of a little girl. It's amazing how anything and everything seems worth it to come home with a sweet bundle of baby.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

project 52: a new hope, week two.

Long couple of days. Enjoyable ones. I over-exerted myself a bit, I think. Went to church twice yesterday, and today was out and about for most of the day, so my lower end is really feeling it. It was worth it though, because the week has gotten off to a lovely start.

My sweet Hope is two weeks old today. She looks like this.

She is the sweetest thing.

Side note: She was two weeks old on Monday. It is now Tuesday. I was late getting this posted. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

on recovery, chapter two.

Getting back into the habit of blogging regularly is not as difficult as I thought it would be. Good thing.

It is now postpartum day eleven. In three more days, my youngest daughter will be two weeks old. Thinking about how quickly the days go by, it makes me want to record everything. But of course I really can't record everything, so for many situations I will have to rely on just my memories and nothing recorded for posterity. That is a hard pill to swallow, since after four children some of my memories are vague, foggy, and running together in such a way that I don't always know for sure which memory is associated with which child.

Yesterday, I noticed that my baby's hands seemed ever-so-slightly different. Her long, slender fingers seemed to have a little more fat on them, and her hands seemed a tiny bit less wrinkly. (Her feet are still wrinkly, thank goodness.) Earlier in the week, on day eight (Tuesday), her umbilical cord clamp finally detached. And she is spending much of her waking moments studying my face and her surroundings.

I am still in a good deal of pain, especially if I spend too much time out of bed. I still need rest most of the day. Motrin is still not having a whole lot of impact. And I am still terrified to go to the bathroom. Number One is no longer uncomfortable, but everything else is still horrifying, as is the prospect of everything else. Pregnant ladies out there, DON'T forget to take the stool softeners every day for a while after having your baby.

My legs are skinny again, and no more swelling in my feet. Yay.

But the heartburn is still there, though less severe. Boo.

BUT no more nausea! Yay! That makes me very happy, especially since I DID finally vomit, in the hospital, later on in the evening after I had the baby.

I suspect that it may be another month or so before I am done bleeding, aching, and fearing the toilet. But I am thankful for small victories... I think since I've been home I've only missed brushing my teeth two or three days. I also successfully tied my Moby Wrap yesterday, although next time I need to do it a little bit tighter since the baby is still very small. I didn't realize those Mobys were so long!

And, as I stated before, chocolate and sweets in general make me happy again. Yesterday it was homemade chocolate chip cookies (twice this week, actually). Today it was brownies. Thank God for wonderful friends who bring you food after you've come home with a newborn. It really helps.

Monday, May 07, 2012

a new project 52: a new hope, week one.

I did not do a "one little word" for this year, because I spent the last eight months away from my blog. Back in December, I'm not sure I would have known for certain what my word would be. I was in the midst of traveling back and forth (I'll share more about that later but there are a few photos in this post), overcome much of the time with nausea and feeling generally miserable. Blogging was the furthest thing from my mind.

Taking photos was also not the highest priority for me, due to the same reasons. So, although I had totally planned on starting a new photo project (either every day or every week) at the start of the year, it just didn't happen. I guess I just wasn't ready.

But now, here we are. The start of May. And many things are different. Of course, the biggest thing is my baby girl is here. She has inspired me to write again, to get back into a creative routine, and to take many, many photos. Of my family. And definitely of her in this, her first year.

This time goes by so freaking fast. I hate it. I mean, I love it. But I hate it. It just seems like everything is over or years have passed in the blink of an eye. So I am going to chronicle what I can in a new 52-week project. I'll watch her grow that way. It isn't like I haven't taken tons of pictures of my three other kids. I'm just going to be very deliberate about it with her.

Her name is Hope, and today she is a week old. I will share her birth story and photos from her first days very soon. But for now, here is what she looks like today.

In her car seat, she is so tiny.

The back of her tiny head, with her gorgeous hair.

Her tiny little toes.

Sweet face.

And the sweet peach fuzz on her ear.

Indeed, the Lord has given us a tremendous new Hope this year. One that is everlasting.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

on recovery.

It's write-without-looking time! Here goes...

I had some very tasty chocolate cake for dessert tonight. A very kind friend brought it over with dinner yesterday. I am so thankful for help with food right now. I am also thankful for sweets. Especially chocolate. I had a mild aversion to sweets and chocolate on and off throughout my pregnancy, so being able to enjoy them again is great. Or... maybe it's not so great... the cake was great.

I can't find the one small pack of nursing pads that I have.

Speaking of nursing, I feel like I am learning everything all over again. Not just with nursing. With everything. This is my fourth child, but my third child is four years old. This all seems so new. And a tad unfamiliar. Again. Despite my experience with three other babies over the last fifteen years.

Chocolate helps me feel good. I need to feel good, since the baby blues are very real. They have nothing to do with my baby girl. I absolutely adore her and am completely over the moon about her. But dang these hormonal mood swings. I know it's perfectly normal, but thank God I've got some chocolate.

Still haven't dealt completely with the grief. The baby blues don't help. The brief episodes of depression during nursing don't help. Mother's Day coming up most definitely does not help. Darn Hallmark holiday.

It's still absolutely terrifying to have to go to the bathroom.

And yes, I am inclined to agree that the postpartum cramping gets progressively worse with each child. Motrin and even Percoset seemed to only work at their convenience. Not good.

But there is a lot of good on which to focus, like the fact that seven pounds and ten ounces feel like a watermelon-sized bowling ball in the womb, but out of the womb they are so light and feathery and freakishly fragile-feeling and delightfully squishy and soft.

That baby smell should be bottled and preserved.

As should all of that soft fuzz that covers her tiny body, and the sweet sound that her baby breath makes.

Her toes are so little.

And her eyes dance, and stare, and glisten. And she smiles. Even though it's involuntary, she still does it. Quite a bit. These are times that I never want to forget.

I'll share her birth story in the coming week, as well as start a new photo project. I finally decided what to do.

Monday, April 30, 2012

new life.

It has been eight months since my last post. So many things are welled up inside of me that I want to say, but even now, still, after eight long months, much of it is still a jumbled mess. I have been ready to blog again for the past three months. No writer's block. No real lack of motivation. Just... not knowing where to start. Or how to start. I still don't really know. So I will go back to diary mode and just write.

But first, I will share what I have been up to in the past eight months, which isn't much.

Spent a few months in Baltimore. Visited DC with the fam while there.

That's my husband and little boy in front of that guard.

Taken by my husband.

All of the other photos of me were taken by my son. This last one was taken yesterday. I am 39 weeks and 3 days, and thanks to high blood pressure, I am being induced later on today. Looks like my youngest kidlet's birthday will be 30 April 2012.

She is so loved, indeed.

Hard to believe she started out so tiny.

And she has a family that is beyond excited to meet her. It feels even better than Christmas Eve right now. 

So, the diary of scrambled pages of my jumbled up thoughts, emotions and quite possibly rants will start this week. Maybe once a week at first, since I'll be recovering with baby. Or maybe I will start a new photo project featuring her, since my previous photo project plans never took off for various reasons. No matter what, I do know that I have much to say and share, and I will slowly but surely figure out how to say and share it, and how to express myself eloquently again. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

no words.

A week ago today, my dear mother passed away.

A Saturday morning. On 20 August 2011.

I knew it was coming, but at the same time I was blindsided. Not expecting it. Thinking it would be a long time coming still. And I wish I had been correct.

My mind is still reeling.

I spent most of each day since then crying uncontrollably, until Thursday morning.

I do not know what happened Thursday morning, but it was different.

Wednesday night, I went through what had become my usual ordeal of inconsolable crying. I cried out to Jesus, imploring him to take the pain away. I just can't take it anymore.

And He heard my cry. I haven't cried inconsolably since that night. Thursday morning felt different. Thursday felt different. Thursday night felt different. The same goes for Friday. And now, Saturday. A week later.

Yes, I will cry again. And again after that. And again still. I know this. But the past few days, I know the Lord has shown me just how real and close his mercy and care are. The ache is still there, but the sting is not.

How long will it take the ache to heal? That I do not know. I told my son Sunday night, August 20 next year will most likely still hurt a lot. But I suspect that five years from now it won't hurt as much. Ten years from now it may hurt even less. And twenty years from now, August 20 may not cause me much heartache at all.

Of course, I am speculating. Hoping. But I know through this and past experiences that the Lord is all about removing stings. Healing aches. Binding wounds, and restoring broken hearts. It's his business.

He is the one I can count on always. When I feel like my photography sucks, or when there are times like these when I don't even care whether it sucks or not--I just don't want to touch my camera ever again.

Because it feels like photography, with all of its virtues and promise, brings to remembrance everything. Even the painful things.

But Jesus doesn't remember the painful things. If he removes our sins as far as the east is from the west and remembers them no more, that is a good indication to me that he wants my heart to be refreshed with the wonderful memories.

He is the one I on whom I can always depend. When the music fades, or when there are times like these when I feel like it isn't healing or soothing, but it is only turning the knife.

Jesus never turns the knife. Jesus only heals. Only soothes. Always. If he gives me a song at a time when I have no desire to write ever again, that is a good indication to me that he wants my spirit to be comforted with his words.

He did give me a song. Monday night.

you see my tears
one by one
slowly they fall into space
you catch them
in your hand

you hear my cry
sorrow inside
every stream on my face
you watch as they dry

and then you say, "my love...
nothing is in vain
your tears are not wasted...

I hold them here
one by one
although darkness to you
I turn them into light

ashes surround
final it seems
and in the blink of an eye
I turn it into joy

and give it all to you...
nothing is in vain
your tears are not wasted..."

As much as I love remembering (it is a motto of mine), all I have wanted to do is forget.

The Lord is gently reassuring me that it is okay to remember.

Friday, August 19, 2011

the ianisms.

Years ago, back in 2006 (oh my gosh that was FIVE years ago!), I wrote a post listing some of the funny things my oldest son had said. Take a moment if you have the time and read it (it's short). He always said hilarious things, and still does. I call them Bobbyisms.

Well, now my five-year old has been saying more and more funny things himself. I can't call them Bobbyisms, because his name isn't Bobby (haha). I call them, Ianisms.

My little Ian is a fairly precocious five-year old. Not any more precocious than the next kid, but precocious enough. He can (very carefully) read full sentences, add small numbers on his hands, and draw Transformers. He loves watching movies and playing video games. And the great Ianisms of 2011 that have come forth from his mouth have been nothing short of priceless. A sample:

"It's starting to rain, so now the zombies are going to come out." (I have NO idea. Haha)

"'Heck no' rhymes with 'techno!'" (Informing his big brother.)

"I want a turntable and some Deadmau5 records. And some Thor toys." (Announcing to his brother what he wants for Christmas.)

And, the other day, I was getting on to him about finding his socks. We were getting ready to leave the house, and he still hadn't found them (he tends to take them off and leave them in random places). This is an unfortunate routine that we have every day. He told me, in a very exasperated tone, "I can't find my socks! I've looked everywhere!" To which I replied, "Well, you obviously haven't looked everywhere because there's one of them right there on the floor in front of you!"

He looked down, saw the lone sock, and said, "Oh." Then, picking it up, he slowly backed out of my room, let out a nervous laugh and said, "Awkward."

I laughed. Out. Loud.

As I said in my post five years ago, a merry heart does good like a medicine, and my son's an excellent doctor.

Make that medicine double dosage, from two heart specialists.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

an unlikely anniversary.

Somehow, whenever I take a break from blogging (whether planned or otherwise), I always manage to make it back on the anniversary of the very day that I started this journal in the first place.

Most of the time, I do think of this blog as a personal diary. That is not to say that I do not appreciate all of you, my tens of readers, because I really do. I am grateful that there are people out there that want to read what I have to say and converse with me, through comments or emails. You guys are blessings.

But sometimes, I don't have much to say.

Or I do, but I have no idea how to say it.

So, I wait.

And that is how this blog is very much like a personal diary for me. When I was a little girl, I had a diary. There were periods of time when I was writing in it daily, recording every little thing. And there were other periods of time when weeks would go by before I would open my little diary again, for whatever reason.

And so, I faced July with almost no desire to ever blog again. My desire to even take Niki out of her bag and shoot waned as well. As a result, there are some weeks of my Project 52 that I missed.

I was entrenched (joyfully) in weeks of rehearsals for a show that I performed in at the beginning of this month. Weekly rehearsals they were. Two, sometimes three times per week. And I am surely glad that I was involved in that show, because singing gives me such joy and always takes my mind off of everything.

What did I have my mind on? I can't really say, because I don't really know. What I do know is, for the better part of the summer, from July on, I was dealing with depression.

I haven't felt depressed like this in years, since college. Depression was something that I had overcome and been completely free from all this time, so when it reared its ugly head I was quite frustrated. There were a few outside factors I guess... health problems with different members of our family, but that was nothing new. Work was dry the whole month of July for my husband, which was trying and annoying to say the least. But again, that wasn't something we hadn't dealt with before. I usually love summers because I love having a break from all of my teaching work (except for homeschooling which we do year-round), and last summer was so glorious I was looking forward to another season of lazy days, long nights, and lots of photographs. But this year was inexplicably different.

I'm still not one hundred percent, but I am feeling better than I was. I've sat and questioned, then questioned again, then again still, how much I truly love singing, if I should continue to use my camera, if I am raising my kids right, if we're ever going to "move on up" so to speak, if I'll ever write another song, if I am reaching any of the kids that I teach, and a few other things. Silly questions, yes, but ones that I was considering quite seriously. The answers seemed to weigh heavily on the negative side, and even through the praying and worshiping and throwing myself into my singing, I couldn't seem to shake this heavy feeling of disappointment.

I still can't explain why this feeling appeared or why it is only now beginning to disappear. I also know that I haven't communicated any of this all that effectively. Up until now, my thoughts have been even more random and jumbled. I'm not doing the best job of getting things off my chest I guess.

I haven't quit my Project 52. I still have a few weeks worth that I hadn't shared yet, and will slowly get those posted and get back on the grind. If nothing else, I know that there will be a new opportunity to finish a complete project 52 next year! Ha.