Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Only a moment

It's official, we've entered busy season.  It's deadline time for my job, Jon's got a crazy amount of work trips over the next few weeks, not to mention all the holiday traveling we have between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  And the boys, well they're just always busy.  But somehow I've managed to squeeze in one small moment with the blog.  In other words, all three offspring are napping, at the same time.  Normally this would be a huge accomplishment but I couldn't get the prettiest one to sleep in her bed.  After several tries I gave up and tied on the Moby wrap where she's been contentedly breathing heavily into the phone while I talk to students and easily lulled back to sleep by the rhythm of me mopping the floor.  Oh, yes.  Other great accomplishment this week.  After a month of neglect, my floor is no longer sticky.  Too bad that will only last as long as naptime.  Meanwhile I'm going to enjoy my moment...

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... And that's it.  The moment is over.  Girlfriend's awake and has been licking my neck, so the rest of this post will be typed with one hand.

Speaking of whom, don't you think she's changing her looks somethin' fierce?

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Jon likes to say she's "getting cute" but I won't stand for it since that would imply she wasn't cute before.  She's simply the greatest.

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I suppose you're wondering how I've managed to finally get her hair to stay down. Simple.  It's called "too busy to give the poor thing a bath" a.k.a. natural hair grease.  Works like a charm.


Anyway, we went to Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving. This was actually my first time home for Thanksgiving since before I got married.  Marmie did not disappoint, and in typical Marmie fashion made plenty of extra for leftovers and doggie bags.  The boys also did not disappoint and were quite well-behaved at the dinner table.  Definitely something to be thankful for since mealtimes are often my greatest source of frustration these days.

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And while we're talking about things to be thankful for - Julia's been sleeping 9 hours at night for over 2 weeks now.  The first two nights at Marmie and Poppa's were a little less than stellar but ever since she's been going strong.  I've never had a baby start sleeping through the night this early before.  Maybe she's trying to make up for all the gassy-issues and fussy evenings.  Either way, I'll take it! 

The kids and I actually headed up to Pennsylvania a few days before Jon.  Jack didn't have preschool the whole week and I was tired of managing things on my own while Jon worked late.  So I got a little assistance from the grandparents and Jon got to spend extra time at the office without feeling guilty.  I know some people think I was a little crazy for attempting a 200 mile drive all alone with 3 kids.  But I was desperate.  And actually, other than Jude's incessant whining, the trip went quite well.  We had to make one potty-break/baby-feed/diaper change/might-as-well-get-the-kids-snacks-while-we're-here stop.  And it ended up being at a shady diner off of Route 11/15 (the shadiest highway in the state in my opinion).  But the waitresses were very friendly and gave us an empty corner to stretch our legs in.

We made it to my parents in less than 4 hours and Julia only started to cry as we pulled onto their road.  Unfortunately, the drive back is a much, much different story.  I should've known better than to attempt a trip between 4-9pm.  Those are Julia's fussiest hours at home and they were no different in the car.  I ended up stopping every hour and being tortured by her cries in between.  Jon, on the other hand, got to enjoy a nice quiet ride all by himself in his own car, free from baby cries and Disney movies playing in the background.

But hey, it was all worth it to enjoy some time with both of our families.  My parents helped with kid-duties and I was able to get a lot of work done.  They took the boys to a big play castle in town on one day, and a children's museum on another.  And as usual Marmie cooked, Poppa entertained and everyone snuggled. 

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We spent the second half of the week at Jon's parents.  And while I did not participate in Black Friday (just the thought of all those crowds makes me shudder), my mother-in-law did encourage me to visit the mall on Saturday.  She's very good at asking her son to watch the kids and taking me out shopping.  So I was able to get a few quiet hours to myself (well quiet when Julia wasn't hungry) and find something that fit to wear to Jon's class reunion that night. 

One final aspect of the holiday weekend was Julia's dedication.  It was so nice to get back to our home church on Sunday, it feels like it's been ages since we've been able to worship with our old church family.  It also feels like it hasn't been that long since we were there to dedicate Jude (I guess it hasn't!).  Baby Girl was so content and didn't make a peep.  And we were honored to have the same pastors that dedicated both Jon and I as babies do the same for our third child. 

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It is now hours after I first started typing this.  My original moment is long gone, the nappers awoke, my freshly mopped floor was littered with sticky rice at dinner, Julia's been fed and burped and paced, and fed and burped and paced again.  And now I'm borrowing time from other tasks in order to wrap this thing up... And trying to add new meaning to "live for the moment."  Until the next moment!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Call Me Sisyphus

In Greek mythology, the prideful King Sisyphus was condemned to ceaselessly rolling a huge boulder up a mountain.  Each time he would reach the top, the massive stone would topple back down, forcing him to start all over again.  In this way, Sisyphus was destined to a life of futility and frustration.  It was the gods' reasoning that there is no punishment more terrible than hopeless effort.

Lately, I've been feeling a little like Sisyphus.

I wash the dishes.  Seconds later the sink is full again.  I do the laundry.  By the end of the day the baskets are overflowing.  I fix the decor.  Jude rearranges the candle sticks.  I mop the floor.  It's immediately  sprinkled with a trail of raisins.  I pick up the books.  I turn around only to watch them get tossed back off the shelf.  I clean out my email inbox and then hear my phone start buzzing the first moment I walk away.  I manage to squeeze in a shower and fresh clothes.  The baby spits up down my shirt and the boys wipe their noses on my pants. 

Futile effort.  And I've come to concur with those mythical gods - nothing is quite so frustrating.  But I've got one thing on prideful King Sisyphus ...

baby smiles!

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And another thing too ...

grandparent visits!

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They're catching leaves.

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It's really much harder than you think.
Yes, every once in a while boulder and I reach the top of the mountain and get to hang out there for a bit and enjoy the view.

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Julia has a Marmie moment.

Last week my parents came down to help us out a bit.  Marmie cooked meals, folded and ironed clothes, and took a late night shift with the baby.  And Poppa ran his bike taxi business to the park and back, and helped Jon gut out our back garage.  And I got to get a few things done and watch them stay done slightly longer than usual.

Marmie and Poppa stayed just long enough to get us back on our feet before heading back to Pennsylvania.  This past week we were on our own again, and what it a week it was.  The poor hubby has been suffering terribly from something way beyond a man cold.  He coughs and gags all night and then tries to sleep in the mornings.  Which means staying at work later to get things done.  Jude's canine teeth have finally made an appearance but the little dude is not happy about it.  He's very discontent right now, clings to my legs, and wakes up screaming in the night. 

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He got his first sample of hot chocolate.


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The whiny face.

And both boys were stretched to the limit this week by Mommy's overbooked schedule.  At one point Jack started crying "No more church Mommy, I don't wanna go!" when we were about to head that direction for the fourth time in four days.  I'm still testing my limits as a mama of three little ones, and this week I think I figured them out.  This week was just a little too much.

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Time out for a hot chocolate "tea party."

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This is how Jack and /i play Memory.

But one little person did perform well this week - Miss Julia.  Girlfriend slept 9 hours straight the other night.  Not last night, and not the night before either.  But at least one night this week.  And she's been going to sleep happily on her own in her bassinet, too.  I lay her down with her eyes wide open and listen to her coo and gurgle herself to dreamland.  So no more falling asleep holding a baby for me!!  I can tell we're on our way to something good here!  ... Just in time to get all out of sorts for the holidays.

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I've got one more push to the top of the hill today.  One last maniacal effort to get things done because tomorrow the children and I are headed to Pennsylvania to take advantage of the grandparents again - all of them.  And aunts and uncles.  Jon's going to stay behind and enjoy working late to his heart's content.  And I am slightly jealous because I know he'll clean the house the moment we walk out the door ... and then get to relish the house staying clean for several days.  I haven't got to experience that sort of satisfaction since 2008. 

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Instead I will be setting aside my boulder for a few days and enjoying the peacefulness that always comes with a trip to Pennsylvania.  And all the excitement that comes with bringing a baby "home" for her first visit.  Happy weekend to you, enjoy the view from wherever you are on the mountain!

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Military Wife

I was going to write a post about not having time to write posts ... but I just don't have any time.  So instead, I thought I'd share this little ditty about The Military Wife that one of my friends posted on Facebook.  It totally resonated with me as I'm sure it will with other military wives.  And for those of you who are not married to a serviceman, this may help you understand us a little better too.  After 5 years of marriage I'm still learning and adjusting to this culture, but despite all the challenges I'm honored to "serve" alongside my Handsome Coastie!

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August 2005, the day after I agreed to become a military wife.


The Military Wife
by Jane Hubbard Hyde

Lots of moving...
... ... Moving...
Moving...
... Moving far from home...
Moving two cars, three kids and one dog...all riding with HER of course.
Moving sofas to basements because they won't go in THIS house;
Moving curtains that won't fit;
Moving jobs and certifications and professional development hours.
Moving away from friends;
Moving toward new friends;
Moving her most important luggage: her trunk full of memories.

Often waiting...
Waiting...
Waiting...
Waiting for housing.
Waiting for orders.
Waiting for deployments.
Waiting for phone calls.
Waiting for reunions.
Waiting for the new curtains to arrive.
Waiting for him to come home,
For dinner...AGAIN!

They call her 'Military Dependent', but she knows better:
She is fiercely In-Dependent.
She can balance a check book;
Handle the yard work;
Fix a noisy toilet;
Bury the family pet...

She is intimately familiar with drywall anchors and toggle bolts.
She can file the taxes;
Sell a house;
Buy a car;
Or set up a move...
.....all with ONE Power of Attorney.

She welcomes neighbors that don't welcome her.
She reinvents her career with every PCS;
Locates a house in the desert, The Arctic, Or the deep south.
And learns to call them all 'home'.
She MAKES them all home.

Military Wives are somewhat hasty...
They leap into:
Decorating,
Leadership,
Volunteering,
Career alternatives,
Churches,
And friendships.
They don't have 15 years to get to know people.
Their roots are short but flexible.
They plant annuals for themselves and perennials for those who come after them.

Military Wives quickly learn to value each other:
They connect over coffee,
Rely on the spouse network,
Accept offers of friendship and favors.
Record addresses in pencil...

Military Wives have a common bond:
The Military Wife has a husband unlike other husbands; his commitment is unique.
He doesn't have a 'JOB'
He has a 'MISSION' that he can't just decide to quit...
He's on-call for his country 24/7.
But for her, he's the most unreliable guy in town!

His language is foreign
TDY
PCS
OPR
SOS
ACC
BDU
ACU
BAR
CIB
TAD
ABU
And so, a Military Wife is a translator for her family and his.
She is the long- distance link to keep them informed;
the glue that holds them together.

A Military Wife has her moments:
She wants to wring his neck;
Dye his uniform pink;
Refuse to move to Siberia;
But she pulls herself together.
Give her a few days,
A travel brochure,
A long hot bath,
A pledge to the flag,
A wedding picture,
And she goes.
She packs.
She moves.
She follows.

Why?
What for?
How come?
You may think it is because she has lost her mind.
But actually it is because she has lost her heart.
It was stolen from her by a man,
Who puts duty first,
Who longs to deploy,
Who salutes the flag,
And whose boots in the doorway remind her that as long as he is her Military Husband,
She will remain his military wife.
And would have it no other way.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Youthful Purity

We decided to name our third child and first daughter "Julia Katherine."  

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As you may have noticed, we're kinda on "J" kick.  It wasn't intentional, but now we feel quite stuck in our ways.  "Julia" was the name we had picked out if Jack was a girl, and we've held on to it ever since.  It's a good example of how my husband and I work through our differences.  See, I had a list of favorite girl names for a long time:  Vivienne, Claire, Elivia, and Leah.  I've always liked Leah but didn't like the meaning.  But Jon didn't like any of my names, he liked Julie.  So we decided to compromise and go with "Julia" a combination of our two favorite names.  And then I could call her "Lia" as a nickname.  I actually haven't called her Lia yet, but there's still plenty of time for that.  Jude, on theo ther hand, has given her his own nickname - "Yaya."  And because it's so cute we all tend to follow suit.

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Image from: http://www.babynamewizard.com/

I mentioned why we chose "Katherine" as a middle name a few months ago when I wrote about my grandma.  G'Ma passed away this June, before she had a chance to meet her first great-grandaughter.  But at least she knew ahead of time about our plans to honor her.  G'Ma was a beautiful woman inside and out, and along with my mom and Aunt Janine, my daughter and I are proud members of this growing line of godly women.  Julia has quite a legacy before her.

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Name meanings are important to us - Julia means youthful, and Katherine means pure.  And I think the combination is perfect for our little girl. Even though she's only been with us a short while, my prayer for our sweet daughter is that she'd lead a life of purity.  So the scripture verse I've chosen for her is Psalm 119:9 "How can a young [woman] keep her way pure? By living according to Your word."  I'm not sure if a mother could hope for more than that.

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Image from: http://www.babynamewizard.com/

Our little lady has only been in our arms for less than 6 weeks.  But she's been in our hearts for so much longer.  And the boys, Jon and I couldn't be more proud of our Julia Katherine.  She's the perfect addition to our family!


You can read about how we came up with Jude's name here, and Jack's name here and here

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Take your leaf

I was watching a movie recently that took place in early 20th century England.  A working-class attorney was having a conversation with a wealthy relative of the nobility and mentioned working on the estate during his "weekend."

"Weekend?" the Dowager Countess replied, "What's a weekend?"

Oh, to wonder what a weekend is.

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Well, around here we are well aware.  Just because I'm home all day during the week doesn't mean Saturday and Sunday are like any other day.  And just because being a mom is a 7 day/week job doesn't mean we can't switch things up a bit on Saturdays and Sundays.  Naturally, I don't get to sleep in anymore (especially not the weekend of Daylight Savings Time), but even that I don't mind so much.  We all get up together, Jon usually throws the boys in our bed to "wake" me up and then we have breakfast and hang out in our jammies a little longer than usual.  Ant then, then the fun begins.

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But the very best part of the weekend is having Daddy home.  Unfortunately, this time of year we have to share him with football ... and yard work.  I mentioned that our yard is my most favorite part of this house.  I just love all the trees.  I also mentioned that we were slightly dreading the upcoming fall and leaves from said trees.  Well our fears were confirmed.  Some days it looks like we're in a leaf blizzard.  And all those beautiful colors have been piling up on our lawn for several weeks now.

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It's a good thing my hubby was prepared for this battle because it's not for the faint of heart.  One leaf blower and one leaf vacumm/shredder/chipper thingy-majig later and we have a lovely clear lawn ... at least for the next 24 hours.  We also had one heck of a pile of leaves for the boys to jump in.

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And by boys I mean all 3...

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I once read that at around 18 months of age boys start to be drawn more to their fathers.  We noticed that a little in Jack but it's very obvious with Jude.  He is all about Daddy these days.  And he gets even more excited about Daddy when the tools come out, mainly the leaf blower.

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Jude goes all Marilyn Monroe when he sees this thing.  He loves to stand in front of it and get blown away.

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Of course, he follows Jon like a shadow all around the yard.  And then Jon doesn't see him and ends up tripping over him and the leaf blower starts blowing in all sorts of different directions ...

Ah the weekend.

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This one had a good weekend too.

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Julia's knits by Nana!

She was totally unphased by the time change. But really, there's not much difference between 2 and 3 when they both take place in the AM.

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Lucky us, we've had what you could call an extension to our weekend.  Because right now Marmie and Poppa are here lending a hand (or 4) with life and the kids so I can get caught up on other things.  Like laundry.  Which is what I should be doing now.  Ta-ta!

Friday, November 4, 2011

WAHM to the third power

I started back to work this week. Thankfully I work from home and don't have to worry about fitting back in to my "career clothes," getting my whole family out the door every morning, trying to juggle pumps and bottles, and dealing with the whole dreaded dinner hour after an entire day in the office.  No bones about it, my WAH job is the hugest of blessings!  But that doesn't mean it's easy.  In fact, it's so much harder.  Because somehow I have to figure out a way to be an admissions counselor and a mom simultaneously.  A task that gets more and more interesting with the arrival of each new baby.

I started to get stressed out on Sunday afternoon thinking about work and all the other things I needed to accomplish that day and the rest of the week.  Then Julia started crying so I picked her up, snuggled down and the couch, prayed for God to calm my fears ... and then we both fell asleep.  I woke up an hour later feeling much better, still apprehensive but not so anxious.  And the week went fairly well.  Not perfect by any means, but by the grace of God we made it through.  And I'm confident that as we start to develop our new routine things will go even more smoothly.

On my second day back to work this week I had an hour-ish long meeting to telecommute in to.  Fielding phone calls and emails with three little ones is one thing, but committing yourself to a phone and computer for an hour straight is something quite different.  This is part of the reason I hired a Mother's Helper this summer but sadly he had to go back to school and with Jack in preschool I haven't really looked for a replacement.  So I started planning way ahead for this day.  By the time my meeting started I had Jack settled in the den with a movie and strict intructions to be quiet, Jude as far away from his brother as possible upstairs in his room with a snack and some toys and Julia asleep in the swing.  Of course, she woke up a little later and then I ended up bouncing her on my knees for part of the time.  When the meeting crossed over into lunchtime I pulled some pre-prepared lunches out the fridge, slipped them to my boys in their respective locations and got right back into the discussion.  And somehow it all worked out without anyone getting upset or injured.  Phew.

Trying to manage both "jobs" often manifests itself in peculiar situations.  Phone calls for instance.  My office phone is forwarded to my cell phone, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  You would be shocked at how many people think the office is staffed at 11 at night ... or 6 in the morning.  While I take care of a lot of my outgoing phone calls during nap time, I can't control when someone calls in.  If I get a call and the kids are being loud (i.e. not asleep) then I have to quick find a quiet place to chat.  In the "Beach Nest" this was our pantry closet.  It had a nice little light, and I'd keep a tablet and pen in there to take notes.  In the "'Burb Nest" I'd go into the very corner of the closet in the office, muffled behind Jon's uniforms because the walls were so thin.

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He certainly doesn't look like the kind of kid that would lock his mama in the garage...

In our current place, I usually run to the office and shut the door (which is why Jack will sometimes run to the office with the calculator saying "I have a phone call.") But unfortunately, there is no closet of uniforms to hide behind.  I try to give the person on the other line my full-attention but sometimes it's hard when I can hear Jack testing out a new wrestling move on his little brother in the next room.  And if they're not playing, they usually try to come find me.  The other day Jack started pounding on the door and yelling for me to "Hey, open up! Open up!"  There's no lock on the office door and he kept getting louder and louder so I used my foot to keep it shut and stretched as far into the room as I could, while cupping my hand over the phone, to keep the noise down.  And then he got louder.  So I quick darted off into the garage.  Jack broke into the office and started pounding on the garage door.  Which does have a lock ... too bad it's on the other side of the door.  So in an effort to find his mama, Jack accidentally locked the door... and trapped me in the garage.  Now this really isn't as dramatic as it sounds, because I could easily just push the button and let myself out the main garage door.  But the door is really loud and I was still stuck on the phone with a very long-winded student.  So in the meantime, I could hear Jack running out the front door and pattering through the leaves outside the garage, still calling for mommy.  The good news is, both the baby and Jude slept through the whole ordeal.  I think I'm going to start searching ebay for a soundproof booth...

A newborn is actually quite easy from a work-at-home standpoint.  She sleeps most of the time and I've even been able to make a few phone calls while nursing.  I just have to make sure I'm talking extra loud in case she starts making her signature chugging sounds.  And when she's having a rough moment and needs some mommy time I've figured out a way to accomplish both simultaneously.  If I sit at just the right angle on the couch, I can rest a baby on my chest and still type with two hands on my laptop.  Perfect!

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And then there's Jude, my ever-curious middle child.  He's very interested in the laptop - points to it all day saying "Mama, maaa-ma!"  He likes to watch me type ... and then thinks he should be able to do the same thing.  I have to keep a good eye on him now, otherwise he'll crawl up on the chair and go all concert pianist-like on my keyboard.  This week he wiped out an entire paragraph of some minutes I had been editing and replaced it with a bunch of random keystrokes.  I'm just thankful for the control-z function. 

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And while there are some parts of this week I wish I could "control-z" they are quickly forgotten in light of a fantastic Friday night.  We spent it together as a family at Chick-Fil-A and Target.  And even though my attempt to find a suitable pair of jeans (several sizes larger than I normally wear) was unsuccessful, it was still nice to spend some time together as a family, out of the house.  And ending the night with a bowl of peanut butter chocolate ice cream while Jon has some Daddy/Daughter bonding time is a great start to a weekend of playing catch-up.  I catch up on work, Jon catches up on yard projects, and maybe we'll both catch-up on some sleep.  Okay, maybe not this weekend.  Then again, Daylight Savings Time has never looked better!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sweet Surprises

Julia has been our surprise baby.  From the moment we discovered we were unexpectedly expecting.  To finding out she was going to be our first girl.  To making her debut in the car, before we could make it to te Birthing Center.  I thought things would end there, but no, she continues to surprise us and remind me to alter my expectations. 

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Julia may very well be my most difficult baby yet.  I'm still not quite sure.  Jack was a somewhat fusy baby, and definitely worse at night, but back then it was just him and I and things like that were easily taken care of.  Now, it's so much different.  Our sweet baby girl is often hard to please... and quite vocal about it.  She knows her mama hates to hear her cry.  Actually, she just plain knows her mama.  Which is unfortunate when Jon is willing to lend a hand and she wants nothing to do with him.  We've definitely been having some problems with gas recently.  You know it by the way she squeals, draws up her legs, and squeezes her tight, tiny belly.  Poor thing.  And this can go on for hours.  And the only thing I can do is hold her, standing, swaying, whispering "I love yous".  Because the moment I try to sit down she's back at it again.  And sometimes even my best efforts are to no avail.  Really, it's enough to bring this tired mama to tears.  I just have to keep reminding myself this is only one small moment in time, and one that hopefully my daughter won't remember.

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Julia's also all over the map as far as eating.  I really try to get my babies on a good routine early on, but during weeks 2 and 3 (typical growth spurt time) she was hungry all day.  Just when I thought I'd be good to go for another hour or two she was rooting for milk.  I completely lost track of time and feedings.  Or she'd be gassy and just want to suck, but instead she would chug and then take in all this air and that would only make her more upset...  I think we're slowly easing ourselves out of that phase and apparently she's getting enough to eat because girlfriend weighed almost 9 lbs. at her doctor's appointment this week.  Yes, at 4 weeks old Julia now weighs the same as her oldest brother when he was born.  She's our little sweetie petitie!

She's finally wearing regular 0-3 month clothes and we're using up the last of the newborn diapers.  She's also big enough to wear her cloth diapers now but that's a transition we're taking slow.  Two in diapers is one thing, two in cloth diapers is just a bit more of another thing.  But considering how often chica can poop in one hour, I'm ready to start saving some money with cloth!

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As for nighttime sleep, we're getting better.  We did have one 6-hour stretch, and a couple of 5-hour stints, but for the most part she's only going about 3-4 hours between feedings.  And it's really not that bad.  She starts grunting, I reach over andpull her into bed, she nurses for about 20 minutes, we do a quick diaper change, and then I slip her right back into her bassinet.  I barely have to open my eyes.  In fact, if I skip the diaper change and do that side-lying breastfeeding move, I barely have to wake up.  And as for my baby-daddy, well he doesn't even know there's a party going down on the other half of the bed.

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But that's the middle-of-the-night, getting there is another story.  Early-evenings Julia is at her fussiest.  If Jon's home this is when they have their daddy-daughter bonding time.  By the time we're ready for bed and I've fed her one last time she's usually in a deep sleep.  So I gently lay her down in the bassinet and ... one minute later she's up crying.  It's all part of her routine.  She cries, mommy holds her until she falls asleep, then puts her back in the bassinet, she starts crying again and the cycle repeats itself.  Usually I end up falling asleep with her in my arms while half-sitting up and then quietly putting her in her own bed when I wake up again an hour or two later.  Not ideal, especially for my back and neck, but still much better than losing sleep before our heads have even hit the pillow.

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And really, for the most part, I don't mind a good excuse to hold her.  At one month old, I sometimes still can't believe she's here.  But hearing her sweet little sighs and smelling that delicious new baby scent makes it all very real.  She's ours and we love every bit of her - that spiky hair, those pursed lips, those long, long fingers, and all her little surprises.  Apparently things were just too dull around here before she arrived!
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