Sunday, December 30, 2012

Leaving 2012

I guess I could write about all of the disappointments and milestones 2012 brought me. Instead I think I'll just say that I encountered many new learning experiences as a new mom. In the blink of an eye, a tiny 3 month old is now an active toddler. Wait a minute....did I say toddler? That can't be right! Julianna still has all of her adorable baby features, so I'll keep referring to her as a baby. Anyway here are insights 2012 left me with as I encountered many joys and heartaches with my precious little girl.

1) We spent last New Year's eve in the hospital, relieved to learn that our daughter didn't have cystic fibrosis, cancer or other scary conditions. Just a case of severe reflux that required a special feeding plan. My 48 hour labor and all natural birth that once seemed challenging no longer seemed so frightening.

2) Entering the world of mommy hood is like starting high-school all over again.People form cliques based on what they feel are important aspects of raising a child. The breastfeeding moms flock together, stay-at-home moms form support groups and of course you'll spot other mommy cliques at any playground. And just like being in high-school, you're likely to find other moms judging the mothers in other cliques. The reality is that we all survived childbirth and experienced that unforgettable moment of locking eyes on our baby for the 1st time. Those are the memories that should ultimately unite us, not divide us.

3) Everybody wants to tell you what to expect for each stage of your child's development, but the truth is anything is possible. One parent might claim that sleep deprivation involves waking up every few hours, while another parent claims they only had 1-2 hours of sleep in the past 24 hours. One two year old might be easy to reason with while another might hit, bite, scream and pinch all day long. You might even find those parents who raised their children well, only to learn that their children are now adults and making bad choices. Unless you spent one day in someone else's journey of parenthood, DON'T JUDGE!

4) Watching the news before going to bed is a terrible idea!If you see any news flashes about child abductions, forget falling asleep that night. Somehow I always double check to see that everything is locked twice before going to bed.

5) Have your diaper bag all stocked up and ready to go at all times. It makes getting out the front door an easier process.

6) My relationship changed not only with my parents but also with all mighty God. I have a greater level of respect for the sacrifices my parents made, and now realize that God gave his ultimate sacrifice. I don't have the ability to send my child to die for anyone, yet God sent his son to give us everlasting life. This is a concept I'll never fully grasp. God also demonstrated how faithful he is to meet my needs as a new mom. Somehow I found inner strength I never thought I had when waiting for Julianna's test results.Moving into a house is nothing short of one of God's gifts, and thankfully Julianna now has a backyard to play in.It also amazed me to see how quickly God answered my request for more stay-at-home mom friends to hang out with.

7)Freezer friendly meals are your new best friend. Nutritious meals in a pinch are also possible due to having batches of homemade soup mixes in your pantry for busy nights ahead. Not only are these cooking methods life savers during a busy holiday season, I'm thinking they'll come in handy for future days with newborn babies. And no, we're not expecting.

8) There is no one size fits all approach. One child may need quiet activities in the late evening to get ready for bed, whereas the next baby won't sleep until they get all of their energy out. The experts claim that the developmental milestones occur at the same time frames, and that certain methods work well with common transitions and phases, but the truth is each child is unique. God hand crafted each baby with special strengths and hand picked the parents best equipped for the job.

9) We made various attempts to take a getaway to the beach, visit the zoo, enroll Julianna in infant classes at the community center, ect. Instead we became victims of Murphey's law. Illnesses, booked rooms and other events made doing so impossible. In the end I learned it's ok if we're not constantly taking our infant everywhere to provide her with enriching experiences. Sometimes the best experiences simply involve being together. It's reading the same picture book 500 times, going for walks and looking at different things in the neighborhood, cuddling together at the end of a long day. Those are the moments that matter the most.

10) You'll compare yourself to other moms. It doesn't end in the newborn stage when you see that some moms have an easier time breastfeeding or getting their infant to learn the difference between night and day. Months down the road you'll meet moms with cleaner homes, thinner bodies and that seem to have it all together. In the end, comparison doesn't glorify God and only leads to insecure feelings.

11) Christmas will never be the same ever again. Years ago I got excited over a stereo or receiving a doll I saw on tv.Now it excites me to see my daughter opening up gifts and watching her eyes light up. This year I relived childhood memories by spending time playing with Julianna's new baby doll, puzzles and toy truck.

12) It is still possible to maintain a clean house with an active baby on the loose. I tackle one household task a day during nap time, such as deep cleaning both bathrooms. Quick clean ups are performed daily while Julianna eats healthy finger food in her high chair.

13) As moms we have different strengths and weaknesses. We also have distinct personality traits that set us apart. One person might find the newborn stage to be stressful while another finds the pre-teen years to be more challenging. It's all the more reason to encourage others. After all, we'll all agree that hearing the words momma for the first time, or having a baby sleeping on your chest are the greatest feelings you'll experience.

So here's my New Year's resolution, to make it a priority to encourage other mothers on a regular basis.We spend entirely too much time casting judgement on other mommies, instead of simply admitting that we all have the most rewarding yet challenging job of all. I think I'll start by sending a note of encouragement to a mom whose 2 year old son has cancer. After that...who knows! Maybe I'll take the time to remind a new sleep deprived mom to hang in there, she's doing a great job. I might send a note to someone whose teen is making the wrong choices, or I could simply provide a thoughtful word to a single mom that makes my job as a mom seem so easy.

Happy New Years!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Baby Dedication

Becoming a mommy is a life-altering event that you'll never forget. Even more exciting is the fact that God created your child with a special plan and a purpose. Like any Christian parent, it is my desire to see Julianna bloom into a God fearing woman who serves the Lord. Today Jesse and I dedicated her to God, promising that we'll raise her to be an obedient follower of Christ in front of the entire congregation.If you're not familiar with the Baptist faith, baptism is an event that takes place once the child is old enough to understand the scriptures. The dedication is an event for your child to be prayed over and to promise everyone that your child is going to grow up with Godly parents. I currently attend services at a Baptist church but wanted to include some traditions from my Catholic upbringing. Julianna wore a traditional Christening gown and a special cake awaited everyone after service. I almost cried today while seeing how angelic Julianna appeared with her pale skin, big blue eyes and white dress.

                                           Getting ready to attend the Sunday  service.

                         Julianna with Grammy and Grandpa before entering the church.

                                             A close up of my beautiful little angel.

         Here I am telling the church how I pray for my daughter to love and serve Christ.
                                          Julianna wants to give her two cents.


Monday, September 3, 2012

Squeezing in the Last Bit of Summer

With fall right around the corner, the church thought a picnic would offer a fun chance to catch some sun before the overcast days arrive. Emmanuel Baptist church headed off to Lacamas lake for burgers, hiking and a chance for fellowship. Here's how Julianna and I enjoyed spending September 1st with our church family.

                                     Everyone is getting ready to enjoy some good grub.

My cute little crab playing on the grass. A few minutes after this picture was taken Julianna took her first steps without holding mommy's hands.

                                             Views of the lake along the hiking trail.
                                  Julianna is having fun interacting with another baby.

I'm thankful for the bonding that took place while being surrounded by God's amazing handiwork!

Rainbow Glasses

Learning begins at birth, so I figured why not provide Julianna with stimulating activities. First I filled four glasses with water and counted them while placing them on the table. Once our short math lesson was complete I grabbed a spoon and banged it against the glasses to create music. Julianna enjoyed using the spoon to make new melodies. In order to teach Julianna about colors I used food coloring and explained what the different colors were before using the spoon to gather water, (teaches cause and effect). Granted at 11 months she won't remember everything, but it's a chance for her to gain some knowledge while spending quality time with mommy.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Splish Splash

Babies find everything fascinating. DVD cases, rolls of toilet paper and other common objects become endless sources of amusement. Today I thought we would beat the heat with common items used in the kitchen. I filled a large bowl with water and gave the baby different objects to play with in the water.

                                             Julianna is having fun with the cup.

Right after I showed Julianna how to fill the kitchen items with water she became fascinated with the water. Here she is taking a break from getting her hands wet.

This activity proved to be a fun bonding experience and a way to promote learning cause and effect.

Baby's First Trip

The Worden clan recently made a trip to Seattle for a family gathering in honor of my great great aunt Grace's 100th birthday. Like any busy mother, I loved having a break from laundry, dishes and housework while staying at a hotel. Jesse enjoyed going out of town to see his favorite city, and Julianna took in all of the new sights and faces on her first out of town getaway. Here are some of the highlights from our trip.

Julianna and Xavier are playing with Grandpa Johnston. Mastering the art of sharing is still a work in progress.

                           The family is enjoying a cookout at my sister Brianna's house.

                           Julianna is fascinated by the fish outside the Seattle aquarium.

                                                     Off to visit Pike's market.

Everyone loved the chocolate milkshakes and cheeseburgers served at a nearby diner. Julianna seemed more interested in playing with the food.

                            My aunt Grace is getting ready to enjoy her birthday bash.

Decorations for Aunt Grace's party. Here you'll find important events that took place over the past 100 years. The picture is of my aunt Grace as a child.

   Julianna is spending time with her cousin Xavier, auntie Brianna and of course the birthday girl.

                                       Five generations of the McKenney/ Johnston clan.

Julianna is visiting with her Nana before eating lasagna at Liz's family gathering.

                  Julianna is spending some quality time with Grandpa at breakfast.

My aunt Michelle surprised us with a beautiful hand sewn quilt for Julianna.

                                        If you look closely you'll find owls in the quilt.

Here's to even more memorable events that allow us to bond with the family!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Six Years and Counting

On August 19, 2006 Jesse and I exchanged our vows at Lyon Falls Bible Fellowship church. Our journey together in marriage offered much excitement, some hardships and most importantly a chance to grow closer to God and each-other.

          Here are some of the major highlights that took place in the past 6 years.

- We took advantage of rewarding opportunities to volunteer at church and within the community.

- Jesse and I left behind life in the rural northeast and moved cross-country to Vancouver, WA. Although I miss life on the east-coast, being closer to family has certainty been a blessing.

- God helped us survive unemployment.

- On September 29, 2011 a beautiful baby girl entered our lives and continues to bring us much joy.

- The first 9 months of our daughter's life were spent at doctor offices, feeding clinics, hospitals and with the community health nurse. God glorified the situation by answering prayers and sending a loving team of doctors and nurses.

- Although we miss living in rural America, God led us to a house with nearby country settings.

- Christmas 2009 was spent southern style with my in-laws in Mississippi.

-We made a round trip train ride to California in order to celebrate my grandparent's 60th wedding anniversary.

- We welcomed new nephews into the family while mourning the loss of our grandparents.

In order to celebrate our love to one another, we escaped to Multnomah Falls for breath taking scenery and gourmet meals at the historic lodge.

                  A view of the Columbia River Gorge while driving to our destination.

                                                    God's amazing handiwork.

                                             The historic lodge where we had dinner.

                         Eating at the lodge felt like being inside of an enchanted castle.

                                                              My tasty meal.

                                                              The happy couple.

                                                    Here's to even more adventures.