The Countdown Begins…

My son turned 11 months old yesterday. And with this, our countdown begins.

He will be a year old in just one month. It feels like I only had him a month ago. Where has the time gone? Somewhere between the hundreds of diaper changes, bath times,  nursing sessions, and (the first of many) baby giggles, the time has been lost.

Just 11 months ago, my husband held our tiny newborn, and lamented on how frustrating it was that he couldn’t play with him yet. “He doesn’t really do much but look at you.”
Now they wrestle in the floor and use blankets to play peekaboo. They push their toy trucks around the floor and Dad teaches him to say “vroom”.  Baths are splash wars.

The past year has went by entirely too quick for my taste. I love watching him grow stronger, smarter, and bigger, each day. But I still wish I had my tiny baby.

This month, we will probably take more pictures than ever, cementing the “infant” time as much as we can. He will be a toddler soon, as terrifying as that is. And considering how fast this year has went by, the “terrible twos” will be here before we know it. Even though I think he started that phase months ago.

This first year, we have been lucky to have a healthy boy with no medical problems or emergency situations. And as a first time mom, I feel more confident as a parent that if I can survive this long, that I CAN do this. I’ve learned a lot-not just about babies or child-rearing-but about myself. And we still have a long journey ahead of us.

 

Ohana: Pet’s Are Family Too

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Family comes in many forms. I have one human son. In reality, I really have two children.
When my husband and I first began our “serious relationship”, our first major stepping stone together as a couple, aside from co-habitation, was adopting our cat. I originally wanted a cat, and saw a mother and two kittens lingering around the fire escape. Logically, I couldn’t just rescue one; it needed it’s sibling. And they couldn’t be without Mum. Luckily for Ryan, a neighbor took them in during this conversation in which I was trying to convince him that we needed them more than they needed us. He wanted absolutely no pets – so he compromised and we got Dimitri.
I searched Craigslist for local rescues and found the cutest Russian Blue – a phone call and short trip to PetSmart and an hour later, we brought our little “fur baby” home. He was rescued by a couple in Jacksonville (Florida) who not only take in animals, but perform “Native American Weddings and Paranormal Investigations.” (I thought it an odd mix, but I don’t ask questions) They adopted Dimitri the day before he would have been put down at the animal shelter, being there too long. They put the animals, mostly cats, back online to find forever homes. We donated a bag of kitten food in exchange for our kitty, and as much as I really wanted ALL of the other kittens in the crate he was hanging out with, I knew Ryan wouldn’t allow it. It literally took weeks to convince him of one, after three already didn’t work, so best not to push my luck.
Since the first night at home, Dima (his shorter name) has slept in our bed, forcing one of us to share a pillow. Yes, he needs a pillow for his head. He also requires the milk from your cereal, his cat-nip stuffed sea turtle must be object of a game at least once a night, and he ‘helps’ you in the bathroom by keeping one company while you’re…doing whatever in there.  He has his own ways and personality. Ryan and I have both commented on how fitting it was that we ended up with him, and how he filled our home with so much more love.
Then when I became pregnant, we excitedly told Dima he was going to be a “big brother” and made promises to always give him enough attention. “Nothing will be any different.” I even joked that a day would come that I would find myself holding either the fur or human child as my husband held the other, and we would have to “switch off”, so they didn’t grow jealous. I wasn’t prepared for the cynicism towards my beloved cat that soon followed. Too many times I heard, “You gotta get rid of that cat. They’re bad for pregnant women. They’re bad for babies.”
The thing is: you wouldn’t “get rid” of your first child, for absolutely no reason, when you’re expecting another. Why would you do the same to a pet? Especially one you raised since a baby (er..kitten)! Your animals depend on you for everything: love, security, sustenance, connection…why would you just abandon them? Sometimes, in unfortunate circumstances, pets need to be rehomed, but for just no reason other than, “Well, you’re going to have a real baby now…”the whole notion just strikes me as absurd.
Toxoplasmosis is very real, and can lead to a lot of harmful complications with the developing fetus, including blindness. BUT, as my midwife put it, “You don’t have to get rid of your cat. Just don’t play with it’s poop.” I avoided the litterbox and either my husband or Mom cleaned it. Other than that, Dimitri posed no risk to my growing baby, and I didn’t have to give him away.
I eventually came to the conclusion that some people are just that heartless – they could adopt a pet and love it, and give it a good life. And then just turn their back, at the drop of a hat. Sure, most will make sure they find it a good home, but that doesn’t mean the poor animal is going to adjust easily or forget quickly.  If you aren’t willing to make a lifelong commitment to an animal, then don’t adopt. Because they don’t deserve to have the only home they know taken away, for no other reason than disinterest. Especially when they pose no real threat that can’t be contained.

 

When we adopted Dima, we made that promise-that we would be there for his entire life. Dima is no different than my other child. I’m his Mom-and he needs me. Writing this has reminded of the Disney movie ‘Lilo & Stitch’ and it’s true… “Ohana means family”. No one is left behind or forgotten. Your pets are family too. He’s now two (human) years old, and absolutely loves his “little brother”…most of the time. We are working on not chasing our kitty around the house.

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The real Dimitri Hewitt

Ugly Truth: #BehindTheFeed

We’ve all seen it in our Instagram news feed – The perfect, all organic meal on a trendy glass plate, white lace background with a little flower in the corner that scream’s “Fresh Picked This Morning!” Complete with the hashtags that are all too familiar ; #healthyeating, #onmytable, #onlythebest

It’s easy to see scenes like this and think that the person behind the photo must have everything all together (especially for a mom) based on this one picture. it’s an inevitable conclusion if the entire feed is that way-spotless, white background, designer labels, and trendy staples.

But here’s the ugly truth: I don’t care who you are, no one has a spotless, perfect life. @jasminea5100

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We all might want one, but no one really has one.

Social media has made this illusion stronger than ever before. What was once just little tidbits heard at playdates and parks, now can be seen through the feeds, with links to favorite coffee houses that can make those awesome little foam animals that, if you’re like most moms, usually melt before you get a sip because, you know, kids. I admit, I use those same hashtags and I take pictures of my coffee treats. I do try to show the best photos I have. But, I do let a few unsightly ones slip through that show the true chaos within most homes. And that’s what #behindthefeed is about.

Alexie Flook, Blogger of AlwaysAlexie, came up with the idea to celebrate our imperfections as well as our perfect moments, with the  hashtag “#behindthefeed” and challenged other bloggers to join in with 2 weeks of showcasing the messy, blurry, uncoordinated truth behind those awesome Instagram posts. I loved this idea-because it’s true!

Behind each white background of flowers in a pretty vase, there’s 20 pictures of blur and toddler hands grabbing at petals that didn’t make the cut. Behind every flawless selfie, there’s 10 more that show the avocado stain on your neckline. And behind each family picture, there’s at least 5 of your husband and kids making an un-photogenic face. People just don’t see these! Thus, the illusion can sometimes work on those of us (including me!) that see these kinds of pictures within our feed, and look around the messy living room and wilting flowers from Mother’s Day we still haven’t thrown away, and wonder “How do they find the time?”

Kicking off June 8th, 2016, stay tuned to see the silly side, the messy side, the blurs and chaos, that is #behindthefeed, and check out AlwaysAlexie for the complete (and growing!) list of participating bloggers! And Thank YOU Alexie for allowing me to join in on the fun!

Growing Up Methodist: Remembering My Childhood In A Strict Christian Home

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This is a guest post written by Mom Blogger, Brooke Halstead, of From Nurse To Mom, on the topic of “Family & Religion.” I grew up very differently, so I really enjoyed reading this post about her upbringing within the Church, and I hope you do too!
To this day, I can recite to you the books of the bible in order from Genesis to Revelation. I have my dad to thank for that.
Since I was born, my family has been extremely devoted to the Methodist Church. My dad was a lay leader at our small church in the country. This meant that he would often lead the service before the pastor would preach, and fill-in when the pastor was away. So, while I was never a “preacher’s daughter” I was a “back-up preacher’s daughter” in a way. (If that’s a thing!) When I learned how to talk and understand things, I was joined with my siblings into a nightly bible study with my dad. He would read from the bible, ask us questions, and discuss with us many many stories each night. The one thing I remember most is playing bible trivia from a board game every night to test our knowledge. Some nights I can remember just wishing I could skip out and go to bed. But, it wasn’t allowed. My siblings were significantly older than me, and really hated it. As the youngest, I wanted to impress my dad so I would stay up memorizing bible verses and books of the bible in hopes of beating my brother and sister. This went on for many years in our house. Along with nightly trivia, we were not allowed to watch TV, listen to certain radio stations, or read certain books.
Unfortunately, when my parents divorced, we took a break from church. I found my way back shortly after, by myself. This is when I joined a church camp and would later volunteer 3 weeks of my time each year to our United Methodist Church Camp. This is just one way that my upbringing could have turned out. Our strict household has kept me on the straight and narrow. I feel a real connection with God and my church family. However, my brother is the opposite. After so many years of feeling like the church and religion was in a sense “shoved down our throats”, he no longer wanted to be in church. I have heard this story many times. Making your children do something so strictly can lead to them resenting it, and you, for that matter.
My husband and I have one daughter, and we do have plans to raise her in the church. I think a mix of leading her in the right direction and letting her make her own path as well is the route we will take with her upbringing. I want her to be involved in the church, but I want her to have her own identity as well. I don’t want her to resent us, or our church later in life. While I don’t exactly agree with the way our house was when I was growing up, I appreciate all that I have learned along the way! 🙂
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BIO: My name is Brooke and I am a new mom learning all about parenting whilst writing a mommy blog! I have been given the opportunity to be a stay at home mom to my little girl. I have a wonderful husband and an 8 year old beagle. I love chocolate and the beach! I am a nurse, and have left the workforce to stay home. My blog is: www.fromnursetomom.com

Raising A Son In A Marine Tradition

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My Husband, circa 1997, wearing his Father’s jacket
As a first time mom to a wonderful little boy, like all mothers, I worry about my child’s future. I often think about what kind of world he will be growing up in, what the future holds, and what kind of place he will live in.
On both sides of my family, a lot of the older generations of men were members of the US Army and Navy. My husband, like his father before him, was a member of the United States Marine Corps, and was stationed at Camp LeJeune. They are both very proud of their service to our country, as we all of are them, and my husband has mentioned time to time that it would be “really awesome” if our son carried on that tradition and joined as well.
My son is his father’s child, through and through. They look exactly the same (only little one doesn’t have the beard), he makes the same frustrated faces and smiles as his Dad does. He shares in his stubbornness, and I’ve even caught the two of them engrossed in the same YouTube videos of guns and military tanks, bonding and enjoying themselves.
So I’ve come to terms with the inevitable – he will want to follow in his father and grandfather’s footsteps and join the service. But as a mother, I am terrified. No one wants their child to go to war. No one wants their child in be in danger.
But at the same time-I want my son to learn to be resilient. I want him to learn not only to defend himself, but what he believes in and his country. I want him to learn to not be afraid. And like everyone in the service, I want him to defend those who can’t.

Military families make huge sacrifices, that cannot be fully fathomed by those who don’t know. @jasminea5100

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Until you have trekked across the country with your family, leaving people you love behind as you move according to orders, you can’t imagine what it’s like to leave loved ones behind. Until you are spending months at a time, only talking or reading emails sporadically as you wait for your spouse, brother, sister, mother or father, to come home; you don’t know what it means to feel that type of loneliness or fear for someone. Until you have lost a loved one in the time of war, you will never fully understand that type of pain. My husband completed his term before we met, and got married. I don’t know what other wives have been through, and I will always admit that. I will also always admit that I don’t know how they do it. I have the upmost respect for them. And a military spouse, and their family, will always have my total admiration.
While I fear for him, I want my son to carry on a family legacy of serving his country. I want him to learn the values instilled in it, and uphold their honor. Only the bravest of the brave put everything on the line to fight for what’s right and defend those who cannot, and I want my son to be one of the bravest there is. I want this because so many people want to, but can’t. And they need someone willing to stand up for them.