Lessons from the Newborn Days

Lessons from the Newborn Days - There is much to appreciate and learn from those first days, weeks and months when you have a baby. Here are some of the lessons I learned in hopes that it encourages other new mamas.

When I was pregnant, I read lots of books and blogs, all full of advice for pregnancy and parenting. There was so much information about having a healthy pregnancy and countless opinions available on labor. The same is true with parenting and caring for a baby, but there were many things I didn’t know until I did it.

This was a list I began months ago when I was in the midst of caring for my newborn, Nathan. Amazingly, my little, tiny baby will turn one in a week. The past year has flown by. As I look back over the past year, I thought it fitting that I share this list now. These are a couple things I wished others had told me – or the things I wish all mama’s of newborns would know.

You don’t get a medal for having a baby without an epidural. My friend, Allison, wisely told me this piece of advice. If you want to labor without an epidural, that is certainly your prerogative. The same can be said of your decision to have an epidural. I wasn’t planning on having an epidural, but when my labor sped up too rapidly (with contractions every minute when I was only 4 cm) for the doctor’s comfort (and mine!), I opted for an epidural. I was glad I did! My sisters have amazingly labored without epidurals. We all ended up with healthy babies. This is just one of the many difference of opinions but every laboring mama gets to decide for themselves.

Enjoy your time at the hospital with nurses available at any hour of the day or night. Yes, the constant interruptions can be annoying to some but I chose to be thankful for their constant checking up on me. Ask your questions. Accept the advice they give. And be sure to take home the “free” things they give you – like bottles, diapers, pads, and formula.

Lessons from the Newborn Days - Take advantage of your nurses while you can.

If someone offers to bring you a meal, graciously take them up on the offer. It may not be a meal you’d typically cook for your family, but the time spent out of the kitchen is lovely! Even if you have meals in your freezer and feel ready to cook, still accept the gift of a free meal for what it is. A thoughtful gift!

Your baby will take all your time. Find a comfortable spot because you will be spending majority of your days (and nights) feeding your baby. Remember that the typical two hours of a newborn baby’s feeding schedule are from the start of one feeding to the start of the next – so it’s really only an hour and a half break (or less) between feedings. The time between feedings does lengthen as your baby grows. There will come a time when you can do things other than feed your baby.

Learn to appreciate any amount of sleep you can get. It’s been said to sleep whenever the baby sleeps. Sometimes that is possible but sometimes it is not. After waking up multiple times through the night, and with an early rising baby who still likes to wake around 5, I found those early morning naps (around 8am) to be just what I needed before getting started on my day. It’s also important to go to bed earlier in the newborn days because you will be up before you know it with your baby. And most importantly, remember that someday, you will sleep again!

Lesssons from the Newborn Days - Appreciate any amount of sleep you can get!

Whether you breastfeed or use formula, you need to keep your baby well-fed. I planned to nurse and, thankfully, was able to do so for the first 12 months of Nathan’s life. I never anticipated using formula, but due to his unexpected start in the NICU, he did take a bottle. After a week or so, Nathan was a primarily breastfed with only an occasional formula bottle, but I learned not to feel guilty about using formula. That said, just because your baby starts on formula doesn’t preclude you from successfully nursing. On the flip side, a little bit of occasional formula won’t hurt your baby if he / she is hungry! Nursing was the more frugal and convenient option for our family, but I have many friends who have transitioned to formula with their babies just fine.

Stock up on free formula deals before the baby is born. Even if you are not expecting to use formula,you may find you need it. For that reason, accept all the freebie samples that come in the mail, as well as from your doctor, and save them until after the baby is born. If you don’t need them, then you can easily give the formula to a friend who needs it for her baby or donate to a local pregnancy crisis center. You will save a lot of money (for you or someone else) by collecting these formula freebies.

You will question what is normal for your newborn. Should he breathe like that? Is that congestion typical? Are all babies this gassy? Is she eating enough? Is he sleeping enough? Especially if this is your first one, there will be questions. Call your Mom. Ask your doctor. Text your friends. And (cautiously) Google, if only for your own assurance. This is normal to wonder what is normal.

Plan to accomplish only one or two things a day. It may be as simple as showering and unloading the dishwasher. Or perhaps doing a load of laundry from start to finish. Keep your plans simple and you’ll be much happier at what you accomplished. This one was a hard one for me since I was used to accomplishing a lot during my days. You are still accomplishing a lot but most of that is tied to the care of your baby.

Learn how to use a baby wrap. I am convinced this relates directly to the previous lesson. You get more done when you have free arms. A baby wrap / carrier makes that possible. There are countless options! I was given a Baby K’tan and Nathan loved it. I loved it, too! He spent a lot of time in that wrap as a baby. It was a lifesaver in the grocery store and even made our walks to the post office more enjoyable.

Lessons from the Newborn Days - Learn how to use a baby wrap.

Take lots of pictures. There will come a day when you’re not snapping as many pictures as you do in those first days. Keep your camera nearby and take pictures of all those moments you want to remember. Sleeping, tummy time, bath time, in the bassinet, in the car seat, with the pacifier, and of course, take pictures of all the people who come to visit. If you are a video person, do the same. Nathan used to make this sound like a little puppy whenever he started to nurse and I wish we had recorded that sound. Oh, how we laughed!

Write down the firsts and the little (and big) events you want to remember. This is where I didn’t do as good of job as I planned. It’s hard in the sleeplessness of newborn days to keep track of all these things. I wish I would have kept a calendar attached to the fridge where I could jot little notes. I have little notes all over the place but didn’t stick with any one thing….and it’s already hard to remember the specifics of all those little moments I was so delighted by.

You are the Mama that God chose for this baby. No one else can take your place. Trust your instincts. Follow your heart. You will do things different from your Mom, sister, friends and neighbors. It’s okay. Don’t be offended by well meaning advice. You’ll choose to follow some and ignore the rest. Do what works for you and your baby and your family. Do what you and your husband believe is best for your baby!

Lessons from the Newborn Days - You are the Mama God chose for your baby!

Cherish these days because they will be over before you realize it. All too soon your baby will be sitting up and crawling and walking and the memories of these newborn days will fade. I love the quote about time spent raising children, “The days are long but the years are short.” This is most certainly true for life with a newborn.

Those are a couple pieces of advice from a mother who is past the newborn days with her (gasp) almost 1 year old son. What pieces of advice would you add to this list?

Busy March Happenings

How is that certain months are so much busier than others? For us, that is this March. Let’s start with my husband’s schedule – since it directly impacts Nathan and myself.

Andy’s basketball team, at St. Paul’s Lutheran, won state again this year in a buzzer beater final game, the first weekend of the month. That means he and the team head to Nationals for all the Lutheran Grade Schools in the United States at Valpo this week. Andy and the team leave Thursday so they arrive in time for opening ceremonies. Games are Friday through Sunday. Nathan and I will head up to join them on Friday morning, since I still have to teach on Thursday. Andy’s team won Nationals last year, but I was very pregnant and stayed home to watch the games online. In fact, Andy came straight from their win in Valpo to meet me at the hospital to welcome our little baby! Basketball fills a lot of our time this March.

St. Paul's Lutheran Bears Win State 2015

My teaching schedule has continued as normal. My K-1 students sang in Sunday worship the other week, and my 4-8 graders sing in Lenten worship tomorrow evening. Handbells played last week for Lenten worship. In the midst of all this, we’re getting ready for our K-8 musical presentation of “Cool in the Furnace.” I’ve been trying to get all the classes and actors ready for our musical which is the last Friday in March. It’s also the last day of school before Spring Break, so we will all be ready for that. Music fills a lot of my time this March.

Andy and I have both been busy with accreditations this month. In the Lutheran system, our schools go through a very thorough accreditation process every 5 years. St. Paul’s went through their accreditation visit just last week. As you read this, I am actually already on my way to Ossian, Indiana, where I am serving as a captain for an accreditation visit to one of our Lutheran preschools. It’s the first time I’ve been captain for a team, so I’ve been doing quite a bit of prep work at home, reading self-studies and preparing reports, to make sure I do my job well. Today and tomorrow, I’ll spend 2 long days in Ossian with 3 other early childhood teachers. We’ll be observing the preschool and preparing an official report as to whether they are recommended for accreditation by the NLSA (National Lutheran Schools Accreditation). It’s a lot of work but worthwhile. Obviously, accreditation has filled a lot of time for us this March.

In the midst of all this, we are getting ready to Nathan’s 1st birthday party next Saturday. We are excited that 2 of his Whirrett Aunts and Uncles, and 3 of his Barz Aunts and Uncles will be able to attend the party. We aren’t planning to do parties every year but his 1st birthday seemed like a good occasion to celebrate. We’re having fun planning and preparing. I’m trying to do baking and other preparations as much in advance as I can. Thank goodness for extra freezers! Birthdays are taking time for us this March – and will every March, now that Nathan is here!

Nathan's likes to watch Basketball!

Then, there are still the day to day necessities that must be done. Laundry. Grocery shopping. Dishes. Cleaning. Playing. Cuddles. Books. Piano lessons. Wednesday Lenten church. Sunday church. Add in our annual tax appointment and financial planning meeting, plus trips to Menards to pick out new flooring and counter tops, that will hopefully be installed soon. Whew. It’s been a good month but a busy one so far.

How is your March going along? Are you as busy as we are?

Nathan @ 11 Months

It seems that the busy-ness of life has kept me from sharing Nathan’s monthly updates. My apologies! I’ve shared some pictures from our Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations so we’ll consider those the glimpses into our life. Still, since Nathan will be turning 1 next month (I can scarcely believe it!), here’s an official 11 month update for you – and for me, as I look back over the past month.

Nathan continues to be a curious and good natured little boy. He’s discovered the pots and pans in our kitchen and loves to “help” me while I cook. It keeps him busy so I don’t mind. He has figured out how to pull out our one low cereal drawer and likes to play with the granola bars and the other empty containers I now keep in there for him.

Nathan helping in the kitchen

In addition to playing with the pans, Nathan likes to unpack everything he can. Our play time consists of him emptying the diaper bag multiple times a day as well as trying to unpack my school bag. I no longer get the toys out for him but simply pull the bin off the shelf and let him take the toys out himself. He has as much fun standing there and taking things out as he does actually playing!

Nathan unpacking the diaper bag

He is a mobile little guy now – constantly on the move. He stands and walks along things but doesn’t yet walk on his own. I think it’s coming sooner than we realize. He also likes to climb up on things and does so regularly to reach whatever he thinks he wants. He is determined and becoming more independent by the day. He’s reached the point where he would rather feed himself than have us feed him. Pumpkin bread is a new favorite! His fine motor skills continue to improve so he can even pick up slippery bananas now. He still only has 2 teeth on the bottom but that doesn’t hold him back from trying anything we are eating!

Nathan loves his pumpkin bread!

It’s been a cold month. Not as much snow as we’ve had in previous years and what snow we do have all seems to come on weekends. We’d like another snow day so Daddy can stay home with us! With negative wind chills many days this month, we’ve had to bundle up to go outside. Nathan does NOT like all the layers! He is fine once we’re out and moving but putting all the warm clothes on? Not a fan.

Cold Weather Tears from Nathan

One of the biggest events of the month is that Nathan got his first hair cut this month. I was sad to see his little curls go but his hair was getting in his eyes already. His morning bedhead was quite the site to behold! Nathan was a trooper for his first hair cut with our friend and hairdresser, Michele. He sat in the chair all by himself and didn’t need me to hold him at all! What a big boy!

Nathan's first haircut

The unfortunate event of the month was that Nathan caught his first stomach virus this month and spent 12 hours one Sunday throwing up every hour or so. No pictures here! Thankfully, it was a short lived bug with nothing more serious. It took a bit for his appetite to come back so we ate lots of applesauce and graham crackers that week. Nathan will always eat graham crackers!

We had a nice and simple Valentine’s Day at home. Nathan enjoyed getting Valentines in the mail from both sets of his grandparents. He especially liked the little ones that Grandpa Barz had sent for him. They are in his toy box now and he still likes to get them out and turn them over and over in his hands.

Nathan looking at his Valentines

Nathan has started having some seperation anxiety. There are days when he wants me to hold him and days when he doesn’t want me to leave his sight. Once I’m gone, he’s fine. I’ve started leaving him in the nursery during MOPS and the ladies say he is quite the charmer and Mr. Social Butterfly. He wants to see what all the other babies are doing. That’s my friendly little guy!

Nathan likes to laugh and copies us. He waves and claps his hands anytime we say, “Yay!” He likes to read nursery rhyme books and lift the flaps in flap books. He says “Mama” and “Dada”. Mama definitely is directed to me so we’re counting that as his first official word. Dada still means a lot of things, but he does say it when he sees Andy come through the door. When we tell him to wave, Nathan promptly waves at whomever he can. He knows what “Bye Bye” means and doesn’t like to see me leave. Thankfully, I don’t have to leave him most days! 11 months old and he continues to grow so quickly.

My handsome little Nathan at 11 months after his haircut

Mothering from Scratch – My Desire

This seems to be my year for finding inspirational non-fiction books that speak exactly to where I am in life and can do the same for so many. Fringe Hours changed how I’m pursuing my passions and this new book, Mothering from Scratch, is changing how I view this important task of being a Mom.

Mothering from Scratch: Finding the Best Parenting Style for You and Your Family instantly captured me with the title. What Mom doesn’t long for that? This book is written by two Moms and friends, Melinda Means and Kathy Helgemo. They are two different Christian Moms with different backgrounds and different mothering styles yet they are united in their desire to encourage all Moms.

The premise of the book is simple. All Moms can – and should – mother differently. We have been blessed by God with many unique gifts. We have been given children that are uniquely ours. We have learned from our Mothers and those around us, and now it is time to focus on developing our own mothering style. We need to embrace our personality, utilize our strengths and be aware of our weaknesses so we can determine what works for us as Mom. This book truly does speak to every Mom.

Each chapter in Mothering from Scratch is written with insights and anecdotes from both ladies. Sprinkled throughout are sections called “Lovin’ Spoonful”. They are brief doses of encouragement. At the end of each chapter, “Stirring Your Thoughts” gives you further questions to ponder. I especially enjoyed the final section of each chapter, “Let’s Get Cookin'”. There were several brief bullet points summarize the chapter and giving us specific tasks to ponder and pursue.

Also, it is worth noting that this book is Biblical based. As a Christian, I find that very important in parenting books. From a conservative Lutheran view, I was pleasantly surprised that I agreed with most of the theology shared.

As a new Mom, I found Mothering from Scratch to be a breath of fresh air. I’ve been reading parenting books for years – long before I became and parent. This book ranks among the top of all parenting ones I’ve read because it is truly applicable and speaks with grace to our task as Moms. If you are a Mom looking to rediscover the joy of parenting, read this book for encouragement to be the unique Mom that God created you to be.

Please note that I did receive a free copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Fringe Hours – Finding Yours!

At the beginning of the year, I was honored – and thrilled – to be selected as part of Jessica Turner’s blogging team for her new book, The Fringe Hours. While I received this book for free, all of the opinions expressed are my own. This book was at the top of my “to read” list for the year anyway and the fact that I got to read it before it was released was extra exciting. The book officially (and finally) releases today, and I want to tell you about this incredible book.

It’s life changing. It’s encouraging. It’s the book every woman needs to read. 

The Fringe Hours is a book about finding and reclaiming time for yourself. Why is this important? When we doing something we love, we are more energized for life in general. It’s a struggle for many women today – me included – because we are constantly going and doing. As Jessica says on page 43, “The reason so many women today struggle to make themselves a priority is because they are trying to be everything for everyone!” True!

The Fringe Hours talks about why you should make time for yourself and then it shows you how to make time for yourself. Jessica is very honest in this book and reminds us that, “What works for someone else might not work for you.” I need that reminder to make my life and time work for me. Besides, “You are never too busy to make time for what you love.”

You are never too busy to make time for what you love. Jessica Turner - Fringe Hours

We all have different things that we enjoy doing. For some of us, it may be reading or scrapbooking. For others, it may be baking or sewing. For still others, it may be taking pictures or doing home projects. Whatever it is, Jessica encourages us to go ahead and do it. Stop saying there isn’t time – and make time to do what you love! Yes, this means the dishes may wait for a bit but do something for yourself every day.

Jessica had so many brilliant quotes in this book. My book is underlined and starred throughout as I read and took notes of all the things I wanted to remember. One of my favorite quotes is below about nights. With Nathan crawling (and almost walking), my days are becoming even busier as I keep up with my little boy. When he goes to bed, it’s so tempting to hurry and accomplish all the chores that didn’t get done during the day. After reading The Fringe Hours, I’ve made a shift in how I approach my nights. Some nights still have to be a chore or project completing night but I am trying to use my nights to do more of what I want to do instead of only what I have to do. 

Nights are a gift to use to refuel and invest in yourself. Jessica Turner. The Fringe Hours

The gist of  The Fringe Hours is that we need to really evaluate our life and our time. Are we using it in the best way we can? If we are energized and renewed, then we can care for everyone around us with more joy and passion. After reading this book, I started making more time to bake from scratch. I am also making my writing and blogging more of a priority. Finally, I’m making sure that I have time to work on my digital scrapbooks and of course, read. This book reminded me that we always have a choice about what to do with our time. I’m working at being more productive with my working hours so that I can still have fringe hours for myself daily.

This is Your Time for a New Beginning. Jessica Turner. The Fringe Hours

I truly believe that every woman – single or married, with children or without, stay-at-home Mom or working professional, young or old(er) – needs to read The Fringe Hours. Let’s start making ourselves a priority! Are you ready to do so? Go read this book and tell me how you’re going to use your fringe hours. What excites and energizes you? What do you want to do just for you?

Finally, I’ll leave you with one last quote from Jessica and her wonderful book that I loved. “Life is not perfect. You are not perfect. But you are a glorious creation, and your life is meant to be lived with joy. Some days you aren’t going to get your makeup on, you will burn the cookies for the school bake sale, and you will spill wine on the rug. In our mess, God makes us strong. In your glorious imperfections, you can still shine beautifully bright. Embrace that truth. Stop trying to be everything for everyone and start investing in who and what really matter.”

The Two People I Love Most

On this Valentine’s Day, it’s only fitting that I share a couple pictures of two people I love. I love a lot of people but these two are the ones I love the most. I am thankful that God has blessed me with Andy – and now Nathan. My life is so much richer with them at my side. Here’s a couple things I love about these two.

I love bath time with Nathan. He loves his bath! Smiles abound and so do the splashes. I love his smiles, too.

Bathtime Smiles

I’ve always loved books and I love reading books with my baby. I love seeing how much he loves books, too!

Book time with Daddy

I love seeing Nathan light up for his Grandparents – whether on Skype or in person.

Skyping with Barz Grandparents

I love seeing how Nathan adores his Daddy. From the moment we wave goodbye to Daddy to the moment Andy walks in the door again, it is clear that Nathan loves his Daddy. And Andy loves Nathan just as much!

Nathan Sledding with Daddy

I love hugs and kisses from my sweet baby. There are days I still can’t believe I’m a Mom to this precious boy.

Hugs from Nathan

Valentine’s Day is just one day, but we can say “I love you” each and every day to the people in our lives. Show them how much you love them. May we all live a life of love! Happy Valentine’s Day to you – and all that you love!

Happy Valentines Day from Nathan!

A Snowy Weekend in Fort Wayne

We finally got our first big snow of the year. The forecasts were telling us to expect 10 to 15 inches of slow and steady snow on Sunday. It was as promised with 10 inches of snow in Grabill falling by late Sunday evening and even brought us a snow day on Monday. I love a good snow fall! Here are a few pictures from our latest big snow.

When Andy drove us to late church at St. Paul’s on Sunday morning, the roads looked like this. I was very thankful that Andy was driving.

A Snowy Scene in Indiana

By the time we came home from a sparsely attended service, we slowed down more than usual on the snowy roads. The Amish buggies were hurrying home from their church too as we knew the snow was set to increase.

Amish Buggy in Snow

The snow continued to fall all day, slow and steady. We stayed in and watched the snow, and were excited – and surprised – to get a snow day call already on Sunday evening. Nathan doesn’t understand sleeping in yet, so he and I read stories in our pajamas and let Daddy sleep in on his snow day.

Nathan and Mommy reading in pajamas

After Andy shoveled us out, he took Nathan for a quick sled ride. It was still cold and Nathan did not want to be bundled up in all the layers. Once we got outside, we were able to get some smiles from him on his first big snow day.

Nathan bundled up for sledding

We made soup for dinner. Nathan skyped with Grandma Barz to show her all the snow. We read some more stories and cuddled before bed. All in all, it was a lovely snow day. We have a delay to start our day today which is nice. I’m a bit nervous to drive since I hear the roads are quite snow packed and now, icy. I’ll be driving slowly to teach music today! I hear more snow is in the forecast on Wednesday and yet again this weekend. It looks like winter is here in Fort Wayne!

Reason Number 84 That I Am Thankful to be a SAHM

Let me start by saying I’m not sure if this is really number 84. It could be 37 or 115 or 271. I’ve lost count. My thankful list for the opportunity to be a Stay-at-Home Mom grows almost daily. This is the latest reason I am thankful.

You see, last week was busy. It seemed busier than usual. We enjoyed having Andy home with us for a day off on MLK Day. We ran a couple of errands together, did a couple things in Andy’s classroom and enjoyed a lunch out at Olive Garden with one of my Christmas gift cards. Nathan enjoyed his first taste of breadsticks, too! Tuesday was a school day for me, which meant Nathan was at his Grandma’s while Andy and I taught. Wednesday saw Andy home again with a surprise ice day. He drove me to my dentist appointment and entertained Nathan, before we came home and baby-sat my cousin’s boys for the rest of the day. Thursday was MOPS in the morning (love those ladies) and school in the afternoon. By Thursday night, we were all worn out and looking forward to Friday. And that’s when it happened. Nathan caught another cold.

I knew it was coming. Last week, the doctor had commented on Nathan’s slight wheezing and named bronchilitis as the diagnosis. He said not to be concerned as long as there was no fever or rapid breathing. That’s what happened. Lots of coughing ensued with this cold before the runny nose started on Sunday. Nathan’s remained (mostly) happy through it all.

Friday was spent cuddling – as was most of the weekend. I knew Nathan wasn’t feeling well when he crawled onto my lap (several times) and laid his head down on my shoulder. He wanted to cuddle – more than usual. He wanted to be held – more than usual. He wanted to nurse – more than usual. He wanted to read books – even more than usual. He didn’t want to eat much. He didn’t want to sit on the floor and play. He tried to sleep but couldn’t. Our good sleeper has not had a good couple nights as a result of this cough. When he did finally sleep, it was on me, limiting my activities but allowing him to breathe and sleep. I snapped this picture as he napped on Sunday morning after church.

Sunday Morning Naps Instagram

I’m thankful that I’m able to stay at home and cuddle my baby when’s not feeling the best. I’m thankful I don’t have to scramble to arrange a substitute so I can do so. I’m thankful we can sit on the couch and read books. I’m thankful we can (both) recover from sleepless nights during the day.

Yes, Nathan still had his cranky, sick moments, and yes, I admit I had my frustrated moments in response. Still, I’m thankful to be just where I am. At home. Taking care of my baby. This is what I need to be doing. This is what I want to be doing. I have several friends who wish they were at home with their babies. On the longest of frustrating days, I remind myself what a blessing it is that I can be home with our baby. I’m also thankful to my husband for his willingness to work hard and sacrifice so this dream of ours is a reality.

And that is reason 84 and counting.

A Day Just Like I Needed

Andy and I both had to return to school on Tuesday. I confess that even after a lovely Christmas break, I wasn’t ready yet. When I saw snow was in the forecast, I hoped for a snow day – or a delay. We didn’t get as much snow as expected so no snow day – and we didn’t even get a delay like most of the other Fort Wayne schools. The roads were still snow covered so I drove slowly and carefully. I love snow…when I don’t have to drive in it. Even after 11 years of living up North (15 if you count college), I still am not crazy about driving in winter weather. Add Nathan into the mix and I left extra early. The first day back went well, all things considering, and the children were excited to finally learn what our musical for the year would be. By the time I taught music and my piano lessons, and picked up Nathan, it was 6 o’clock when we got home. Time for dinner, bath and bed. It was a busy and tiring day of jumping back into a school routine.

After Tuesday, I needed the Wednesday I had. Nathan slept through the night, before waking at 5:30 am to nurse. He didn’t want to go back to sleep so I brought him into bed with us. He crawled in and cuddled with us for quite some time. He wakes so instantly and so cheerfully! Nathan and I played, ate breakfast, and waved to Daddy as he drove away to school. We played some more before he cuddled and fell asleep in my arms for a brief 30 minute early morning nap. I decided then to make the most of our day and savor as it was.

It was too cold to go out (-5 wind chills in the “warm” afternoon), so we stayed in. It was a no make-up day for me and Nathan stayed in his pajamas all day. I gave myself full permission to just enjoy being at home with Nathan and not worry about my to-do list. It was funny, though, because by doing that, I suddenly had the motivation to accomplish some things.

Nathan’s short morning nap meant he slept over 2 hours in the afternoon so I made the most of that quiet time. I brought down the bins from the attic for our Christmas decorations. I didn’t put anything away but at least the bins are down. I made a loaf of homemade bread. Yum! I sorted through our Christmas cards and updated my address book. I did the dishes and vacuumed. Nathan and I skyped with his cousins in North Carolina. I blogged and read my book for book club. I even closed my eyes for a bit while Nathan napped.

Most importantly? I played with my son. I looked at him – really looked at him – while we nursed. We read stories over and over again, for at least an hour, throughout the day. I laughed with Nathan as he drummed with a cardboard box. I cherished the day and thanked God for the opportunity to be at home with Nathan. I still love teaching music but I need days where I can focus on being the mother and wife that God has made me. It is days like these that I need.

Nathan Playing with a Box

One of the changes I am making this year is more actually blogging like this. I want to share honestly what is happening in our lives. I want to actually blog – both for you and for me. I love being at home but it’s nice to be able to “talk” with other grown-ups…even if it’s online! :-) So stayed tuned for more of my musings this year.

Our CHRISTmas Celebrations (2014)

Today is our last day of Christmas vacation (unless we get the big snow and cold temperatures they are predicting this evening). It’s been a lovely – although seemingly quick – Christmas break. It’s one of the times I am especially thankful that my husband and I are both teachers so our breaks align. Here’s a look at our Christmas in pictures.

Our break started out with a visit from Andy’s best friend, Michael, and his wife and daughter. They were in town to spend Christmas with Michael’s parents but their house was full. They came in the evenings and we stayed up late visiting, before they headed back after breakfast. It was so good to see these friends again because Houston is so far from Fort Wayne. It was also fun to watch our children play together. Elizabeth is almost a year older than Nathan but these two hit it off. We were able to capture them giggling on the couch one morning. Precious!

Nathan and His Friend Elizabeth

We spent Christmas Eve at my in-laws. We let Nathan open some of his presents during the day since his bedtime came during church. He was starting to get the hang of unwrapping but the paper and boxes were often more fascinating than the gifts. Some friends gave Nathan this cute elf outfit so he was a festive little boy for the day!

Nathan as a Christmas Elf

We went to Christmas Eve worship at St. Paul’s Lutheran for the evening children’s service. Nathan stayed awake through the first two carols and then slept through the rest of the service. On Christmas Day, we went to worship at Ascension Lutheran. We let Nathan open some gifts before church and some more after. I also set up the tripod so we could get a family picture. Nathan was getting sleepy so Dad tossed him around trying to get a smile until just before the camera took the picture. Here’s one of them.

The Whirrett Family Christmas 2014

After church, Andy’s family came over to our house for a brunch of appetizers. We were having a ham dinner at his parents when his nurse Mom got off work, so we kept it on the lighter side for lunch. Nathan opened a couple more presents and got a nap in his own crib while we watched “The Muppets Christmas Carol.” After Nathan woke up, we Skyped briefly with my parents in San Antonio so they could see Nathan open a present. He got better at it as the evening went on. Nathan was treated so generously this Christmas! We ended Christmas Day at my in-laws. After opening presents, Nathan went to sleep in his pack and play, while we stayed up visiting.

Nathan opening a present

On the Saturday after Christmas, we traveled down to Indy for the extended Whirrett family Christmas. It’s a small affair but it was good to see everyone. Nathan has one second cousin, Waylon, who is a couple months older. We managed to get a picture of the two Great-Grandparents with their two Great-Grandchildren. I took a lot of pictures to get one where everyone was looking – and the boys both smiling!

Great-Grandparents and their Grandsons

The rest of our break flew by. There was no sleeping in with a 9 month old in the house! We did take some extra naps while Nathan slept. We went out together and browsed the after-Christmas sales. We went out to eat together and accomplished a task or two around the house. We spent time playing and tag-teaming time with Nathan. As always, Nathan loves having his Daddy home for bedtime stories!

Story time with Daddy

As I said at the beginning, it really was a lovely Christmas break. It passed much too quickly, as all breaks seem to do. Still, we enjoyed the time we had together as a family of three! I hope you and your families had a very Merry Chrismas, too!

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