Part of the beauty (and frustration) of the internet is the ability to leave out the details. The author of a blog has the ability to choose exactly what is revealed to his/her readers and therefore the readers likely never get a real picture of who the author is and what his/her life is really like. They just see the snippets that are shared. There's nothing really wrong with that. Like I said, it's part of the beauty of the internet. We are able to share our lives with others without sharing our ENTIRE lives with others. But if we aren't careful, it can become easy to think that these snippets are all there is. Kinda like when we watch TV shows or movies and sometimes slip into thinking that that's what life is really supposed to be like.

I know I've done it before. Lots of times. Whether it's been through blogs or just with friends whom I don't see very often, I know I've had lots of times where I let myself slip into believing that these other people have the "perfect" marriage, family, life, etc. I swear they never fight or have bad days and their houses probably look spectacular and smell like roses all the time. Ha!

Anyway, my point is that these things probably aren't true. I'm seeing a very narrow piece of the whole of their lives. And the same is true of this blog. As the author of this blog, I do want to do my best to be real here. I've always been a heart-on-my-sleeve type of person. But, I also strive not to complain. I don't want my blog to be an outlet for ranting about life's frustrations... mainly because ultimately I know my life is pretty darn awesome and God has blessed me greatly. But to those of you out there who read this (however many or few of you there are), know that my life still has ups and downs. I post mostly about the good things... about fun vacations and how much I love my family. But my life is definitely not roses all the time. I fight, struggle, doubt, cry, and hurt at times too.

I've been struggling lately with a number of things, mostly related to a lack of discipline. It's been over 7 months now since my life felt routine and a lot of stuff is starting to suffer as a result. So last week I decided I was going to commit to some improvements.

Around the house: I'm at home practically all day every day. I decided that I need to start seeing my home as my job and get serious about keeping it presentable. I likely will never become a super neat-freak, but I do want to try to make more effort. It's a really satisfying feeling to have a clean house. So, I've divided up the chores and tasked myself with something each day of the week. For example, today is kitchen day and tomorrow I clean the carpets.

Spiritually: I hate to admit that this has been lacking but yeah... it has been. Majorly. But knowing the importance of spending time with God, and after our church's series on prayer, I knew I had to get more disciplined in this area. I've been spending Lydia's first nap of the day reading the Living It Out Bible study and journaling prayers. Have I immediately returned to feeling on fire for Christ? Nope. I wish it was that easy. I truly miss that fire. But this relationship, like any relationship, takes time and effort. I'm working on the first step right now... taking the time to invite God to work in my life again.

My marriage: Nope, I don't have a perfect marriage either. Told you my life isn't roses! Even with 5 years of experience under our belts, Brent and I still miss the mark a lot. After spending time praying about marriage, I had to laugh a little when my friend Kim blogged about how to like your husband again. God always has fun ways of communicating. In addition to working on following Kim's advice, I started reading through the book "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman. I've read most of it before, but I wanted to examine it again. It's given me some new insights into what I need and what Brent needs from me. We had a great talk last weekend and I already feel like we're doing better. (Note: I don't mean to imply that we've been having serious marital problems, just that no marriage is perfect and ours is no exception to that.)

There are tons of other areas of my life that need improvement as well, but the above three are the ones I've been focusing on lately. One step at a time, right? I want to make the most of this life that I've been given. I am far from perfect and I make a LOT of mistakes. I'm just grateful for a loving family and a gracious God who are willing to be patient with me.
It's late and I'm tired and I want to go to bed, but I have to take a second to just capture this memory before it is lost.

Tonight after dinner I cleaned Lydia up and put her on the living room floor so she could relax/roll/play a little bit before bedtime. She was in such a silly little mood and she kept laughing, so I got down on hands and knees with my face directly above her and we just had the best time smiling and laughing at eachother. Her entire face smiled with her big blue eyes fixed on mine just soaking in all of the fun. Everything I said or did was hilarious and she'd just go crazy laughing and grabbing at my face. I loved it!

I guess what was so special was the fact that she was so fixated on me. Lydia is an incredibly happy baby most of the time. I get the joy of hearing her laugh and squeal with delight a million times a day it seems. But usually she is quite easily distracted. It was awesome to have that moment where we were truly enjoying one another. No toys, no music, just mommy and baby having fun making eachother laugh.

I love my life. :-)
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My dear sweet Lydia has always been a noise maker. So it's certainly not surprising to hear all kinds of things coming out of her all day long. But lately one of her favorite things to do is SCREAM. And let me tell you, she can be loud! We took her to a restaurant last night and let her play with a straw. This, of course, was the best toy ever and required many many joyous screams. Brent was noticeably embarrassed (I mostly found it cute... what mom wouldn't?), so the straw was soon taken away.

Other fun noises in Lydia's repertoire have been growls, lots and lots of raspberries, and my favorites: babbling "mamama" and "dadada." And beyond straws at restaurants, kitchen items have also become popular toys. Lydia's favorite currently is a spatula, though she also got a kick out of holding a tupperware container to her face and babbling into it. Her real toys are no longer interesting. She will ALWAYS choose something on my desk or an item offered from the kitchen over the bright, soft, jingly, musical, or otherwise "cool" baby toys.

She is growing increasingly intelligent. It so fun to watch her learn! She's quite good at pulling on blankets to move toys closer to her. I even watched her figure out that she could get a balloon in her hands by pulling on the ribbon to make it come down. Is she supposed to be this smart already?

People keep commenting that we're going to see teeth soon. But people have been telling me that for 3 or 4 months... and ya know what? We got nothin. Lydia gnaws on everything in sight, but we still haven't seen any pearly whites making their debut. I'm fine with them waiting awhile to show up. I don't look forward to getting bit while nursing, and I kind of enjoy not having to be TOO worried about stuff she's chewing on knowing that she can't easily bite pieces off yet.

In the realm of feeding, we're working on a few changes these days. As of yesterday I'm starting to give her solids twice a day instead of once and I am now attempting to drop her late night nursing (the 10:30 one). She did pretty well yesterday and last night. She had pears at lunchtime and carrots at dinner (while we were at Red Lobster... that made life interesting!). Bedtime feeding was around 7:45 and she slept until 5:30 this morning at which point I went in and found her crying on her belly. So I'm not sure if she woke up due to hunger or because she was on her tummy and too tired to roll back over.

It makes me a little sad to be decreasing nursing times. I love nursing Lydia and I know how healthy it has been for her, but I also know that I have to allow her to grow up. At some point she will need to adjust to "real" food and it has always been my intention to wean her at a year old. So, it's only a matter of time before this will come to an end. One of many phases that I will see come and go throughout her life.

Going to try to take some 7 month pictures of her today. Keep an eye on Facebook and Shutterfly to see them!
Well, except for the cold nights! While I found myself nice and toasty warm inside my sleeping bag, I also found myself constantly worried about my baby girl in her Pack N Play on the other side of the tent. But all in all, it was a great trip!

The weather was absolutely perfect camping weather. Sunny, light breeze, highs around 75 degrees. Perfect. Lydia had so much fun being outside and getting attention from her cousins. I knew she'd love it.

Friday night Lydia decided that bedtime was really just naptime and woke up crying shortly after going down. She didn't want to miss the campfire!

She slept okay that night (once finally back in bed), so I guess she stayed warm enough. But when she did get up in the morning, her little hands were just FREEZING! I wish I could have covered them up, but since she sucks her thumb I know she'd rather have cold hands than not have them at all.

Saturday was all about relaxing and enjoying the outdoors. We sat around the fire in the morning until it warmed up, had our typical breakfast of eggs & bacon, and spent the afternoon napping, playing, chatting, and snacking. Exactly the way a camping trip is supposed to be! Naps were a little difficult for Lydia though. By mid-afternoon the inside of the tent was SO hot. Even in just a onesie she was sweating like crazy. I realized that a tent nap was not going to happen, but my tired baby really needed to rest. So... out came the Pack N Play. By the time I got it out and set up, Lydia had caught a second wind and it took her another hour before she finally fell asleep. There was just far too much stuff to look at outside!

Just as a random side note, there was a large group of Amish people camping a couple sites down from us. Made for interesting people-watching opportunities!

Saturday night we had an interesting experience around the campfire. Lydia was already in bed and my sister-in-law Erin was heading to the bathroom with her 3 girls to get them ready to go to sleep when she saw a raccoon! Right by our picnic tables! Trying not to alarm the girls, they moved on to the bathroom. Meanwhile, myself, my dad, my mom, Brent, and my brother all tried to figure out what we were going to do with this cute-but-don't-want-it-around-camp pest. The men tried to scare it away but it would just run back up the tree then eventually creep back down. It found the Trix under the table that had spilled that morning and didn't seem too bothered by our presence as it chowed down.

After a few attempts, we thought it was gone. They'd scared it off and we watched it run across the other campsites (right towards the Amish!). Back to enjoying the campfire we went. Later Brent is melting the extra marshmallow goo off of the roasting forks... he pulls them out and they are red hot. Someone cracks a joke about him getting the raccoon with the red hot pokers... we laugh... Brent turns around... and there is the stinkin raccoon on top of our picnic table! At this point Brent grabs a log from our firewood pile and proceeds to whack the raccoon. It runs off, ducks into a drain pipe, and Dad & Brent blocked the pipe with a big log and put stakes around it so it can't move. That was the last we saw of the raccoon.

(For all those concerned about it, I'm sure the 'coon was fine... we fed it before pinning it in a hole and removed the log in the morning... chances are it managed to get out the other side of the pipe and just stayed away from us point forward)

Saturday night was cold yet again, so again I worried that my sweet Lydia would be chilly. She did fine until around 6 or 6:30. At that point I got her out of her PnP and snuggled her in with me in my sleeping bag. I nursed her there while warming her up and she fell asleep all bundled up next to me. I didn't go back to sleep because I was making sure my baby didn't get smothered in the thick sleeping bag... and because I was fully enjoying having my sleeping baby snuggled up next to me. For safety reasons I do not co-sleep with Lydia. Never have. And I don't regret that decision. But that morning I really did love having her bundled up in my arms while she slept. :)

The rest of the trip was pretty typical. Breakfast Sunday morning followed by tearing down the camp & heading to the Pizza Hut buffet for lunch.

I'm so glad Lydia is already getting the chance to go places and have different experiences. We've already been camping twice and spent a week at the beach... and in a couple more weeks we're heading to Gatlinburg! Lydia loves travelling and she does it so well! I have a feeling that she will keep me on the move as she gets older!

Crazy busy week with family things, MOPS, and trying to get the CedarCreek website ready for launch. With any luck I'll find some time to blog about the camping trip between work, Lydia, and the other activities!

Pictures are up on Facebook & Shutterfly.
I am in the BEST mood today. Lydia has been an absolute delight all day... smiling, laughing, just being a super happy girl. She was totally cracking up when we were in her room and I kept exclaiming "MMMMMM...MAMA!" She played happily while I ran about doing laundry and packing for our weekend. Another thing that made her giggle: I was counting out diapers for the weekend and asked her if 15 would be enough. "That should be plenty, right baby girl?" She promptly responded by giggling. Should I be worried? ;-)

The weather today is FABULOUS. Lydia and I walked out to get the mail and I decided it was too nice out to waste. So we went in, grabbed a picnic blanket, some toys, and the book I'm reading and set up camp on the porch. Lydia played and watched the kids walking by on their way home from school while I got a chance to finish the chapter I was reading in my book.

Another reason for my good mood: we are going camping tomorrow!! I love camping. It's one of my favorite family activities and fondest childhood memories. My parents, brothers, sisters-in-law, and nieces head north from Cinci... Brent, Lydia, and I head south from Toledo... and we meet roughly in the middle for a camping extravaganza! (Perhaps I exaggerate, but the sentence sounded better that way). The weather for the weekend is also supposed to be FABULOUS, so it should be an awesome time. Just praying that it doesn't get too cold for us at night... mostly for Lydia. Low temps are supposed to get down to lower 50's and we'll be in a tent. I'm bringing multiple layers to bundle up my baby, so she should be set. Assuming she stays warm enough at night, I know Lydia is going to have so much fun. She's such an outdoors girl and a social butterfly. Spending the weekend outside with her cousins is going to be the best!

Lots of great things to look forward to. Camping this weekend, family dinner with the in-laws on Monday, and MOPS starting on Tuesday. Life is grand!
A few new developments in the life of Lydia:

- She is totally into fake coughing to get attention.

- She is now all about rolling across the room, but only to her one side. She is not an ambi-turner.

- She LOVES being chased. So much so that she laughs hysterically even when we aren't intentionally chasing her... like when Brent carries her up the stairs for bed and I am following behind them.

- She eats socks. Funniest thing lately was when we were in the car and I turned around to see that she had pulled off her sock and had it dangling from her mouth. No hands involved, just a sock stuffed in her mouth. Silly girl!
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Lydia is currently in her crib crying. I have been running in and out of her room for over an hour now. Every time I comfort her, calm her down, tell her it's time for night-night, and leave. As soon as I am out of sight, the screams begin again. This last time I cuddled her a bunch, then put her in her crib and stood to the side. She smiled and babbled to me, and happily began to suck her thumb (a typical bedtime ritual). But again, as soon as I left it was as if something was ripping her leg off.


She just quieted down again. I'm hoping she's finally going to sleep. I've heard that around 6 months it is very common for separation anxiety to kick in and it is also common for this to disrupt nighttimes that are typically without issue. Oy. I had hoped we were past the need to cry it out. If this was a one-time thing I'd think less of it... but she was doing the same thing last night too. If she does it again tomorrow, I'm going to be in trouble. Brent and I are supposed to go on a date to a Mudhens game tomorrow night after Lydia goes to bed. Bad timing, sweet daughter! :-P

Just another day in the life of this mom... dealing with the ever changing phases of my growing girl.

Still hearing silence over the monitor. Maybe victory at last!


It's 9:20 now... about 2 hours since bedtime began and Lydia is completely asleep. It really did end up being a sweet night though, despite the struggle. My earlier proclamation of victory was premature and Lydia began crying again not too long after I wrote that. So again I went back up to her room to pick her up and calm her down. This time I decided to sit down with her in the rocker and see if I could manage to get her to sleep.

Lydia has not fallen asleep in my arms in a long time, so I didn't expect much. I just wanted to give her some snuggle time and see if I could at least get her to go back to sucking her thumb and relaxing. We sat there snuggling in the dim, quiet room, just rocking and staring at eachother. Lydia would gaze at me with a look of complete wonder, then she would reach up and touch my mouth and nose. She'd then pull her hand back and suck her thumb for awhile, still staring, before reaching up again and repeating the process. I couldn't get over how amazed she looked. It was as if she was seeing my face for the first time ever and was trying to take in all of the details.

Eventually she went back to sucking her thumb and her eyelids started to get heavier. I watched her as each blink got ever so slightly longer. Her thumb in her mouth and her fingers gently gripping the zipper of my sweatshirt, she finally drifted off to sleep. We stayed snuggled up in the rocker until her little body went completely limp. Ever so gently I stood up and slipped her back into the crib.

What a beautiful night it turned out to be. :)

No, this isn't something I intend to make a habit of. I'm still a firm believer that it is best for the whole family for her to be able to put herself to sleep. But tonight I didn't mind bending the rules. Just for one night. Sometimes it takes just a little bit of rule bending to form the best of memories.
In my last post I mentioned how every mother settles into their own method based on their unique lives & children. I said that most parenting books probably only 100% worked for the mothers that wrote them.

With that in mind, let me say how much I hate hate hate HATE reading stuff from people who accuse mothers of being unloving if they do things a certain way. I hate it! Very few things that I read can get me fired up, but know-it-all folks who act like it is their way or the highway can definitely set me off. Come on people, let's be real here. Different things work for different people and just because they don't agree with YOUR way of doing things does not make them cruel, cold, and heartless!

The "cry it out" way of handling a baby and sleeping has been one of the big subjects where I've seen this annoying trend. Some people who oppose this idea practically paint a picture of parents who are sitting around laughing and eating bon-bons while their child lies alone - cold, crying, in desperate need, eventually giving up on the world and falling asleep in pure exhaustion. Give me a break!! Seriously. Can't we all just acknowledge that 99.9% of parents out there LOVE their children and make choices based on that great love for their child? Did I let Lydia cry it out? Yep. Did I make absolutely certain that she was warm, changed, fed, and otherwise comfortable before I did so? Of course! I also was very careful to assess the situation. If she was happy as a clam and then started screaming the instant I put her in her crib, I knew that she was only reacting that way because she did not want to sleep. Despite being tired, she wanted to fight it and stay up and play. She was reflecting her WANTS, not her NEEDS. She needed sleep.

I also never ever just left her there crying for hours upon hours (though sometimes 5 minutes felt like 5 hours to me!). I checked on her frequently, went in to pat her on the back and help her to calm down, and always made sure I was assessing the situation to know if she truly needed something. And no, she did not lay there screaming until she, exhausted, gave up on the world and resigned that life was cruel. She eventually would quiet down, still awake, and then peacefully drift off to sleep.

Anyway, this post is not supposed to be about my feelings on crying it out. It's supposed to be about my feelings on "to each his own" and the fact that too many people don't embrace that mantra when it comes to parenting. I chose not to co-sleep because I felt it could be dangerous and out of love didn't want to endanger my child. Others choose, out of love, TO co-sleep because they feel it is the nurturing thing to do. Am I appalled by their choice? Do I go telling them how awful they are or how I feel they could endanger their babies? Nope. Because I know they are only making that choice because they feel it is the most loving choice for their family. And I respect that. In the same way, I expect respect from other moms who may not choose to do things my way. I love my baby girl more words can express, please stop painting me as cruel for making the choices I feel are best for MY family.

I remember shortly after Lydia was born looking at an article about co-sleeping vs crying it out. The author set it up as if he was going to explore the pros and cons of each. Yay! Something that acknowledges that both sides have risks and benefits... at least so I thought. I got down to the lists of pros and cons and they read like this: "The benefits of co-sleeping; The so-called risks of co-sleeping... The so-called benefits of cry it out; The risks of cry it out"

SO-CALLED? I immediately wrote the article off as biased and closed it right then and there. I get so tired of know-it-alls. Can't we all just acknowledge that no one knows everything and that all things come with pros and cons? And for the love of God let's realize that, besides the random few psychos out there, every mother wants the absolute best for her children and makes her choices based on love, not cruelty.

I could go on and on about other examples of this. Spanking vs not spanking is another of those hot topics. But the discussion is pretty much the same as above. Bottom line: If I choose to spank, it will be a choice I am making because I love my children & want the best for them. If I choose not to spank, it will also be because I love my children & want the best for them. And I personally choose to acknowledge that other moms make their choices for the same reasons... and I will respect their choices, even if they are different from my own. All I ask is for the same respect in return.
Spring and Summer always seem to disappear too quickly. It seems like I just busted out the shorts and sandals, now here I am wearing jeans & sweatshirts with the heat on in the house! Granted, it's unusually cold here right now. The last few days in August had lows in the 40's!

A year ago right now I was preggers in Gatlinburg with my family. Is it weird that I've spent practically this entire year constantly thinking about what I was doing at that time last year? I'm going to assume it is okay and that it does NOT mean I am crazy because hey, 2008 was a big year for me! But anyway, I recall how stressed out I was at this point last year. I was 15 weeks pregnant and still experiencing a lot of spotting. After a huge scare at 12 weeks, I knew that things were fine but I was beyond ready to feel like I was having a "normal" pregnancy. But all of that stressing aside, I was enjoying the experience. I made my first maternity clothing purchases that week in Gatlinburg and I started feeling like I was really showing. Here's a picture of me from September 1st last year... walking in Gatlinburg after dinner at Calhoun's.

Hmm... I really didn't intend this post to be all about reminiscing. And now Lydia is waking up from her nap so I can't really dive into much more now. :P

In short, what I wanted to blog about is the excitement of events to come. Next weekend (the 12th/13th) we will be embarking on another camping adventure. I did enjoy camping with Lydia last time and am looking forward to it again. Just hoping it won't be too cold! And of course, I always love getting to see my family. Camping has always been one of our favorite family activities.

Then at the beginning of October, we're off to Gatlinburg again! Another of my family's favorite locations. Unfortunately Brent is so busy with work and the upcoming launch of our church's Whitehouse campus that there's a possibility he won't be coming with us. This would make me very sad. :( Please pray that everything will get done that needs to get done to allow him to go on vacation. While I'll have my parents with me, it'd be nice to have my husband too!

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