Friday, December 17, 2010

"What Child is this, who laid to rest, On Mary's lap is sleeping?"

I have a few moments to write a blog…a few moments that I probably should be cleaning. I can’t believe that Christmas is only a week away! It has really snuck up on me this year. Ben and I even debated whether we wanted to put up a tree this year…the pine needles that get everywhere, the glitter from the ornaments, the mess of it all. However, I decided that even though Charlotte will have no memory of this Christmas, I wanted to still make it special. Plus, I thought she would enjoy looking at a Christmas tree. I was right; she loved watching me decorate and seemed to really get a kick when it fell over…about 5 times.

But I did go much lighter on d├ęcor this year. I kept thinking to myself, “Is this worth cleaning up,” and that made the process much simpler. I also have been thinking much more about what Christmas truly means. Having a child has greatly altered my perspective of Christmas day. It is painful to admit, but many times I have been absorbed with both the receiving and giving of gifts. Yet, this Christmas I have thought much more about the nativity story which is the true reason we celebrate the season.

I think often of Mary and what she went through. She became a mother in a town where she was a stranger without her mom or dad and with a new husband. She gave birth next to farm animals without the benefits of a physician or the comfort of a bed. Mary knew that God had blessed her with this task, but I imagine she was incredibly scared as well. She then had to rush off with this new, helpless babe because He was in danger. And I can only imagine the pain which Mary went through as she learned that other babies had died in the search for her Son. How she must have wept for those innocent children just as she would one day weep for her own Son’s death.

Mary’s story is amazing but the story that has made me weep this holiday season is the story of a Father sacrificing His only son. I love Charlotte beyond reason and would do ANYTHING to protect her. I would NEVER send her into harms way. Yet God sent Christ, His son to earth as a baby; right in the middle of harms way. Christ was just as helpless and in need of His mother as Charlotte is now. It is a mystery I cannot comprehend. And our Heavenly Father new that this perfect baby was going to suffer more than any human being on earth. God watched as His son was born in the lowliest of places. He watch as Christ was chased, mocked, and betrayed. What’s more, God didn’t just watch but allowed it. And then God watched as the Prince of Peace was beaten and abused. He allowed His Son who was blameless to die for a world that despised Him; for a people that betrayed Him, for a nation that rejected Him. God gave the weight of the world’s sins to His Son. Christ died for me, a sinner through and through. A girl who much too often has thought of herself rather than others, who has held tightly to things of this world rather than eternal riches, who has placed so many other things before the One who created her, who was crucified for her. This Christmas I am grappling with the reality that many years ago a baby, a Prince, was born to die for me.

“Nails, spear, shall pierce Him through,
The Cross be borne, for me, for you:
Hail, hail, the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary!
This, this is Christ the King
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing.
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.”

Thursday, December 9, 2010

"He knows my name/ He knows my every thought/ He sees each tear that falls/ And He hears me when I call"

I love the age three going on four months. LOVE IT!!! In fact I love it so much I really am wondering if Charlotte can just stay this age…really. She did great at my parents with hardly any breakdowns. She is also making me a happy mommy by mostly sleeping through the night. Yippee! It is amazing how much sleep can do. Charlotte is still on the feed every three hours during the day schedule. Occasionally she will go four and sometimes in the evening only two. But I feel like we are finally in the swing of things; in sync. I feel like I can recognize and meet her needs faster now.

Of course, there are a few things I wish she would do, like take a bottle. Yes, I have a freezer FULL of pumped milk and a baby who refuses to have anything to do with it. I tried again and she actually took a big gulp (progress!) and then proceeded to spew it all over me…then she grinned huge. Oh, Charlotte! She definitely has a personality at this point. She is such a happy girl. She wakes happy and is usually pleasant unless I don’t get milk to her fast enough. She, like all babies can get grumpy from fatigue or hunger, but then so can I!! Charlotte is even doing awesome in the car seat!! Exposure therapy worked. It probably helps that now she takes more trips in the car that aren’t to the doctor. Thank you, cousin Mary for telling me to keep at it.

Yes, she is a happy little girl and I love it.

---------30 minute break---------------

Sorry, about that…she just had a melt down. Did I mention the other thing that gets her going? She does not like to wake up from a nap not on me or with me out of visual range. In fact, when I do yoga in the morning I put her bouncer facing me. She usually does great and seems to enjoy watching me, and she dozes in and out. I’m hoping to eventually establish actual nap times, but for now I’m just enjoying the flexibility.

Yep, three going on four months is flexible and fun. She’s still a mommy’s girl, but she is typically great with crowds as well. I think she might be a bit of a ham actually. I brought her by my dad’s office when we were in town, so he could show her off to all his coworkers. She proceeded to grin up a storm and then babble at him. That’s right, she has started to babble, and it might be the cutest thing ever. I LOVE to hear her. Charlotte talks a lot with her “friends”, meaning the toys that hang from her bouncer and car seat. Sometimes, Charlotte will babble at me and seem to get frustrated, like “don’t you understand what I’m saying?” It’s hilarious. She talked our ears off one night to my Dad, and it was so adorable I didn’t want to put her to bed.

I am sure before I know it she will be forming real words. This growing up stuff happens WAY TOO FAST. When I held my little niece Lia, I couldn’t help but think “was Charlotte ever really this small??” The changes have flown by. We’ve had a few long days, but it seems like infancy is just a blink. It kills me. Ben keeps on telling me that I’ve said I want her to stay this age every month and Mike, my father-in-law, keeps reassuring me that I’ll love it all. I know both these men are right, but I can’t help but think watching your children grow up is a little bittersweet. Maybe it is part of the “pain of childbirth” that God allows women. I want to hold on to this sweet, innocent stage. I can’t help but love how cuddly she is and how dependent on me. Sometimes, I think God is trying to remind me that our time on earth is much like I view her growing up. It is over in an instant.

She is not only sweet but unknowing. Right now she is the typical baby and has no awareness of issues. I am scared of the day when she comes to realize her problems, when she asks why she has to go to the doctor more than other children, why she has scars. It’s hard enough for me to cope sometimes. I had a wonderful time with my niece Lia. She is of course beautiful. If you have seen my sister-in-law Dana, you know where she gets it from. Yet, I couldn’t help but observe Lia and her movements compared to Charlotte. One day little Lia was lying on her belly on the couch and kicked her leg back. I realized that Charlotte had never made this move before. She is a baby. Most of the complications have not fully displayed themselves, but it is painful as they come to light. The other night I was changing her diaper and realized the back of her thigh had scratches and cuts on it. She will sometimes do this to her face with her nails and scream bloody murder. I called Ben in and was trying to figure out how it happened and questioned why she didn’t cry. Then I saw Ben’s understanding face, and it came to me. She probably didn’t feel it. I completely broke down.

I get use to the complications I know about; the constant diaper rash, the flexed feet. However, when a new one arises (not kicking on her belly, lack of feeling) it completely knocks me down. Reality pushes it’s way back in. I know when she is more aware I’m going to have to toughen up for her sake. Now she has no idea, and maybe that’s part of why it’s hard for me to see Charlotte grow up. As I cried about the cuts she looked at me and smiled. That sweet smile that makes my heart abound in love but also makes me once again ask, “Why not me, Lord, why not me?”

Friday, December 3, 2010

Shuttering with Excitment

For three years I have made the claim that I would do a Christmas card. For three years I have failed miserably; but things are about to change. With the birth of Charlotte I knew that I had to start the Christmas card tradition. My mom has always done a Christmas card and saved them so we could look back at the changes. I want to do the same thing because I know I’ll be amazed at how fast she grows up…and probably a little horrified at how quickly I age!! So Christmas cards are a must this year. Yet, with the birth of Charlotte I have to be more budget conscious than ever. Thus, starts the search for a cute but wallet friendly card.

If you are on the same path, look no further; Shutterfly meets all of the above requirements. They have a plethora of wonderful photo cards at great prices. I wanted to do several shots with Charlotte in different outfits (because she’s so darn cute) and they have many that work. The hard part will be actually making a decision!

I really love the following because it's modern but cute and I love birds.
The next one is a bit more traditional which I like and I love the intial.

Decisions, decisions.

The other thing I noticed while I was perusing the Christmas cards on Shutterfly was the birthday invitations. I know, we’ve got a ways to go before Charlotte’s first birthday, but I am already excited about it. Plus the options at Shutterfly are endless. I’m thinking it might be cute to have her in a tutu on the front.

Before I forget, I must mention the perfect grandparent gift. At Shutterfly you can place pictures on mugs. My parents and in-laws are big coffee drinkers and I know they would love looking at their adorable grand’s every time they take a sip.

I hope you have good luck finding your own holiday cards this year, and be sure to check out Shutterfly for their great selection. While you are at it be sure to check out their blog promotion which I am participating in!