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Friday, February 4, 2011

Three of My Favorite Things

Talking with an expecting friend today, reminded me that I've been meaning to write a post about three of my favorite baby/postpartum products.  Again, another momma post that I hope will be helpful to the gaggle of friends I know who are new or expecting moms.
  • gDiapers ( are a hybrid, eco-friendly diaper that Reed has worn since he was about six weeks old.  In the beginning he was too small for even the newborn size but remember he was only 5 1/2 pounds, so the average newborn can easily wear the newborn size.   Things I love about gDiapers:
      • The versatility.  They are a hybrid cloth diaper that allows you to use biodegradable or cloth inserts.  I became interested in cloth diapering as I knew several people who went this route, and with the recommendation of a friend for this specific brand, I jumped in.  When we're home, we use the cloth inserts which are easy to clean and wash, and when we travel, the biodegradable inserts are a handy alternative.  
      • The affordability.  To date we've invested about $300 in the system, which is a savings to buying disposable diapers every month.  gDiapers come in sizes newborn, small, medium, and large so as your child grows you'll need to buy additional items, but if you plan on having more children, you can reuse everything you buy (well, not the biodegradable inserts!).  gDiapers are currently sold through, and as a first time customer you receive $30 cash back and free shipping!
      • The healthy-ness.  Both the cloth and biodegradable inserts are earth friendly.  When I read somewhere that the average disposable diaper takes 500 years to decompose, I nearly fell out.  Now, while I love to spare mother earth, I also need products that are practical, so trust me when I tell you gDiapers easy to learn and simple to use.  In addition to the eco benefits, these diapers help prevent diaper rash because the cloth inserts are a lot easier on his little tush.  And honestly, they are the cutest diapers (go see for yourself)!
  • Tommee Tippee ( bottles have worked great for us.  Fortunately we didn't have to do too much bottle shopping to find what worked, and to be totally transparent, we (this would be the he-we part of us) chose these because they look modern and hip.  Ahem.  At any rate, things I love about these bottles:
      • Design.  Okay so they do look pretty spiffy but there are other design elements that I love.  First, the neck of the bottle has a very wide opening so if you're pouring pumped breastmilk or dumping in a scoop of powdered formula, you're not likely to spill.  Most other bottle have narrow necks that make for very messy countertops.  Also, the nipple on these bottles are soft, ribbed, and flexible, which provides a "closer to nature" feel for baby.
      • Availability.  You can easily find Tommee Tippee products at Babies R Us, a store that routinely puts out good coupons and promotions.  Recently we purchased some Tommee Tippee stuff at buy one, get one half off! 
  • Gilligan & O'Malley nursing tanks ( have become a staple in my postpartum wardrobe.  Even though I'm 1.5 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight (halleluja!), my body has definitely changed, shifted, and been rearranged. Things I love about these tanks:
      • Comfortability.  I'm not a fan of nursing bras, though I own and use mine occasionally; they're just a little cumbersome in my opinion.  I highly prefer my nursing tanks because they are more comfortable and more easily accommodate nursing.  While the tank tops don't provide the same nipple coverage as a formed bra, you wear the tank under another layer of clothes along with nursing pads which provide extra coverage.  I do have a smaller bust so I don't need the same amount of support that my more endowed friends do, so I can't speak into that issue.
      • Wardrobe functionality.  I spent less than $100 on maternity clothes (a good chunk of which I put towards a maternity bathing suit because I was the most pregnant during a SC summer!), so I sure wasn't going to go buy a whole new wardrobe to get me through the postpartum period.  In fact, I borrowed a box full of clothes two sizes larger than I normally wear to get me through the past five months.  And the nursing tanks have been just the thing to wear under some of my non-maternity tops and bottoms to help smooth over the belly and hip pudge.  These tanks also give a nice layered look under some tops that need a little more length these days.  A nice bonus: these cost less than $20 and you can purchase them in-store or on-line.
I'd love to hear what products you've found to be must-haves!  

And just for a disclaimer, I am not being paid by any of these companies to write this blog.  gDiapers, Tommee Tippee, and Gilligan & O'Malley have no clue who I am and are not bribing me to make them sound good :)  The links provided are, in some cases, affiliate links.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Life These Days


Well, the verdict is in.  I like being a momma!  Even though I love (really really love) that our little guy is on a schedule, it's killing the night life.  Sigh.  I mean, okay, our version of night life was hanging out at JD & Michelle's until 11 or 12 but still!  Reed is dreaming away by 7:30 most nights. 


Speaking of 7:30 bedtimes, it's a good thing for my professional life.  I teach four classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays and would be a mess if I wasn't getting sleep.  So many kudos to Reed for learning how to sleep through the night one week before I started back to work!  We might have a prodigy on our hands -- already sensitive to others' needs and he's only 5 months old?  It's okay; you can be impressed.  But seriously, working is going well (in case you're asking).  I stressed big time about going back but my love for planning and teaching has been reignited, and, I've found a new creativity that wasn't there last year.  I'll fess up, though.  What makes working easy for me is spelled B E N.  He and Reed hang out the days I'm teaching, and he's just an all around splendid husband and daddy the other five days of the week, too.


Not really happening.  And I'm pretty bummed about that.  I have ideas for what I want to write about and then life happens.  And I don't have time to write about life.  But I'm thinking about it a lot.  Maybe I'll set a goal to blog once a week.  Any requests?  I'd rather not bore the lovely souls who read my ramblings.


He is five months old.  Oh goodness I feel a cliche coming on.  Time flies! Where does it go?  Okay, that's better...all out of my system.  But yes, Reed is growing right on up.  He's about 25 inches long and weighs in at about 13 lbs.  He's seeing a physical therapist once a week to help develop his muscle strength and tone.  With all that happened the last few weeks of my pregnancy and the first early weeks of his life, he's got a little catching up to do.  But what I love most about right now is that we're starting to see a little personality take shape.  He loves to smile and laugh and play with his feet when Momma and Daddy are around.  Put him in an unfamiliar setting though, and he becomes a quiet observer wanting to just take everything in.  If you were to bump into him on the street he'd probably stare at you with his handsomely serious face while hoping that you don't invade his personal space too much.  Not only does my son look like a mini version of my husband, but I also think we have an introverted, internal processor on our hands.


We did it!  We have officially become an every Sunday church.  Our two year journey to this point, well, you know it's hard to describe.  Lots of hard work.  Wonderful, joy filled friendships.  Some doubts and misgivings.  Lots of faith and prayers.  A family that I'm committed to serving and loving.  An affirmation of the faith and prayers over the past couple of years.  And now the hard work keeps on coming.  But when you're in something with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind you don't mind getting dirty. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

Feed Your Baby

Another momma post.  I'll share my nursing/formula story with you, hoping that should you find the decision or the act of difficult, you'll be encouraged.

Choosing to breastfeed was a no-brainer for me.  While not a tree hugger, I'm finding my tendencies to be more and more granola these days.  I'm also practicial.  Breastfeeding = free.  Formula = $$.  I'm also the emotive type, and something about nursing my baby seemed more emotionally connective.

In the hospital, Reed seemed to be eating fine.  But an initial weight check after coming home showed that he'd dropped from 5 lbs 8 0z to 4 lbs 14 oz.  Our pediatrician referred me to a lactation specialist, who told me that Reed essentially had no sucking reflex (it's often developed in the last week of pregnancy; I had Reed at 38 weeks).  We did everything to keep my supply up while Reed's reflex developed.  I pumped.  I tickled his feet while he ate.  I supplemented his nursing with pumped breastmilk.  I pulled triple-duty -- feed, supplement, pump.  And sometimes it felt like that was all I did.  I wasn't sleeping anyways, so what else did I have to do?  But I really wanted breastfeeding to work out.

We went weekly for weight checks.  Some weeks were encouraging - he'd gained more than enough weight.  Other weeks were discouraging - he hadn't gained any weight.  And some weeks were just status quo - he'd gained just enough to squeak by.  At one point we even dropped the supplement completely because we thought he was doing so well.  But as soon as we did that, he stopped gaining. 

Knowing that gaining the right amount of weight was crucial to his physical growth and brain development, we needed to return to supplementing.  But I did not want to pull triple duty again.  At the time he took close to an hour to eat (and would need to eat again only an hour after finishing).  I'm not a math rock star but one hour + 15 minutes pumping = 45 minutes to sleep/eat/go to the bathroom/not have something sucking the life out of me.  Repeat 10 times a day.

This set back ignited some serious baby blues for me.  I wanted to go all formula just to know for certain that each time Reed ate, he was getting the right amount of food.  But I wanted to be committed to the benefits of breastfeeding.  Enter agonizing questions.  What does my decision say about me as a mom?  Was my unwillingness to pump a selfish decision?  I felt internal pressure to make a decision -- nursing or formula?

Ultimately I chose neither exclusively.  And still today I nurse him first and then give him a 2 oz formula supplement via bottle.  This works for us because
  1. Keeps him gaining weight
  2. Provides flexibility (he doesn't mind a bottle when it's more convenient)
  3. Helped me keep my sanity so I didn't feel like a 24/7 dairy cow
And yes, I used the adjective "convenient" as a reason for my decision.  And I'm okay with that.  Looking back on those first few weeks, I can tell you a couple of things.  First, everything feels like it will last FOREVER in the beginning.  It doesn't.  Second, the choice is not as monumental as it seems.  You'll move on.  And finally, our preferences do not always work out when it comes to our children (I'm sure I'm just beginning to understand here).

So I write this for you soon-to-be mommas, and probably, I wrote this for me too.

Monday, January 3, 2011

A New Kind of Normal....or Why I Didn't Make New Year's Resolutions

A close friend recently asked how I was doing.  At the time I was honestly struggling with baby blues, so my response was a little less than pretty.  The resulting facebook status went something like this: "Dear Hormones, if you can kindly regain your composure, maybe I can find mine." 

My friend lovingly reminded me that my life has been anything but normal over the past twelve months -- a little bit like repeated Chinese firedrills. 

2010 in review: We're pregnant! We're with relatives! We're renovating a house! We're becoming landlords! We're moving into newly renovated, still somewhat chaotic house! We're having a baby...sooner than we thought!  Columbia Church is launching!  I'm starting back to work!  We unexpectedly need to find renters for our condo!

My friend encouraged me to relax, as a new kind of normal is bound to appear for us.

So, do I feel badly about making absolutely no New Year's resolutions or declarations?  No.  I'm still waiting to figure out my new kinda normal.  And I'm praying for no major life changes in 2011.  I'd like the presence of mind to enjoy the ten or twelve I got in 2010.

Monday, December 20, 2010

One Year

One year ago I published my first blog (you can read the very first one by clicking here), and because I celebrate milestones, I want to share with you the categorical highlights of my blogging year...and hopefully convince you to start blogging as well!

Category #1 - Favorite Post

"Dear Students" (click here to read).  After reading through all of my posts just the other day, this one is still my favorite.  I remember how frustrated I'd gotten that day with my students, and that post came tumbling out in less than 20 minutes!  Maybe I should get riled up more often, and maybe I should consider including the letter in my spring semester syllabus.

Category #2 - Favorite Response

From Stacey Marie Kerr, the author of a book on natural childbirth, whom I quoted in a summer entry (read it here).  She found my blog and took the time to leave a kind comment.  You  never know who might stumble across your writing!

Category #3 - Favorite Reason to Blog

I have a record of this past year's journey, in my own words.  And unlike a journal, where I do not feel compelled to craft my structure and style, these entries reflect my writing craftsmanship.

Category #4 - Posts that I Didn't Publish

"Why We GDiaper"
"Spontaneous Getaway"
"The Perfection of Summer"
"Sister Wives"

Until I began to think back over this past blogging year, I'd forgotten about these posts -- most of which were simply titles or only one paragraph long.  Who knows what deterred me from finishing those posts; perhaps I'll revist them in 2011!

Category #5 - My Stats

A couple of months ago I discovered that Blogger tracks your blog statistics, which I find keenly interesting because they tell a story all their own.  For example, I've published 38 posts since December 2009, which roughly works out to writing three posts per month (not too bad considering I often feel guilty about not blogging, which is ridiculous because it's my blog, my project, and it doesn't matter!).  Blogger also tells me that my blog has been viewed 2,431 times, Facebook and other blogs direct most of traffic here, and the keywords that actually land people on my blog are random.  The story of Reed's birth was viewed almost 200 times, but only about 1/4 as many people found the entry on "Saving" interesting.  I'm usually not a numbers person but these intrigue me and help me re-envision my blog for next year.

Category #6 - Final Thoughts

See how much fun you could be having?  So go, blog, now!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

January 30th

For two years Ben and I have hoped and prayed.  We have held on and dug in.  Our bank account has looked a littler leaner and our faith has grown a little stronger.

We have talked and cried and laughed and relished and delighted and mourned and kept going.

New faces have come alongside us and others have slipped away.

And still, in our hearts, we're convinced of what is to come.

January 30th, 2011 represents the culmination of all these things as Columbia Church officially opens her doors at 1215 Calhoun Street, Columbia, SC.

No sales pitch here.  Just an honest-to-goodness invitation to come experience something new.  We have no preconceived notion about who will walk in the door.  But I want you to come celebrate this amazing occasion with me.

Our mission is simple: to introduce people to our Heavenly Father and to lead people in a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.

We've worked really hard to create a church where you might actually connect with God and with other people in a way that isn't weird or difficult.  Just honest and engaging.

6 p.m.      January 30th      1215 Calhoun Street

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Making Two One

If you're a spiritual person, how do you pursue that spirituality with your spouse?

When I was single I assumed that if I married a God-lovin' man, we'd automatically grow together spiritually.  Instead we've learned that without intentional effort, we'll naturally lead independent spiritual lives that only occassionally comingle. 

Admittedly some spiritual "together-ness" occurs through shared values (our Christian faith) and shared experiences (being a part of the Columbia Church family).  But as a twenty-something single I always envisioned a deep spiritual bond between me and prince charming.  And a few years and a marriage into it, I still crave that.  In Genesis God describes this craving as a man and a woman becoming one.

While incorporating Scripture reading and shared prayers into our family life are two helpful avenues of an intimate spiritual life, I still feel a tug in my soul that thirsts for more.  A tangy realizaton one morning brought the matter into sharp focus.  If someone asked me what Ben's deepest spiritual struggle or greatest spiritual fulfillment was, I could not easily answer.  As his wife I want the privilege of knowing those details.  That kind of vulnerability creates intimacy.

Identifying the problem gets us only halfway there, especially in our relationship where I naturally process all my thoughts out loud and Ben more naturally processes his thoughts internally.  As a by-product of a hearty conversation with some of our closest friends, we came up with two questions that aim to lead us into greater spiritual intimacy with our spouses.

Q1: Where did you struggle today?
Q2: What good did you experience today?

The word "today" appears in both questions to imply the consistency with which we think these questions should be asked.  For us, we set a 30 minute time window for the discussion, in an effort to be consistent with the other demands of the day. 

We also want to stay true to the purpose of these questions -- focusing on knowing one another better as spiritual beings.  One purpose can be exposed through a third, underlying question: How did both of these things affect your thoughts and attitude toward God?  The discussion is not simply a time to vent; rather, the discussion is an opportunity for both of us to listen to and speak into the spiritual wellness of one another.

As Ben and I have explored these questions together, our conversations have been rich and honest.  Most of all, I've enjoyed pausing for just a short time to hear the heart of my God-lovin' man and in turn to share with him my own spiritual struggles and joys.