Grace Hope

I’m tired. I can’t remember the last time my brain has concentrated on just one thing at a time. I’m always doing 3+ things, which is really inefficient if you we’re wondering. I can’t help but think of this person I have become- that I don’t recognize.  I feel crazy and disorganized. The new me:
– has to look through piles of mail to find a bill that I’m praying isn’t late (that I remembered to pay at 5 o’clock in the morning)
– has 1000! (1000 you guys ) emails in my inbox.
– never remembers what I was trying to say and takes forever to type an email because I can’t figure out if I’m making sense
– is always doing laundry – ALWAYS
– forgets something everywhere (at work, home, the counter at the grocery store)
– can’t seem to go throughout the week without worrying about things such as sleep schedules, teething, baby proofing, ear infections, runny noses, healthy toddler meals (which is hard if your toddler only has 6 teeth), and yes how could I forget poop!

This new me is someone I don’t recognize.  I just want to sleep and not worry about anything. If I could invent a game show it would involve moms playing for the coveted prize: a nanny AND a personal assistant.

What I’m trying to say is no one told me it would be this much work. Well, maybe someone did, but there is no way of knowing how much your life will change when you become a mother.  And somedays you don’t want to be positive, or cheery – you want to cry, throw a tantrum, then take a nap:)

I’m blessed to have an awesome group of Christian women who are like family to me who are also mothers.  I reached out to them recently because it was 6:00 am and all I could do was think about my gigantic “to do list ” (since it appears like I took the week off from everything, not just work). The feedback I received was truly priceless and two themes stood out from their advice.

HOPE – they all understood where I was coming from and that alone made  me hopeful. Hopeful that I’m not crazy and that I’ll find new ways to adjust to the hectic demands of my new life. My daughter did not sleep well this week. She took forever to go to bed, woke up in the middle of the night, and then still felt like 6:30 was a good time to start the day. She’s teething I’ve come to conclude and I’m going to have a serious conversation with the teething monster when I find him.  We also thought she had another ear infection (which she didn’t-praise God) and she was just a bundle of crankiness this week. I guess she didn’t get the memo that mommy and daddy took the week off to relax:) This week made me feel like she was a newborn all over again, and I was mad. I thought “You are not following the schedule Isabelle, didn’t we pass the stage when we have trouble sleeping?”  Well that brings me to my next theme…

Grace

One of my friends gave me the advice to give myself GRACE daily. She she shared something someone one shared with her:

In life and in raising children there are seasons. Right now the season you are in is to  be the caring and loving mommy you are. There will come a season where the home stuff just happens and fall into place. For right now give yourself some GRACE.

That made me wonder: why do we put pressure on ourselves for everything to fall into place, to be perfect moms? Giving myself some grace releases me from that need for things to work out “right”.  There is no “right” at this time in my life! Isabelle is going to do whatever she wants! She runs my life and I’m reminded now that it is not such a bad thing. So instead of stressing I’m off to cuddle with my izzitypoo:)

Side note: I just read something from these devotional emails I receive daily that was VERY timely. Thought I’d share it with you in case you’re having some trouble slowing down to notice the blessings right in front of your face:)

http://www.proverbs31.org/devotions/hurry-heart-condition-2012-12/

Beauty Lessons

BUSY!

That’s what I have been. I started writing a post in October…and well now it’s November:) Here’s what you’ve missed:

  • We traveled to Michigan and spent a week with my family. My mother quickly realized her house wasn’t baby-proof.
  • She turned 1 ! We had a fun celebration at Gymboree with some friends and she had a blast.
  • My year-long maternity leave ended…hence, why I have been so busy. Today was the start of my 5th week back at work.

I remember my first post. I wrote ” I seriously need to start writing down our experiences with our little pumpkin, or before I know it she will be a year old, I’ll be back at work, and I won’t be able to remember her being this small”. Well here we are.  How we got here so quickly, I’m not sure. However, it has been one of the greatest years of my life. I recently read an article that joked about the annoying things we experience as parents of a baby. The spit-ups, the sleepless nights, the fact you can no longer just pick up your purse and leave the house to run a quick errand (leaving the house sometimes takes longer than the errand itself!) I tell my friends who are currently expecting that no amount of advice can prepare you for the experience. Will you cry? Yes. Will you get frustrated? Yes. Will you longingly think of the days before you became a parent? Yes. Nevertheless, through all the crazy experiences, I feel incredibly blessed. One of the reasons I actually started writing this blog (other than to capture moments I’d otherwise forget) was to remember that there is a blessing, a lesson to be learned, with every frustrating situation that occurs in my life. If I just take a moment and step back, and ask myself “What can I learn from this?” I’ll be a much better, wiser, and faithful person.

My daughter has taught me over the past year that I’m not nearly as patient as I thought I was and then again I can be the most patient person on this earth if it’s for her benefit. I’ve learned that no matter how much planning and preparation I put into something, she’ll make sure to remind me that my plans are just that…plans. I’ve surprisingly learned to just go with the flow, something I didn’t know how to do before. I’ve learned how to enjoy sitting in bed with my family every Sunday morning and let the laundry, dishes, and errands wait a few more hours to be tackled. I’ve learned to appreciate the ability to make friends and maintain friendships, as advice from other new moms has repeatedly reminded me “I’m not the only who…” I’ve learned how to love another human being more than I love myself, which is the best feeling in the whole world. It humbles me to my core when she reminds me that my wants and needs aren’t as important as I thought they were, and I have the opportunity to practice being self-less.

I chose the name bellelessons for my blog because of my daughter Isabelle. Belle means beautiful and I like to think that the lessons she unknowingly  teaches me are making me into a more beautiful person.  I think sometimes we fight so hard for everything to work out perfectly and I’m realizing that makes no sense. Learning develops our character. We experience situations we never would have chosen for ourselves when we allow ourselves to follow the path that contains a lesson in its’  bumps and grooves.  If God knew that giving me my baby girl would be the best way to help me learn these life lessons that I’ve learned to love and appreciate, then He must be a pretty smart guy:)

Seeing that it took me forever to finish this post, I’ll post a milestones update later. However, the most important milestone of all happened yesterday! She called me “mama” yesterday 🙂

Be careful little eyes…

I barely made it! I wanted to make sure I got 1 post in each month, and I think there is only 1 day left in September. It’s been a while, so I’ll briefly update you guys on what has been going on with us.

Isabelle has started daycare. It is going well and she is adjusting to the daycare schedule. She got a cold which stressed me right out because she had it for 2 weeks and was coughing and her nose was running (is still running I should say) and I felt bad. However, I’m learning to go with the flow of our new normal. I have been silently repeating this phrase to myself multiple times a day “This is what is happening right now and you cannot change it. So just accept it and think positively” lol. I’m a worrier and I actually think it’s helping.

My year long maternity leave is over in a few weeks. I’m scheduled to head back to work October 22. I felt tense and overwhelmed all week, and didn’t have a specific reason why. I’m thinking it has to do with my impending return to work. I feel so busy without going to work and I wonder how I’ll get everything done when I’m back to working full time.  Again, I’ll have to get used to our new normal.

Isabelle and I will be heading to Michigan to visit my family for a bit and then my mom will return with us to celebrate Isabelle’s birthday and help me out my first week back to work. I’ll be looking forward to having her help me around the house and my husband will be looking forward to her cooking I’m sure:)

So as we approach Belle’s first birthday, I’m noticing how much she is learning and changing right before our eyes.  There is a bell that chimes whenever our front or back door is opened, and I noticed this week that Isabelle knows this.  I opened the back door to put out the trash and she turned around and looked to the front door (she doesn’t realize the back door does it too yet lol). I was a little surprised, so I  shut the door and opened it again, and sure enough she looked back to the front door.  Well, of course I felt like my child was the smartest baby on the earth and showed my husband when he got home from work! However, my elation quickly transformed into panic.  If she picked up on that, what else is she learning from us?

This is not good. I yell at the dog when she won’t stop eating food off the floor. I get mad at driver who won’t let me in a lane and my signal is on. I may not say so nice of a word when I clumsily stub my toe on the bed post. This is not good! And there you have it – there is my lesson for not just the week, but the rest of my life: Someone is watching every little thing I do, and do I really want her first word to be “Crap!” ?

My mom would sing this song to my sister and I when we were little:

Oh be careful little eyes what you see. Oh be careful little eyes what you see. For the Father up above is looking down in love, oh be careful little eyes what you see. 

(The next verses would follow with hands what you do, mouth what you say, and feet where you go.)

Let’s face it, because we don’t see God right in front of us, it’s easy to forget that He’s watching us too, and that we are supposed to be trying to be like Him daily.  Ah ha! I have figured out why he invented children! hahaha Do what you want, say what you want, go where you want. Until you realize there is a little person that wants to be just like you and will pick up on your good AND bad habits. Great! This is just awesome! Well, when she says “Laila, sit down NOW!” I’ll blame that one on her dad 🙂

  •  Recent highlights: She shakes her head ‘no’ all the time now. It’s so cute because she uses almost her entire upper body to do so. Can’t wait for the day when we are in the store and someone asks “Is this your mom?” … “Nope!”
  • Recent funny moment: We went to the zoo recently and were so excited for her to see all the animals. She didn’t care about them at ALL. I don’t think she could even really see them. She was too distracted by the people walking around. We get to the giraffes, thinking there is no way she could miss this one, and the giraffe walked away. I think it so funny when parents get so excited about something and the baby could care less.
  • Recent crazy parent moment:  I turned 30 last week and leave it up to your child to remind you that you are no longer the most important person in your own life! She was teething, had a cold, and was completely miserable most of the day. Weirdly enough, I didn’t mind. However, my hubby kept saying “This is the wackest birthday ever, I’m sorry.”
  • Recent milestones: She has 3 teeth now! She had none last month, so this is progress.
  • Bellelesson of the week: “… Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8

Made

There is a well known verse in the Bible that says “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:13, 14 NIV)  I used to think of this verse frequently while I was pregnant – but I recently realized that it is a verse I need to keep in my heart daily.

My baby sweetie pie pooh bear is 10 months old now! She is getting into EVERYTHING and won’t stop moving. She isn’t walking yet, but that doesn’t stop her from exploring. Sometimes I have to just sit back and smile at how every little thing amazes her. As I type, I hear her having a full blown conversation with someone in her crib (she is just waking up). So cute, she definitely melts my heart.

Now I have a confession to make: I compare my baby to other babies! Any new mom will tell you that as much as you try not to do this, it happens. I’m part of a new mom’s group in my city (which has been a big blessing)  and we often share our children’s milestones, so it is kind of difficult not to realize milestones your baby hasn’t achieved. I really have not had a problem in this area, as I understand there is a wide range of development. So what is my comparing problem you ask? My baby is tiny! Now anyone who has met me would roll their eyes at this moment because I have been petite my whole life. I come from a West Indian family and my nick name is “bones”.  That is how skinny I am. So why would it bother me that my daughter is small just like me? I honestly have no idea. I realized I would go to her doctor’s appointments hoping she would have grown leaps and bounds since her last visit. I was annoyed when she stayed at 14 lbs for a few months. It would bother me when someone would comment on how tiny she is. However, overall it bothered me that her size bothered me in the first place.  “She is perfect – exactly as she should be. Why was I letting this get to me?” I thought.

I shared my thoughts with some friends who are also new mothers and I realized that I was totally being a girl. What do women do?  We compare. We envy someone who has longer hair, a smaller waist, a better smile, a nicer car, a better man, a coveted job, and the list goes on. Through this we develop insecurities and the jealousy takes over and we say, think, and do things we shouldn’t.  I believe parents don’t need to be mean in order to make their children insecure. Of course I’m not going to chastise her for her size as she grows. But if I subconsciously have an issue with her size, she will pick up on it and I want to teach her from now that she is beautiful the way she is.  I had to snap out of it. My daughter is not malnutritioned. She is not too skinny. She is perfect just the way she is.  Let’s re-visit the verse above again:

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:13, 14 NIV)

All the assurance I need is right there. She is made just as He intended her to be. And so are you!

  • Recent highlights: Her swimming classes were a hit. She loved being in the water as I expected. It was nice to observe her spending quality time with dad too!
  • Recent funny moment: She has started sharing her food with us (and the dog!) She was eating a piece of bread and would chew on it then give some to her dad. He HATES mushy food so I found this to be hilarious. Yum! Soggy bread:)
  • Recent crazy parent moment: She stopped waking up in the middle of night!  Praise the Lord! Anyway, we went out for dinner yesterday. She was eating bread,  gagged on a big piece and .… wait for it … threw up all over herself. I was so calm during the whole thing I thought to myself  “Wow, I must really be a mom!” lol.
  • Recent milestones:  As I mentioned earlier she is getting into everything. I must say I am not used to this. What happened to the baby that would just lay there and not move? She is crawling, pulling up on stuff, trying to stand (she starts on all fours but she can’t figure out how to raise the top half of her body), clapping, shaking her head “no”, and babbling like crazy. She still doesn’t say mama yet:( She hasn’t been too interested in the stairs – but definitely climbed on the dishwasher door while I was unpacking it yesterday. Oh yeah, she is also very intrigued  with the dog bowl and I caught her trying to drink water out of it this week.  What have we gotten ourselves into?!!
  • Bellelesson of the week: Do you have any insecurities about yourself or your child? Ask God to take them away and help you love yourself and your children, as He made both of you and didn’t make any mistakes.  
  • Update: if you read my last post I was worried about daycare and decided to let it go knowing God would work it out – I got a call about 2 days later saying she got into the daycare of our choice!

Pray then worry

My Izzity poo just turned 9 months old on the 17th. Time has really flown by, and I’m preparing to head back to work in October. Part of that preparation includes finding child care for her. We have had her on the waiting list for a few daycares and I just found out this week that she is still on the waiting list and that currently she does not have a space. Now do you think I heard the part where they said that she was first and second on the list? Nope! My mind fast forwarded to October, when I am week away from going to work and frantically searching for childcare still.

Now as a Christian I know the right thing to do is to trust God and believe that He will work everything out. So, why am I still stressing? Why do I find it so easy to think of all the things that may go wrong in the future instead of looking back at all the things He has worked out in the past.  I have been telling myself all week to stop worrying, but each time I think about it I feel myself start to panic. This has all made me realize that I need to do a much better job of putting my faith to work. God has done way too much for me and I have no idea why  I am doubting him.

Because I don’t need a daycare until October I feel like God is putting me through a test. He is asking me “Are you going to tust me for the next few months?”  “When you think about daycare are you going to panic every time?” “Did I not take care of you and the baby when you started having contractions at 21 weeks?” “Did I not protect her when her heat rate kept dropping during labor?” “I did all of that and you want to be worried about daycare?”

I always hear about praising God during a trial – well here is my chance.  It’s natural to worry as a parent- but there comes a time when I need to let go of situations I cannot control and give it over to Him. Because it is completely crazy for me to pray about something and worry about the outcome:)

  • Recent highlights: We went to a small splash water park for the first time. She stand in the water because it was cold, but she kept stretching out her tiny hands to touch it (and would then do a little shiver…so cute) She loves water. She starts swimming with her dad next week so hopefully that goes well!
  • Recent funny moment: After a nap I go into her room (she is usually sitting up already) so I bend down and peek through the bars of her crib. Commence the big amazing smiles! She loves this, it is so sweet and hilarious at the same time.
  • Recent crazy parent moment: She has been having some trouble sleeping, which I’m told is expected as they get older and are going through different milestones. I was up with her from 1am-4am the other night. Brought me right back to the days when she was a newborn – just lovely:)
  • Recent milestones:  She is starting to pull herself up on things and is doing more of a regular crawl vs the army crawl.  Interestingly enough she hasn’t realized that she can crawl after me, so when I leave a room she usually just stays there lol. So I haven’t needed to baby proof yet! She is also eating more solids, including potatoes, mango, avocado, pasta, and yogurt.
  • Bellelesson of the week: As parents we want the best for our children, it’s natural. However, remember that God has planned out their lives way before we even thought of bringing them into our lives. So He has thought of every detail already, even small things like daycare.

 

Mirror, mirror on the wall…

Hey! It’s been a while. I remember when I first started blogging, I hoped to write an entry every week. Haha. I don’t even know if I write one every month lol. Things have been really busy. We were visiting family in Canada and the US and had a blast! Belle got to meet and spend some more time with both sides of our families, so it was well worth it. I’ve become a little bit of a pro at flying with her by myself, so when my husband flew back to Edmonton with us he was surprised at how much work it took to get from the ticket counter at the airport to our seats on the airplane. I think we are done flying for a while now:)

I’m still off on maternity leave (whoot whoot Canada!) and I am really enjoying spending time outside with Belle. We usually go on a daily walk, and she’s getting big enough now to go on things like the swing at the park. I’m going to have a really really hard time going back to work. Nevertheless, I am NOT complaining. I know I’m blessed to have this time with her.

Within the last 4-6 weeks she has started doing this amazing thing – she takes a 2-3 hour nap every afternoon! If you’re close with me, you may have heard me complain that she would take about 2-3 30 minute naps a day.  Any mom knows a 30 minute nap doesn’t really leave you much time to get ANYTHING done. I would barely eat and take a shower and she’d be up! Well, now she takes a short nap in the morning and a really long one in the afternoon. Actually, it is 3:44 and she has been sleeping since 1 o’clock! Yes, I’m bragging, but it really has brought a new level of sanity to my life. I sat down today and watched a whole 2 hours of So You Think You Can Dance on my DVR in peace and quiet lol.

Anyway, on to my post for today. I’m sure other parents do this, but I have this habit of comparing everything Belle does to my husband or I.  She gets her crankiness when she is tired from me. She can give you a really good straight face like her dad. She knits her brow like I do and sleeps with her bum in the air like I did when I was a baby. People always comment on how calm she is and I tell them she gets it from her father.  It is almost as if I am constantly making sure she is our baby.

If you have met my mother, she tells you like it is (that…I did not get from her!) However, people constantly tell me “You are just like your mother.” Actually, my husband has a joke of calling me Nathalie (my mother’s name) when I’m behaving like her.  My maternal grandmother passed a few years ago, and I’m always teasing my mom that she is turning into her (No…she really is though!) She always replies with “Just keep breathing!” meaning the same thing will happen to me as I get older.

My mother has a pillow at home with this quote: “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, I am my mother after all.” When I was home the other day we were talking about this topic. Someone had commented that I was just like my mother and she asked if they meant that in a positive or negative way. (I was probably over-organizing something lol). I interrupted and told her of course it was a compliment.  The idea that she initially thought it had a negative connotation made me think.  I’m not naive to the fact that some people have strained relationships with their parents, and if someone were to compare them to a parent, it would bring up old wounds and the comment would feel more like an insult. However, as a parent, you have the opportunity to be someone your child will look up to. You have the power to take whatever struggles you had with your parent(s) and use them as guides for what you don’t want your child to learn from you. You have the chance to be the best person you can be, no matter your past.

So as I am fortunate that I have a good relationship with my parents and don’t mind if the similarities between us are many, I am aware that this occurred because they learned to grow from some of the hurt they experienced as children.  Therefore, I hope that as Belle grows, the person I am continues to be someone that she won’t mind being compared to when she is an adult.

  • Recent highlights:  Since returning from vacation, she is completely intrigued with our dog. She stares at her all day long. It’s kinda cute.
  • Recent funny moment: She has started dancing, well really bouncing up and down to music. Dance lessons here we come! lol
  • Recent crazy parent moment: We drove (8 hours) from Michigan to Maryland to visit my husband’s family and had to listen to countless hours of Elmo songs so she wouldn’t cry. I’m so over that CD.
  • Recent milestones:  She is crawling (it’s actually more of an army drag). She’s lazy with it though, and will only crawl if she really really wants something. She is also saying dada (Who cares?!!) I made a point of letting my husband know she really isn’t referring to him and that it’s (d) just an easy sound to say. I’m not jealous, it’s the truth! hahaha
  • Bellelesson of the week: Whatever your past, live the best life you can for your children. There is a high chance they will turn into you!

Try, try again

Everyone who has kids tells me that once a baby learns to move they are on the go! Well, just on Friday, my sister and I were looking at Belle who was trying to roll over from her back to stomach. She has always easily rolled from her stomach to back,  because she would use her head to cheat (lean it to the side and ooops! she’s rolled over lol) However, we noticed she was getting stuck when starting on her back, because she would almost go all the way, but not know what to do with her other arm at the end. (Imagine yourself laying on your back, now you are trying to roll over, you move one arm, move your body, but your other arm is just laying there and won’t let you go any further – yep, that’s what she looked like!)

Now let’s fast forward to Sunday, she was playing on the floor and I noticed she had moved from her back to her stomach, but I missed how she got there. But since she is a pro now, she did it again –  she rolled over! She figured out how to get her arm out of the way. Now she pushes up her body with her legs, to give her arm room to slide out and rest at her side again, and just like that she can do it! So now she is trying to figure out how to crawl – she must have realized how helpful her legs can be.

She does this all the time. One day she can’t do something, then she can do it the next! That’s because she keeps trying. I bet she never thinks to herself, “Aw man, I can’t do it” And there is the lesson: babies just keep trying until they get it, maybe adults should follow their lead:)

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