Monthly Archives: January 2011

My New Best Friend

Now I wish I knew how to get money from this blogging business…doing product reviews or something. But I do believe that entails 1) having a blog that people read and 2) reviewing actual products.  Which I don’t.

Regardless, I would still like to introduce you to my new best friend:

The Swiffer Vac.

I am not usually one for gizmos and gadets in my home, preferring to keep things simple, but this little bad boy is truly awesome.  I first used it at my mother-in-law’s.  While helping her clean her kitchen after dinner one night, I grabbed the ol’ standby broom and dustpan.  “Oh, don’t use that” she smiled at me, “I have a Swiffer in the laundry room.”  Hmm..what is this? I thought as I ventured into the dark laundry room.  Peering into the room, I saw a small green light, illuminating the sleek and simple contraption.  Unplugging it from its’ charging dock, I hit the power button and suddenly…

Pure bliss! I was gliding around the kitchen, waltzing with the Swiffer as I gracefully navigated turns, nooks, and corners I had previously never encountered with the broom.  I felt like a ’50’s commercial, fancying myself a housewife in heels and pearls as I effortlessly cleaned the floor in about a minute flat.  In fact, I was enjoying myself so much, I found myself slightly disappointed when the floor gleamed and sparkled so quickly.

Seeing my love for the Swiffer, my mother-in-law promised to buy me one for Christmas.  (A whole different story on how my life has turned into cleaning products for Christmas…) Unfortunately, she forgot her promise, but still provided me with some lovely glassware that I did need.

Cruising the after-Christmas sales with Ada one day, I came upon a sale in the cleaning aisle of Meijer.  My Swiffer Vac, reduced to the price of $30.00.

So I bought it, and my life has been transformed.

Maybe I am exaggerating a little, but not much. I LOVE the Swiffer.  It has literally shaved hours of cleaning off of my life.  I dreaded the thrice daily ritual of cleaning the chaotic aftermath previously known as meals.  If I did the math correctly, assuming I took a mere 5 minutes per meal sweeping the floor (which is a gross underestimation, as I was to the point of literally dragging my huge vacuum out after every meal), I am gaining 91 hours a year!

Hooray!  Now, tell me cleaning products are not exciting!

Perhaps your children are not as messy as mine, or perhaps you prescribe to the same philosophy as my husband who remarked in response to my cleaning complaints, “It’s not like you have to clean the floor after every meal.” But either way, I am convinced that this little machine is a must-have for the modern mom.

The only cons I have with the Swiffer Vac are firstly, the cleaning cloths are disposable.  I do try to be a little “green” if possible and I try to avoid lots of paper products and harmful chemical cleaners.  I tried getting around this con by attaching a washable microfiber cloth to the velcro, but it was too bulky and blocked the vacuum.  If it had a removable, washable dusting cloth, I would be in heaven.  My solution so far, while searching for a thinner microfiber cloth, is to just use out the disposable cloth till it is falling apart.  Secondly, you do have to charge it when it’s not in use.  It probably has a good 10-15 minute charge, but it is still inconvenient if you forgot to charge it, need to use it, and the battery is dead. So I try to charge when not in use.  The need to charge, therefore, presents a possible storage issue, as you need to store it, yet also charge it simultaneously.  I have not solved this issue yet and currently keep it in the office, behind the door, in plain view.  Fortunately, however, I have a woodworker husband who is building me a custom office and I have requested a cupboard with an outlet, so my Swiffer Vac will have a home.

I do realize that this is perhaps my longest post thus far, but what can I say? Cleaning takes up a lot of my day with two kidlings at home, and this is important stuff.  I would like to end my post by saying I realize that there are probably a million coupon codes out there for the Swiffer, but I do have a $5.00 off coupon that came with the package to “Share With a Friend” and I would be happy to mail this coupon to anyone who would like to meet the new man in my life, Mr. Swiffer.

And the absolute, most wonderful part about the Swiffer Vac? Any two year old can work it. Mine races me to the office for “her turn” to sweep the floor. And if you happen to have another small child who enjoys being carried around everywhere, the Swiffer Vac is also incredibly easy to use one-handed.

Let me see a broom and dustpan top that!

The Birth of Noah

Earlier this month, I had the privilege of photographing a couple I went to high school with as they welcomed their third son into the world.  Chelsie was a pro in labor, even texting to check on the other kiddos and applying some make up while 8 cm dilated!  (Granted, the epidural was probably a help too, but still!)  They were an awesome couple to work with for my first shoot and I LOVED the experience.  I am fascinated by labor and birth, and to have the chance to capture a labor story through photography was incredible.  Especially because everything went so well–and so quickly!

While birth portraits are definitely not for everyone, I love the idea of capturing the first moment when a mother meets her baby for the first time.  That first time she holds her baby and their eyes meet–that is heaven on earth. No moment so completely shows us what God is as that first moment.  And I love that I got to capture that forever!

Noah was born on 1-1-11 and is now happy and healthy, playing at home with his two older brothers.  His birth portraits were edited by j & j brusie photography and my brother and his company Elite Productionz put a slideshow together that I am waiting on permission to post. Hopefully I can post the show and you can let me know what you think.

And if there are any moms awaiting their bundles of joy, let me know if you are interested in getting some pictures done!  I’d also love to do a maternity photo shoot…models anyone?

The Baby Who Never Sleeps II

In true mom guilt style, after all my ranting and raving, Mya woke up sick this morning! So, I am now reduced to feeling wretched for complaining about her night awakening–maybe she was genuinely miserable! I’m not sure if it is a cold or teething right now. I never dealt with this with Ada…I literally just noticed teeth sticking out in Ada’s mouth one day. “I guess she was teething,” I told my husband, “Who knew?” Again with the mom guilt.

That being said however, I wanted to say THANK YOU to everyone who offered me advice, because (proud moment, pat on the back) I did make some progress in getting her down for naps and bedtime. Most of the advice offered I have been following (consistent routine, favorite bedtime cues, fan, etc.) but for some reason, it genuinely never occurred to me to be persistent in my efforts to lay her down. As in, if I laid her down and she popped right up, ready to party, I didn’t persist any further, but just picked her up and took her out of her room. In my new enlightened state of motherhood however, I simply laid her back down on her stomach, (yes, she sleeps on her stomach) covered up, patted her bottom and made the universal “shhh shhhh” baby sleep sound.

And it worked! Consistently, for three days, it worked! It took a few times, but eventually she stayed down and sang herself to sleep. Now I am worried my excitement has been short-lived, due to the aforementioned sickness, but I guess we shall see…

The middle of the night awakening hasn’t improved in any way, but I am proud of my efforts so far. I am still undecided if I should be nursing her or not, but I have been reassured in hearing that other moms struggle with the same problem! I’m worried that the whole night nursing leads to a lifetime poor sleeper though, as Ada pops up at least once a night…never failing to scare the beejuzus out of me when I spot a silent, lurking figure in footie pajamas standing in the doorway.

It seems like a lot of the mom advice (excuse me, and dad!) can be summed up in that we, as parents, really have less control than we like to think…some kids are good sleepers, and some are, well…not.

On the plus side, I got to snuggle with my poor sick baby today…she was miserable, but it’s the only time she likes to snuggle with me, and I’ll take whatever I can get.

The Baby Who Never Sleeps

Calling for some tried and true mama advice today…I have an eight month old who refuses to sleep. Seriously, she will not sleep. I will admit partial responsibility for this, as I am someone who always has nursed my babies to sleep and subscribed to the “nurse on demand” philosophy with my first daughter, thus creating an expectation that babies do not ever sleep through the night.

But then my good friend Cayce loaned me a book “The Sleep Lady” and I was introduced to the idea that lo, and behold, perhaps some babies do sleep though the night, and maybe, just maybe, they don’t need to eat every three hours!

So I was determined to start off better the second time around with Mya. I would not nurse on demand, I would teach her good sleeping habits from the beginning. Unfortunately, Mya had other ideas. From birth, she fought sleep with every fiber of her little being. Ben and I endured countless sleepless nights, and eventually found a little repose by letting her sleep in her carseat or even, much to my profound shame, her swing. She literally just would not sleep, or even relax. The book talks about ensuring that babies are laid down when they are “still drowsy, but awake” to teach them how to put themselves to sleep. A theory that completely makes sense to me and one I wholeheartedly supported. But there is no such as drowsy with Mya. She is either fully alert and ready to party, or completely exhausted and throwing a temper tantrum.

And so it has continued. I am utterly crushed that I have never been able to snuggle and rock Mya to sleep. With Ada, she would nurse and happily snuggle with me in bed, we could nap together, or rock for hours. Mya will have none of that. She pushes off of me, cranes her heard around, wants to see everything that is going on, is afraid she will miss out one second of fun with her older sister. Ben and my mom have been the only ones who can rock her to sleep. For some reason, with me, she knows she can fight me. It’s devastating. There is nothing I love more than snuggling with a sleeping baby. 

During the day, I sometimes have success with getting Mya to sleep for a nap after nursing her, but a lot of times she has to cry herself to sleep because she will just not relax. I’ve tried the going in and reassuring her thing, but that only fuels her anger, as she now not only suspects I am refusing to pick her up, but seeing me provides confirmation of such indignation.

Last week, I stated an earnest quest to stop the nighttime madness. I was determined to let her learn to put herself to sleep and not feed her at all, especially now as she eating “real” food at meals. And so my friends, she has been up every night for hours at a time. Last night was truly miserable. From 4:00 AM to 6:00 AM wide awake and fighting, awakening her sister, complete and utter anger at me, her mother, for not feeding her. And the silent anger of my husband next to me projecting the thought of “Why don’t you just feed her? 10 minutes and we can all get some sleep” like a dagger at me. And then there is the persistent nagging guilt of wondering if she is genuinely hungry, even if I fed her a mere three hours ago…

Any advice out there for a baby who will not sleep? Do I continue to let her cry it out? Is there a chance that the “reassuring” pat on the back every 20 minutes will not work for every baby, as it only makes her even more upset when I leave?

Help please!

Finding Joy

2010 was a year of recognition for me. Never before have I felt that my eyes have been opened to the suffering and sadness that occurs each and every day to loved ones around the world.  I have seen patients face the death sentence of stage four cancer, lives wasted in self-destruction and pain, and most tragic of all, loving mothers who have endured the loss of their beautiful babies.

It is absolutely overwhelming to face the reality that all around us, people are enduring horrible loss, tragedies that seem to have no answers.  I struggle with asking myself if life is meant to be challenging; a series of struggles to teach us dependence on God in a period on earth that is fleeting. Or is it meant to teach us to find joy, to reach for the beauty of Heaven in the moments that we can?  When a memory of happiness at the birth of a beautiful baby girl now lost to her mother becomes all that is left, when laughter and time spent together are gone…are we to look for the joy in the small and simple moments to celebrate life? Or are we to realize that life is…well, just plain hard?

I don’t know the answers.  I don’t know how to deal with all the pain I see in others. I don’t know how to at once recognize and feel with others, while finding joy and God in those moments.  I want to believe that life is not just meant to be hard to teach us that God is all we can depend on. I want to believe that God wants our time here to be beautiful and full of joy.

But it is hard.

So in this new year, my wish is to find joy. I don’t know if it will be the big moments, the small moments, or even the sad moments, but I am asking for the faith to find it. If anyone out there is struggling as I am, I pray for you to find the joy as well, and if you have found it already, please share the wealth!

Happy new year everyone!