Category: My Life

It’s Raining Cats, Dogs, and Birds!

The year 2019 is still young, but it’s been a significant one for the pets in my family. As you may know, my family is big on pets. We had eight when I posted about them last, but we reached the big 10 not long after that. We’re back down to nine now, since one of our mice, Hazel, passed away.

In mid-February, we said goodbye to our beloved Marley. He had congestive heart failure and periodontal disease, and his weight was dipping lower and lower. Although he still had good days, he also had days when he wouldn’t eat. I chose to euthanize him before his suffering increased. It was a terrible choice to have to make, but I believe I did right by him. He was fourteen years old, and spent thirteen of those years with me. I miss him very much, and I know I will never have a dog quite like him. He was smart, sweet, gentle, and very quirky. He was loved and is missed by many people.

So, that’s the sad news. But in our home, and hearts, there seems to always be room for more creatures to love.

We have added three pets to our home since the beginning of the year!

Roscoe is our five-month-old puppy. He’s small, estimated to be 25 lbs fully grown and currently weighs 18 lbs. We think he’s a Shiba Inu mixed with Shetland Sheepdog (AKA Sheltie), which makes him a Sheltie Inu. 😉

He’s very sweet, affectionate, and generally mellow. He isn’t as mischievous as Lila was as a puppy, but he also isn’t as well-behaved as Macy was. It’s been challenging to potty train him, and he’s not there yet, but he’s made great progress since we adopted him in January. He is a very pack-focused dog, and bonded to our other dogs much more quickly than he bonded to the humans in our family. He does not like to be separated from his pack sisters! He has come to love us humans as well. He’s pretty adorable, too.

Other than Roscoe, we also added two parakeets to our home. They are named Oliver and Oakley, and are both males (well, Oliver definitely is, and we think Oakley is too but time will tell for sure.) Oakley is an English Budgie, who we got from a local breeder. Oliver is an American Parakeet, who we bought from a pet store. They don’t like to be handled (yet), but they don’t bite and they can be coaxed/chased onto my finger with some patience. They are the best of friends, and love to be in their cage. (Really! When I take them out, they always climb back in within 20 minutes.)

As I already mentioned, our mouse Hazel recently passed away. We still have her sister, Harriet, and she seems to be healthy despite her age (mice have a very short lifespan of one to two years, and Harriet is now about 1 ½).

Macy is also fully grown now, and is our only “big” dog. She weighs 57 lbs. We recently realized she’s an American Staffordshire Terrier, rather than an American Pit Bull Terrier. And our precious pittie is now a Canine Good Citizen, a title awarded by the American Kennel Club. We worked hard training for the test, and I was very proud when Macy passed!

So, all of that means we now have four dogs, two cats, two birds, and one mouse. It may sound like a lot, but it’s really not to us! We are looking forward to adding more pets to our family in the future. 😊

Baby Fever 3.0

At the end of my last pregnancy, I declared that I was done having babies. The pregnancy discomforts were fresh in my mind, and I knew that I did not want to deal with them again. After her birth, which was both wonderful and slightly traumatic, I confirmed once again to myself that I was DONE. I had survived, and I would like to keep it that way!

But in the year and several months since then, I’ve wavered back and forth quite a bit.

I do know for sure that I want another baby. The question is whether that baby should come through adoption, or through biology.

I’ve weighed the pros and cons of. Here is my list so far:

Pros of having a baby biologically:
1. We get to make the decisions and are more in control.
2. It is a simpler process than adopting.
3. We would get to be involved throughout the entire pregnancy and birth.
4. Birth is an amazing experience, and there is a big part of me that wants to experience it again.
5. It is much less expensive than adopting. (Adopting a newborn baby, that is).

Cons of having a baby biologically:
1. I am likely to feel nauseous for at least four months of my pregnancy.
2. I am likely to have heartburn for at least six months of my pregnancy.
3. I would have to do the hardest thing I’ve ever done, again– childbirth.
4. I would further damage my body– stretch marks, abdominal separation, etc.
5. I might be risking my life. (Death in childbirth is extremely unlikely, but possible.)
6. I would have to face all of the medical stuff I hate so much (particularly things involving needles), as part of normal prenatal care.
7. We would be adding to over-population.
8. We would have to face the possibility of having a miscarriage.
9. I struggle to enjoy my children during pregnancy, because of how icky I feel.

If we chose to adopt, we would give up all of the benefits of having a baby biologically, but we would also avoid all of the drawbacks.

Even though the cons list is longer, the items aren’t all worth the same amount. I went as far as scoring each item with a number value, and it added up to -11, meaning the negatives outweighed the positives by 11 points.

Yes, I have put a lot of thought into this! And yet, it still doesn’t feel decided in my mind.

Yes, I have prayed about it, a lot. I am still praying about it. I’m hoping God just tells me what to do, because honestly, I don’t know what to decide!

This is on my mind even more lately because I have baby fever once again. As Cody and Abigail get bigger and bigger, I long more and more for another tiny baby to hold. I just love that early stage so much, and I miss it!

For now, our plan is to start pursuing adoption in 2019. As we begin the process, we will continually evaluate whether or not we should keep going. If at any point we realize we just can’t afford it, or it’s becoming too difficult emotionally or for some other reason, we reserve the right to change our minds and try to have another baby.

But my hope is that adoption works for us. It’s something I have always wanted to do, and this feels like the right time for us. I honestly prefer not to go through another pregnancy and birth.

We also plan to adopt older children through the foster system, in the next stage of growing our family, a few years down the road. But for right now, I still want one more baby. Truth be told, I would be happy with two more! But, Cory says just one more baby, so I can be happy with that. 😉

My Mental Health Journey

Back in 2016, I shared for the first time that I’ve struggled with depression. Today, I want to share more about my mental health journey and where I am now. I believe that breaking the stigma surrounding mental illness starts with breaking the silence.

My mental health journey is ongoing. I’ve never been diagnosed with a mental illness, and I’ve never been medicated for one, but I can still say I’ve struggled and continue to struggle with depression, anxiety, and anger-management issues.

My depression and anxiety began when I was a teenager. I struggled with insecurity, as many teenagers do. I often felt rejected by my peers. I constantly worried about what other people were thinking about me, and I often felt sad and hopeless about life. The normal demands of life and school felt like too much.

I developed a very close, but dysfunctional friendship with another girl my age. We became almost everything to each other. But, she struggled with her own insecurities, and she often took it out on me by tearing me down.

Then I met Cory, who is now my husband. He became my best friend. He was kind, caring, and fun to be around. We were just friends at first.

It was during that time when I started feeling more and more hopeless about life. I started thinking a lot about suicide. I never had an urge to hurt myself, but I did wish that I could go to sleep and not wake up. I just wanted life to be over.

I never made an attempt on my life, and thankfully, with the encouragement of my friends, I came out of that emotionally dark time.

Cory and I fell in love, and I started to see that I had a bright future to look forward to. At the time, I believed in Jesus, but he wasn’t the King of my life. In all honesty, Cory was my everything at that point. Looking back, I can see that God used him to give me hope and joy in my life when I desperately needed it. And after a time, I started to lean into God more and more. Eventually, I was able to lead Cory to Christ, and together we’ve continued to grow in our faiths since then. (Today, God has the rightful place as King in my life—and Cory’s).

In college, I struggled with anxiety more than depression. I would worry about the strangest things, like if I was walking weirdly, or if people thought I looked awkward. I had a very hard time sleeping at night because I became afraid of the dark and being alone. Cory would stay in my dorm room with me until I fell asleep, or I would sleep in his room, almost every night.

I began seeing a therapist for the first time. She helped me with my anxious thoughts, and I enjoyed talking to her. After I got married and then withdrew from the university, I had to stop seeing her, but I felt well enough by that time to be okay with that.

I struggled with depression and anxiety on and off in the years between getting married and having our first child. For me, depression isn’t debilitating, and it’s not all of the time. I have what could probably be described as “low-level” depression, and it comes in relatively short waves. I feel depressed for a few days, or a couple of weeks at most, and then I feel better for a few weeks. Sometimes, the depressed feelings are more frequent, like once a week. But overall, I feel good more often than I feel bad.

My anxiety is usually related to social situations, or occasionally related to fear. It’s not as “obvious” as my depression, which is why I wasn’t even able to label it clearly for myself until just this year.

With both depression and anxiety, I am able to hide it extremely well from others. I have a mask that I can put on, quickly, easily, and completely. Nobody would know unless I let them. And for most of my life, nobody has.

Anger is also very connected to my depression. I’ve struggled with anger management for most of my life, and when I’m feeling depressed, I have an even harder time with it.

After my first child was born, my anger and depression became things that I could no longer ignore. I began losing my temper with my baby. I never hurt him, but I hated that I would raise my voice and feel so frustrated with him. He was a high-need baby (both of my babies have been), and it was really hard.

My depression worsened when my baby was about 10 months old, and I suspected late-onset postpartum depression. I went to see a therapist, once again. I didn’t continue therapy for long, because it wasn’t affordable for us and I wasn’t sure it was helping. Since I was “functional,” I didn’t see it as a necessity.

This year, I finally started seeing a therapist again. Originally, I went in with the goal of evaluating my son for anxiety issues, because at the age of 3 ½ he was still unable to accept separation from us for any amount of time without completely falling apart. After the first couple of sessions, and some suggestions for ways to help him overcome his separation anxiety, I decided that I wanted to continue seeing her for my own struggles.

She was my favorite therapist thus far, and I really enjoyed seeing her. Unfortunately, it became too challenging to take the kids with me and be constantly interrupted by them, and her hours didn’t allow for me to go by myself.

Then I discovered a website called Better Help, which offers online therapy at a more affordable rate than a traditional in-person therapist. I began my message-based therapy with my new therapist, and immediately loved it. I was able to express myself in the best way I know how, through writing, and I could write to her any time I wanted. Her responses were always thoughtful and helpful. I really enjoyed therapy through Better Help.

At the end of November, I decided I was ready to stop therapy, and I cancelled my subscription (after talking to my therapist about it, of course). I’m in a place now where I feel like I understand my depression, anxiety, and anger better, and I have the tools I need to handle those challenges.

Of course, some days are better than others. I’ve learned to recognize when I’m starting a new “depressed” cycle, and remind myself that it’s only temporary. It always passes within a few days, or at most a couple of weeks. I remind myself that I can have some bad days in a really good life. I give myself some extra slack during those times, and wait it out.

My anger is still an active struggle. There are things I can do to help me feel balanced and happy, which enables me to manage my emotions better. Sometimes I do those things, and sometimes I don’t. Depression makes it harder to want to do those things, and that’s probably one reason they are so connected for me. But I can see progress, slowly but surely, in this area. I just have to keep moving forward.

My anxiety is a lot better now than it has been in the past. I’ve learned to embrace who I am. I don’t have to be the social butterfly, or the perfectly put-together mom, or anything else that I’m not. I can be the quiet one, who’s a good listener, and is kind, and helps others, and doesn’t bother putting on makeup. I can be the one who loses her temper a lot, but is always working on becoming better.

I can lean on God, knowing that He says I am enough, and that His Spirit is working in me to change me, slowly but surely, into someone more like Christ.

In the Bible, Paul wrote about a “thorn in the flesh” that he suffered from. We don’t know what it was, exactly, but this is what he said about it:

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9 NIV)

My mental health struggles are my thorn—especially my anger. It’s a part of me that I have asked God to remove, and something I’ve tried to fix myself many times. This Bible verse has become one of my mantras. God’s grace is sufficient for me. His power is made perfect in my weakness.

I am not perfect, and that gives God room to work.

When It’s Time to Quit

In early 2014, almost 5 years ago now, I began a journey to become a life coach. I felt it was something I was called to do, and I was very excited about it! When my son was born, I decided to put that on hold. So it wasn’t until the middle of 2017 that I finally completed my training and graduated as a life coach. Then, I had to put it on pause yet again when my daughter was born.

Over the past few months, I’ve been working hard on launching my coaching business. I created a blog, and put a lot of time and effort into making it perfect. I did everything I was supposed to do to gain followers and eventually, clients. And yet… I’ve gotten nowhere with it.

Just like I when I tried to make this blog, I Do… Now What? into a real business a couple of years ago, it just hasn’t worked out. I didn’t gain a single follower last time, and it’s the same story this time.

For some reason, blogging as a business just isn’t working out for me!

It’s frustrating, for sure. I feel misled by all of the bloggers I’ve read about and followed who say that they make a full-time income blogging. I don’t know how they do it, but it seems that no matter what I do, I can’t make even the smallest progress towards any income from my blog. Like I said, frustrating.

But, I can accept it when it’s time to move on from something. For me, it’s time to move on from trying to make money as a blogger, and it’s time for me to move on from trying to be a life coach.

It’s a bit sad for me to say that, but it’s also freeing. Now I can focus my energies on other things!

My coaching blog, Family on Purpose, will stay alive on the internet. I’m not going to completely delete it or anything. I’m still proud of it, and I hope it can help people be intentional in their marriage, pregnancy and birth, and parenting. That was why I created it. If somebody finds it someday and it leads them to my coaching services, then I would still welcome the opportunity. But that’s not something I’ll be actively trying to achieve anymore.

As always, I Do… Now What? will still be here, a place for me to share my life, thoughts, and experiences with you, my readers. I’m not going anywhere!

8 Pets and Counting

I love animals. I always have, since I was a little girl. Having a lot of pets has brought me joy throughout my life, and I couldn’t imagine not having them around!

When I was a child, I had bunnies, a tortoise, turtles, parakeets, mice, a hamster, dogs, cats, and guinea pigs. My dad also had iguanas and a snake. And as a young adult, I had cockatiels. When it comes to pets, I like variety!

As a child, I wasn’t taught well about being responsible for my pets’ care. I wasn’t the best young pet owner, and I hate to think about the fact that my childhood pets did not have the lives they deserved. As an adult, one of the things that brings me joy through pet-ownership is knowing that I am giving my pets a great life. I have a high standard of care for my pets, and a high level of commitment. I now realize that adding a pet to the family is a big commitment, and shouldn’t be made lightly!

But anyway.

Currently, I have four dogs, two cats, and two mice. Let me introduce them!

Marley is our 13 ½ year old mutt. We think he has American Pit Bull Terrier, American Foxhound, and Labrador Retriever in him.

My family of origin adopted him from a shelter when I was 13 years old, and he was about one year old. He came to live with me when I got married.

He’s always been gentle and low-energy, and has become even more so with age. He’s struggled for most of his life with severe separation anxiety, and anxiety in general, but for the past year or so he has been doing great.

Sky is our eight year old American Eskimo Dog. (She’s considered to be “miniature” size, not standard). My husband and I adopted her from a rescue when she was about three years old, before we had our first child.

Sky is the friendliest, happiest dog I’ve ever had. She adores people, strangers and family members alike. She gets along with any dog or cat she comes across. She’s a total sweetie!

Lila is our almost-three-year-old Jack Russell Chihuahua mix. We adopted her from a shelter when she was about two months old (and weighed about two pounds!).

Lila has been the most challenging dog we’ve owned. She absolutely refused to be potty trained as a puppy, and it took professional board-and-training to get through that difficult stage. Now that she’s grown, she’s a very sweet and saucy little dog. She is the most timid of our dogs, and doesn’t approach new people or dogs easily. She’s probably the smartest dog I’ve ever had, though.

Macy is our newest dog. She’s a one year old purebred American Pit Bull Terrier. We bought her from a local breeder when she was two months old, and just about the cutest thing in the world.

Macy has been the easiest-to-train dog I’ve ever had. I like to say that she’s my “soul-dog” (like soul-mates, but for owners and their dogs). Something about her just connects with my soul!

She is also a huge people-lover. When we go to the dog park, she’s on the bench with the humans. She’s very submissive to any new dogs she meets, often to her detriment because she’s too timid to play. But when there’s a scuffle, she’s quick to run over and referee!

Luna is our five year old Tuxedo (black and white) domestic shorthair cat. We adopted her from the shelter when she was about four years old (a year and a half ago). She’s very low-maintenance, quiet, keeps to herself, and lives primarily upstairs away from the dogs. She does love (and demand) attention when we go upstairs though!

Leo is our eight month old black kitten. We adopted him from the shelter when he was three months old (and barely two pounds). The best word to describe Leo is… dauntless. Even at two pounds, he had no problem running around with our four dogs. He is zero percent shy. He also does what he wants, one hundred percent of the time. Luna was less than thrilled when we added this wild creature to her peaceful life! But, she’s adjusted, and they only tumble around in a screeching ball of fur and whiskers once or twice a day now. ;D

Harriet and Hazel are our mice. They are sisters, and we bought them from the pet store when they were not quite fully grown, probably about two months old. We’ve had them for almost a year. Mice don’t have the longest lifespans, so we’ll likely only enjoy them for another year or so at most. (Then again, they can sometimes live up to three years, so we’ll see!) I think mice are so cute! There’s not much else to say about them, but they generally spend their days cuddling up together, sleeping, and eating. Mice are very easy to handle, and my kids are always delighted when I take Harriet and Hazel out so they can pet them.

That’s it for now! In our current location, we are limited to four dogs. In our current home, we do not have room to comfortably fit any more litter boxes, so that means no more cats either. In fact, we really don’t have a good space for any small pets either, because I’d want to keep them in a separate room to keep them safe from our cats and dogs.

However, when we do move to a bigger house (and/or a house with some land!) we do plan on adding more pets to our family. On my short list are parakeets, a lizard (Blue-Tongued Skink to be exact) for my son (which I will primarily care for), and either bunnies or guinea pigs or both.

In 2017 we lost our three guinea pigs (they were killed by our dogs), only three months after losing our fourth (who died of an illness). We were devasted, and still miss them terribly. But because I am quite allergic to guinea pigs, we might want to have bunnies in the future instead.

I am not certain I want any more cats, but we will see. Leo was adopted because I had a dream about him! Yes, seriously. He was in my dream, and the next day I went to the shelter and found him. True story. 🙂

But anyway, the point being, I didn’t necessarily want more than one cat until I suddenly did. So who knows! We may end up with more cats and possibly more dogs, on top of having other types of pets.

On my long wish list are other animals including donkeys, chickens, tortoise(s), pig(s), goat(s), ferrets (if they ever become legal in my state), maybe ducks, and perhaps a sugar glider. I wouldn’t mind having cockatiels again if we were able to safely house them in a separate area of the house from us, because they are very loud.

So that’s about it! Pets are definitely an addiction of mine, but I do care a great deal about being responsible with them. Animals add such joy to my life, and I love that my kids are able to grow up with animals in their lives.

Happy First Birthday, Abigail!

My little baby is now a one year old! The time has flown by even faster the second time around.

Abigail is a very sweet, curious, active, and silly girl. Here are some of her traits and quirks at the age of one:

She likes to put on things like socks and hats and shoes. If she sees shoes on the floor, she will try to put them on her feet, or if they’re adult-sized, she’ll settle for wearing them on her hands and sliding around the floor on hands and knees. When she sees her own shoes, she insists on wearing them. Socks are also a frequent target.

She still puts a lot of things in her mouth. She especially likes to find tiny pieces of whatever on the floor to put in her mouth. Although I vacuum often, it’s impossible to keep up! I have to watch her closely to keep her from eating things she shouldn’t. She also likes to put things in her mouth that stretch the limits of what her mouth should be able to hold, like a ping-pong ball. (Little weirdo.)

She is becoming more vocal, and makes all sorts of silly sounds. Her and Cody spur each other on in making loud and silly noises, then cracking each other up laughing. She doesn’t say any words regularly, even though she has said “mama” and “dada” a few times.

She hit two milestones before her first birthday: her first teeth finally emerging, and her first independent steps. She now has two front bottom teeth just peeking out, and it looks like her two front top teeth will be next. As for walking, she doesn’t use it as a primary way of getting around yet, but she thinks it’s super fun to stand up, take a few steps, and bask in our adoration.

She loves dancing to music she likes, usually something with a beat. Her trademark move is to twist side to side with her arms out and elbows crooked. More recently, she’s been experimenting with some foot-stomping. 🙂

Abigail is still quite clingy, but she is more willing to go to other people to be held than Cody was at this age. She accepts brief separations from us with little fussing. Cory and I can attend church services together, go on date nights, and let family members help us with the kids when we get together! It’s a treat.

Around the house on a daily basis, it’s unpredictable whether Abigail will want me to hold her all day or perhaps play independently for some of the time, allowing me to get stuff done. The first kind of day is hard, because I’m very task-oriented and being handicapped by a baby demanding to be held constantly is frustrating. The second kind of day is less common, and very appreciated. It will be nice as she gets older to see her become more and more independent, and get a little bit more of my own time back.

Part of Abigail’s clinginess is her habit of grabbing the shirt of whoever is holding her. She almost always has one hand fastened tightly to the neckline of my shirt. It’s becoming more common for her to take it a step further and shove her hand right down my shirt. This can be annoying when we’re in public and she nearly exposes me to the world. I also have to put my foot down when she starts getting a little too “touchy feely.” (Here’s one of the weird things I’ve had to say all too often as a parent: “Stop touching my nipple!”)

Unfortunately, Abigail’s naps are not very good. She takes only one nap most days. ONE. At this age, Cody was just transitioning from three to two naps. Abigail is already down to one, and I fear for what lies ahead. Her one nap isn’t anywhere near the luxurious three hour naps Cody used to take up to the age of three. Nope, she’ll give me an hour on a good day. (Maybe up to two hours on a marvelous day, but sometimes only 40 minutes on a not-so-great day).

Even that one nap is often a struggle. She usually falls asleep nursing or in the carrier, and I attempt to move her to her bed. We recently bought a crib for her (the first crib we’ve ever used, since Cody never had one). We put her down there for her naps, and we reserve the right to plop her in there at bedtime if she decides to pull another midnight wake-up party.

On a happier note, she is an excellent eater. She eats many foods, and is not picky. Almost anything we set in front of her, she will eat enthusiastically. Of course we have to serve her foods that are soft enough for her, and cut into small enough pieces, since she only has two tiny front teeth. But that doesn’t stop her from being a little foodie! It’s so lovely to see our child happily eating fruits and vegetables. Cody didn’t eat ANY solid food until he was two years old, and even now at almost-four, he doesn’t eat fruits or vegetables except on a rare occasion. So suffice it to say, it’s wonderful to see Abigail enjoying food so much at this age.

That’s pretty much it! Abigail is a joy, and seems to only get cuter by the day.

 

 

Happy First Birthday, my sweet girl! Mommy and Daddy and brother love you sooo much! You are my treasure.

 

Happy 11 Months Birthday, Abigail!

Abigail is now 11 months old. I. Just. Can’t. I know I say this every time, but it’s going too fast!

This month, she has really started showing a passion for climbing. She climbs on the kids’ table, any chairs that are short enough for her, and the slide. She climbs into baskets, toy boxes, and dog crates. She climbs onto the bed and couch, and climbs down by herself. (Usually we help her because she’s not as proficient as we would like yet). She can stand up on her own with no support, and she walks around with support. She sometimes uses a kids’ chair as a walker.

When she’s not climbing, she’s searching for tiny things on the floor to show us. She holds them up proudly for us to see, right before putting them in her mouth. Obviously, she keeps us on our toes! She also likes to sit next to the bookshelf, tear all of the books off, and then pick one up and flip through the pages. Fortunately, they’re board books, so they’re sturdy.

She loves our cats. Cody was more into the dogs, but Abigail isn’t as fond of them. She tolerates them, but never seeks them out and occasionally will be upset if they get too in her face. The cats, on the other hand, are her jam. She crawls after them, tries to pet them, watches them, and generally just feels happier when she’s around them. She even tries to say our cat’s name, Luna. (She says “Una.”) I guess dog-person/cat-person is a trait determined at birth!

She loves food, too. Very different from Cody, who didn’t eat any solid foods until he was two years old and even to this day is extremely limited in what he will eat. Abigail is all about food. She will happily try anything we put in front of her, and she almost always likes it. We feed her baby finger foods and soft table foods, since she doesn’t have any teeth. She likes to self-feed, so we don’t often feed her purees.

This month she had her first trip to the beach, and she loved it. She loves trying to eat the sand, and having us dip her feet into the ocean water. She’s also been to the zoo several times. She doesn’t get it yet, of course, but it’s a fun activity for our family.

One detail I forgot to mention in a previous post was that she moved out of her infant car seat to a convertible car seat, still rear-facing of course, at about 9 ½ months old. She’s been more content in the car since the switch, and overall she is a great passenger. We don’t do a lot of driving or long trips, but for errands around town she does great and rarely cries.

She is still very clingy, and I spend a lot of time holding her. It can be challenging to get anything done! But, she also loves to play and explore, so it’s often a matter of taking advantage of those moments. She goes into the nursery at church on Sundays and does well, which is awesome! She will usually let other people hold her, but once she sees me again, it’s all over. She’s less mom-focused now at least, and doesn’t have as strong of a preference for me over her dad. In fact, she crawls to him and asks to be picked up as soon as he comes home every day! Then she snuggles on his chest. So sweet!

The Freedom to Change My Mind

Lately, I’ve been discovering that I have the freedom to change my mind. Maybe this sounds weird to you. Of course I can change my mind, why wouldn’t I be able to?

Well, for me, I guess I have always felt that changing my mind was almost a form of lying. I’ve felt that when I make a decision, I should stick to it. I don’t want to be known as a person who just says things, and then doesn’t follow through. That’s a pet peeve of mine, in fact.

But lately, I’ve realized that sometimes, changing my mind is okay. It doesn’t mean I’m an unreliable person, it means I’m a changing person. I evolve, and grow, my situation changes, and so on. I am now embracing my freedom to change my mind!

It feels good.

I’ve changed my mind about two things, recently. One is kind of small, and the other is pretty big.

The small one was adopting a kitten. I have said many times that I didn’t want more than one cat. I have also said that I don’t need any more pets right now. And, I have said that I don’t ever want to adopt a kitten, because grown cats are better for several reasons. Well, I changed my mind. And it was a great decision!

I love my new kitten, Leo. He’s very outgoing, friendly, and affectionate. Every time I get a new pet, I feel that our family is more complete. Many people may not understand why I would want four dogs and two cats, especially when I already have two young children to look after. But I love pets! I find joy in taking care of them and providing them a good home. I love knowing that my children will grow up being comfortable around animals, including dogs of all sizes.

For now, we have to stop adding to our pets, simply because we cannot legally own any more dogs. The limit is four in our city. As for cats, we don’t have room in this house for a third litter box, so two is our maximum. And I am not comfortable housing small animals without providing them their own secure room, after what happened to the guinea pigs. So as long as we live where we do, we are at capacity.

But I am not going to say that there won’t be any more additions once we eventually move to a bigger home. We have a dream of moving to a ranch house and owning some livestock, and adding several more small animals to our family. Until then, I’m quite content with things as they are.

The bigger decision I recently changed my mind about is having more children. I said that after Abigail, I was done with pregnancy. But I still want at least one more baby, and something doesn’t feel right to me about adopting a newborn when I know that I am able to have children biologically. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with it, but I just don’t feel like it’s what we’re supposed to do. I still want to adopt older children later on, but right now, I’m not done with raising babies.

And truthfully, even though pregnancy is really hard for me, and birth is also challenging, it’s also the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. I’m not ready to be done with it. I want to do it again!

The one thing I want to do different for baby #3 is to wait until Abigail is done nursing before getting pregnant. I had to wean Cody before I was really ready (even though he was over two years old), because it was too painful to nurse when I became pregnant with Abigail. I convinced myself that I would nurse him again when the baby was born, but by that time, it didn’t feel right to go back and of course I never did nurse him again.

Also, being pregnant when he was that age, just barely done being a baby, was hard. I was detached from him because of my discomfort, and I feel like I missed that stage of his life. I feel like weaning and then my pregnancy really changed our relationship in a way I wasn’t ready for.

So, I want to avoid that this time around. As such, we are planning to wait until Abigail is about three years old to start trying to conceive. If she hasn’t weaned herself by then, I am comfortable weaning her when I get pregnant. Cody will also be six years old by the time I’m pregnant with baby #3, and that will make things a lot easier.

Right now, Cory is on board with having another baby, but he isn’t convinced about having a fourth. I will be 29 during my next pregnancy if all goes according to plan. I’d want a similar age gap between #3 and #4, and I don’t really care to have another baby past age 35, so that gives us a lot of time to decide what we want to do. Personally, I am hoping for four babies, but who knows what will happen. Only God, of course. 🙂

The future looks bright! I feel energized by looking ahead, planning, and dreaming. I’m discovering that giving myself the freedom to change my mind makes it even more fun. I am still on the adventure of life, discovering what God has for me.

Happy 10 Months Birthday, Abigail!

Little Abi is now 10 months old. It’s a fun age, but also a challenging one!

She takes two naps per day, about an hour give or take. Really, that’s not much for her age, but I’ll take what I can get.

She sleeps okay at night, sometimes only waking up a couple of times to nurse, but more often she wakes up frequently and is restless. I blame it on teething, because ibuprofen seems to help. Speaking of teething, she still doesn’t have a single tooth. They’re in hiding!

Abigail loves to explore. She crawls everywhere (always on her hands and knees now instead of her belly), climbs on things, pulls herself up to stand, and puts everything in her mouth. She can climb up the small slide we have in our play area by herself, on either end (ladder or slide). She climbs up the stairs any chance she gets. She keeps us on on our toes!

She is eating baby food, but only to supplement her primarily breastfed diet.

Her diaper rash has finally healed, and only has mild flare-ups now. The ointment that finally worked for us is called Triple Paste, and I am so thankful for it.

Abi gives “kisses” sometimes, involving putting her open mouth on my face (or Cory’s). It’s pretty cute, actually. Probably the cutest thing she does on a regular basis is playing peek-a-boo. She loves it when we play with her, but even when we’re doing other things, she’s constantly seeking out fabrics to use to cover her head and then pull them off, with a look of pure delight on her face. She will use clean laundry from the basket, the play scarves we have, or even the skirt of her dress. It’s super silly!

She is extremely clingy. She wants to be held pretty much all the time, but sometimes her desire to explore triumphs and we will get a few minutes of a break from holding her. A few times a day, I have to put her in her playpen and let her cry so I can take care of some basic needs for myself, Cody, or our many pets. It can be pretty stressful.

We wear her in the carrier often, too, but she tends to not like it when I wear her facing in unless she wants to sleep. It’s difficult to wear her facing out and get anything done, because she’s very grabby. So the carrier doesn’t help me much in that way, but it is often how we put her to sleep for naps or bedtime.

Abigail loves her brother, and they often make each other laugh just by looking at each other and being silly. She also enjoys patting the dogs when they’re not too rambunctious and overwhelming her. She especially loves following our new kitten, Leo, around the house as he explores. She tries to pet him, and our other cat Luna, but they usually move too fast for her to get a lot of pets in.

When daddy comes home from work, Abigail gets very excited and crawls to him so he will pick her up. But in general, she tends to want me to hold her. So when Cory is home, I often have to stay out of her sight in order to get things done, because as soon as she sees me she will start fussing and trying to get me to hold her.

Happy Seven Months Birthday, Abigail!

In the beginning of this month, Abi turned seven months old. Our silly little girl is more than halfway to one!

At seven months, she is able to sit up on her own, but usually prefers laying on her belly. She hasn’t crawled yet, but she’s getting pretty close. She loves to play with toys or interesting objects, and gets bored easily. She’s not content to just sit and observe things, she wants to explore with her hands. Holding her while trying to do anything else is very difficult, because she grabs everything!

For a couple of weeks, she seemed close to night-weaning, meaning sleeping through the night without having to nurse. But unfortunately, all progress was lost soon after that, when she started nursing even more frequently than ever at night. Typically she nurses anywhere from three to six times per night. Thankfully, three is more common than six.

She has teething pain and other signs of teething (like soaking her shirt in drool) sporadically, as she has since about three months, but no teeth have emerged yet. We can see them under the skin on her bottom gum, so I expect them to come out soon, but they’ve really been taking their time!

Somewhat concerningly, she still weighs 18 lbs, which means she hasn’t gained any weight in the last month. But because she’s still quite a chunky baby, still in the 64th percentile (down from the 78th), and seems active and happy, we’re not too concerned. She grew so fast in the first 6 months of her life that she’s probably just “catching down.” 😉

Abigail loves her nightly bath. She gets excited when we say “bath” and when she sees the tub. She starts bouncing in our arms and gets the biggest smile on her face! It’s really cute. On the flip side, she generally hates her after-bath lotioning, and usually cries or fusses through the entire lotion-diaper-pajamas process. But after that drama, she happily nurses to sleep, and the world is right again.

Just after turning seven months, Abigail said “mama” for the first time! Now it seems to be her favorite word, and she uses it frequently to summon her milk slave. For the record, she did say “dada” first, at about six months. It’s up for debate whether she had the intention, or was just babbling, but she did say it a lot so it could easily be her true first word. Now that she’s also said “mama,” I’m more willing to give the first word award to “dada.” ;P (In all fairness, Cody’s first word was “mama,” so it’s a good balance that we each get one.)

At this age, Abi takes three naps; morning, afternoon, and night. Technically the last nap could be considered part of her nighttime sleep, but we wake her up before we all go to bed as a family in order to give her a bath and keep her eczema at bay. She sleeps about 9-10 hours at night (waking up on average four times to nurse).
She has stretches of being content playing on the floor or in her bouncer, as long as a parent is close by. She also has stretches of being very clingy and crying any time she’s put down. She never really has times when she cries inconsolably, and when she is fussy even while being held, it’s a sign she needs to nap. Typically, she goes down fairly easily for her naps.

As the weather is beginning to warm up, I am enjoying dressing her in little dresses and skirts, showing off those adorably chunky baby legs! Oh what fun to dress a baby girl.