Friday, March 29, 2013

Mama Musings: Information Overload

Before I had Ava, I heard that new moms got overwhelmed.  This made sense to me since babies are a lot of work and they can be overwhelming with their constant needs, explosive poops, and endless crying.  I totally anticipated feeling overwhelmed with all of my new responsibilities.  What I didn't anticipate was being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information out there about raising a baby.  I have officially diagnosed myself with information overload.  It's great that we live in the "information age", and we can access information about anything anywhere with a few swipes on a smart phone.  Brent and I often comment on how cool it is that we can ask questions of the internet and get instant answers.  However, I'm starting to think that instant access to unlimited information is actually less than cool.  Instead of satisfying me with answers, it leaves me anxious and second guessing myself, always thinking there is a better way to do it, if only I could just find it...

I've been gathering, cataloging, and saving baby information like nobody's business, but I'm really starting to regret it.  Right now, I want to dig a deep, deep hole to the center of the Earth and fling every baby book ever written down the hole to be burned and never seen again.  At the very least, I want to fling them across the room.  I think I am addicted to baby books, baby websites, and baby blogs.

Here's what goes through my mind about 8 times a day when Ava does something that is distressing to me:

"Wait, didn't I read about that on Troublesome Tots?  And does that coordinate with what I read in Babywise?  I don't know... because my friend's baby does _____.  And that's not what they recommend in Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child.  Let me see real quick if there is a chart for this on  No, it's not there, so maybe I'll Google it.  Brent, what do you think?"

Do you see the crazy?  It's crazy!

The hard thing to admit is that I think my obsession over baby information is selfish to the core.  I'm not as worried about messing her up as messing ME up.  Ava is loved and safe every day, she eats and sleeps plenty, and she is stimulated with smiles, songs, and outings.  She is going to be just fine.  I know that.  Honestly, I'm worried that I'm going to suck as a mom.  I'm worried that if I do something wrong, it might make MY life harder in the future.  For example - if I let her nap in the swing for 3 months, she will be fine.  But I might have to pay the price later when she moves to the crib with a cranky child, a messed up schedule, and more crying.  I keep thinking that I'm going to make a mistake that I can't undo.

I know the solution.  Everyone always says, "Take the books with a grain of salt.  Every child is different. Do what's best for your child.  You'll just know what is best for your child.  Do what your gut tells you."  Um, that's great except most of the time, I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO DO!  Duh - that's why I'm consulting the books!

Since I clearly can't burn all my books or stay away from the internet forever, I need a new plan.  I can't live my life constantly comparing Ava's every feeding, nap, night sleep, crying bout, wake time, milestone, and mood to "the norm".  I can't live with the torture of wondering if there is a better way to do it......if ONLY I could just find the right page in the right book.

I think the root of the problem is a heart problem.  Why am I so worried about messing up?  Why am I so obsessed with comparison and norms?  Here are three big picture things I want to do and remember to attack this problem.  Then, for good measure... one practical step, too.

  1. I am the right mother for Ava, and she is the right child for me.  I will trust that God has already given me all the skills I need to parent Ava right now, and he will add to my skill set and knowledge as I need it and as she grows. I will believe that the Lord chose me to be Ava's mom for a specific purpose, and I have the qualities she needs.  Similarly, she has the qualities I need to be refined and sanctified.  Maybe she's more difficult in certain areas so that I can learn patience, selflessness, and dependence.   
  2. God is the source of all wisdom and knowledge, not the Internet.  Instead of turning to the Internet to solve problems, I should put away my iPhone and start by asking God to give me the wisdom, discernment, and guidance to deal with whatever it is we're facing.  
  3. The gospel is for me, too.  I need to daily preach the gospel to myself and remind myself that there is really no need to be perfect or even to try since it is impossible.  Grace is there for the taking.  I will mess up horribly, make bad decisions, and do things as a mom in ways that are less than optimal.  And that's OK.  There's grace for all of it.
  4. I need a limit on "baby reading".  I'm going to say that I can consult baby books, blogs, or websites once per day.  If something crops up later that day, I need to either let it go or wait until tomorrow (when it probably won't even matter anyway).
Mamas... how do you deal with information overload?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Two Months

Two months is a great place to be!  We feel like we've made it through the hardest part of newborn life, and we're looking forward to more smiles, laughs, and fun times as Ava continues to grow.  It's a joy to see Ava develop each day.  With each new development, she becomes a happier baby and more fun to play with!  We're starting to see her little personality!

Weight - 10 lbs. 2.5 oz. (21st percentile)
Height - 22.5 in. (51st percentile)
Head - 38.5 in. (56th percentile)

Ava continues to smile all the time.  Praise the Lord!  When she wakes me up at 2 am and I am annoyed, I go in to get her and she is grinning at me.  Pretty hard to be annoyed at this smiling face!!   She can focus on faces, track sounds, and use her feet to kick things.  I think she is starting to recognize Brent and me, and she knows when a person is new to her.  She is also sitting and "standing" with assistance and can sometimes put herself to sleep without crying.  She is taking all naps in the swing and sleeping at night in her crib.  She's eating every 3 hours during the day and usually waking up twice during the night.  Ava is wearing mostly 3 month clothes and size 1 diapers.

Ava just discovered her feet.  She used to lay on the play mat and just stare at the animals, but now she kicks them and delights in the sounds they make.  We're still working on discovering our hands.  Ava is fabulous at tracking sounds with her eyes now.  She looks towards sounds from toys and voices and follows them when they move.  She loves to "stand", and I swear we are barely holding on to her.  Little girl has great balance and strong legs!  She's ready to walk on out of here.  Similarly, her head control is also really good, and her neck is strong.  She can sit in the Bumpo seat or in the baby carrier and hold her head up almost completely on her own.  She is improving at happy awake time, which her parents are very thankful for.  She loves to look at funny faces and make funny faces, and she can coo and make sounds now as well.

Ava still struggles with the evening time.  She is typically fussy from around 5 - 8, but she is getting better!  She still loves baths, but still hates getting out and getting dried off.  This week, Ava got her two month vaccinations.  I didn't cry when she got them, but I did cry when we got home and she was just screaming in pain for hours.  Poor baby.  She had a REALLY bad day of screaming, but it wasn't frustrating because I knew what was wrong.  We gave her baby Tylenol, and that seemed to help.  We thought we were in for our roughest night yet, but little girl surprised us and gave us her BEST night yet!  She slept from 10:30 - 3!!  Whoo hoo!!  We're still working on independent play time.  I'd like her to be able to play on her play mat or blanket or bouncy seat for 15 minutes by herself, once or twice a day.  Right now we're at about 5 minutes before she gets upset.  She's still a little sleepy at feedings, and I have to work to keep her awake.  (Wish she would be that sleepy at 2 am!!!)

My mother discovered that Ava LOVES to play on her changing pad.  There is something about being up high and close to mom/dad/Winnie that she loves.  She also loves to be free of diapers and clothes for a few minutes, and she kicks like crazy.  I sometimes keep a hand on her because I feel like she's going to kick herself right off the dresser.  She likes to MOVE!  She is happy and content on the changing pad for 20 minutes just making faces and kicking.  Ava also loves music.  We typically have two dance parties a day.  We like 80s in the morning and 60s in the evening.  If you've never made a baby dance, you should try it.  It's hilarious.  She also loves One Direction songs (oh wait, maybe that's me).  Ava is very alert and curious and likes to be aware of what's going on at all times.  She likes to face outward on my lap or in the baby carrier so she can see.   She also still loves white noise and loud places like restaurants and church (during worship).  She loves riding in the stroller for walks, and it puts her right to sleep, so we try to take a walk every day for her late afternoon nap.  We like to think she loves Blazer, though right now she probably just tolerates him :-)

Here are some of my favorite pics from this month!

{I love the Bumpo!!  I hate the Bumpo!!}

{happy morning baby}

{Saturday afternoon rest}

{sweet smiles}
{blowing a kiss}

{fussy time and tummy time} 

{all my children}

{changing table fun & napping with Daddy}
{a sunny afternoon}

We love you, precious Ava Grace!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Visit from Winnie & Papa C

Last week we had the good fortune of having my family come visit for six days!  It was glorious.  My mom was anxious to see Ava again, and my dad was meeting her for the first time.  Aunt Julia also came in from Virginia to log a little Ava time.  It was my mom's Spring Break, so it worked out perfectly.  My parents' grandparent names are Winnie and Papa C.  (They've had them picked out for a while!)

Aunt Julia came early for a little playtime and to help me with the grocery shopping and cleaning before my parents arrived.  We appreciated it so much!  Ava was ready to greet Julia in her "I heart Auntie" outfit and leg warmers!
Aunt Julia was jealous of how many headbands Ava has!

When my parents arrived, Papa C got to meet Ava for the first time, and Winnie saw how much Ava has grown since she saw her last!

We went for a three mile hike on the Wa-Duke trail one afternoon.  It was cool enough to necessitate a sock monkey hat.


After church on Sunday, we went out to lunch at Happy China with our Chinese friend, Elvis, who goes to church with us each week.

On Monday, Julia had to go back to work, but Brent and I took mom and dad to Chapel Hill for an afternoon of shopping on Franklin Street and lunch at one of our favorite places, Mediterranean Deli.  Ava slept like a champ the whole time!

While my parents were in town, we also had a visit from Brent's friend Olivia.  Ava loved her!  My mom also took it upon herself to organize my linen closet.  This qualifies her for "best mom ever", if you ask me.

When my mom wasn't organizing linen closets or cleaning, Ava got tons of quality time with her Winnie.  How cute are these pictures?  We're trying our best to start Ava out as a reader early.  It's just a small detail that she never even looks at the book we're holding...

My parents were nice enough to watch Ava while we went out on a real date!!   We went to a nice dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Revolution.  It was perfect!  We ate a ton of good food, but here is a pic of the Tuna tartare appetizer that was as delicious as it was beautiful.  Yay for not being pregnant and being able to eat sushi again!

We spent an afternoon at the Nasher Museum of Art on the Duke campus.  We ate lunch at the Nasher Cafe and saw a few exhibits, our favorite of which was a photography exhibit.  Ava tagged along in her stroller.  We were careful to time each outing so that it coincided with her nap time.  We are still in that magical time when she can sleep in her car seat or stroller.  In fact, she sleeps BETTER in the stroller than anywhere else, so one outing a day is a must.

On the last day of their visit, we played dress up.  We put Ava in the rosebud dress I wore home from the hospital as a newborn!  We intended to have Ava wear it home too, but with all the drama we went through at the hospital, that just wasn't gonna happen.  Better late than never!  She looked adorable, so we had a photo shoot to document the occasion.

Three generations of lovely ladies

Thanks, Winnie & Papa C, for an awesome visit!  We love you!!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

{Look!  A post that's not about my baby!}

Since I no longer have an excuse to eat donuts and pastries for breakfast (sigh), I'm returning to my healthy eating ways.  Lately, I've been obsessed with this easy, quick, healthy, and SUPER delicious quinoa breakfast bowl.  I saw the idea on Pinterest, and I knew I would love it.

This breakfast can be thrown together in a matter of minutes.  You'll get tons of protein from the quinoa and yogurt, antioxidants from the berries, and heart-healthy fats from the almonds and seeds.  Sweetened with a touch of honey, this is a chewy, crunchy, creamy, sweet, and tart breakfast.  I cook up a big batch of quinoa at the beginning of the week, and it keeps really well in the fridge for 4-5 days, making prep time super fast in the mornings.  The other great thing about it is that it's endlessly adaptable.  Personally, I think this is the best way, but you could sub in any other yogurt, nuts, seeds, and fruit that you like.  Here's how I make mine:

Red quinoa 
(you could use regular quinoa too, but I like red for breakfast)

(your favorite kind will work, but I love Chobani fat free vanilla)

(I prefer blackberries, but I've also made it with strawberries!)

(or your favorite nut)

Sunflower Seeds 

(or maple syrup or agave nectar)

Put it all together in a bowl.  Stir it up.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Ava's Newborn Pictures

My wonderful sister and brother in law gave us the greatest Christmas gift ever!  They gave us a professional newborn photo session with a photographer here in Raleigh.  It was a super special gift that we will treasure forever!  I mentioned in a previous post that Ava was not too happy for our first photo session.  She was supposed to sleep so the photographer could put her into all sorts of cute positions, but little miss decided to stay awake and scream pretty much the whole time.  Melissa (the photographer) was super nice and patient and offered to try again if we could bring Ava back another day.  We brought her four days later, and thankfully Ava cooperated and slept like a champ.  In the end, I'm really glad we got some cute ones of her sleeping and awake.  We just love how the pictures turned out, and I can't wait to figure out how to display some of them in our home.  If you live in North Carolina, I can't recommend Melissa Devoe Photography highly enough!  She is AWESOME!  Love our precious little girl!!

{our little family of three}

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