Friday, July 30, 2010

Better than a hallelujah

There is a beautiful Christmas song by Amy Grant that has always made me cry.

One year, I sat in the parking lot while on my way to purchase Christmas gifts and absolutely sobbed when this song came on.
It's called Breath of Heaven, and it is written from the perspective of Mary talking to God about her fears surrounding this huge task He has set before her... namely, carrying the Son of God (no biggie...).
It appeals to me on so many levels - that of a survivor, that of a woman, and now, most poigniantly, that of a mother.
The verse that keeps coming back to me - especially as I have done this all by myself for the past month - is this one:

Do you wonder
as you watch my face
If a wiser one
should have had my place?
But I offer all I am
For the mercy of your plan.

I have done a far from perfect job with my husband away. I am so flawed as a mother (as a person!). I so often wonder if God looks at me this way, and wonders if perhaps someone wiser, more patient and better equipped should have had my place. I struggle, because this is exactly where I want to be, and yet... it's just so darned difficult! I get caught up in the stress of how hard it is and forget to be grateful. And I am SO grateful.

I don't want to be the kind of person who gets everything she wants - far, far more than she could ever deserve - and still complains about my miracle.

And so I have to remember, consciously, and with effort, even when it is difficult, that I am so.darned.blessed.

I have to remember that the beautiful cries of my baby - no matter how difficult to endure - are infinitely better than the quiet of their absence.

Remember that so much of life isn't what happens to us, but how we choose to respond; how we choose to rise to the occassion.

Remember that the lullaby of my frustrated tears in the dead of night are better than a hallelujah song.

Above all, I have to remember that - flaws and imperfections and all - God chose me to be Leah's mommy. That's a pretty powerful thought!

Here's the song, if you're interested. It'll have you reaching for the tissues if you're an easy target (like me!).

Thursday, July 29, 2010

We're Back!

I survived...

I survived three weeks completely on my own with Leah! It inspired me to have an entirely new level of respect for single parents, and husbands and wives of military men and women who are deployed. I honestly don't know how these people do it alone. It is an incredible task!

After three weeks on our own, I decided that enough was enough and hoofed it down to my mom's house in Littleton for a very blessed and wonderful week. We walked through downtown Littleton and window shopped (and enjoyed a DELICIOUS gyro, which I have been dreaming about ever since!), we went to the Hudson gardens, we walked around Clement Park lake... it was heaven. And SO nice to have another adult around to talk to and interact with and to help me with all the little things that make parenting a 4 month old all by myself so difficult. I love my mom!

With Casey leaving for home in the morning (incidentally, taking exactly the same route we drove home from California...), I am getting extremely excited to FINALLY have him home.

All totaled, he will have been home 4 days out of the last 37, two of which he worked (but at least he was in-state).


I can't wait to show him the incredible changes in his daughter. She is like a whole new little lady! She suddenly has an amazing interest in her toys, and everything is finding its way into her mouth. Not just to suck, but to gum like it's going out of style. Her little hands now reach out for me when she wants me. She puts her hands on either side of my face and pulls me in for kisses (read: big, slobbery open mouth. I LOVE IT!). She has been through sleep training and is doing beautifully. She is learning to soothe herself and take longer naps (HOORAY!). She tried her first water (and made her first "why would you do that to me?! You have GOT to be kidding!" face).

It's a whole different game than when he left. I am soooooo sorry he has missed this much, but we are so grateful to be welcoming him home.

Here are a few pics from our week in my home town:
This can of coke was the hit of the week. She was much more interested in playing with this than any of her toys! (Please note: it is closed, and I did NOT feed this to Leah!)

Why do I often find that I match my daughter?? Who cares, when we're that cute!

I think she enjoyed having an audience.

Leah loved having coffee on the patio! Her mommy did, too.

This is sooooo the only way to travel.


Who's excited to see Daddy?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Who needs to sleep when you could be crawling?

Leah is having some trouble sleeping.

She is taking only minutes-worth of naps, waking herself up in the middle of the night...
What is disrupting her sleep? Well, they say practice makes perfect!

Last night, I could hear some funny little noises on the monitor. I went in to discover my sweet baby girl laying quietly in the dark, on her stomach, legs propped under her, trying desperately to crawl. All by herself at 11:00 at night, just practicing away.

I watched for about 10 minutes before she started to get frustrated and I went in to get her.

For the record, she is still too little to actually crawl... even if she practices through the night.
that baby.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Feets and Seats

Guess who can sit up -kinda-?!

- She pulled herself up to a sitting position today (okay, so she had a little help from the Boppy) -

- And then she proceeded to examine her feet -

- before looking mighty pleased with herself! -

- later in the day... same story! -

- Well done, Monkey! -

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Don't fence me in

This one's for you, Daddy! We wish you were here!!!!

I think all the baby books must just lie.

Lie in an effort to deceive all parents into thinking their children are super-extraordinary and amazing (as if we needed any additional incentive?).

Or perhaps it's a relativity thing. Since we have nothing else to compare to, no yardstick by which to measure our kids, we simply assume they are uniquely incredible.

Either way, I think Leah is amazing and tenacious.

Partly because of things like this:

She desperately wants to move, and has been trying to get herself around since well before she should have been able to. (Let us not forget the scooting up the bed incident when she was two months old.)

But this is her first forray into (almost) legitimate crawling. While she was playing on her playmat today, she rolled herself onto her tummy. Before I knew it, I heard grunting and noticed that she had managed to move herself about three inches by hopping/rocking/pulling herself.

By the time I grabbed the camera, she was getting a bit fussy, so this isn't her best work. I'm guessing she was fussy because she couldn't just get right up and crawl away as she'd like to.

Nobody tell her that those skinny arms will never hold her ginormous noggin...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Guilty Pleasure

One of my favorite events of the summer:

Christmas in July!

Yes, I am aware that it was 98 degrees outside today.

The Home Shopping Network is my guilty pleasure.

I love to have this channel on, not because I like to buy things, but because I like to hear the voices while I'm doing whatever it is that I'm doing during my day. It's completely mindless, like music in the background, except that I can look up and see all the truly tacky...ahem... terrific odds and ends that wind up on HSN.

Odds and ends like these:

Who could possibly live without them?! AND, if you buy today, you also get free batteries! (That's right, they take batteries!) What's not to love?

It's kind of like window shopping at an old lady's estate sale, and I can vacuum at the same time.
Am I weird? I like to think I'm eccentric.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Big Girls

Our little pumpkin...

is 4 months old!

At her four month doctors appointment, Leah's stats were:

Height: 23 3/4..... 30th percentile
Weight: 13 lbs 7 oz.....50th percentile
Head Circ: 17 in.... 95th percentile

We are getting into such a fun age! At 4 months, Leah:

Loves to sit and stand, although she can still do neither unsupported

Enjoys playing in her jumpy swing (supervised, of course... she's still pretty little)

Her favorite song is the alphabet song. She always smiles when I sing and sign

Thinks it's hillarious when I'm putting clothes on or taking them off and I tell her, "You better give Momma those arms!" She giggles every time!

Gives her funny, gummy smile when I drum roll on her belly

Her nicknames include: Little Pumpkin, Monkey, Lee-lee, Lee-lee Belle, Cutes, Baby girl, and Lovie

Still sleeps about 5 hours in her crib, and the last 5 in Mommy and Daddy's room

Loves her pink bear

Is without doubt a paci girl. She loves anything she can suck on... her hands, my shirt, the toys on her playmat... whatever.

The two adjectives I hear used most often when people first meet her: Alert and strong. She is definitely both!

As of last weekend, she has again gone back to being Mommy's content baby. Because of this:
Has never tried anything but breastmilk (and a tiny slurp off of a piece of watermelon, which she didn't much care for)

Will listen to me or Daddy read almost endlessly - or until she falls asleep.

Is adored by her mommy and daddy! We couldn't be more proud of and delighted by you, sweet baby!

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Thank you, God for:

*Tiny fingers that brush my face

*A baby who sleeps on her side with her head tilted back

*Laughter when I clean under her chin in the bath

*My brand new baby carrier - the Moby Wrap (awesome!)

*Bright eyes that smile lovingly up at me

*A wiggly, squirmy, wormy girl

*Her big, bald head, which has less hair now than the day she was born

*The amazing, vivacious energy with which she approaches each day

*Her love of all things physical, from rolling over, to trying to sit up, to standing and even trying to crawl

Thank you, God, for our beautiful, funny, curious, delightful, 4 month old baby girl.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Hats off to all the single parents

This... the face I have seen the most of over the past few days.

Why is my sweet baby in such a fuss?

Is she hungry?
Upset tummy?
Does she need her diaper changed?

Nope... all of her physical needs have been met. This is the face of a little girl who needs her mommy. Constantly.

This face resulted because I put her down so that I could go to the bathroom. I was gone maybe 2 minutes, and I had a screaming child the entire time.

Ahhh, motherhood.

To top things off, my lovely husband is working out of town the entire month of July - literally. He was out of town last week, home two days, and back on the road again. We'll get to see him I think two days out of the next 23.

I've said it before: motherhood is a tough old job. Being a single mother, even more so. I have nothing but respect for the moms who tackle this on their own. It is crazy to have to be somebody's e-v-e-r-y-thing for every single minute of every single hour of every single day.

To have to finagle letting the dogs in and outside, keeping up with the laundry, doing the dishes, making food for myself, factoring in the shopping, getting the mail, going to the gym, paying the bills - in short, all the things that make up life - all by myself, while still attending to all the things that Leah needs is an immense challenge.

One that I feel incredibly dwarfed by. After all, I'm just one little person facing this big job all by myself. And when my child spends the vast majority of her waking hours literally crying for her mother, it makes it that much more difficult.

It's difficult to know what the cause of her distress is. It's possible that she is picking up on my stress over having Casey gone. It's equally possible that I'm more sensitive to it because I now have no respite from it. Regardless, it is incredibly stressful and confusing to know how to deal with.

So today I discovered a way to save myself from the frustrating agony of listening to a child cry all day: strapping her on to the front of me and carrying her around wherever I go. I don't know if this is the best idea in the long run, but I can't really focus on that right now.

For the time being, I'm more concerned with not seeing this face as often!

Poor little pumpkin....

One year and a lifetime ago

One year ago, I got some very, VERY welcome news:

On this day, one year ago, our lives changed forever. It's funny how time is, because that moment seems so vivid to me, and at the same time, it might as well be from another lifetime...

After we miscarried in 2008, I had incredible mixed feelings about trying to get pregnant again. I didn't know if I could handle the heartbreak that I went through the first time.

Casey and I talked about it a lot that September (2008), and decided that, since I wouldn't be finished with my Masters degree until January ('09), and then I would begin a new job that August, the smartest thing to do would be to wait until June of 2010 to begin trying again so that I wouldn't be pregnant the first year of a new and demanding job.

All that sounded good on paper, but my heart was aching. Aching with loss, aching with the thought of what might have been, aching with the fear of what might not ever be. Aching because I felt in my heart that I was a mommy already - I just didn't have my baby yet.

I only made it to January before I started asking to try again. Casey kept telling me no. Well... not no, but kept reminding me how very smart our original plan was.

And it was a smart plan.

One that, by June of '09 - a full year before our smart, well planned, agreed upon "trying" time - I had worn him down on.

Maybe, I argued, we could just try twice - once in June, and once in July so that we would still have the spring baby every teacher desires. If it didn't happen, then I would do my best to wait patiently for another year. (I hate to think how long I would have actually held up my end of that bargain!)

Thankfully, he relented. We tried once, and I was quite sure it would amount to nothing. I had been keeping track of my cycles - just in case, you know - and by the time he agreed, it should have been too late to give me the outcome I desired. (Oh, and... TMI ALERT... If you're relying on the rhythm method, let me tell you a story about a little girl named Leah!)

So when I took a pregnancy test, more because I had been feeling strange than anything else, I didn't expect to see the tiniest, slightest ghost of a second line. I took another, with the same result.

I couldn't let myself get my hopes up, so I promised myself that I would test again in a week. I waited 5 days... that was pretty close.

Five days later was July 8, 2009, and I had the best news I could have ever hoped for.

A year later, life is even better. Those were the most beautiful and welcome two lines in the history of the world. I can't imagine being more grateful.

And... being pregnant the first year of a new job? Totally worth it.

Monday, July 5, 2010


Since our 4th was kind of a bust, I thought I'd share one of my favorite parts of any holiday:

So without further ado, please enjoy...

Melissa's Red White and Blue Crumble Cake

1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tspn baking powder
1/2 tspn salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 tspn vanilla
1 egg
1/2-1 cup raspberries (may sub strawberry pieces for cost)
1/2-1 cup blueberries

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Grease bottom of 8in square baking pan. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt.
3. In small bowl, combine egg, vanilla, oil and milk.
4. Slowly, whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients until well combined.
5. Gently fold in berries.
6. Bake for 25-30 min, add crumble topping. Bake additional 10-15 min or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

BEST crumble topping EVER (I wish I could take credit for this, but I think I found it in Better Homes and Garden magazine)
2/3 cup (about 5 squares) Graham Crackers
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 tspn cinnamon
1/3 cup butter


What are your favorite 4th of July traditions/recipes?

A very soggy 4th

Happy Birthday, America!
As much as I had high hopes for our first 4th of July as a family of three, I have to say, this was the worst.4th.ever.
Okay, so to have some perspective, it's not like it was truly awful in the scheme of things. It's only my vision of a perfect family 4th that suffered...

Let's just suffice it to say that, when I got home at almost 11pm - without Casey, who was still working - I was soaking wet, hadn't eaten a bite of the festive food I'd prepared, and none of us had seen any fireworks.

The day itself was lovely, so I'll share some photos of that instead.

Leah celebrating with Daddy

This little girl sooooo wants to crawl! If only she could lift up her body AND her huge head!

Casey grilling in the rain. Happy 4th in Colorado!

Our lovely, Patriotic feast!

The best part of the day: Celebrating together as a family! Even though the rest of it didn't go as I'd envisioned, at least the three of us got to be together.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

We salute you, Maj. Giggles

When the story of Leah's first giggles is written (and, let's face it, I'm the one writing it, after all!), it will go something like this:

Scene: Mommy and Daddy's bed, approx. nap time on Saturday, July 3rd, 2010

Leah is laying next to mommy, both of them on their sides staring at each other and smiling.

Mommy: I love you, Leah!
Leah smiles a big, gummy smile.
Leah: *Inaudible*
Mommy: I'm gonna give you kisses!
Mommy tickles Leah and gives her kisses.
Leah: *Major giggles!*
Mommy: Was that a laugh?!
Mommy calls for Daddy and the process repeats, with more giggles! Mommy and Daddy join in the laughter, and cover Baby with kisses.

-End Scene-

...There will definitely be no mention of "The Proposal" or a certain song involving the perspiring of certain male parts.

I like this version much better. Hopefully, it is something that will be repeated often!! Especially since, by the time I had gotten the camera, she was more intent on sleeping than showing off her new-found ability to laugh.

I always love being a mom, even on the hard days. But there are some days that being a mommy is just SO darn joyful!!!!!

I changed my font at