remembering the meaning

As I started my Christmas decorating, I realized that I am accumulating more and more decor every year even though we still have the same size house. I listened to the radio Christmas tunes and didn’t hear more than two songs about Jesus- not even the classics like Silent Night or Away in the Manger. Have we lost that Christmas is about the birth of Christ?
Chris & I (preggo) as Mary & Joesph at the parade Nativity Scene
Chris and I both came from families with Christmas traditions- mine being a little bit more over the top. My dad would get neighbors to dress up as Santa and run past the windows during Christmas Eve getting all the children to run and peek out each window with eyes as big as apples. Stalkings are still stuffed magically when us kids (now all adults) wake up in the morning, Santa still takes a bite out of a cookie and drinks all his milk, and reindeer still make loud bashes on our roof Christmas Eve. There are always millions of Christmas presents that overflow the living room and look simply beautiful under a huge, REAL Christmas tree. 

Now being parents, Chris and I want all those traditions that we had as children. But, as we have watched over the last few years, it is so important that while we hang up twinkle lights and listen to Christmas music day and night until after the 25th – we can’t forget what Christmas is about. Chris and I even have to try and keep our focus amongst the shopping, blown-up snowman’s and turkey, so how do we raise a child with all the wonderful traditions and a heart that knows it is about the birth of Jesus?

It is easy to get carried away in the “magic” of Christmas and not the magic that happened the very first Christmas. We will again try our hardest this year to remember and cherish what the season is about and enjoy our first Christmas with Audrey. 

Merry Christmas!


holidays with baby bring out a family tug of war

I had this dream that my immediate family and my husband’s immediate family were all on a beach. No, we were not sitting by a fire singing “Kumbaya” and making s’mores. His family stood griping tightly to one side of a rope and my family stood pulling hard on the other.

Chris and I stood divided by the rope with the baby perched up in the middle. I awoke to the “beep beep” of my text message reading: From Mom, “Where are you spending Christmas?”

For centuries all around the world, marriage has been about bringing together family. However, it seems in our culture these days, you most likely see a family divide. Chris and I had a master plan when we got married. We would just split the holidays — easy.

Then I got pregnant. Who gets to be in the delivery room? Who gets to baby-sit? Who gets to spend baby’s first Christmas with us? A sweet little baby brought out the fangs, nails, tears and sweat, with a side order of pressure and guilt. Chris and I are now parents to a beautiful daughter and two loving families. We have to make sure they share, play nice and we have to keep things even.

I suppose having twins would have solved some issues: two babies, two grandmas. Similarly, when one side had the baby, I tried to offer the other side our dogs. It didn’t work. Guess they just don’t smell the same.

Being that I always feel better when I learn I am not the only one dealing with a certain issue, I collected responses from 30 anonymous families. A whopping 80 percent of these couples came up with a plan before their baby was born and only 30 percent stuck to that plan. In order to please everyone, more than 50 percent decided to visit both families during the holidays — even if that meant driving six hours on Christmas to spend half with the other side.

Furthermore, that 50 percent was spending at least once a month arguing about family, increasing after baby was born.

As I sat amongst a group of new wives and mothers recently — a group that is supposed to be talking about a book, being it is “book club” — we sipped our wine and spat out issues regarding our mothers, mothers-in-law, fathers, husbands, babies and dogs. The stories kept circling around the group as every wife could one-up the previous one’s story. For three hours that room was filled with gasps, laughter and a whole lot of estrogen.

In the end, I wondered what we would talk about if we didn’t have husbands who kept the toilet seat up, babies who were teething, mothers and mothers-in-law who always have opinions and dogs who chew up your favorite shoes. I guess we could talk about our books.

Family is what makes the world go around — the good, the bad, and the ugly. You really can’t pick your family, you can just try and love them — or live far away. This Christmas, both families will be coming to our house. We could sit in front of the tree singing carols, but then what would I write about?

By the numbers:
In an informal survey of 30 families:
• 50 percent are closest to the wife’s family, while 13 percent are closest to the husband’s side; the remaining were close to both sides.
• 80 percent came up with a plan on how to spend the holidays after baby was born.
• 55 percent argue about family, with 50 percent arguing at least once a month.
• 50 percent visit both families during the holidays; 17 percent split Christmas eve and Christmas Day; 22 percent split Thanksgiving and Christmas, and 10 percent just spend the holidays with the wife’s family. Only one family had both sides together at the holidays.

My ABC Soup: Holidays with baby bring out a family tug of war | The News-Review –

the skinny on pregnancy

6 months
When we got pregnant, although it wasn’t exactly planned, we were extremely excited. Like many women do, I had everything planned as to how much weight I would allow myself to gain, how I wouldn’t eat fast food and how I would keep exercising. I’m sure you fellow mommies are joining me in a laugh.

Morning sickness consumed all day and every day of my first trimester. This drove me or my husband on recurring runs to McDonald’s for chicken nuggets and fries. I started to realize that pregnancy, for me, was not like it was in the movies. I didn’t feel like I was glowing because I had acne. I didn’t just have a belly bump – I had hip, thigh and boob bumps too. 

Lastly, my mind was constantly in an argument with my stomach on whether I should give in to that double-fudge, triple layer cake or not. Here, I thought pregnancy would finally take the social stress away. No more dieting, trying to fit into those skinny jeans or comparing myself to other women. Wrong. I watched what I ate knowing that I would still gain weight, I still tried to at least fit into my fat jeans, and I now compared myself to other pregnant women.

Somehow, I also surrounded myself with people who raised an eyebrow at my pregnancy complaints. “Oh, I loved being pregnant!” they would remark. The other party was normally someone who looked great with an extra thirty pounds, ate whatever she wanted without feeling guilty and someone who didn’t gain arm flaps or National Geographic nipples. That person also returned to their size four jeans a week after giving birth. These expectant enthusiasts made me bitter. My mother continued to tell me how she ate Wendy’s Frosty’s every day and she only gained twenty-five pounds.

For nine months, I was a pregnant grump. Starting at six months I received comments such as, “Wow, looks like you are going to pop,” or “Are you sure you are not carrying twins?” My husband quickly learned to stop speaking after he made the mistake of asking me why at six months pregnant I was bigger than the eight month pregnant ladies in the parenting class.

In the end, I won the battle with pregnancy. I had a piece-of-cake labor. However, I was left with thirty-five pounds to lose, stretch-marks to get rid of and a new found love for Spanx. But, I was also given the greatest gift from God: our little baby girl. It is all worth it, and to answer the question almost every new mom receives almost immediately after your baby comes out—yes, I will do it again, but certainly not anytime soon.

dear new mom

It is OK that you feel completely exhausted because you just spent nine months worrying and caring for your unborn, and now that she’s born, it is triple the worry and care.
It is OK to still eat like a pregnant woman because you’re awake 24 hours a day, rocking a baby and milking like a cow. That is a lot of burned calories.

It is OK that you haven’t done or even thought about laundry, dishes, making the bed, cooking or cleaning. This is why you have a mother and takeout.

It is OK that you are feeling very emotional and tend to break down when your husband comes home and hand him the baby. It is a lot of work, and those hormones … phew!

It is also OK that you really want to give your husband an earful when he replies, “I don’t understand why you are so tired; she just sleeps.” This is of course because the baby always decides to sleep during daddy hours.

It is also even more OK that you secretly like when she doesn’t sleep well during your husband’s nighttime shift on the weekend so that he finally understands WHY YOU ARE TIRED.

It is OK if you choose to breastfeed, formula feed, give binkies, have baby sleep in your room or give baby a bottle. Everyone will give an opinion, but remember, it is your child and your decision.

It is OK to still wear your maternity clothes after giving birth. You deserve to be comfortable, and frankly no one looks at you now that you have a baby to show off.

It is OK that you read all the books and learned what to do and what not to do, and you’re now going by your own rules.

It is OK that you don’t like certain people holding her, baby-sitting her or even touching her. Mommyhood gives you fabulous instincts, so follow them.

Finally, it is OK that you think your baby is the cutest, smartest and most well behaved baby of all. She is.