Emily absolutely hates to ride in the car. Ok, so she doesn't so much mind the riding, it's being in her carseat that she cannot stand. That girl doesn't wanna sit still for one second. 

To make the ride a little less stressful for me, I sing to Emily. Singing calms her down, especially when it is a song that she recognizes. Her favorite song these days is "Jingle Bells", which is the song that the stuffed snowman on our coffee table sings to her about 4 dozen times every day. If I never hear that song again, I assure you, I will be just delighted.

So last week as Emily and I were on the way home from town, she was being her usual ornery self, and so I began to sing to her. Of course I sang Jingle Bells, and also Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

And then it hit me. It hit me hard. Where were all of the songs about Jesus? I found it so easy to sing songs about people and animals that are not even real, but I hadn't thought to sing a song about the one Man for who this holiday even exists: Christ. 

Where was my Nativity scene? I hadn't even brought it out of the box to put on display. And the wrapping paper adorned with mentions of the true reason for the season? It was not to be found in our house, but yet we had wrapping paper with reindeer, Christmas trees, and Santa Claus.

I felt so guilty, so ashamed. And I began to, literally, sing a different tune. Our car was then filled with Silent Night, Away in a Manger, and my favorite, O Holy Night. At bedtime that night, I read to Emily the Christmas story from the Bible, a story that I had neglected to read to her before. I had been so busy rushing around buying presents and getting them wrapped and placed under the tree, that I forgot to share with Emily the story of how Christmas came to be. 

I hope that I never again forget. Let us never, ever forget..........

"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord" Luke 2:11

All I Will Say

I am a VERY opinionated person. I guess you could also say that I am very judgmental, too. But what sets me apart from others is that most of the time, I keep those opinions to myself. If you read any other blogs besides this one, you have probably seen some not-so-nice comments, usually left by an anonymous person who doesn't want to leave their name for others to see. There have been so many times that I wanted to leave a comment, to tell someone exactly what I think, but I haven't. Oh, if only everyone could do that, this blogging community would be so, so much better.

Recently there has been a lot of drama concerning "mommy" blogs and whether or not many mommy bloggers are qualified to raise their children. Let me say this: nobody is perfect. Not you, and certainly not me. We all make mistakes. We all have our own ways of doing things and we all raise our children in the way that we think is best. What is right for your family might not necessarily be right for mine, and vice-versa. And that's ok.

If you know me, then you know that I fully believe that everything that happens, happens for a reason. If it was meant to be, it will be. I know this sounds harsh, but if a child dies, he died because he was supposed to. Whether he fell into a pool and drowned or whether he was breech and his parents decided to go ahead with a homebirth that eventually led to his death, it does not matter. If those things hadn't killed those children, something else would have. There are a million questions buzzing around in my head for those parents.Why wasn't there a gate around the pool or a cover on it? Did he know how to swim? Why couldn't you just go to the hospital just in case there was a complication? And none of the answers matter. Doing things differently wouldn't bring those children back and it wouldn't have saved them in the first place. Would I have done things differently? Heck yes! But my point is, we can't judge those parents for the decisions that they made. Their children are in Heaven not because of any fault of theirs, but because it was simply their time to go.

Accidents do happen, and many times they could have been avoided, but does this mean that we should leave our children unsupervised and leave their safety up to fate? No! We should still keep our children as safe as we possibly can, but we need to realize that we can't protect them from every. little. thing.  We need to support each other and stop pointing fingers and pretending that we are perfect parents because our child is still alive and somebody else's child is not. We have to stop leaving rude comments especially at these times when parents are going through their worst nightmares. Let's all just raise our own children, mind our own business, and keep our opinions to ourselves, ok?

Mama Called The Doctor & The Doctor Said......

I have never been more happy to see a doctor in my whole entire life than I was this past Friday. On the verge of having self-diagnosed postpartum depression because of an ornery baby who would not sleep, I dragged Emily and myself into Dr. Z's office at the bright and early hour of 10:30 in the a.m., a time when we are usually still snoozing under the covers. But I would give up anything to get more sleep, and in this case, I actually gave up sleep to get it. Kinda weird how it worked out, but let me assure you that it did. 

But before I get into that, here are Emily's stats. She is 28 inches long, up 3 3/4 inches from 3 months ago, and she weighs 15 pounds, 8.5 ounces. She only gained 1 1/2 pounds in the last 3 months, which has something to do with her sleep issues. But she's not underweight or too skinny. She grew in those 3 months, she just grew longer instead of heavier. 

Apparently, I am starving my child. There is no reason why a 9 month old should not be able to sleep through the night, for at least 10 straight hours. Except that Emily does have a reason to wake up every 3 hours at night, and that's because she is hungry. I thought she was just being a pain in my rear. She doesn't eat very much solid food during the day and I assumed it was because she just wasn't hungry. But no, she is very much hungry and she just doesn't like baby food. She is now on a strict diet of table food and the yogurt and oatmeal that she will eat and does eat well. And since she wasn't getting enough food during the day to sustain her at night, she was waking up to nurse. 

Another reason she was waking up (on days when she did eat a lot and wasn't hungry) was because she knew I would come running the moment I heard her cries. Oh, she had me trained. She had me trained good. Dr. Z said that I had to break her from that or she would just continue to do it and I really don't want to be up every 3 hours at night with a 5 year old. It had to stop at some point and that time is NOW. She suggested that I let her Cry It Out (CIO) and that she might cry for 2 hours before giving up and going to sleep on the first night we did it. And even though we have tried that before with no chance of it working, we tried again. We made sure that she ate just as much as her little tummy could hold yesterday, and at midnight (yes, midnight. We are night owls around here) I put her in her crib. She did not cry for 2 hours. Nope, not even close to that. She cried for 25 minutes. And do you wanna know how long she slept before waking up?

10 hours. She slept for 10 hours! 10 straight hours without so much as a peep out of her. And now that I have bragged on her she will probably not do that again for a month or two. But all joking aside, I did it again today at naptime. I put her in her crib for a nap and she began crying instantly. I took a shower so that I wouldn't have to hear her crying (it kills me. That's why she is so spoiled because I NEVER let her cry.) and she was asleep when I got out. She cried for less than 10 minutes this time and she's been asleep for over an hour already. It's working! 

I am also going to start a bedtime routine so that Emily will recognize that every night before bed, Emily will recognize what we are doing and she can settle down and mentally prepare for bed. I have read a lot about that and I am hoping that it helps her to cry for shorter periods of time, or even better, maybe she will eventually not cry at all.

I also talked to Dr. Z about giving Emily formula so that I could get a break from her (and give her a break from me) for a few hours, a few times a week, and she could not believe that I never leave this child for more than 3 hours at a time. I really can't believe it either, but it's true. She not only encouraged me to take a break, she also gave me 2 cans of formula to use. I am sure that 1 will be plenty enough but I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth so I gladly took it and now I am struggling with the guilt that I am actually considering giving Emily powdered, fake, disgusting-tasting milk. Oh well. We are going to give it a shot. 

And so now we will all live happily ever after. I will not be depressed and sleep-deprived, Emily will get to stay at other people's houses (possibly overnight for the first time!) and she will also not be spoiled anymore, and everything is just going to be fabulous and perfect and wonderful forever and ever!

And no, I'm not at all delusional. I just have faith.

Month 9

My Emily,

It is 12 days after your 9 month "birthday" and I am just now finding the time to write this letter to you. November was the hardest, most trying month for me as a mother. It's not your fault that you are so difficult; the blame is entirely mine. You are completely spoiled rotten and it is I who has spoiled you. But the good news is that we are changing things and we are going to get along so, so much better from now on.

When you sleep in the big bed with Daddy and I, you will scoot all the way to the top of the bed until your head is touching the headboard. You do NOT want to be covered up and you try to get as far away from the covers as you possibly can. You also love to snuggle with Daddy because he sleeps without a shirt on and his skin in so warm and cuddly. 

I know I've talked about your sleep issues before so I'm not going to go into detail again this month. But I will say that the napping in my arms and the not sleeping through the night are things that have caused my patience to wear extremely thin most days, and by the time I write next month's letter, you will be as good of a sleeper as any 10 month old should be!

Aside from your dislike of sleeping for more than 3 hours at a time, your only other complaint is baby food. You just will not eat the stuff, and I can't say that I blame you. I had been making all of your food but we switched to jarred food and you hate it. However, you do like your yogurt and oatmeal and you love to eat the food on mine and Daddy's plates. You are such a little beggar every time you see either of us with food! And so far, we haven't found any table food that you don't like.

And instead of turning your head away from the spoon or just simply keeping your mouth closed to let me know that you are finished eating, you fling your arms wildly and get food EVERYWHERE. Like this.

Your favorite thing to do (and mine too) is to give hugs and kisses. You are such a loving soul and you give Daddy and I squeezes and tons of kisses every day. Every afternoon when Daddy walks in the door from work, he picks you up and you wrap your arms around his neck as tight as you can - it is the most precious thing I have ever seen! You also love to give kisses to your Glow Worm, your baby doll that your Granny gave to you, and any other toy of yours that has a mouth! I hope you stay this cuddly and sweet forever.

In November you celebrated your first Thanksgiving and you loved eating all of the yummy food. You met a few relatives that you had never seen before and although you slept through most of it, you had a great time with your Pop's family. 

At this point, you say mama, dada, bye-bye, dog, and uh-oh, even though most of the time it is just "uh". You wave bye-bye when nobody is going anywhere and most of the time when someone actually is leaving, you won't wave or say bye-bye at all. You crack Daddy and I up since you are such a silly girl all of the time. You blow bubbles with your mouth when you are sleepy and you play peek-a-boo with Daddy's belly. We have "screaming" matches with each other to see who can be the loudest and who can hold out for the longest time. You dance to the snowman on our coffee table that sings "Jingle Bells" and you love music. You won't be still long enough to watch tv at all anymore unless Yo Gabba Gabba is on.

You continue to cruise along the furniture and pull up on everything that you can get a grip on. You are a great crawler and you can crawl faster than I can. You always crawl away in the middle of diaper changes and I have to chase you down to get your diaper on. You follow Daddy and I everywhere we go and you are very curious about everything. You love to explore and check things out and you are into everything. I cannot take a shower unless you are taking a nap because you either crawl right into the shower with me or you get into something that you shouldn't every. single. time.

You are growing up so fast and I know that you will be walking so very, very soon. You will be a toddler, a big girl, and as much as I will miss these days when you are still my baby, in a way I will be glad to welcome a new stage in your life. I love you baby girl, even on the bad days when I am not the best mommy that I can be. I hope that someday you will get the chance to love someone as much as I love you.


Barely Hanging On

If there is anyone out there who still reads this pitiful blog, I'm sure that you have noticed that I am not blogging much anymore. I am almost a week late in getting Emily's monthly letter posted (again) and to be honest, I'm really not concerned about it. It will get typed someday, but not today. I'm just not feeling it.

I can't blog when Denny is at work unless Emily is asleep. The second I sit down at the computer she wants to be in my lap, punching at the keys with me and grabbing every. single. thing. that is on top of the desk. When Emily is asleep, there are so many things that I need and want to do, and blogging is just not on top of that list. I'd rather just nap right along with her or hang out on the couch doing absolutely nothing. Plus, she is such a light sleeper that tapping the keys would wake her up, even though she is in another room. And believe me when I say that I do not do anything to sabotage her naps.

Sleep is very precious and hard to come by these days. Emily insists on staying up past midnight every night and it is in the wee hours of the morning that I get time to myself. Once I am finally in the bed I find it hard to fall asleep and I toss and turn for what feels like hours. I can't settle myself down because I am constantly thinking that as soon as I fall asleep, she will wake up and cry for me to come and get her. Even though she is 9 months old and fully capable of sleeping through the night, she doesn't. And she hasn't since she was 2 months old. She wakes at least twice every night to eat and once she wakes the first time, it is impossible to get her to sleep in her crib any longer. I try to put her down but she wakes up as soon as her body touches the mattress.

These sleep issues are a major problem for me right now. This morning she got up at 9:00 a.m. (not by her choice, I woke her up) which is several hours earlier than normal. I thought that since she got up so early that she would go to bed early, but that is not happening. Actually, she went to sleep around 10:00 and she woke up when I put her in her crib. It is after midnight and she is currently playing on the living room floor. I cannot even begin to describe how distraught I was when she woke up and wouldn't go back to sleep. I cried. I thought things I should not be thinking. I wanted to hit something (not her). I wanted to go outside and scream. I wanted to leave and not come back until I got the call that she was asleep in her bed. I wanted the responsibility of putting her to bed to be lifted from my shoulders for just one night. I just wanted her to go to sleep.

That distraught feeling has been creeping up so regularly lately that it is becoming normal for me. I feel like I am barely hanging on for most hours of the day and I don't know how to make it better. I constantly struggle with guilt - I feel like it is my fault that she is the way she is, but in the back of my mind, I know that she is just a baby and her sleep issues and separation anxiety are normal and not nearly as bad as they could be. All of those feelings piled on top of one another, along with the sleep deprivation, are slowly pushing me over the edge.

I thought that postpartum depression was something that happened in the weeks after having a baby, but I googled it tonight and I am feeling a little relieved that only about half of the symptoms describe the way I have been feeling. I am also scared to death because half of the symptoms describe me precisely. I am not happy. I do not find joy in being a mother at this point in Emily's life. I have been joyful in the past, but right now, I feel more burdened by her than I feel blessed by her. It is so hard to admit that last sentence, but it is the truth. And it's not just the sleep issues. It is so much more.

It's the being with her 24/7 and rarely getting a break. It's the help that I rarely receive from my husband. It's the pooping right after she has had a bath and is in her "bedtime" diaper. It is the whining. It's the wanting to be held all of the time, especially when she is sleeping, which leaves me with NO free time some days. It's the lack of a social life. It's the struggling to make ends meet because I no longer bring in a paycheck. It's just so many things that make me dread tomorrow instead of looking forward to another day.

I never, ever thought I would do this, but I am going to give Emily formula. Shocking, huh? This does not mean that I am weaning her, which is good, because she is so attached to these bosoms that it would be stupid and pointless to even try. What it does mean, is that even if it's only for one day a week, I am going to have some time to myself without having to rush back before her next feeding. I am no longer able to get any milk out with my breast pump and because of that I can never be away from her for more than three hours at a time. I don't want to have to do that, but a few bottles a week is not going to kill her. I have breastfed for a lot longer than many women breastfeed their babies and I am proud that I have gotten this far without having to supplement. It's for my sanity's sake. It is better to give her formula than to *literally* lose my mind and have to take medication to feel better. It is better to give her formula than to risk losing my cool and hitting her instead of hitting the wall (or the door or my head).

I might spend my free time going back to work as a substitute teacher to give myself something to do and to also feel less worthless. Or I might hang out in the library and read books and magazines. I might window shop and look at pretty things. Or I might try to fix the sewing machine and make some pretty things. Whatever I do, I must do it for me, and also for Emily. I could not ever imagine my life without her, but by no means do I need to be right beside her every second of every day. It's just not working out.

Emily Meets Santa

Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus were at a local antique store this evening, so we ventured out to take Emily to meet them for the first time. I was so afraid that Emily would be scared of Santa, because he is a man, and Emily generally does not like any unfamiliar men. But she surprised the heck out of me and did a fabulous job! She wasn't exactly excited about Santa Claus, and she really wasn't even all that interested in him, but she loved playing with Mrs. Claus' bracelet!





Maybe next year she will look at the camera!

Show Us Your Life: Christmas Trees

After taking a break for a few weeks, I'm finally doing Kelly's "Show Us Your Life" again! This week is one of my favorites - it is all about Christmas trees! We've had our big tree up since before Thanksgiving, but I just got Emily's tree up last night and it's not even finished. I want to get some pink and green ornaments to go on it to match her room but I will probably wait until after Christmas to get some. She will never know the difference! Here is what Emily's tree looks like................

I tried to get a picture of it with the lights off but it is a fiber optic tree and it's not very bright. This is as good of a picture as I could get.

And here is the big tree in our living room. We usually have a real tree but we decided it would be much cheaper to get a fake one, so I got this one last year after Christmas for 75% off!

I'm still not 100% finished with it yet, and I never will be. I am constantly adding ornaments to it when I see a bare spot, and I am always changing things around to try and make it look perfect. I am just too OCD to leave it alone! I can't wait to sit around this tree on Christmas morning and watch Emily open her first Christmas presents!

A Christmas Craft

I want so badly to be crafty, I really do. I wish that I was creative and could come up with things to make on my own, and have the talent to actually make them, but I just don't possess either of those qualities. I do, however, know how to use a computer and a pair of scissors. So I made this:

Using frames that I already had and some Christmas scrapbook paper from Hobby Lobby, I made this cute little decoration! It only took about 5 minutes to make and it only cost me 63 cents! These look good staggered like I have them, but I think they would look better side by side on top of a shelf. Too bad I don't have a shelf to put them on.

So I guess I can be crafty, as long as I stick to things that just cannot be ruined. Next, I'm going to attempt to make one of those ornament wreaths that have been all over the craft blogs this Christmas season. Just as soon as I can get my hands on a wire hanger..... 

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