Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Life Changes

I was able to get out of bed before Carson this morning. It was wonderful having some personal time alone. I don't get much of that and usually Carson wakes up pretty early and then I have to drag myself out of bed to keep up with him. This morning gave me some time to read the Word and to reflect on our lives in peace and quiet. It was much more productive than usual.

The big thing I've learned this year is to let God lead and I've been feeling his direction more than ever in my life. Josh and I are in the process of simplifying our lives. This means letting go of the dog grooming salon. This has been a bittersweet process. No more grooming means more time to help Josh with the adult family home and more time at home with Carson. Plus, less exhaustion (that's a big plus). It's a win-win. BUT...I spent a lot of energy, physically and emotionally, starting the dog grooming salon. It seemed like a great idea at the time. Hindsight is 20/20. Letting go is what I need to do to be a better wife and mother so that part feels good. It's like going through old boxes of little treasures from your childhood. There are items that really need to be tossed out to make space but it's emotional to do and yet it feels so good once it's done. That's the emotional process I go through each time I have to refer a client out. It's hard to turn people away. I'll be happy when it's all over with.

What I won't miss...nearly getting my hands bit off!

More than ever, I am looking forward to the future with excitement and peace. I know we're on the right path. It's amazing how you think you have everything figured out in life and in a short amount of time it changes! I'm also realizing it's okay not to have everything figured out completely. Maybe it's the whole giving up control to God thing. I know He has it taken care of. God's got it in the bag.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Just for Laughs. I needed a smile and wanted to share!

Limit Setting

Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul. ~Proverbs 29:17

Since Carson suddenly became a toddler (it seriously happened overnight)I had a hard time adjusting from baby angelic behavior to all the sudden testing the limits. He developed a new look that he would give me when he was being mischievous and he started hitting me when he felt like he wasn't getting the attention he deserved. It was a shock and took me a couple of months to adjust. During that time I was reading The Happiest Toddler on the Block by Dr. Harvey Karp. I had read his book The Happiest Baby on the Block and loved it so I thought for a book on disciplining toddlers, I would start with an author I trusted. He had some good ideas in his book and over the last month or so I have putting them into practice. I went from feeling out of control to feeling like now there is a healthy balance. In his book, Dr. Karp, mostly encourages you to prevent the bad behavior in the fist place by spending adequate time with your child and praising wanted behavior and doing what's called "filling the meter." He also has some other great tips that help, but it's not going to prevent everything.

Things I had been putting up with because Carson was only a toddler with no self-control, I realized could be stopped. It was a marvelous feeling! Dr. Karp suggests that hitting and biting should be instant consequences, no warnings for those behaviors and pick one other family rule that is an instant consequence. Well our family rule quickly became no throwing gravel into the yard. This had been an issue where I was constantly saying no and then picking up the gravel as he threw it and getting frustrated. Then I stopped, did a quick head smack, and said "what the heck am I doing?" I picked up Carson took him inside, closed the slider glass door and went back outside myself. He had a melt down, but it only lasted a minute and once he calmed down, I let him outside to play again and he hasn't thrown the gravel since. That was three weeks ago! Not everything is going to go that smoothly, but I realized for the benefit of both of us, I really needed to set limits and I could do it without getting angry or spanking. It just hit me like a ton of bricks that someday he's going to be a man and I want him to be a responsible man, a loving husband, and a good father, and that process starts now.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Skin-to-Skin Contact

The other day my friend and I were discussing her excitement over the fact that she gets to use her brand new Moby Wrap with her brand new baby due any day now. I told her that she can do skin-to-skin contact while wearing the Moby and be mostly covered. That way she can walk around the house with ease and not worry about flashing the neighbors. We did decide that it might be a good idea to at least keep a bra on considering what happens to a woman's breasts postpartum! It's probably advisable to keep you both dry ;). Anyway, our discussion reminded me of the importance of skin-to-skin contact.

This was drilled into Josh and I at the hospital during Carson’s first week of life by the lactation consultant. During that time Carson was one stressed out little guy so when he got into a screaming fit, Josh would tuck him under his shirt and he would calm instantly. We later learned that skin-to-skin contact with an infant is a natural pain reliever because it releases endorphins that act as an analgesic. Yet this is something we didn’t do at home. We were so silly back then! It was November and cold when Carson was born so we were usually pretty bundled up and I worried about taking his clothes off and freezing him. The Moby would have solved this issue, I just didn’t know about the Moby until Carson was 4 months old. Once I discovered the Moby online, I ran out to Mother’s Haven and bought one. It’s been a highly used carrier by us and I can’t wait to use it with our next child, who I will be doing a ton of skin-to-skin with (no, I'm not pregnant yet).

It makes sense that this simple thing would be so beneficial considering that in the womb they have 24/7 skin-to-skin. Also, don’t worry about spoiling your baby! Even if you held your infant for hours during the day, that is significantly less time than they were being held just a short time ago in your womb! Skin-to-skin is even more important for preemies. It actually effects their success rate. This article is a great read about kangaroo care:

This is also something that the husbands can participate in. While hubby is sitting on the couch watching TV, place naked baby (with diaper on of course) under his shirt, and now back away slowly and take this time to relax. Take a bubble bath, go for a walk, or just take a nap.

Here are some of the many benefits to skin-to-skin contact:

Improved Bonding
Increased Milk Production
Pain relieving effects for infant (super useful for colic)
Directly after birth and for short time after: regulation of heart rate, temperature, and breathing, and raises blood glucose levels in infant
Significantly reduces crying & helps baby to de-stress

Going Dairy Free

Carson and I met with the Naturopath yesterday. It was really great having the expertise of a doctor with a balanced opinion. He really felt like a lot of our answers lies in a food sensitivity and sleep deprivation. My blood pressure was 90/50! Which explains a lot. We did blood work just in case, but we both felt that once we're all getting the rest we need and taking care of our diet concerns, our bodies should finally be able to heal. So today, Carson and I are starting an elimination diet. The first thing to eliminate is dairy and after three weeks if we are not 100% improved, we then cut out wheat and corn, and it continues on with all the allergenic foods until we find relief. Cutting out dairy seemed overwhelming. Especially if it was the culprit. How am I going to live without cheese or gasp, ice cream?

I did some research and wow are there a lot of healthy alternatives. It might actually be easy going dairy free in this modern culture. There is coconut milk ice cream...yum. Rice cheese, veggie cheese, and of course soy cheese. Plus there is a plethora of milk alternatives. Our nearby Yokes has hemp milk, almond milk, rice milk, coconut milk, and of course the ever popular soy. I can't consume soy products but with so many other options, it really isn't an issue.

With all these alternatives, I should be able to cook relatively the same meals as usual. We will be trying to make things with less dairy ingredients, but a burrito or hamburger is just not the same without cheese and it's nice to know I won't have to really sacrifice that.

The good news is we should be able to tell a difference in Carson within just a few days! Once he has digestion relief, we'll start to work on his nighttime sleep. I'm hoping that with fewer stomach aches at night, he'll also want to nurse less and I can then encourage him to night wean.

Also, lately I've been adding more beans to my diet and I had to report the outcome. I've discovered that beans really aren't the magical fruit (in the tooting sense). This hasn't been an issue. The wonderful thing is that my skin cleared up! I normally struggle with acne and I've had big time healing. I've taken fiber supplements before, but my body is reacting differently by getting it from the actual food. I bought a small crockpot just for cooking beans in. I cook small batches at a time and just snack on them or make a quick burrito for lunch. It's also a great food for Carson because he can easily pick them up with his little fingers and along with peas, he has a super nutritious snack. I used to also give him slices of cheese, so I'll be thinking up other little snacks that are quick and easy. I might post a list soon for others to get ideas from.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Josh and I were kept awake pretty much all night long because of Carson's tossing and turning, gas, and random screaming in his sleep. Finally by 6am, after a dose of gripe water, he had explosive diarrhea that required a shower. The smell alone made me want to run from our house screaming. So we decided enough is enough and it's time to take action. I'm also having health issues, so maybe we are just passing something back and forth? We have an appointment with a naturopath tomorrow to get us both checked out. Carson has had diarrhea since he was born and up until starting solids it was completely mucousy. The doctor has blown us off because he's growing fine and he doesn't seem to exhibit any issues. Really, no issues, like screaming in his sleep, continuing severe acid reflux (which he was supposed to have grown out of by 12 months), and almost constant rancid diarrhea and sulfurous burn your nose gas. Nope, he's great. I'm going on 16+ months of no sleep and it's getting to me. Considering the fact that Josh and I got into an angry yet comical pillow fight this morning after a miscommunication. I thought Josh threw a pillow at Carson out of frustration. The pillow hit him pretty hard so I grabbed a pillow myself, jumped out of bed and hit Josh back with it (don't mess with mama bear), turns out he was trying to aim for the headboard and he felt bad..oops. Next time Josh just needs to go in the next room and punch the pillow, not throw it, and then we'll take turns. Some days, like today, are worse than others, but I have a feeling there's something in Carson's body that's causing this issue and we need to figure it out. I'm following my God-given mothering instincts here. (That's a topic in and of itself and I will hopefully be posting about that soon.)

So in the meantime, we are going to be eating extremely healthy. I'm going to do research on elimination diets and start that for both Carson and I in case it's a food allergy. I did this with dairy for a couple months after Carson was born and there was no change in his stools, but just in case I'll still include it in the elimination process. I'm also going to change prayer tactics. For a long time now I've been praying that God would heal Carson and help him to sleep better because of it but now I will be praying that God reveals to us or to the doctor what is causing Carson's health issue, especially since maybe it's starting with me.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Quick Marriage Tip from the Allens

My husband and I were discussing yesterday how not only is communication important in a marriage, but so is intimacy. I'm not talking about just sex here people! I'm talking about holding hands while watching TV, a quick hug, a smile, and yes even kissing. These are small things that Josh and I tend to forget about during our day to day lives. They are important though. It's something we try to keep on the top of our priority list. So I encourage you to take the time to kiss your spouse. Kiss and count to 5 (maybe throw a little tongue action in). It's amazing what 5 seconds of intimacy can do. Even if you've been fighting lately, or for awhile, that little bit of intimacy can bridge a gap and bring some tender feelings back to your relationship and hopefully open up the door to better communication and a better marriage. Or if your marriage is already in tip top shape, it can help get the fires burning a little bit hotter.

Birthday Amazingness

Yesterday was my B-Day and it was the best day I've had in a long time. My husband absolutely spoiled me! He started off the morning by surprising me with the movie New Moon. My Mom dropped me off an awesome cake from Just American Desserts. The day wouldn't have been the same without it. Then in the afternoon Hubby took me shopping!!!! He let me take as long as I wanted (when does that ever happen ladies!?). Also, because of the amazing sales, I was able to get 4 pairs of shoes. I was in heaven! After that we met up with my Dad at a coffee shop and had a treat. Then hit Josh's parent's hot tub for some down time and ended the night with watching New Moon. It was a girl's fantasy day. Josh's birthday is coming up soon so now I need to figure out a day that would spoil him. Any suggestions?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Our Sidecarred Crib

One of the things I am passionate about is being there for your babies, even during the night. Parenting doesn't end at 8pm. We had to learn this the hard way. During the first few weeks of Carson's life he screamed constantly. Josh and I were exhausted and we read a book saying that after two weeks old, your baby can cry it out. Obviously this author was a crackpot (my opinion at least). We were desperate and tired so we let our barely older than two week old son cry-it-out. My heart still breaks thinking about it. I cried the entire time and was proud of myself for not giving in and going in there (I know, ridiculous). We also tried the cry-it-out approach when Carson was about 4 months old. This is when my view changed for good. He was old enough then to communicate how traumatized he was. He would start shaking and clinging to me anytime we walked in his bedroom. Freaking out that I had ruined my child, I went to Barnes & Noble as fast as I could and picked up Attachment Parenting by Dr. Sears. We immediately implemented what we read and we started seeing huge changes in Carson for the better. This did mean many trips back and forth between rooms in the middle of the night. Finally, by the time Carson was 6 months old, I was exhausted and we knew we had to do something but didn't want to go down the path of cry-it-out again. We discussed co-sleeping but neither of us liked the idea of Carson in between us. Then I remembered that Dr. Sears' book recommended side-carring the crib. I googled it and found this great website with instructions: We side-carred his crib that night and we have been enjoying it ever since! I love having him close. It's also nice that when he's sick, which usually happens during the middle of the night for some reason, I know immediately. When he had croup, I heard that first wheeze and was instantly able to act, which I think helped prevent it from becoming more serious. I can't imagine putting our future babies down the hall in another room now. So this crib will probably be hooked to our bed for quite awhile. I wanted to post this because I thought it was a good alternative for people that aren't quite comfortable with co-sleeping, either because of safety worries or issues of the baby being in the marriage bed, but are tired of sitting in the rocking chair of their baby's nursery all night long.

We took the front rail off of Carson's crib and used the wall to keep our beds together. Right now we have nothing holding them together so every night I have to double check that they are as tight as can possibly be. I would suggest using zip ties and actually securing the bed frames together. I've never had a separation, but I always check just in case. Even if you secure the frames together, you still need to double check that the mattresses are tight each night which just takes a few seconds. There also can be no gap at the head of the bed and if your baby is a mover then there should be no gap at the end either. If you have side handles on either of your mattresses, you can use a bungee cord to secure the mattresses together. We also used another mattress to bring Carson's mattress up to match the height of ours. You could also use old comforters and blankets. We used an old quilt and rolled it up really tight and wrapped a sheet around it to go in the crack between his mattress and his headboard. The website I mentioned above suggests using high-density foam that you can pick up at any fabric store for that gap. Which if there is a gap between the foot board and mattress, you can use it to fill that gap as well. Which we will probably do for our next baby. Carson spends most of his sleep time half on our bed and half on his so he really never touches the rolled up quilt, which could be too soft for a new baby.

We love this arrangement and highly recommend it!
Benefits of almost owning an Adult Family Home...Carson got to see a firetruck up close and personal this morning while helping Daddy. Although they're never here for good reasons, it was super exciting for him. Josh picked Carson up and as he was walking out the backdoor with him told me "I'm going to go show him the firetruck." Firetruck? Oh, right, the one in your parent's driveway. I'm just so used to them, they're nothing but ordinary anymore, but not through the eyes of a child. Plus it puts a positive spin on something that's usually stressful.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Evil Bug

Yesterday while I was snuggling Carson, he started whimpering and pulling on his pants under his bum. Sometimes he pulls on his pants when he has a dirty diaper so I picked him up and ran him into the nursery because this one must be hurting. I opened up his diaper and frantically started wiping as fast as I could because he kept whimpering. I saw a chunk of stuff in the fold of his leg so I went to wipe it off and realized it was a bug. I freaked out and got it off of him as fast as possible, but the stupid bug had stung him (I thought they were bite marks at the time). It had gotten him 3 times and the "bite" marks were huge with gigantic welts. I called Josh and he told me I needed to go look for it in case it was something poisonous. So whimpering and screeching I started moving things around on Carson's changing table trying to find the little bugger. After almost breaking down into tears, because of course this thing was going to crawl up my leg and sting me too, I finally found it. It turned out to be not so little. I saved it for Josh to do a little investigative work when he got home. He found that it's an assassin beetle/wheel bug. That's when we found out that they actually sting and it hurts worse than a bee sting and all Carson did was whimper. My poor baby! Ugh, I feel like I have creepy crawlies all over me just typing this.

Carson does spend a lot of time on the floor so I guess it makes sense that he would pick up a bug but I'm panicked that he's going to pick up another one. Especially since we see these bugs quite often here. Carson started throwing up early this morning and we're hoping it's a virus and not anything to do with that nasty creature. (Don't worry we already put a call into his doc's office just to make sure)

Lightening Up

"Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife." Proverbs 25:24

Okay, I have to admit, I'm a quarrelsome wife. In my heart of hearts, I really don't want to be, but I am and I am also thankful that my husband still loves me dearly and still resides inside our home and not on our roof. He accepts me for who I am and he knows that I continually try to grow in this area. As I've been reading through Proverbs, which I have done many times before, this has been laid on my heart, to end the nit-picky bickering.

The problem lies with the fact that I take words very seriously. A little too seriously. I'm extremely literal. My mom likes to tell me a story of when I was little and I asked her, "do people really climb the walls?" Someone had used the expression around me and I just didn't get it. Mind you I was probably seven at the time, but my sense of literalness hasn't really lessened much over the years. I DO NOT understand sarcasm. I can't pick up on whether they are serious or not. The words are serious, but was that a tone of sarcasm? Maybe it's because I'm mostly deaf in one ear. Not sure, but whenever someone cracks a joke with heavy words I always have to look to Josh for translation. He usually gives me a head nod of yes honey, they are joking. Then I laugh. If Josh isn't there to clue me in, then I get pretty uncomfortable and it has actually led to self-esteem issues. Okay, so I've gone a little off path. The point is I have really been trying to "listen." Not to the words, but the meaning and intent behind the words. There's a Proverbs for that too. That means I have to slow down and take the time for the words to sink in and then make my response. I need to make a new rule for myself, wait at least 5 seconds before making a response. I might just try that and see what happens! Five seconds might not seem long enough, but I don't want my hubby to think I'm ignoring him. That wouldn't be nice either.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Waiting on the Lord

I've recently been listening a lot to a song called While I'm Waiting by John Waller. This song totally sums up my life right now. The beginning of this year my resolution was to give up control of my life to God. I've always been the one to take the lead and then I ask God to bless my path. God was really speaking to my heart and telling me that I needed to start doing things the other way around. It hasn't been easy for me because I'm not used to waiting on the Lord or anyone else for that matter. Some amazing things have happened since I've put God first in my life though. For starters, I heard His voice for the first time. Maybe because I was actually listening. I also now have to ask for direction because I really don't know what's ahead.

The hardest part about God's timing though is the waiting. Pretty much since Carson was born, I've had constant baby fever because I discovered how amazing children are. Josh and I had a plan of course, per usual, to wait until Carson was 12 months before trying again and since it was our plan, we would of course get pregnant that month or very soon after. Because of infertility problems, we got to really plan for Carson. I needed the help of our acupuncturist to set my hormones right before trying. So when we were ready I leveled all my wonderful hormones out and got pregnant with Carson during our first month of trying. After that experience, I had the frame of mind that our next child wouldn't be any different.

Once Carson turned a year, we decided to just see what happened in the hopes that it might actually take a few months to get pregnant since we weren't as ready as we thought we'd be. This was right before I told God I would let him lead. So here we are in the month of March and I'm panicking because "my" life plan is not happening. I always planned that my children would be perfectly 2 years apart. That would mean I had to get pregnant last month. I have peace about it, but some days I want to do things my way, but then I hear the Lord's voice say "no, it's not time yet, wait on me." I'm excited because God's ways are ALWAYS better than ours and sometimes I feel like a giddy little girl thinking oh my goodness, this is going to be so great, God has something in store for me! Other days I want to just tell God, okay I'm ready already! Hurry up, clocks ticking! I wish I had some scripture memorized to encourage me, but I'm working on that. One thing at a time. Right now I'm just trying to learn some patience.

A Sense of Humor

Last night while Josh and I were making cookies in the kitchen, I took a break to put Carson to bed and I thought what a great time to surprise my hubby with a "cute" outfit. I made sure my hair was primped and my make up looked good. Then while I was changing, Josh came to check and see what was taking me so long. I saw him go down the hall to the bathroom and while he did that I was attempting to hide behind the corner of our dresser. When he saw I wasn't in the bathroom, he turned around confused until he saw me trying to hide. We both started laughing because he realized what I was doing but not pulling off very well. So he went back to the kitchen and after I was done getting myself ready, I went out to make my entrance and he acted like he was surprised. We decided to finish the cookies and get the kitchen clean before anything else because, well, the surprise was ruined and really the surprise is what makes it special. (I know, romantic). So I grabbed a mixing bowl, walked over to the sink, turned it on and got completely sprayed in the face! It wasn't a little water, the hose was on full blast. I was stunned for a second and after thinking what the #$%! I saw there was a rubber band around the spray nozzle. I looked at Josh and we both started laughing hysterically. So much for being sexy! Oh well, Josh likes me with no make up on anyway. I should have seen it coming. Earlier in the day he asked me whether or not I would be upset if he played a prank on me and he happened to be standing at the sink at the time. I told him it depends and he said it was something he had seen on America's Funniest Home Videos (uh oh). Well I completely forgot all about this conversation until getting sprayed in the face. The timing was perfect though. We continued to laugh for a long time afterward. He wasn't expecting that to happen until the next day and the fact that it happened when I was trying to be "attractive" just added to the humor. Plus Josh got to point out that I looked good all wet. We had a great night of laughter and fun. Thanks hubby for bringing so much humor into our life! You're the best.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Noah Steven Graves

Life with Carson is crazy beautiful! I could stare at my child all day long. He makes me laugh more than I ever thought possible and sometimes I feel like my chest can't contain my swelling heart from my love for him. But as of late I have been transformed as a parent. Lately, the emotion has been thankfulness and gratitude that he is in my life and God has blessed us with a healthy child. I have been reading a blog about two parent's journey of losing their little boy from a disease that was treatable and had the doctors not gotten caught up in pursuits of grandeur, he probably would have been saved. They were looking for a rare genetic or metabolic disorder and missed the easily diagnosable Lyme's Disease even though it was staring them in the face. So after a 5 1/2 month battle to save their little boy they eventually had to make the extremely difficult decision to take him off life support. His name was Noah Steven Graves and he has changed my life! The Graves' faith during the time of their son's illness has been truly inspirational. I have sat at the computer each evening for the last week or so reading their blog and just weeping with each post. Their faith never waivered and Noah's parents even had the strength to spiritually encourage others during that time! How crazy is that?! It made me feel so guilty about how I reacted to Carson's birth and hospital stay. People would say to me, well at least you have a healthy baby. I would smile and nod but really on the inside I was mad. I was mad about the fact that had the midwife done her job we wouldn't be at the hospital, but snuggling at home where we're supposed to be. I was mad because we had previously lost our first child during my eighth week of pregnancy. Even though Carson only stayed at the hospital for a week and came home completely healthy, our faith waivered and we certainly thought of no one else during that time and instead we should have been on our knees thanking God that Carson was still with us and not the preemie fighting for his life next to us in that hospital room. That despite the odds against him he was born "safely." It was a miracle that he did as well as he did and yet I was angry at God for allowing the situation to happen in the first place. Hadn't we suffered enough with the miscarriage? Yes, I needed to feel my anger to move on, but I shouldn't have been so closed off to God's part in everything.

The hardest part about reading Noah's blog is that with each downturn I read about, I have the biggest desire to get on my knees for him. I haven't been on my knees in front of the Lord in a long time and the fact that he is already with our Heavenly Father grieves me, but it has also allowed me to get on my knees for others and for my very own son. After the first night of reading the blog, I went in to where Carson was sleeping, snuggled up to him, and prayed over him and asked for forgiveness for not doing it sooner and more often. I should be doing that every night! I know that God used Noah's life to touch others but as I read the blog, I do struggle with a little anger towards God for allowing this family to suffer so much! It's hard enough losing your child but to something that was treatable! I just feel like it was cruel. But maybe that's why his story is so life changing. This blog has been an emotional journey, a very tough emotional journey, but one that has awakened me spiritually and I hope that doesn't fade. Each time I think of Noah, I want to go out and make a difference. I have a drive to do more and be more for God and to further His Kingdom. It has really put things into perspective. Noah's mother Adrienne eloquently wrote that if her son had survived he would not have touched so many lives. If God had healed him, people would have been in awe of the miracle but only for a short time. Eventually, people would have forgotten. As difficult as her words are they are very true, I will never forget Noah Steven Graves and I never even knew him. His death reminded me that this is not our true home.

If you can handle the emotion, I highly suggest reading Noah's blog: