Happy 2nd Birthday thisgratefulmama! Top 10 Posts Written in Year 2

Happy Birthday thisgratefulmama

Well it happened. Somewhere in-between prepping for baby number 3, soccer and an urgent care visit with our son, thisgratefulmama blog turned 2!

Yesterday.

And I missed it.

Whoops! If WordPress hadn’t sent me a Happy Birthday email that I opened this morning…well, it may have passed unbeknownst to me, and to you.

It has been a busy two years, and I am grateful for them.

Writing here has been a much-needed creative outlet and joy! I’m excited for year 3 and hope you are too.

To commemorate the occasion, I’ve compiled the most popular posts written in year 2.

THANK YOU for being the readers who made the posts popular, and who have given encouragement and feedback along the way.

Enjoy!

Top 10 Posts Written in Year 2

  1. Infant Silent Reflux is NOT Silent: My Experience Nursing and Caring for Our Hurting Son During His First Year
  2. Infant Silent Reflux Is Not Silent – 10 Survival Tips for Parents When Your Child Does NOT Sleep
  3. A Couples Wedding Shower
  4. The thisgratefulmama 2015 Twin Cities Summer Bucket-List (70+ Toddler & Preschooler-Friendly Places To Visit)
  5. It Takes a Village {to Raise a Child With Food Allergies}…And This One’s Fantastic
  6. Come On, Mama! Tell THAT Voice To Take A Hike And Wear Your Swimsuit!
  7. Master Bedroom Update: The Great Paint and Curtain {In}Decision
  8. Big News
  9. White Knees and Blue Jeans…
  10. My Heart May Burst

Just Once More…

Just Once More

I love being pregnant. Some people think that is weird, and I’m ok with it. I don’t love the nausea, aches and pains, or interrupted sleep, but there is just something incredibly special and sweet that words cannot quite describe.

At first, despite the sickness, I love the knowledge that a little someone is being knit together inside of me. There is simply nothing that compares to the truth that God, Himself, is creating and carefully making a person with their own unique features and personality. A miracle within. It is the knowledge that He chose me to be this child’s mom, my husband to be her dad, and that this baby is the perfect addition to our family.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139:13-16 (NIV)

At first, our pregnancy was a secret shared with few. Then we had the privilege of sharing our special, joyful secret. We have lived in hope for months, preparing for the arrival of a little person who has already changed our heart and made us love them more than we ever thought we could.

I don’t love that I’m on round 3 of gestational diabetes. I don’t love the carb counting and finger poking. And I certainly didn’t love the 1 hour and 3 hour glucose tests that I simply cannot pass in any pregnancy. But I am grateful the condition has been managed with diet and exercise. Not using insulin has been a effort of discipline and self control, and has been a very tangible answer to many, many prayers.

The more pregnant I get, the more others ask if I’m ready to be done. They expect that I am. They figure I’m fed up with this this and ready to get the show on the road. My doctor has commented on how the third trimester for many third time moms feels like eternity. And yet…it doesn’t. Not to me.

Here I am in the final weeks of this third pregnancy. I am very emotional and feel like I can’t get a handle on this roller coaster. While I’m excited to meet this little one, I’m not ready to be done either.

This will most likely be our last pregnancy. My husband and I have been in agreement on the number 3 since we started talking about kids. And while it is hard to admit this magical time may be the last time, unless God has other plans, this will probably be our last one.

So during this pregnancy, I’ve been quietly enjoying even the struggles – finding myself grateful for the chance to do this one last time.

This pregnancy has been my most challenging. Blood sugar issues showed up earlier, and were harder to manage. This is my first pregnancy as a stay-at-home mom and I found the days chasing little ones to be harder than sitting in a laboratory or desk during the day.Plus, I’m 6 years older than when I began my first pregnancy, our evening activity schedule is busier, and I have found it harder to juggle everything effectively without getting overwhelmed and emotional.

And yet…

There has been such a sweetness in feeling the baby kick, squirm and hiccup. Day or night. Strangely, this time, even those pummeling bladder kicks haven’t frustrated me as much although they have certainly kept me on my toes.

Keeping the secret about this pregnancy was just as special as the first two times, even though we’d done it before. And this time around because our other kids are old enough to have an opinion about the baby’s gender, we did our first and only gender reveal party with family. It did end with a 5 year old in tears, but he’s coming around. This baby girl will be VERY well loved.

There is a special contentment in just being pregnant. I’m not in a rush to get past it or to just be done. This is the last time I’ll be unable to see my toes because of a baby in the way. The last use of maternity pants and shirts that never seem long enough. And the last time I’ll wonder how my stomach could possibly get any bigger. Knowing this labor and delivery thing is also just once more makes it less scary, less of a hurtle, and the start of a whole new stage that will also be full of last moments.

Once more will we see a baby’s face for the very first time. And just once more will we have that first special moment holding her. Just once more will we carefully pick a name and hope it suits her. And just once more we will hear that first cry.

Just once more we will watch our children meet their sibling. And introduce the baby to great grandparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. We will see that joy and wonder on their faces as they meet our baby that first time, just once more.

And just once more will we bring a baby home and feel that exhaustion and sleep deprivation that comes with caring for a newborn. And we will feel again the fierce love and joy of this little life that makes it all worthwhile. We will be faced with the realization that we somehow are responsible for now 3 little lives – to love, tickle, discipline, feed, snuggle, raise and introduce to Jesus Christ.

The truth is, this baby is no more special than the first, or second. They are all equally miracles created by God, and entrusted to us. But I do find myself treasuring the moments leading up to those precious firsts because they will also be last. Instead of being swept up in the busy-ness of life, I’ve been fighting to just experience what is happening NOW.

Life is speeding up all around us, with sports, and school wrapping up and staying busy outside because the weather is so nice. And yet…I am ready for it to SLOW down. To take time to treasure the time that is left before the baby is born. To spend quality time as a family of FOUR. To snuggle up and read more books and play harder with the two children that are here now. And to pour love into them because they are just so very precious. And together, as a family, to anticipate the moment when we will joyfully welcome the arrival of this sweet new baby. And become a family of 5.

But time isn’t slowing down. It will not wait for my nostalgia or for me to be ‘ready’ to be done being pregnant for the last time. This baby is coming. And very soon. Only God knows the exact moment and as with the other two babies, I can trust His perfect timing to be exactly what this baby and family needs.

I cannot wait…but will relish these last days or weeks of knowing her by her movements as I wonder what she will be like. Even in those nighttime hours as she does acrobatics and interrupts my sleep.

So today I find myself grateful. Hopeful. Not in a rush, but surrendered to God’s perfect timing.

And I remember that all that is to come in the next busy stage of life is just once more.

Infant Silent Reflux Is Not Silent – 10 Survival Tips for Parents When Your Child Does NOT Sleep

Infant Silent Reflux Is Not Silent - 10 Survival Tips for Parents when your child does NOT sleep

There are infants who sleep through the night right away, or even within a few months of bringing them home from the hospital.

We were not that family.

Read more about our experience with infant reflux:

As I’ve shared before, our firstborn had silent reflux. Acid burning, pain abounding…heartburn. In our experience, reflux is worse at night, and greatly affected his and our sleep.

When many parents say they had a hard night, it means the child was up a few times, perhaps staying awake for a (whole) hour, or that perhaps they were up at 4 am for the day. Let me be clear that I am not diminishing how this feels in the morning – tired is tired! But I think it is fairly safe to say most babies and parents manage one solid 2-4 hour stretch of sleep per night, most nights. They are tired, but are usually functional the next day.

When I say we had hard nights, I mean that most nights, he did not sleep. There were 3-5 hours stretches of crying and discomfort followed by a 40-minute nap. But even this short stretch was interrupted by writhing and painful screams.Then we repeated the crying and short nap, or he was up for the day. He did not sleep a 3-hour stretch until 10 months.

As his nursing mama, neither did I. And often, neither did my husband.

We tried everything. We held him, we tried walking, co-sleeping, swinging, bouncing, singing. In desperation we tried crying it out but it was short-lived and agonizing for mom and baby  – a hurting baby cannot self-soothe, nor should he have to.

Nothing worked.

We spoke to doctors, lactation specialists, other parents and read books, articles and blogs by sleep consultants. There were many great tips, but none helped our son sleep.

If you think that sleep-deprivation is hard on your body and mind, imagine how it affects a baby – they are supposed to sleep twice as much as we are!

He, and we were exhausted – a term I no longer use lightly.

After 10 months, his sleep ebbed and flowed along with his silent reflux symptoms until FINALLY at 15 months, he slept through the night. This too came and went, but his sleep generally improved so MOST nights were silent nights.

That is, until the reflux returned with vengeance when he was 2 1/2 and I was 7 months pregnant with our second baby. Then his sleep success derailed and we recognized old patterns of returning pain and chronic coughing. This was no sleep ‘regression’. It was sleep succession. But we will save the story of toddler reflux for another day…

Because our sleep experience was a struggle, my goal is to share how to survive – to endure, to wait for healing, and to do everything in your power to encourage sleep. But more importantly, my goal is to empathize, and encourage parents that sleep does come, even if not right away.

10 Survival Tips for Parents – When Your Child Does NOT Sleep

1. Schedule YOUR sleep

While parents may not need as much sleep as a newborn, they do need consistent sleep. When your child doesn’t sleep, sleeping when the baby sleep doesn’t work. Consistent sleep-deprivation has consequences. Parents need to make their own sleep a priority. Be creative. When our son was young, I worked. Some days I went home and slept for 2 hours before picking our son up from daycare. OR, I’d work a few longer days, and take off early on a slow day and sleep for (gasp) 3 hours! If you don’t have daycare as an option, read on…

2. Enlist help

While not all parents have volunteers to stay up at night with the baby so the parents can sleep, most have someone who will come during the day. Ask for help. And accept it when it is offered. Don’t be prideful. Don’t shrug it off. Sleep is necessary and important. Ask them to come over and snuggle your child. Be sure they understand your child might cry the whole time. Our son’s grandparents, aunts and uncles and our close friends were willing. We weren’t good at asking.

3. Be transparent

Nothing good will come from pretending everything is fine. Don’t sugar coat what is going on. While there is a fine line between explaining the facts and complaining, if you aren’t truthful and transparent, your sleep-less existence will be lonely, and without help. And, others will not understand why you suddenly traded your social life for sleep.

4. Request advice from professionals

Assuming you are already navigating reflux treatment, don’t neglect to see lack of sleep as a symptom that needs to be addressed. When sleep is this difficult, more than just a pediatrician may be needed. Request a consult with a GI doctor, ask for a sleep study, or meet with an occupational or sleep therapist.

5. Try new strategies

I cannot advocate the ‘cry it out’ method because we learned that a hurting baby cannot self-soothe. They hurt and need help. However, there are many other great options to try. It is a good idea to try different sleep positions, but instead of buying a bunch of rockers, swings, crib wedges or chairs, borrow them. Research them. We used a Nap Nanny (no longer sold, but this Dex DayDreamer™ Infant Sleeper is today’s equivalent product) with an angled back to help with reflux. It was the only place our son ever slept at all for most of the first year. Please note: the most important comment on these sleepers is to never place them in a crib. They are intended to use on the floor for baby’s safety. 

6. Join a support group

Did you know there are GERD support groups all over the world? You can find the Reflux Rebels or Reflux Support Group on Facebook. The Facebook groups are generally closed, which means only group members can see your posts. You will find people struggling with the same issues, encouragement, and wise advice from real-life experience.

7. Don’t wake the baby

If your baby does not sleep, DO NOT interrupt sleep for any reason. The theory that sleep begets sleep is true in our experience. There is no event more important than your child’s sleep if they NEVER sleep. Do your best to set conditions for sleep and then protect that schedule. If that means leaving early, coming late, or not attending something, SO BE IT.

8. Pray

The best comfort I found during this time was prayer. And scripture. It is no surprise to God that you are tired or struggling. He sees your child and He sees you. Let Him carry you, and trust that He will bring both healing and sleep in His time. AND, know that your struggle has purpose, even if you cannot see it yet. Trust His plan, purpose and promise that He is working in all things for good of those who love Him…

9. Hang on to hope

Our son struggled for much longer than we wanted him to. And there were days we thought he would never, ever sleep through the night. But he did. And now he sleeps hard, and well. Eventually, even your child will too.

10. Know you are not alone

Other moms have endured what you are enduring. Find them. They won’t waste your time with advice that won’t work, they’ll instead spend their time listening and encouraging. They will understand that not all problems can be fixed with a book, herbal remedy, fancy swing or sleep-training method and they will remind you that some problems  have to resolve with time.

 

Thirty shmirty. Wrinkle shmrinkle. 10 Reasons I Like 34.

At 7 months pregnant with our third child, the belly began getting in the way of leaning over the counter to put on mascara. Pregnant problems serious.

The solution? A small stand mirror. For ten bucks, it was just a bonus that it had both 1x and 3x magnification.

Well, maybe not.

I’m not sure how many years have passed since I looked at my face under 3x magnification, but lets just say it is a little different (wrinkles).

AND, under that 3x magnification – I noticed something extra shiny in my hair. Curiosity got the best of me and soon I held my very first, 4 inch long, white-gray hair. And a second. A week later, my sister noticed a plethora of gray hairs when she was coloring and cutting my hair. Higher magnification sure does open our eyes to reality.

In addition to the wrinkles and gray hairs, last month marked another birthday.

So, this is where I confess my sadness about aging, right?  

Nope.

I can honestly say that the overnight increase from 33 to 34 doesn’t feel any different. Neither does the discovery of gray hair or wrinkles (although they certainly did surprise me – I am either very unobservant, or they came out of nowhere!).

Thankfully, God wisely created time go slow enough that we don’t feel age changes overnight. However, I am older, and now have gray hair and laugh lines prove it. This third pregnancy also confirms my age increase with more aches and pains, blood sugar issues, and weight that is harder to control. Oh, and those gray hairs – I’m fairly sure they are the direct result of pregnancy hormones since they are all exactly the same length.

But is all this evidence such a bad thing?

It may be taboo to ask a woman’s age, but some women don’t tell the truth anyway. Instead, many pick an age and claim it in perpetuity – forever 21…or 29…or 39…

By refusing to acknowledge and gracefully accept our age, we put way too much stock into those numbers. We allow a number to offend us while we wonder what others will think of it.

We cover up outward aging signs by dying our hair (my sister was adding highlights while discovering those grays, so I’m not judging!). And we use expensive skin creams to reduce and slow wrinkles in an attempt to hide outward signs of aging.

Some of us look older than we are. Some of us look younger than we are. And yet, ALL of us are exactly the age that we ARE. But so often, we want to ignore it. Pretend it isn’t happening.

But why?

The accumulation of days and years lived on this earth is unavoidable. Instead of avoiding the issue, or putting too much stock in it, I say we embrace it.

I don’t know about you, but I am enjoying my 30’s. I plan to love my 40’s too. Do you love your age?

Thirty shmirty. Wrinkle shmrinkle. 10 Reasons I Like 34.

  1. Children: These little people did not even exist in my 20’s. I love how they fill my days with new challenges and joy. They give me a greater understanding of how God loves ME, our children, and others. These years are BUSY, but I am in no rush to get past them.
  2. Body Image: Having babies has forever changed my perspective on body-image. This body has carried and fed 3 babies.This work does leave a mark. My body is different and won’t ever be the same again. But I am grateful God equipped my body to do such rewarding and beautiful things.
  3. Self Esteem: I spent much of my 20’s unsure of myself and uncomfortable in social situations. I was nervous in groups, especially groups of women. I would second-guess every word, if I was brave enough to speak up. Many (not all) of my relational insecurities have faded as I’ve begun to better understand how God sees me and how to humbly view myself.
  4. Wisdom: 30 is the new 20, right? I hope not – I was pretty dumb when I was 20. I was poor at managing friendships, wasteful with my time, had a narrow world-view and a much-too-small and low understanding of God and His character. The lessons learned in my 20’s are invaluable. I’m still makin mistakes but I’m learning more now that I can take into my 40s.
  5. Authentic Friendships: Gone are the days of trying to be someone I am not. And with less free time for friends and meaningful conversations, friendships have become very real. We don’t waste time with small talk. Conversations express what we’re struggling with, celebrating, and hoping for. And some of my deepest friendships are with family, which was not true in my 20’s. With age, friendships continue to become deeper, more authentic, and thankful.
  6. Priorities: With increased responsibility comes the need for prioritization. I’ve had to become more and more intentional with my time and energy. Our time is spent on what we need and want to do, and with the people we want to spend it with.
  7. Marriage: How I love looking back on what God has done in our marriage over the past 11 years. We are not the same and neither is our marriage – we’ve both grown up a lot. We know each other better and have acknowledged many of our own weaknesses. We’ve let go of most of those petty things that used to drive us crazy when we were first married. Disagreements and conflicts still happen but are resolved quicker, with fewer tears, and with more respect. We enjoy greater commitment, deeper love, sweeter moments, quick forgiveness, and the depth of trust and respect that can only develop over time. He’s still my favorite – more so each day.
  8. Peace: Much of my 20s was spent worrying – finances, work, relationships, current events…you name it. God has taught me some very important lessons about fear in my 30s, especially when it comes to our children. Although fear still rises sometimes, I am better equipped to turn it over to God and to rest and trust in His peace.
  9. Gratitude: I’ve focused more in recent years on gratitude. With each passing year, I am more grateful for the people in my life. I am much more aware of just how sinful I am and how much God has saved me from through Jesus’ work on the cross – gratitude is the natural response! There is less sense of entitlement, and less frustration with what I do not have. We have so much to be grateful for and I am hoping to only grow in the practice of gratitude.
  10. Faith: All our days and years tell our unique story – challenges, sadness, joy, pain, lessons learned, successes and failures. Combined, they make us who we are today. God has used our circumstances to refine us – sometimes by fire. I have found Him to be trustworthy and faithful. He has walked through each year with me and isn’t about to stop. He is the good, good Father. I see how His Spirit and the study of His word have changed me over the years and cling to the promise that He is not done with me yet. I’m not the same as I once was. And I don’t want to go back. Even if I could.

Thirty shmirty. Wrinkle shmrinkle. I like 34.

A Ballerina Themed 3 Year Old Birthday – Ballerina Birthday Decorations

We celebrated our daughter’s third birthday last month. It was a lovely time with both sides of our family. By request, her party decorations were ballerina-themed.

The banner below was created using a chalkboard banner I received as a gift. You can find this similar product at JoAnn Fabrics. The ballerina image is a free downloadable vector designed by Freepik.com. The paper fan is one of a pack of 5 Paperchase Card Fans from Target used throughout the house for the party. They will later be used in our daughter’s ballerina and flamingo themed bedroom.

This cake was homemade and topped with cut-out ballerina figures using glittery scrapbook paper and wooden skewers. For the cake and frosting recipe, see here.

Happy Birthday Adelyn

A paper birthday photo banner was made using black and white photos printed on cardstock, hung using clothes pins and twine.

Birthday banner.jpg

The walls were decorated with 2 inch gold or pink glitter polka-dots and ballerinas made using the remaining glitter scrapbook paper from the cake toppers.

polka dots and ballerinas.jpg

Several strings of tissue paper tassel garland were made with 3 colors of tissue paper and twine. I followed this great tutorial from PIZZAZZERIE.com to make the garland. The tassels are easy to make. I love the look of them, but they were a little more ‘putzy’ than I prefer for quick decorations. I’m not sure I would be motivated enough to do it again.

Garland

A Ballerina 3 Year Old Birthday: A Homemade Ballerina Birthday Cake

Our 3 year old girl loves to twirl. I think she spends a quarter of her day spinning.

So, when she saw one video of a ballerina, she was hooked. This made it no surprise that she wanted a ballerina birthday cake.

Order one, right? Wrong. We have food allergies in our family and have trouble finding a bakery that guarantees a peanut and tree nut free cake.

This ballerina cake needed to be homemade – a tall order.

Baking is not my strong suit. But I’ve been making an effort to learn and develop the skill because baking safe birthday cakes will be my job for years to come.

After much research, I decided to make this chocolate cheesecake layer cake from Recipe Girl. The recipe was well written, easy to follow, and the cake is delicious!

The recipe was modified to fit our needs as follows:

  • Line the pan with Parchment Paper: After reading reviews of how to ensure each layer of cake releases easily from the pan, each pan was lined with parchment paper. Not only did it work well, it was less messy than greasing and flouring the pans.
    • To line with parchment paper, spray the pan with cooking spray (I used PAM), then trace and cut out a circle of parchment paper to place in the pan. Finally, spray the top of the paper with cooking spray.
  • Freeze all layers: Due to time constraints, all cake and cheesecake layers were baked 3 days in advance and frozen.
    • Once cool, wrap each layer individually in a double layer of plastic wrap followed by one layer of tin foil. Place them in a freezer bag and store in the freezer until ready to assemble the cake. NOTE: To avoid freezer burn, don’t freeze in a frost-free freezer (that heats and cools to remove frost). I used our chest freezer.
  • Use a decorator cream cheese frosting: Instead of the recipe’s chocolate sour cream frosting, this cake was decorated with this fantastic crusting cream cheese, butter cream frosting. With so much chocolate, the cake is plenty rich so skipping the chocolate was ok. Plus, decorating with sour cream frosting won’t work – the designs will just melt away. This cream cheese frosting is great for decorating a ‘girlie’ cake.
    • FYI – my hand mixer started smoking and died while mixing the frosting – it gets thick before it is thinned out! My off-brand mixer wasn’t a very good one. I sprung for the Kitchen Aid hand mixer because it happened to be 20% off and similar in price to the one I had before. I was amazed by how much better it worked. If you feel like YOU are doing all the work when mixing this stuff, I recommend borrowing or buying a better hand mixer (or use a stand mixer). Your arms will thank you and it will cut the prep time in half.
  • Assemble with frozen layers: Handling frozen layers is a cinch – they stack easily without crumbling, frosting is easy to spread, and the cake turns out super moist.
  • Decorate with rosettes: After watching this Cake Trend video, I was able to decorate the cake with rosettes. The process was really forgiving! When things don’t look perfect, you can cover the edges with the next rosette. And because this cake used only one color, it was easy to blend and fill any gaps after finishing.
    • This cake was assembled and decorated one day before the party and stored in an airtight container overnight in the fridge.

Rosette cake

Now, didn’t I say she asked for a ballerina cake? Well, drawing a ballerina with frosting is simply beyond my skill level, so I needed something to stick in the cake.

I bought two sheets of glittery cardstock from JoAnn Fabrics (one gold, one pink). Then I traced and cut out ballerina figures. Each figure was taped to a wood skewer and stuck in the cake the day of the party.

Approval.jpg

I think she liked it and it was delicious!

Trust me, if I can make it, so can you!

 

He is Risen! – But We Must Have Faith To Claim Victory In Our Everyday Lives

He is Risen! Happy Easter!

this grateful mama

John 1633

This Easter, the best way to celebrate the gift of Jesus is to share what God has been doing in my life this past year. Last year, Easter exposed a void in my faith that I ddin’t even know was there. Deeply painful at the time and very personal even today, I wasn’t sure I would ever share this here – but the work of God and His victories in our lives is always worth sharing, even when it is beyond our comfort level. Sorry, this is going to be a long one…Here goes…

Last spring, the women’s bible study studied the book ‘Fearless” by Max Lucado. After the first session, I arrogantly (and ignorantly) told my husband, “The book seems good, but I really don’t struggle with fear”.

Somehow, I thought that learning what God’s word has to say about fear didn’t apply to me –  a grievous mistake…

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