Monday, February 28, 2011

Sleep Diary 1

I'm sitting in front on our mini crib, on the living room floor. Yep, the crib is now in the living room. Though we tried various sleep approaches in the past, we've decided to stop the co-sleeping thing altogether. We recently followed some of the suggestions in this book, but since putting some of the suggestions into practice, things have only gotten worse. I thought times were rough when we were waking up 3 times a night. Last night, that number shot up to 7; she woke up every 45 minutes after 12:50. Mirabel is now to the point where she has to nurse in order to fall back asleep, even if it's only for a minute or two. She screams without the nursing. This is why we're going to have her sleep in the living room, in her own crib. I tried getting her to take her first nap in her crib (without falling asleep nursing), and, after about 5 episodes of putting her down then picking her back up, she finally slept (and so did I)...for 35 minutes. It's better than nothing; I'm hoping to try that approach again for her second nap in just a bit. So far she's only slept through the night once in her entire life. Let's hope we find something that works...and fast! So far, averaging 4 hours of sleep a night for 2 months is the hardest part of parenting. I feel like I'm failing.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A web

Circumstances. What I've been thinking a lot about lately; that's why I wrote this last post. Most of us don't grow up in ideal circumstances. Broken families aren't at the core of it, they're just part of what results when we don't know where to go, when our ideal situations disappoint.

You'll never guess what I've been watching lately. My reasons for watching are related to trying to understand these less than ideal circumstances. I want to better understand what becomes of those who try to find their way when they've never had anyone to show them where to go and how to get there...

So I've been watching a few documentaries...about Tupac's life. Yep, you read that right. :)

I can relate to his need to express himself through writing. I never rapped (Wow, that would be hilarious if I did!), but I wrote a TON growing up. Nearly every day I'd write poetry. Then I was introduced to poetry slamming, and I loved that too. But I was never very good at either, especially the latter :). I enjoyed it all though; writing was my way of dealing with adversity. I also prayed. Even though I didn't understand how God worked, I knew he was there and that's why I never became an alcoholic. I truly believe that if God was not in my life growing up, I would've turned to drugs and alcohol (especially if my mom hadn't left my dad when I was one). I shutter to think of what would have happened if my mom would've stayed in that marriage. Though I love both my mom and dad, I realize that he wasn't ready to be a father. I respect my mother for giving and sacrificing so much so that I wouldn't have to struggle, even after she re-married.

But this isn't about me. I just wanted to explain my reasons for wanting to understand this artist. He never had a father in his life either, and he just dealt with life the only way he knew how. My heart breaks for those who come from broken homes and don't know where to go for guidance, both spiritual and mental.

I don't agree with everything he did, but I agree with some of the ideals he had. I also agree with his explanation for why gangs form. A sense of belonging and acceptance is something we all want. When there isn't a cohesive and stable family in place to help create this sense of belonging, children naturally look to things outside of themselves to find it. Studies and statistics say that girls try to find it in dysfunctional relationships, while boys attempt to find it in more aggressive ways.

This is why my husband is an inspiration to me, because he didn't become a statistic. Sometimes I think it's harder for boys than it is for girls (growing up without a father, I mean). All he had was a mother, grandmother, and 2 sisters. The love was certainly there, though, and he says that's what pulled him through and inspired him to rise above his circumstances. Still, he's told me how some of his childhood peers eventually brought more grief upon themselves because of the destructive choices they made, though they also had mothers and didn't have fathers.

The documentaries I've been watching shed light on these issues. In one of the interviews, Tupac discusses the struggles faced by young black and hispanic men. I know they're not the only ones, but one of my own cultural groups was mentioned, so I couldn't help but feel discouraged...and, surprisingly, also thankful.

A few days ago, Jose and I were talking and he said a few things that made me feel a little unsettled. He told me that after he expressed an idea in class, the professor referred to it as "Jose's Theory". Here's what made me sad to hear. Jose said that he was a little embarrassed that the professor kept saying his name, because of a negative comment that a student made a few years back when he was in high school. When a teacher was taking role during a school trip, one of the students expressed surprise that there was a "Jose" on the roster. Because, apparently, there weren't many hispanics in this school (the one my husband transferred over to so that he could receive a better education). I responded by telling him he should feel proud of his name; it makes me sad to know that he feels even a little embarrassed, all because of a ridiculous comment an immature high schooler made years ago. But with the immigration policies, and some of the negative talk being thrown around surrounding that issue, I can see why it's still causing some discomfort, even now.

Rambling aside, I respect everyone who is able to rise above their struggles, whatever those struggles might be. Whether you're the son of an immigrant family who just wants to improve society by making wise choices, or you're a hard-working respectful upper-middle class American whose great-great-great grandparents emigrated from Europe to the US to escape religious oppression, the responsibility is equal among all groups. Race, education, gender, religion (etc.) aside, we all have the God-given responsibility to improve ourselves so that we can help those who are struggling to do it alone, because their life's circumstances might be more dire than our own.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Strength (and an on-going love story)

24 years ago, a shy and pink cheeked 10 pound baby boy was born into a poor family. He never knew he would have to become the man of the house in middle school, when boys are more like boys than ever. While things were difficult at home, he somehow managed to rise above the bullying. Countless times these boys would call him names, each one cruelly pointing out his struggle with weight. At first, he'd only confide in his mom during these difficult times. Yes, though these boys would probably make fun of him for crying to his mother at home, he didn't care.

But one day, he stopped crying and got angry. He channeled this anger in productive ways, though. Unlike most boys who turn to alcohol, drugs, or even violence, he looked to the future. He prayed, though his faith was often shaken. He decided that he would become a man well before his voice caught up with his strong spirit ;).

Instead of walking toward his goal slowly, he sprinted with a purpose. In fact, he ran so much that he lost 80 pounds in just a few short months. The boys stopped talking, not just because he transferred to a different school with a better curriculum (because he had big plans for the future), but because they knew he had something they didn't. Despite not having the same academic background as his classmates, he still managed to graduate at the top of his class, exceeding everyone's expectations; going against the statistics, even.

This young, strong, poor hispanic boy wanted to go to college. And so he did. He graduated Suma Cum Laude, and was later accepted to one of the top universities in the world for graduate school. While that was impressive, it was really his heart that attracted his future wife to him the most.

You see, she loved everything she saw, and even the parts he couldn't see. She loved that he was bold. He wasn't about games. He saw what he wanted and, with more effort and prayer than most are willing to put forth, he always won. For instance, he came across a rather odd girl on Facebook who started a group called "I Love Dorks". For reasons she doesn't quite understand (even to this day :), he was somehow intrigued by her profile. So, without hesitating, he sent her a rather bold message. He claimed that he would be happy to be her suitor (among other things). He'd never even met her before. He sounded just like Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, but he was much more of a gentleman and didn't have the pride issue. She was instantly attracted to his confidence. Then she fell even more in love with him after reading his blog, where he'd already mentioned that he wanted to marry her (even though she still hadn't met him). It wasn't this bold statement that attracted her to him, though...

Today, she loves him even more than she did then, though he is missing one thing that he had when they first met. Her heart is still his, and his heart is still very much hers...but his kidney belongs to someone else now. He was willing to risk his own life for another. That was the definition of love. If he could love others this way, she reasoned that he would be able to love her the same. And she was right. This is why they became husband and wife.

But that's not the happy ending. Because life is constantly offering new challenges, these challenges also need their own happy endings. They've been together in sickness and health; when the days of illness were heavy with sadness and surgery day eventually came, he stood by her side and loved her even more. They've been together in good times and bad; because there's no such thing as the perfect marriage, they're learning how to become better people together and love each other all the while. They've loved each other for poorer, but certainly not for richer; they've learned how to trust that God will provide, and he has. They've become a family, and their journey together is still only beginning,

Every day offers a new opportunity for growth. Though she knows her heart has grown with more love for him throughout the years, she also knows for certain that his heart has done the same. He still takes the same approach to life--school is still a priority, but family is a greater one. She wants him to know she respects him so much for this. Though she sometimes fears he might have been able to accomplish more without these extra responsibilities, he has told her otherwise. He says that his main responsibility, his family, gives him the kind of strength and confidence that he never had before, so he is able to perform better in every area of life.

Still, she doesn't want to hold him back. But he insists that after class on rainy Friday afternoons, while others might be making arrangements to spend a long evening studying, or planning their life as successful bachelors, or getting ready for a night out with friends, his happiness rests in this: He has a family that accepts him for who he is. He has love. But what she wants him to know is that this home and family he loves is his greatest success yet.

God gave him wisdom to overcome his life's former challenges so that he could bring him to this place of love and acceptance, and transform him into a real man of genuine strength.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

9 months (and some change) & a thank you!

Ali from Enjoying Now recently sent me a very thoughtful (and cute) care package, with a sweet note enclosed. She thought I needed some cheering up, so she sent over the beautiful wreath (photo below) and a perfectly pink nail polish to match the bright pink flower on the wreath. She made the wreath, too!

The wreath does match Mirabel's nursery colors, Ali :). It's hanging nicely on a wall, on her side of the room. In a few months it'll be hanging in her own room! So looking forward to moving...We are already looking at homes for rent online! I'm super excited! (I'm also trying to find a cute and fun dress to wear to Jose's graduation! I can't believe he's graduating! I'm so pumped for that.)



But! The weather is improving! Just last week it hit the 50s and we took a much needed 2 hour walk around the campus. Notice the smiles below? I'm not the only one who's missed the sunshine :).

Just a few more months until her 1st birthday! I cannot believe it! Hopefully we'll all be sleeping better by then--at least, that's my goal for now. I think with all the changes going on, Mirabel is having an extra difficult time staying asleep. So she's waking about 4 to 5 times a night! It's rough, but I keep telling myself that she won't be this little for long. Then I'll miss her baby phase! I think she's on the verge of walking (hopefully?!). She is standing for a few seconds on her own. She isn't a fan of crawling, though. She prefers to do a backwards army-type crawl. Then she licks the floor.

We just found out yesterday that she is anemic :(. I felt guilty about it. She still isn't eating solids as much as I'd like her to. But yesterday I was feeling extra determined, after hearing that she'd have to take (which seems to me) a frightening/high dose of iron. I made lentils with some bell peppers, seasoned with a few spices. She seemed to like it. Well, she did gag at first, but she eventually got used to the texture and taste. She finished everything that I served her! This has never happened! I also stocked up on a ton of iron-rich foods at the store. If you all can recommend any tasty baby food blends that are iron rich, I'd love to hear about them!




Friday, February 18, 2011

Such a sad song

Gosh, but it's so beautiful...I love it.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

laughter

video

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day

This morning started out with a blow-out. Nope, not an argument. Things were peaceful. Think diapers! Ugh, not exactly the image you want to think about on a holiday that people secretly use as their excuse to eat chocolate (but that wouldn't be me, of course ;)! Ok, so I will stop with the potty humor (but I have noticed that it's a fairly popular discussion topic among moms :).

I dressed Mirabel in her Valentine's Day outfit shortly after she woke up and, not an hour later, it lost its cuteness thanks to that blow-out. It seems that Valentine's Day is a poopy day for many people, sadly. I remember how so many folks dreaded the day, particularly in high school and college. Some of my friends wore black. It was one of my favorite "holidays" and I used it as an excuse to wear way too much pink and red. Funny thing is, I was single on all but one Valentine's Day until I was 21. Yes, I have to admit, it was a little sad, but there was always someone or a group of someones I had to celebrate it with, so I couldn't be sad for too long.

Growing up, my parents celebrated Valentine's Day with my brother and me. We'd all go out to eat, and/or they'd give me something special. Usually it was a small gift, but it was thoughtful. I want to share that tradition with Mirabel, for many reasons. Mostly, I want her to realize there are many different kinds of love, and they can all be celebrated on Valentine's Day.

So after cleaning up the blow-out, and changing outfits (thankfully Mirabel has a ton of pink clothing ;), we headed to Target. Oh, Target. In my opinion, they've mastered the art of mass producing cuteness. Since this was our first Valentine's Day as more than just a couple, I decided it was time to stock up on cheesy Valentine's Day decor. I am one of those people who will find any excuse to fill their home with ridiculous holiday decorations, or "junk" as wise folks might call it. I decided that the kitchen would be the official Valentine's Day room. So we (well, mostly just me, but I'm sure Mirabel would've agreed with my purchases ;)... So we bought a simple table cloth, 2 plates (with hearts, of course), and 2 cups (with matching hearts), and a Valentine's Day garland. Oh yes, and a set of blocks with individual letters; you can match them up in various ways so that they read "love", "xoxo", or "hugs".

The table is spread out with the kitschy kitchen decor. There's a chocolate cake in the oven (one of the perks of having a cooking "job" is that I can choose relevant recipes! Yay!), and there's molé in the fridge (one of Jose's favorite Mexican dishes). It's a toasty 45 degrees today (which is very warm for us! I even have the doors and windows open!)...

And it's our first Valentine's Day with a little girl.

I hope she and Jose both know that I love them. This year we're celebrating a new kind of love. Our family is growing. This is why I wanted to make this Valentine's Day slightly more memorable, cheesy decor aside. This is our last Valentine's Day in our tiny but warm apartment. Next year, we'll be in our first rental house, though we already have a home.

Last weekend I bought this potted flower. I'm determined to keep it alive! This is the only spot in our place that gets direct sunlight; every time I walk by it, I remember that Spring is just around the corner. And if this flower can make it through a rough winter, then so can I. It just needs a little sunshine. Thankfully, we're getting plenty of sunshine this Valentine's Day.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Thoughts

One thing I really like about blogging is that it allows me to see how I've changed/not changed over time. I think I've mastered the art of stagnation, and even regression ;). I'm noticing a pattern in how I've been thinking lately, and it's a fairly negative one that I'd like to break. That's my late New Year's resolution, or I should say Life Resolution! It's something I'll have to work on every single day.

I read some verses this morning that opened my eyes a bit. I've read them before, but they spoke to me differently today...

When I was in high school my mom strongly suggested (ha!) that I read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens. It was a little cheesy, and I think maybe parts of that book stuck with me subconsciously and (strangely, now many years later) somehow influenced the tone of these notes I just took...so bear with me, laugh even! I did :P.

This is just a basic and simplified (half-asleep) interpretation of these very wise verses. Basically, what I wrote to help me understand the meat of the real text.

If you've got something to add (or your own version of the 7 Habits, with more or less than 7 actual habits ;), please feel free to share. I'd love to hear it!

From 1 Corinthians 9...
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Running requires-

Pacing yourself: Realizing that Christ is your strength in the "race" but that you cannot exercise with what you do not have--and it takes time to develop strength and endurance to run long distances.

Training yourself: So that you are able to run long distances without tiring as easily as someone without training. This means, pushing yourself spiritually so that you are closer to God today than you were yesterday.

Staying hydrated: When you thirst, don't ignore it--seek God when you find yourself thirsting for other things to find satisfaction and fulfillment.

Health: Focus on being spiritually healthy. Choosing to be "healthy" is a daily thing. Exercise by memorizing scripture and understanding God's word. "Eat" the right things--take notice of your thoughts and how those thoughts are influenced by the things you take-in daily and what (or who) you surround yourself with (music, tv, movies, books, etc.) 2 Corinthians 10:5 and Philipians 4:8.

Don't take your eyes off the goal: Comparing yourself to other runners and/or seeking their approval will only slow you down. Focus on who you're running for and why you're running; don't run "aimlessly". Your goal is also to do better than you did yesterday. "Strike a blow to [your] body"--overcoming your own personal weaknesses with God's strength so that you can be an example to others, or "preach" by running a good race by the way you live.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The sun shines again

Right now I'm sitting on the floor with Mirabel and the curtains are open because...the sun is shining! We even got to see the sunset driving home the other afternoon. I don't even remember the last time I saw it before then.

Spring is almost here.

And here is Mirabel crawling (or army crawling) backwards (last night). More like dragging across the floor. She doesn't crawl. I don't know if she ever will. :P She looks like a baby seal in this picture and the expression makes me laugh...

She wasn't eating many solids until recently. She hated purees, so she didn't want anything from the jar. I tried giving her fruit, but she gagged on the pieces. A friend recommended these feeders, and they work really well. We also discovered this life-saver! She actually eats now! I mean, more than just 2 bites, this is progress!!! :D

On a totally unrelated note. You know that ol' cute saying that's recently come back that goes something like "Keep Calm and Carry On"? Well, I want to get this shirt that captures that saying in a whole new way ;).

Thursday, February 3, 2011

It's no coincidence

This is from Romans 12...
6 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. 7 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection,[e] and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.[f] 12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.


Sometimes we get distracted. I get distracted by my own negativity a lot of the time. I'm missing out, aren't I? The verses above prove that. We all have different gifts we're supposed to use. And whatever they are, love should be at the core of those gifts, and our actions. No exceptions.

Funny, I used to think some people were better at showing love than others, and that that was ok. But the truth is, though we all have different gifts, we are all called to love sincerely. If we're not good at loving, it isn't because we weren't blessed with that gift, it's because we haven't embraced our gift properly. But before embracing this gift, we need to learn how to become like the giver, so that when we share our gifts with others we do so with the same kind of love.

It's no coincidence that those verses follow each other. I never really noticed the significance before, though.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Pretty Song

Yes, we made it to February!


Pic from here, Cran Beach! Where we'll be this May!

If this wasn't going to be my last winter here, I'd definitely purchase a happy light.

I believe the weather is taking a toll on me. Winter isn't over and we've already had over 60 inches of snow, and the average is 41 inches for the year!!!

I'm not a fan of having to walk 3 blocks to my car in the freezing cold, hoping I don't slip on the ice while holding Mirabel, because we don't have an official parking spot since they cost around $1500/year. I'm a little exhausted from worrying about the new damages done to my car, because I may have accidentally parked in someone's spot (though these supposed spots are unmarked and are really available on a first-come-first-served basis). The fear isn't unfounded, someone keyed the entire right side of my car, and someone else hit the back right bumper of my car without leaving any sort of note.

I'm a little tired of outrageous medical procedures, ranging from root canals that are twice as much as they are everywhere else, to incompetent doctors who go on Paris vacations during Thanksgiving with the money they collect from these ridiculous dental procedures--even though they can't fill a cavity so that the filling doesn't fall out, or even fit a temporary crown properly so that it stays put. (Yep, over the past 2 months, ONE SINGLE TOOTH has been filled twice, and that's just half of it.)

Then the pain IN THAT SAME TOOTH became unbearable and I discovered (or an entirely different endodontist discovered) that I actually need a root canal and crown on that tooth. (Even though the first incompetent dentist said I needed an antibiotic for the pain, for an infection that wasn't there. Remember, I need a root canal not an antibiotic.) The endodontist was disturbed by this too. This new endodontist did the root canal, and the old incompetent doc gave me a temporary crown (with a 15% discount, since she messed up earlier), which falls out 2 DAYS after she put it in, much like the filling that was never actually needed on that same tooth earlier on!!!!!!!!!! The irony of it all? The dental hygienist put on the second temporary crown and it fits better AND STAYS ON longer than the one the dentist initially put on. WOW. All that cost us $2500, and we found out it wouldn't have been much less if we had dental insurance (which is also too expensive).

Sigh. This blog is becoming a place for complaints, and I don't like that. But I feel like I'm about to pop because I haven't seen the sun in months. My poor husband is so consumed with school and work (school projects) this semester that I only talk to him about 30 minutes a day, with the exception of Sundays, so I need a place to vent.

BUT it's February, thank God!!!! We only have about 3.5 months left before we leave this place FOREVER. I also have a smilie baby, when she isn't sleepy or cranky because I need a nursing break (because those pesky new teeth are breaking my skin :|). Right now she's sleeping peacefully in my right arm while I type with my left hand (gonna go put her down now :). Phew, free hands now!

She is growing up so fast. Thankfully she's starting to like the sipper cup, since she never cared much for bottles, and she's used it a few times now! We're still trying to introduce solids, she doesn't like those much either, but she ate a few spoonfuls of turkey dinner and loves solid fruits and roasted veggies served in strips!

We are also planning a few mini-vacations, which we'll take in May when our family comes up for Jose's graduation. One of the places we'll be visiting is the beach. Check out the beautiful photo at the top of the entry; I found it on flickr, it's the beach we'll be visiting! Can't wait! :) I hope you all are staying warm! I hope spring comes quickly for us all!

The good thing about the weather? With all the staying indoors, nap times become craft times when I plan ahead and don't have other obligations, this means blog make-overs and Valentine-card making! They are a little cheesy, but I wanted to send some cards out to the grandparents that included her handprint. So I traced her hand and incorporated it into the card, so they can see how much she's grown since they haven't seen her since August!


 

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