Category: My Life

No Offense

Hey you!

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been away from blogging for awhile now, focusing on some other priorities. After Abigail is born and I’ve settled into my new life (and new careers in both life coaching and birth education), I plan to get back into regular blogging mode! Until then, I will continue posting updates on my life and things I am particularly interested in writing about, when I have time. 🙂

So first, life update!

Since my last post, I graduated from the Christian Coach Institute as a Professional Christian Life Coach. I am not actively seeking clients at the moment, because of the imminent birth of my daughter, but at the same time I’m certainly not going to be turning anybody away who’s seeking coaching. My plans for my coaching business right now are to begin building it up and finding clients sometime in early 2018. After I’ve coached for a few months, I plan to complete my certification, which adds a credential to my name and gives me more marketing opportunities.

I also was just certified as a Hypnobabies Childbirth Hypnosis Instructor, which means I can now officially teach Hypnobabies classes. It was a lot of work, and I am so happy to have achieved this accomplishment. Just as with life coaching, I plan to begin offering classes in my community in early 2018. I am very excited about that, because natural birth with hypnosis is something I am super passionate about!

Cody is doing well, and we are both growing a lot through this late toddler stage. Although tantrums, whining, and crankiness are a normal part of our lives at this point, it’s also a time full of fun, laughter, silliness, and new discoveries. His personality is developing more and more, and he’s still a very sweet, affectionate, and intelligent boy.

Abigail is also growing well in my belly. I’ve gained a lot of weight (which is a good thing of course!), and she’s an active baby. She also looks beautiful and perfect, based on our last (and likely final) ultrasound. While we still have approximately 8 weeks to go until she’s likely ready to come out, we are pretty much done with our preparations for her arrival. All that’s left to do is wait, rest, stay healthy, and keep practicing my hypnosis techniques for our beautiful birthing!

Our pets are doing well, all healthy and happy (except for Marley’s usual neurosis of course). Our house is coming along with some final projects we want to get done before Abigail’s birth, after which we plan to pretty much leave everything alone for a good long while. Houses are expensive to improve, did you know? =J

That’s pretty much the gist on my life at the moment. The next focus really is bringing baby into the world now, and I’m looking forward to this next stage very much.

And now, onto something else I wanted to talk about. Briefly, though, because this is already kind of long. 😉

As any parent knows well, people love to judge. Family members and strangers, and sometimes even friends, can all be quick to tell you what you are doing wrong as a parent. It’s something that I already knew to expect when I became a parent, and truthfully hasn’t bothered me much so far.

When Cody was a baby, there were less things to judge about, perhaps. Yes, I got comments about our choices of co-sleeping and extended nursing, and some about vaccinations, “helicopter parenting,” and so on. There were complaints about him crying occasionally, but most people understand that babies cry, so that wasn’t too bad. For the most part, the baby years weren’t a time when I felt very judged as a parent, and certainly not in any ways that bothered me.

But these toddler years, they are something else. Cody is a two year old, going on three, and he acts like it. There are tantrums, public outbursts, and generally embarrassing behavior frequently. Most of the time, I handle it pretty well, because I know that it’s pointless and unnecessary to feel embarrassed or get angry at him about what I know to be normal behavior for his stage of development. I know that as a parent, my job is not to control my child, but to nurture, protect, and guide him. That includes discipline, of course. It does not include punishment, expecting him to act like an adult, or reacting to his behavior in ways that are not logical or productive.

Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with my parenting choices. Whether it has to do with his behavior in public, my disciplinary style, how I choose to protect my child, what I choose to feed him (or allow him to eat), or even things like the length of his hair, there are opinions on all sides about it. People might choose to share those opinions by staring, glaring, commenting to others, complaining to me, giving me advice, or telling me what they feel I’m doing wrong. All of those things have the potential to be offensive, especially when I’m already in a stressful situation with my screaming toddler.

But I learned something recently about this. It is my choice, whether or not I will be offended. Realizing that, to me, makes all the difference.

The truth of the matter is, kids will be kids. Some people do not understand that, or they forget. Sometimes, people are having a bad day or are in a bad mood, and they might not treat frazzled parents with as much grace as they should. Other times, people just have strong opinions about parenting (or hair length). It’s really not about me or my child–it’s about them. It’s not my problem, it’s theirs. Because you know what? My job is to be the best parent I can be to my child. My responsibility is not to please my relatives or friends, let alone random strangers; it’s to do what I believe is best as a parent. As long as I’m not being abusive, I don’t have to defend or explain my choices to anybody but God, myself, and my spouse.

With that mindset, it’s much easier to choose to not be offended. When others judge me, my child, or my parenting, I don’t have to take it personally. I don’t have to let it bother me. I can remind myself why I’m doing what I’m doing, and feel at peace with that. I will never please everybody, and that’s okay. Because I am a good mother, imperfect as we all are. I am doing my very best, and I know that God will do the rest. And even though my son is only 2 ½, I am already proud of who he is. Most of all, he knows that he is loved. To me, that says everything.

Wrapping Up and Moving Forward

It’s been another busy month since my last post! I hope to resume writing more useful posts for you again soon, but right now seems to be a season for other priorities. Still, I like to keep you updated on what’s going on with me, and I hope you find it interesting!

In early April, my family took a trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico, so I could attend a five day training for Hypnobabies Instructors. It was a grueling week between the travel and the demands of the training program. But we did it, and now I can check something very big off of my goals list! After I finish my certification requirements, I will be able to launch my own business teaching Hypnobabies childbirth classes. It’s an exciting opportunity for me to help families experience better births, share my passion with others, and contribute financially to my family.

Today, I will also graduate from the other career training program I’ve been busy with, for becoming a Professional Life Coach. After graduating, I will need to complete certification requirements for this as well. I am very eager to get it all done, and I am excited about my future business plans! I have a vision to combine my birth education classes, my life coaching services, my blogging experience, my passion for writing, and my love for teaching. All together, I plan to create one new business, with the goal of helping women through the transition into new and new-again motherhood. I can’t wait to see what it becomes!

As both of my trainings have or are soon ending, it is now time to shift my focus to finishing all of the requirements for certification in both areas. It’s important for me to finish both before the birth of my baby, because I know that after Abigail comes I’m going to need to focus completely on her and our family for at least a few months. That means I have about three months to get it all done, while still leaving enough time to breath and prepare for my birth and baby’s arrival.

It’s been a rough few weeks, unfortunately, as I’ve been trying to move forward. We chose to adopt a cat from the animal shelter after we returned from New Mexico, which was something we’d been planning to do soon after we bought our house. We brought home a sweet, though fairly shy, adult female kitty who we named Luna. Unfortunately, it quickly became apparent that both Cody and I were reacting allergically to her. It was only unclear how big of a problem it would be.

At first, Cody began suffering from a bad cough that kept him (and us) up at night, and left him feeling uncomfortable all day. He also had some nasal congestion. After about a week, nothing had improved, and we began to seriously consider rehoming Luna.

Then, confusing matters, Cody was hit by a stomach bug which lasted about 12 hours. As soon as he recovered, I was hit with it. At that point, Cody’s cough was mostly gone, but his congestion worsened, and he was absolutely miserable for several days. After I recovered from the stomach bug, I came down with the cough. For about five nights in a row, I could barely sleep at night.

Now almost two weeks later, I’ve been sleeping well again, but my cough remains. I have diagnosed myself with bronchitis. Cody is still suffering from some nasal congestion, but is doing much better. I am hoping I will recover by the end of this week, as well. All of that to say, we still don’t know how much of our respiratory troubles have to do with allergies to the cat, not to mention extreme amounts of pollen in our area currently, versus how much of it is just whatever virus seems to be going around. Either way, it has been no fun! But for the time being, we have hope we will be able to keep Luna.

Through all of this, Abigail has continued to grow healthy and strong. She’s a very active baby, just like Cody was, and seems completely unfazed by everything going on outside of her cozy bubble. Thank God for that! I am now 24 weeks pregnant, just over 5 months.

So that’s where I am right now, and where I’m headed for the next few months.
Thanks for reading!

What I’ve Been Into The Last Two Months

Hey there! I’ve been MIA on my blog the past couple of months because of a combination of extreme busy-ness and a difficult pregnancy. I don’t know when I will be resuming my usual posting schedule, but I wanted to send out a life update since so much has happened. This is super duper long, because there has been a lot going on. :O

Since January, I’ve been busy with my life coach training, which I am now over halfway through. It’s coming along really well and I’m confident and excited to finish my training and become certified. If anybody reading this is interested in a few complimentary life coaching sessions, I would love to practice my skills while helping you move forward in life! So hit me up. 🙂

Anyway, the training course takes up about 5-6 hours of my time per week, so it’s been a big deal in my life. On the other hand, my Hypnobabies Instructor training hasn’t been taking up any of my time, since I completed almost all of the prerequisites before January. However, this coming week will be a big change because we are flying to New Mexico for the intensive almost-week-long in-person training portion. It’s going to be Cody’s first flight, and the first time I have to be away from him for about 9 hours a day while Cory takes care of him all day. It’s going to be a very interesting switch!

My pregnancy is going well in terms of baby’s health and my health. In terms of my comfort, it has not been a walk in the park. In fact, this pregnancy has changed my and Cory’s minds about any future pregnancies. While we still want to have more children through adoption, we are done with pregnancy. As a birth educator (in training), I deeply value and appreciate the wonder of pregnancy; it’s an amazing gift to be able to bring life into the world, and a truly miraculous process. That being said, my experience has not been very enjoyable. In fact, I find pregnancy to be months and months of discomfort, often to the point of being debilitating and limiting my ability to enjoy life. I certainly envy the many women who enjoy being pregnant, and I always thought I would be one of them! For me, being pregnant is something I will never regret, but it’s something I prefer not to repeat again. Especially now that we know we are having a girl! One boy and one girl biologically… Could it be any more perfect? I’m feeling good about that decision to pursue adoption from here on out.

As far as our baby girl’s development goes, she seems to be growing and thriving beautifully. At almost 19 weeks, I have a very noticeable baby bump and both Cory and I can feel her kicking and moving in my belly. She’s very active several times each day, and likes to give me little reminders that she’s in there. In just about 5 months, we’ll be meeting our precious daughter, Abigail MarlyAnne Westropp. We can’t wait!

Cody has been adjusting really well to the idea of being a big brother to a baby sister. He knows her name, and talks about her sometimes. In this way and so many others, he’s such a smart and sweet boy! He talks a ton now, understands concepts that surprise me, and shows random moments of sweetness very often. He’s also a two-year-old… and with that comes a BIG attitude, a seemingly unlimited capacity for whining and tantrums, a glaring lack of patience, and at times a thirst for mischief. He’s certainly a handful, just as he always has been, but this stage has also been a lot of fun and it’s been so incredible to watch him growing into a full-blown person with his own ideas, will, and complex emotions.

Because of my pregnancy, nursing became first uncomfortable and then excruciating. In early February, I had to finally wean Cody because nursing was unbearable. He’s accepted this change remarkably well, and was very understanding about how we couldn’t nurse because it hurt mommy. I’m so sad that we had to end our nursing relationship earlier than I had planned, and that we won’t be able to experience tandem nursing. It has been such a special part of our relationship and an intense way of bonding, and I do feel the loss now that he’s physically independent from me. Our relationship has changed, and I see him less as a baby and more as a kid. It’s sad as a mom, but it’s also wonderful to see him growing and becoming more independent.

In other news, we spent the last two months finding, buying, and moving into our very own house! It has been a complicated and stressful process, but everything went incredibly smoothly in the purchase process. Not only has God blessed us with the unexpected ability to buy a house in the first place, something which we hadn’t anticipated being able to do for many years, but he kept his hand of blessing on the entire process. We even closed escrow five days early! Truly, the most stressful part of the process has been the moving itself, as well as the many projects we had to complete before moving in and the many more we have to work on now that we’re here. Making the house what we want it to be is both fun and exhausting!

Unfortunately, in the chaos of move-day, we experienced a tragedy that has been heavy on our hearts for the past week. In our old home, our guinea pigs’ cage was upstairs, putting two baby gates between them and the dogs. In our new home, we had not installed the baby gates on the stairs yet and after a very long day of moving, we left the house to go back and get more leftover items from the old house. All it took was a moment of forgetting to close a door. When we got home, we didn’t immediately see the dogs. We realized they were upstairs. We realized the pigs were up there too, and their door wasn’t closed. We ran up, but it was too late. We found our dog Sky standing in their cage, and our three precious guinea pigs were dead.

Replaying these horrendous moments has been my brain’s way of processing. I remember the thoughts racing through my mind. My shout of, “the pigs!” as soon as I realized what was going on and we raced upstairs. My knowledge before I even walked in the room of what I was about to find. My husband’s cries of horror and his emotional meltdown, which I now believe was a panic attack. My shock and panic and I tried to process and stay calm for Cody’s sake and the baby’s sake. Trying to stop my body from shaking all over. Holding the pigs one at a time, calling them by name, crying softly and telling them how sorry I was. Placing them side by side in their carrier for the night and shutting their door tightly. Thinking, “if only we hadn’t forgotten.” My childish prayer as I lay in bed that we would wake up and it would be the same day and we could do it over. The anxiety that overwhelmed me and kept me up half the night, a terrible fear that something worse could happen, particularly that I could lose Cory or my children.

The next day, we chose a spot in our backyard to lay our piggies to rest. One by one, we wrapped them in a cloth, held them one last time, and laid them in the ground. We said goodbye to each, and gave them one last serving of veggies, their very favorite thing in the whole world. We placed a stone over their grave, a spot we can visit when we miss them. In the past week, we’ve spent a lot of time grieving. It comes over me randomly, but less and less with each day. And I know some people won’t understand this. They’re guinea pigs, not dogs, and certainly not people. But they were precious to us. They were so full of personality. In honor of that, I want to take a moment to write about each one, and what we will miss about them all.

Penelope, our Penny. She was the oldest, but only by a couple of months. She was the one we had the longest. We adopted her has a tiny baby, just over a year ago, along with our piggy Charlotte who passed away from a long illness in December. After Char passed, we adopted Amelia and Clementine, and Pen became the alpha. She was a beautiful piggy with a smooth brown and white coat. She was the one who purred and popcorned the most. (Guinea pigs sometimes purr when you pet them, and “popcorn,” or spasmodically hop around, when they are happy or excited). I have a small amount of comfort from the thought that Penny and Charlotte are together again; they were a bonded pair, so that means a lot.

Amelia, our skunk baby. She was black and white with long, unruly fur. She even had a tuft on her lower back that stood up and reminded me of a skunk’s tail. We adopted her as a tiny baby as well, just over three months ago. She was only four months old. Even at her age, she was already nearly the size of the other two, who were fully grown. Amelia was going to be huge, the biggest piggy by far. Between her size and her spunk, I suspect she might have given Penny a run for her money as alpha. She never really liked to be held, but she was the most outgoing of all three. She had a hilarious habit of burying herself in the hay pile where she could hide, sleep, and of course eat.

Clementine, my Clem. Of course Cory loved her too, very much, but Clem was special to me. Penny was the one Cory picked out to begin with, and Amelia stole his heart when we adopted her; but Clem was the one I thought of as mine, after Charlotte passed. She was mostly orange, with some white, and one very small patch of black in the middle of her back. She had one brown ear, and one pink. She was the sweetest and mellowest pig I’ve ever seen. She was the easiest to pick up and would sit calmly and contentedly in your lap. We adopted her three months ago, and she was about to turn one year old this month.

I will miss their excited “wheeking” when they heard us preparing their veggies every night. I will miss seeing them popcorn around their cage when they were really happy about something. I will miss their soft fur and their quiet purrs when we pet them–they each had their special spot they loved to be pet the most. I will miss walking by their cage and seeing them sprawled out, each in their favorite spots, relaxing and enjoying the pig-life. I will miss watching them devour their veggies each night with such enthusiasm. I will even miss laughing at the incredible mess they were capable of making out of their cage in such little time–pigs indeed.

Our loss has been painful and hard to accept, but it’s more than that. Because we were their caregivers, we were the ones who were supposed to keep them safe. We failed them, and they paid with their lives. They died in fear and pain. I can only hope it was fast. We will always have to live with that regret, knowing that such a small and simple mistake cost everything from these creatures we loved. We will have to go on living with our two dogs who we know were only following instinct, but who nonetheless took something precious from us in a way that we can only see as savage. (Marley and Sky were the ones who killed them; Lila was in her crate.) It’s a depressing and horrible situation all around, and as you may tell from the length of this writing, it’s been heavy for me. The only thing we can do now is to never repeat this mistake. As long as we have dogs, we will never again own guinea pigs, or any small animals who could be killed by our dogs. It was irresponsible of us to do in the first place, no matter how careful we were. It only took one moment and one mistake. This is something I will always regret.

So, sorry to leave this post on such a sad ending, but I really needed to write about this and share my pain.

Even though this has been very tough, life is good otherwise. God has blessed us in so many ways. I am thankful. Although losing pets is nothing like losing humans we love, it has been a sharp reminder that life can end very suddenly and without warning. We must treasure it, every moment we can. I certainly have much to treasure today.


In loving memory of Penelope, Clementine, and Amelia.

What I’m Into in January

This month, my pregnancy has become even more real to me, with full-blown nausea and fatigue that often accompany the first trimester. We’ve also chosen a midwife, and will have our first appointment with her tonight. At 7 weeks pregnant, our baby is now the size of a blueberry and has begun developing important organs like lungs, a brain, and a stomach. If we’re lucky, we may be able to hear baby’s heartbeat with a fetal doppler at our appointment tonight, although it still may be too early.

At the end of this month I will be beginning my training as a life coach. Just before I became pregnant with Cody I began this same program, but felt that I had to put it on hold when I started to feel the symptoms of pregnancy. I also felt that I would not be able to work as a life coach while balancing being a stay-at-home-mom. Well, now that I’ve done it for two years, I feel confident that I can balance work and motherhood, and I’m ready to try again. The timing is definitely funny, with me being pregnant again, but this time I am determined to power through. After all, this part only lasts a couple of months, if my pregnancy with Cody is any indication. The second trimester will hopefully be much more comfortable for me! But anyway, my training as a CPCLC or Certified Professional Christian Life Coach, will involve a weekly 3-hour webinar session, as well as outside reading, buddy assignments, and other homework. It’s going to keep me busy, but I’m ready for the challenge!

In the meantime, my training as a Hypnobabies Instructor is coming along well. I’ve almost completed all of the pre-requisites that need to be finished before the in-person training in New Mexico, which takes place in April. So fortunately, I won’t have to balance Hypnobabies training and Life Coach training at the same time (for the most part).

Our family is doing well, including our dogs and guinea pigs. Marley is starting to show his age more with noticeable hearing loss and a more frequent need to go outside, but otherwise still acts like his same self, including bouts of puppy-like energy. Amelia and Clementine have adjusted to their new home smoothly and our three little pigs are a happy herd.

Cody’s antics this month include talking more and more, an obsession with mac and cheese and cheese puffs, getting his second molars in on one side, and beginning to identify a few letters and numbers. He also said “I love you,” to me today of his own volition, which is a moment I will always remember. As we’ve explained our expectancy of a second baby to him, he has expressed different emotions from despair to excitement to curiosity, and he has also told us his preference for brother, sister, or neither–it changes frequently. Overall, I think he will be ready to be a big brother when the time comes, although it will certainly be an adjustment for him.

That’s what the picture looks like for us in January… and here’s what I’m into this month.

What I’m Watching:

This month is bringing back a bunch of my favorite shows, so I’m pretty darn excited!

Bones – One of my all-time favorite shows has begun it’s final season. I’m going to enjoy every single episode of watching my favorite characters solve crimes with nothing but a few bone fragments or a puddle of dissolved remains.

The Bachelor – Ah, my guilty pleasure; this show along with its sisters the Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise. I can’t get enough of the manipulated and dramaticized journeys of these individuals to find love. After all, being on this show is the last hope for so many of them, or so they would have you believe. Why? Because what better way to find lasting romance than on reality TV! Right? 😉 Seriously though, I love it. I’m excited to watch Nick’s journey this season! Personally, I’ve always been a fan of his and never understood why he was seen as a “villain.” Whatevs.

Series of Unfortunate Events – Yes, you read that right. It’s now a TV show, premiering this month! As one of my all-time favorite book series from my childhood, I don’t think I could be more excited about this. The casting of Violet, Klaus, and Sunny looks perfect, and to top it off, they’ve got Neil Patrick Harris (from How I Met Your Mother, another favorite of mine) playing Count Olaf. Yeeeee!!!

What I’m Reading:

Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices) by Cassandra Clare
I’m still working on this one. It’s a thick book, and I only have stolen time to read it during Cody’s naps, after doing more important things like writing this blog post. 😉 So far, I’m really enjoying it! It’s especially cool to see the glimpses of my favorite characters from this universe, from previous books. Plus, the storyline in this book is interesting and of course, the forbidden romance that has yet to be confessed is compelling.

The One Year Hearing His Voice Devotional: 365 Days of Intimate Communication with God by Chris Tiegreen
This book was a gift from the Christian Coach Institute where I will be training soon, and I’ve been enjoying the short, yet meaningful daily readings as part of my morning routine.

What I’m Cooking:

Ramen – Using a recipe I modified from Munchery, I’ve been enjoying this delicious noodle soup with chicken and veggies. It’s soothing to my sensitive preggo stomach, and it’s pretty nutritious too. This is one of those meals that I have to force myself to stop eating when I’m full. I plan to share the recipe soon!

Baked Potatoes – Okay, this is pretty basic. But there is almost nothing I’ve been enjoying more during this nauseous time than a good, baked potato. I especially love using red or yukon gold potatoes. Butter and salt on top, of course. Yummmmmm.

Steak – Before this pregnancy, I rarely indulged in a steak. I thought it was too expensive and a less healthy choice compared to chicken. But now, with a higher daily protein and iron goal, I’ve been incorporating steak into my menu once a week. I’ve been surprised to find that some of the very affordable cuts are still delicious, and not hard to cook. It’s giving me new skills in the kitchen, so that’s a bonus. So far, a simple salt and pepper rub and oven broiling method have worked well for me. Mmmm, meat!

We’re Expecting!

pregnancy-announcement

Happy New Year, readers!

I hope you and your family have an excellent year full of joy, growth, and life at its fullest.

This year is going to be an exciting one for my family, because we’re expecting our second baby in August!

At just six weeks pregnant, it’s amazing to know that our little baby already has a heart that’s beating and the beginnings of arms, legs, and facial features. How unbelievable is the miracle of life? God’s creative power never ceases to amaze me. We can’t wait to welcome our second babe into the world. <3

What I’m Into in December

december-char

December has been a month of great joy and sadness for my family. I love the holiday season, and enjoy spending special times with my extended family. We are happy to have a low-stress Christmas planned this year, with only one short trip to Orange County and the rest of our time spent locally. We also decided to go super simple on gifts this year; we bought a few toys for Cody, a few gifts for ourselves as a family, and we are giving all of our loved ones homemade cookies and eggnog. It’s going to be a long week of baking, but there was no stress about financing our gifting this year, so it’s worth it! We also have an artificial tree, and we decided not to buy any extra decorations this year. Those things have helped us to enjoy Christmas without worrying about money, which is how it should be anyway. We’re able to focus on the true meaning of Christmas, celebrating the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ!

We are also excited about our decision to try for another baby, which we were originally planning to postpone until April. Starting in January, I will be back in training as a Christian Life Coach, in the same program I started just before becoming pregnant with Cody. I left the program because I felt too sick and tired from being pregnant and I felt that it was time to focus on the next chapter in my life, parenthood. But now, I feel ready and excited to jump back in, and figure out how to balance parenting and working as a work-at-home mom. I also will be in training to become a Hypnobabies Instructor in April, a dream I have had since using Hypnobabies with Cody’s birth. Because of these career goals, I felt that postponing another pregnancy until after my trainings were finished was best. But after a lot of soul-searching, Cory and I have decided that there is rarely a perfect time to have a baby. But we are ready for baby #2, and we don’t want to wait! That decision has brought us a lot of joy this month, and we’re eager to see our family grow.

Yet this month has also included a lot of stress and sadness over our guinea pig, Charlotte. She had been sick for two months and was deteriorating rapidly over the past few weeks. After losing about a third of her body weight and not responding to three different rounds of antibiotics, along with antihistamines and hand-feeding, we knew that she was not going to recover. We chose to end her suffering and let her go peacefully to sleep. It was heartbreaking, and still is. Some people might think it’s silly to be so upset over a guinea pig, but these creatures have so much personality! She loved to be pet gently and have her back scratched, and would purr and chirp to us. She would wheek for veggies every night, and popcorn around her cage when she was excited about fresh bedding or hay. We adopted her as a 6 week old baby, and she only lived to be 11 months old. We did everything we could to help her get well, but it wasn’t enough, and that hurts my heart.

Because we saw it coming, we decided to adopt a third guinea pig to keep Charlotte’s bonded partner, Penelope, company. Guinea pigs can go through a depression that can be dangerous for their health when they are grieving the loss of a partner. Our new pig, Amelia, will hopefully help Penny have an easier adjustment period. Now that Charlotte is gone, we plan to adopt another pig because we like having a herd of three. It’s been helping me cope with Charlotte’s loss to enjoy baby Amelia, and look for another girl to add to our home. We will always miss Charlotte, but I have peace now knowing that she’s not suffering anymore, and that Penelope and Amelia will continue to live a happy life with us.

December has also brought a golden period for our puppy Lila, who had troublesome behavioral problems for many months since we adopted her back in April. Finally, at 10 months old, she has become a generally well-behaved member of our pack. It’s taken a lot of stress off of us to see that she is doing so well now.

Of course, that stress was replaced by Cody, who has really come into his terrible twos over the past couple of weeks. His tantrums, whining, sensitivity, uncooperativeness, and occasional aggression have been challenging us on a whole new level. We are learning as we go when it comes to parenting and discipline, as this is definitely testing my knowledge and ideals in these areas. As with many (if not all) parents, and especially moms, I am learning firsthand what it means to feel “mommy guilt.” I have to remind myself frequently that I’m not messing everything up or somehow ruining my child, that in fact I am doing a really good job. It’s hard to feel that way sometimes when you have a toddler who acts like a total brat–but then again, all toddlers are this way! It’s a stage of development that they all go through, and it’s not my job to control him or make him act how I want him to. It’s my job to control myself and act with integrity and respect and kindness and love, no matter what my child does. That’s one of the most important lessons I have learned so far as a parent!

Lastly, I had to let go of a short-lived dream I had to make a career out of blogging. After over a month of working hard to gain subscribers, I made absolutely no progress, and decided to go back to blogging for fun. It was disappointing, but I also feel a weight off now that I’ve let it go. I want writing to be free and fun, instead of feeling like I have to jump through hoops to run a blog business.

So that’s it! That’s my month. Here’s what I’m into right now:

What I’m Watching:

Colony – A sci-fi drama about a family struggling to live in an authoritarian state in LA, after an invasion by what I suspect are aliens. There’s a lot of mystery and a dark, thought-provoking plotline. It has one season currently available on Netflix.

Fuller House – A family sitcom created as a continuation of the 90’s show, Full House. It’s light, cute, kid-friendly comedy. It’s a Netflix original, with two seasons currently available.

Designated Survivor – A political thriller about a terrorist attack that wipes out the entire US government and leaves the presidency to the designated survivor, a member of the previous president’s cabinet. The new president, Kirkman, struggles to navigate the political waters without compromising his morals, and must sort through conspiracy theories about the origin of the attack. Episodes are released weekly on Hulu.

This Is Us – A family drama about adult triplets with various struggles, and their family of origin. I love the time jumps, plot twists, and compelling drama. This show addresses some very thought-provoking issues and can be very moving. The pilot is the best pilot episode I have ever seen, hands down. Episodes are released weekly on Hulu.

 

What I’m Reading:

Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices) by Cassandra Clare

This is a book I have wanted to read for a long time, in the same universe as the Mortal Instruments series and the lesser known Infernal Devices series. This is book one of the Dark Artifices series, which will be a trilogy. I love Clare’s books and I’m excited to jump into this one. I just got it from Amazon, but have not yet had time to start reading.

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin

I read this book as part of my Hypnobabies Instructor education, and it was very enlightening and reignited my passion for childbirth. It’s an amazing book and I would highly recommend it to anybody in the birth world, as well as anyone who is planning to have babies in the near future.

 

What I’m Cooking: (recipes coming soon!)

Chicken Dumpling Stew – oh my yum! I can’t wait to post this recipe. It’s such a good comfort food.

Mashed Potatoes – a holiday staple. My recipe involves bacon grease. Enough said.

Butter Chicken – a very tasty way to cook chicken breasts. And it’s easy!

Brown Sugar Meatloaf – although meatloaf has a bad reputation for some people, the recipe I use is seriously delectable. If I could marry this meatloaf, I probably would. 😛

Run Me Ragged

Boy, it’s been a rough month.

Lately, Cody has been unbelievably cranky and not sleeping well for naps or at night. His naps have been skipped altogether some days, or postponed until late afternoon, or interrupted by multiple awakenings, or just plain short. At night, he has been waking up 4 to 6 times, and nursing almost constantly some nights. I could probably pin the blame for all of these struggles on teething, because those molars STILL haven’t come in, but it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. Then, last week, he caught a cold and had a stuffy nose and a high fever for a few days, which made him even crankier, and of course worried me and Cory—it was his first fever over 100, so it was a bit alarming until we consulted Dr. Google and discovered that it’s a normal symptom of the common cold.

We have also been stressed out about selling our old car, since we got a new one. It took us two months to sell it, even though we considered it to be in very good condition and a relatively “young” car. We loved that car and expected other people to love it too! So it was incredibly frustrating when nobody responded to the ads we posted, and then even more frustrating when people did respond and would come to look at it, say they really liked it, and then disappear. To add to the stress of that, our title was lost in the mail, a fact which we discovered when we were getting ready to sell it. Oh, and our registration was lost in the mail as well. When we tried to get it smogged, I ended up on a wild goose chase driving from store to store trying to find one that was charging a reasonable price and open, to no avail. We groaned more than once about the car seeming cursed, because of all of the stress involved with selling it.

Then for the past three weeks I have had almost no breaks from taking care of Cody, because our weekends have been dedicated to performing a major repair on our trailer (which was also expensive and unbudgeted). Cory spent over 12 hours working on it, as well as the time spent going to the store to buy parts, and bringing the trailer back and forth from storage to our house. My precious mother-in-law also had to cancel her bi-weekly visit a couple of weeks ago (for a very good reason, of course), so I missed out on a much-needed break in the middle of this rough patch.

On top of all that, we were deeply disappointed last week when we found out that we again weren’t receiving something we have been praying and hoping for from God. And after that, we received even more heartbreaking news that the child we have been sponsoring with Compassion International for the past four years, Binit, will no longer be in the program because of political issues happening in India. We have no way to say goodbye to him, and no way to know anything about his life anymore. I am brokenhearted over this boy who once called Cody his little brother in one of his letters, and who we had hoped to be able to visit in person one day. All I can pray now is that Binit is being taken care of and that perhaps someday, somehow, I will be able to hear from him again.

It’s been a physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting month and I’m feeling a little ragged.

But.

God always works bad things out for the good of his children.

Trying to see the positive side of things, I noticed that Cody’s new level of difficulty (like a video game, haha) had inspired me to research and learn more about discipline with toddlers, and then start writing an ebook about positive discipline, which I’m excited about. Cody also recovered easily from his cold, with the help of some children’s ibuprofen as needed, and a few days of rest. We now have “fever management experience” under our parental belts. 😉

The car was perhaps the most interesting part of this whole story. We finally did sell it, to a family of unpaid traveling missionaries. We were able to reduce the asking price and sell it to them for less, as an offering to God, to support the work that they are doing for his kingdom. It turned out that the new amount we asked for, which we needed to pay off a loan of ours, was the exact amount that they could afford without struggling financially. It all worked out really well, and it became clear to us that the car wasn’t selling before because it was being saved for this family. We got the smog, title, and registration figured out with no further issues, too.

When we once again did not receive the thing we have been asking God for for the past 11 months, I felt more disappointed and disillusioned than I have felt in a very long time. I did some whining and griping, and then I did some thinking. I came to realize something that I think may be one of my most important realizations yet about life with God. We don’t have any guarantees in this life, even as believers—what we do have is hope, and more importantly assurance in eternity. We can and should ask and believe for great and limitless things in this life; Jesus said so himself! But his grand statement has a hidden asterisk: God will only act on our behalf when it is within His will. It seems obvious enough that God won’t act outside of his will, but it has taken me a very long time to truly understand what this means. It means sometimes we will ask for something good, but God won’t give it to us, not because he doesn’t want good things for us, but because he has a plan that is somehow better. His plan may not even look better to us, in our human eyes, but God sees into eternity. His ways are higher than ours. And so ultimately, our hope is not in this life, and what God can do for us and with us in this life. Our hope is in eternity.

The beautiful thing about this is that when you put your hope in its proper place, nothing in this world can take it away. I could lose every single thing in this life—my provision, my health, my family, my friends, my comfort, my reputation, or even my life—and I would still have a hope that provides everything I need, because I know that I have an eternity with God in paradise.

Of course, I continue to pray and believe for protection, health, prosperity, and blessings in this life for my family and myself, and I will not stop asking and hoping for God to work here and now. I just know that when he doesn’t act how I want him to, it’s okay. He is God, and he has something better for me ahead, even if it’s all the way at the end of this road, in Heaven.

Right now, I admit that I can’t see what good plan God has for the situation with Binit. Perhaps he’ll use this opportunity to connect us with another child who needs our sponsorship even more than Binit did. I may never really know. But I do have hope that the support we provided for the past several years was enough to effect Binit’s life long term, for the better. And I will continue to pray for this boy who I loved from afar, and who I know God loves and cares for so deeply.

Tomorrow is Friday, and thank the Lord because my mother-in-law is coming out for the day to help with Cody. Then I have a wonderful weekend ahead with plenty of opportunity to rest and refuel. It looks like the rough patch might be over, thankfully.

Even though I haven’t enjoyed these recent struggles, I consider it a milestone for myself because I didn’t sink into a depression despite them, something that usually would have happened. I’ve been stressed, and I’ve had moments of deep sadness, but it never went to that darker level throughout all of this. That’s progress! God is healing me, day by day. <3

A Puppy, Work, and Daily Joy

I shared a few months ago about my struggles with depression, and how motherhood has magnified those struggles. I want to share a little more now about what I’m doing to find joy and contentment in my daily life.

I think, at least for me, a big part of healing from depression is first understanding it better. It has helped me to identify my depression triggers, so that I can know how to handle it when I’m feeling low. My main depression triggers are boredom/monotony, stress, and loneliness/rejection. First, I start to feel depressed when my days feel pointless, long, and unchanging. My second trigger involves the stress that comes from feeling trapped or helpless, such as when I’m dealing with my difficult toddler who I can’t keep happy, facing a financial situation that seems insurmountable, or feeling unable to catch up or stay on top of my responsibilities. The last trigger I have is related to the times in which I feel that I have no close friends, or that my friends don’t care about me. All of these things lead to depression for me, and usually I start to feel better when I make a change, find a solution, adjust my thinking, or refill my social tank.  

There are also ways in which I can avoid my triggers, or at least avoid the negative thinking that they lead to, which would then lead to depression. For the first trigger, boredom, I have found that adding positive responsibilities to my life can help. I’ve accepted a volunteer position at my church as the nursery coordinator, a job which takes a few hours a week to handle. I also have a paid job at my church doing childcare in the nursery once per week, and I volunteer in the nursery with Cory almost every Sunday. We’ve added several pets to our family lately as well. In early March, we got our guinea pigs Charlotte and Penelope, who are doing great and are lots of fun. At the beginning of this month, we decided to adopt a puppy, bringing our dog pack up to three. Her name is Lila, she’s 12 weeks old now, and she’s a Jack Russel Terrier mix. We wanted to have one dog of each size, and Lila is definitely going to make the perfect small dog, since she’s probably going to weigh under 8 pounds full grown. My life is beautifully full right now, in the best way, and staying busy (without being too busy) is very helpful for me.

For the second trigger, stress, I have learned that an attitude adjustment can be extremely helpful. I’m learning to see God more in my work and my daily life. I’ve said before and I’ll say again that I believe I was created to be a mother. I believe God creates each one of us with unique gifts, abilities, and passions that we are intended to use in a particular way for his glory. We were made to do a specific job, or perhaps several, on this earth, and he has equipped us for those jobs. There was a message at church recently that really spoke to me on this topic, and some of the things I learned have helped me to change my perspective in a very positive way.  It was entitled “Work as Worship,” and it was about how we can feel God’s joy, glorify God, and reach others for Jesus all through our work. We can do that by seeing our work as our God-given purpose; by putting our heart into our work and offering our very best to God; by working with integrity; by letting our light shine on others who we encounter through our work; and by remembering to show love and kindness to all of those around us. These attitudes can apply to each of us, no matter what job we have.

Right now my main job is as a stay-at-home mom and homemaker. My job responsibilities include caring for Cody’s needs, teaching him, introducing him to the world, and loving him; they also include caring for our pets, doing laundry, and keeping the house clean and in order. My job involves interaction with other parents and children and employees at stores and other places we go. Of course, most of my interactions are with Cody and Cory. In this job, I feel God’s joy through doing my tasks and doing them well, knowing that they matter to God. I feel purposeful knowing that my interactions with others are opportunities for God to answer prayers and bring hope into people’s lives. Remembering that my job is holy, from folding laundry to managing tantrums to being a friend to other moms, makes the stresses of my job feel less negative and more like opportunities to worship the Lord.

My last trigger, loneliness, is relatively easy to keep under control by keeping my social tank full. I make it a priority to go to a park play group with other moms from my church. I plan playdates with my mom friends. I do my best to be a friend to the people in my life, even when I don’t feel like my efforts are reciprocated, because I know that to have a friend you need to first be a friend. I try to spend time with my family on a regular basis—and for me, there is really no better way to feel loved and wanted than by spending time with the people who I know accept me and care for me no matter what. As for my struggles with rejection, which is tied to my trigger of loneliness, I find healing through Jesus, prayer, and attitude adjustment. I think carefully about when to take a step back and when to not take things personally. I forgive freely. I remind myself that my best friend forever is Jesus, and that any other friends I have, for a season or for life, are added blessings to enjoy without holding on so tight that it hurts me.

Overcoming depression isn’t an overnight or an easy process. My depression ebbs and flows, and in the low points it can feel like I will never escape. Yet during the good times, I remember the truth that I will be completely free one day, whether that’s today or when I get to Heaven. Until then, I am thankful for God’s work in my life to help me understand and manage my triggers. He has shown me ways to find joy in my daily life. Truthfully right now, I feel that I’m in the most joyful place I can ever remember being in. I have a good life that challenges me and gives me purpose, and is full of blessings and opportunities to bless others. Cory and I have thrilling dreams for our future that motivate us forward, and our lives are full of joy for today as well. All of that goodness can only come from God, and I’m so thankful to him for that. He is so good.

P.S. Here are some pictures of Lila. Isn’t she so cute?

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Pig Party

Last week, we were out running errands and we went to Petco to pick up some dog food. We thought it might be fun to show Cody some of the small animals in the cages while we were there. We were looking at the guinea pigs when it happened—I was seized by the sudden urge to get a new pet! This desire was increased by the fact that I find guinea pigs adorable, and the store had two cages full of baby females, which are relatively uncommon as they usually only sell males and they are often adults. I was immediately drawn to a small white and gray one, who I thought was especially cute. I started my appeals to Cory right away, but was met with some pretty firm resistance. I eventually agreed that we should at least take a day to think about it before we bring more pets into our home.

That night, I tried to convince Cory that it was a great idea. He has a tendency at times to be a bit, one might say, “Grinch-y” about things. This was a fine example of such Grinch-ness. He gave me a ton of reasons why it was a bad idea and why we would regret it. I combatted his reasons with my own research into proper guinea pig care and a plan as to how we would fit them into our lives (plural, because guinea pigs are happiest with at least one friend). Still, no matter how convincing I thought I was, Cory was still reluctant. By the end of the night, I was resolved to forgetting about it. Yet I couldn’t quite erase from my mind that little white and gray piggy, who I had already hypothetically named Charlotte.

The next day, the first thing in the morning, Cory asked me where we would put the cage if we got guinea pigs. I broke into a huge smile and shared my ideas for piggy housing with him. And that was it, we decided to go get our furry friends that night!

At the store, we chose Charlotte and another, even smaller guinea who is brown and white, and we named her Penelope. Since the day after we brought them home, they have been happy little critters. I love spending time to make sure they have a really nice home, watching them explore and eat, and taking them out a couple of times each day for petting and snuggles and play outside of the cage. It has actually become a really enjoyable hobby for me to care for them! As soon as Cody goes down for naps and bedtime, it’s guinea pig time, and it gives me something fun and relaxing to do. Even when Cody’s awake, we both like to spend time sitting near their cage and watching them. He’s learning how to pet them gently, too, and respect their space.

They’re super cute, and very sweet little girls. Charlotte, or just Char for short, is more shy but less jumpy, which makes her somewhat easier to pick up since she doesn’t always bother running away. She is quieter, and more subtle with her noises. She is the bigger pig at this point, and has declared herself the alpha. Penelope is more outgoing and will always venture out first when we’re hanging out near the cage. She is fast, though, and runs away when we try to pick her up. Yet as soon as she’s in our lap being petted, she purrs with contentment. She squeaks louder and more often than Charlotte. I predict that once she outgrows Charlotte, or reaches the same size, she will overthrow her as alpha because she seems to have a more naturally dominant personality. We call her Penny for short.

Both pigs are very happy with their new home, which we can tell from the way that they “popcorn,” or run around and hop excitedly, usually on a daily basis. I’d never seen guinea pigs popcorning before we brought these two home! Considering they have a big cage lined with fleece bedding, unlimited hay, several hiding boxes, fresh vegetables served daily, and each other for company, I’m not too surprised that they’re so happy all the time. These are some spoiled cavies! (Cavy is the proper term for a guinea pig).

To sum up, they are super cute and I am enjoying them a lot. Yay for piggies!

Disclaimer: Yes, I realize it is BAD and SHAMEFUL to buy a pet from a pet store when I could have adopted instead. If I hadn’t been so enamored with Charlotte, I probably would have gone out and adopted two piggies from a shelter or a rescue. But I also really wanted babies, because in my small amount of guinea pig experience I have noticed that babies tend to be friendlier, and I wanted to get them used to being held by us from the beginning. Even so, I would strongly recommend anybody who is interested in getting any pet to think ADOPTION FIRST! If we ever add a third guinea pig to our home, which I hope to someday, we will most definitely adopt. It is the more compassionate and ethical decision, no doubt. Despite my decision to buy from a pet store, I am committed to giving these guineas an excellent forever home. At least I can feel good about that. =]