Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Christian's Second Birthday Letter

My Dearest Christian,

I think on all the times I've called you My Redemption. And I think maybe I never really knew what I meant when I said that till now. On the other hand, maybe it's not that I didn't know, it's that I now feel it fully from the very depths of my being.

I know that I could not live without you. Every part of me craves you, my Little Wonder. Your sweet hugs, your even sweeter kisses are the highlight of my day. When I walk in the door you're excited greeting of a hearty, "Mama!!!!" makes everything ok. Even when I let everyone else in the world down, when I fail or fall, somehow I'm still your hero...I'm still your "Mommy". And that title is one that I humbly accept.

You are such a wonder. Every little thing amazes you. Your eyes shine bright when you recognize something still so new to your little world. A car or a truck, a bird or a dog, a banana or matter what it is, the world astounds you. And it gives me hope. Hope that maybe there is still a trace of humanity left. That maybe there is redemption for all...through the sweet eyes of a little boy.

If every Mother loves their child the way I love you, I don't know why there is such hatred in the world. Why there are wars or pain or oppression. All I want is for you to know true love, adoration, empathy, sincerity. I wish the world to be kind to you in your discoveries. The world can be such a place of wonder.

And I know one day you'll break my heart. Daddy told me this will inevitably happen...even if I don't believe him, maybe I know it's true. But on that day, I will look back on the age you are right now. I will recall all your expressions (there are so many!), I will reminisce how a kiss was enough to cure any "boo boo", I will recollect how I was your Hero.

Thank you for every moment. Thank you for every kiss. Thank you for every sweet reassuring touch. I love you more than anything. And if you ever doubt it, read this and know I am forever yours.

Happy Birthday, My Love. And here's to many many more beautiful years of you blessing my life and our family.

Love Always,

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Uncertain Times

I don't usually get political on my blog. In fact, I never do. However, after the decision made by the Supreme Court to uphold the personal mandate for health insurance, I have to use whatever outlet I can to communicate to my generation the severity and long term consequences that have, in fact, taken place today. Let me start off with a short personal story.

My husband was diagnosed with skin cancer several years ago. Thankfully, we have had the cancerous cells removed whenever a patch cropped up, and at the moment he is living cancer free. Praise the Lord.

But because my husband works for himself, his insurance went up over 100% when the insuance company found out about his diagnosis. He went from paying about $300 a month with a $1,000 deductible, to paying over $700 a month with the same deductible over night.

My husband has never failed to pay a bill...or even to pay a bill on time (except for this one time when he boycotted ATT). He is more than responsible and even helped me with my debt when I met him. He has never not had insurance. He takes care of himself. He paid out of pocket several thousand dollars to have his cancer removed in hopes the insurance company wouldn't up his premiums. Obviously, that didn't happen. (Insurance companies couldn't care less about upping your monthly output.) 

The main reason I went back to work after I had Christian, was to ensure my husband would have insurance coverage. With the possibility of more cancer showing up, we didn't want to chance his insurance company dropping him. Also, I didn't want to have to worry about my husband putting off important doctor's visits because of cost.

My point in sharing this personal story, is to express the fact that I understand how messed up our healthcare system is in this country. I know firsthand how unfair and overwhelming it can be to just stay healthy.

However, under Obama's healthcare law, we will be paying trillions of dollars to cover 30 million uninsured people's insurance. There is no way we can support this type of plan. Our country simply doesn't produce any amount of money anywhere close to what is necessary to enact this type of policy. And it sounds great, right? Healthcare for everyone. But when you have a system that is crumbling financially, you don't add to the decay.

I'm worried about Christian's future. What type of country will he be living in when this policy goes into full effect? What type of debt will be added to his tab that he nor his grandchildren or granchildren's children will ever be able to pay off?

Not to mention, the unrest that is taking place overseas is at a hightened level. People like Putin are sitting back and watching America destroy itself from the inside out. 

There are so many aspects of Obamacare that are a detriment to our country as it is. But providing healthcare to over 30 million people who supposedly can't afford it will break the American bank. We need a better option. And we need it now. If there was ever a time to be complacent or negligent, now is not that time. It is time to get informed. It is time to becomes involved. It is time to get your own house in order, because the times to come are uncertain. There is no security in more government and more government regulation. There is only security in self and God. See to your preparedness, for I predict hard times are upon us.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Nursing My Toddler

Well, it's been 14 (almost 15) months, and Christian's nursing journey has changed so much. I remember, in the beginning, wondering if my child would ever go more than 10 minutes without nursing...and now I relish every moment he wants to be on the breast because he does it so infrequently.

At about 9 months he began REALLY eating solid foods...we found out quickly that pizza was manna from Heaven. At this point, nursing became more and more about comfort than actual nourishment. And I felt accomplished in "making it" nine months of giving him breastmilk exclusively. It was at this time that we decided to start mixing breastmilk with organic bovine milk. The Canadian Society of Pediatrics states that babies who have been exclusively breastfed are fine to start having cow's milk at 9 months of age, and the logic behind their recommendation made sense to us. Also, after nine months of pumping 40 hours a week, my supply had dropped off by about one feeding a day (3 oz).

Christian had no problems drinking bovine milk. Apparently, some babies struggle to drink dairy because of kid was NOT one of them. And even though he liked cow's milk, he would still have rather nursed when we were together. Which was fine by me...

At about 11 months I stopped pumping as much at work. Since Christian was 8 weeks old, I had pumped 3-4 times a day at work. (This was NO SMALL TASK considering I work retail...I will always be proud of my efforts and success in this area.) I began pumping only 2 times a day to only 1 time a day to pumping no times a day. Many women express serious discomfort when discontinuing pumping at work, but I did it the best way...a little at a time...and I experienced almost no discomfort.

The only "discomfort" I did experience was the feeling of "I should be pumping right now...". Like there was something I needed to be doing and wasn't. It was strange. It was a relief to not have to tote my big ole' "milk bag" around, but at the same time it was a sad period for me. It was all so bittersweet. I remember crying to my trainer at the gym because I had started my period and I knew in my heart that Christian's "need" for breastmilk had waned. 

At one year, Christian had a photo shoot for his first birthday. I decided to to do a nursing session since I wasn't sure how much longer he would actually be on the breast and I wanted to capture every moment.

My little nursling proved to be quite the ham as he cuddled with me and rolled around from breast to breast playfully...he nursed sweetly, showing off his favorite pastime. The pictures say it all...

At 14 months old, Christian continues to nurse at night and at nap times when we are together. He still loves "the boobies" and can point to them if you ask him where they are. At night he asks for them by pulling at my shirt and saying "that!". It is something that may sound strange to someone who has never nursed a child, but is a behavior that I will forever hold close to my heart. It even makes Ken smile to see Christian instantly soothed by the comfort of my breast.

I recently experienced sadness over the fact that I am producing almost no milk. I wondered if I was holding onto something I consulted two of my friends that are nursing their toddlers to see what they were experiencing. They confirmed that they, too, were producing little milk...that they could barely hear their nursling swallow anymore (a sound that any nursing mother comes to know and love). But more importantly, they confirmed that this was still "nursing"; that this was how toddlers nursed. It's almost like a "frees style" time in their nursing journey where it's touch and go, but where it is truly about love and closeness. I was instantly comforted by their feedback! I was thankful that we could keep on keeping on without it being about "production" and instead, being about whatever we wanted it to be. It's like the Golden Time. It's what we've worked so hard for...

Through all the sleepless nights, through all the fumblings in the middle of the night where mouth struggles to find breast, through all the worry about "is there enough?", or wondering if I would ever get my body it is what it is...and it was all worth it.

I'm not ready to give up nursing my little boy. And he isn't ready either. We have something special that no one can touch or take away. It is my gift to him...his gift to me.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Happy Birthday, Christian

My Precious Child,

It's hard for me to write this. It's hard for me to imagine that my little bitty boy is a whole year old. Maybe it's selfish...but it's true.

My heart is heavy with the idea that you are growing...growing older, growing more independent, growing bigger, growing up. What will I do when I cannot hold you across my body and nurse you to sleep? What will I do when you don't need me to?

How can this ever get better? How can I love you more? These are the questions I ask myself as your special approaches. Because it's not just you who is's me, too.

You have changed the world just by existing. You have enhanced my life just by smiling at me. You have given me purpose by needing me. And you have made life so so much sweeter with those amazing kisses that you give unselfishly!

Dear God, I pray I can be a good Mommy to you every day for the rest of your life and mine. I pray that you will grow up to be a good man like your Daddy. He loves you as much as Mommy does. And I pray that you always know what so many people spend their entire lives trying to figure out; that you matter. And that you have forever changed an old heart that will forever be unworthy of your love.

Mommy loves you so much, Son. More than you can ever know. And if you can grow, so can my heart. And I will love you more and more with every passing day.

Happy Birthday, My Love. God bless you and keep you always by His side.


Monday, December 26, 2011

Catching Up...

Can you believe I didn't blog ONE single time during the WHOLE month of November and even December? I have SO much catching up to do it's not even funny.

Soooo...maybe I just knock it out in one big, concise, inclusive blog?!?! I say, "YES!"

I bought a house! That's right! I guess that makes me an official adult now...More to come on our house...
Signing my life away!
Ken, Christian and Diane (Our real estate agent...)
Christian is very important in his rolling chair at the closing...
The sweet congratulatory dessert our waitress made us at the Cheesecake Factory after our closing
Somehow Christian lost his britches at the new house while we were helping Daddy "fix it up"
Smiles for Mommy! You can see the heinous color the previous tenants used int he sun room. We have had to repaint the WHOLE house...28 gallons (and counting) later and it doesn't hurt your eyes to look at the walls...

Christian LOVES taking "big boy baths"! No more baby bath tubs for this little guy!

Christian also went from loving baby food to only wanting "big boy food" like, he's in this weird stage where he wants to eat everything you're eating, but he doesn't have the teeth to do it with! He has one tooth coming in right now and as far as teething is concerned, you'd never know a difference in his personality. He's not drooling any more than usual. He doesn't appear to be in any pain or discomfort. It's kind of strange. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop (which I'm sure it now will since I just had to open my big mouth...)
Eating meatballs (HIS FAVORITE!) and sweet potato french fries...

I went through Holiday at my store and we rocked it out BIG TIME! I'm sad that the Christmas season is over...I'm probably the ONLY person in retail who LOVES Christmas in retail.
My Holiday Team!
My AMAZING management team and their FEARLESS leader!
Grandma INSISTS on dressing me up...

Christian got to hang out with his BFF, Zeryk. Christian LOVES Zeryk...and Zeryk tolerates Christian. In his family, Zeryk is the youngest and whenever someone refers to Christian as "the baby", Zeryk is quick to remind them that he is "the baby". It's pretty funny! One day I asked Zeryk if Christian was his buddy. Zeryk said, "No! He's my friend." I had to laugh...but am so thankful that Christian gets to spend time with other children.
Christian is on the move! And he is into EVERYTHING! He has a ball playing on the floor with his toys and with Remmy's and we have officially lost the "don't play with that toy it's Remmy's toy" battle.
Yay for toilet paper!

Christian is doing much much better at sleeping through the night! He will usually sleep for about 6 hours straight (and sometimes even 8 on a really good night!) before waking up to be nursed. I have no pictures to represent this change in his life, but you can visibly see a difference in the reduction of bags underneath my eyes. Sometimes when I get home from work, I miss nursing him to sleep if he's already in bed. But I realize it's part of Christian growing up and needing Mommy less and less. It's such a bittersweet thing...

Christian went to see the doctor on the 8th of December for his 9 month checkup! The doctor confirmed that Christian is a healthy happy boy who remains in the 10th percentile for growth. We are absolutely fine with having a little guy with a big personality! I will do a separate post for this checkup because there was a lot of information learned...
Daddy celebrated his birthday on the 9th! We took Daddy out for a day of shopping and a dinner of sushi...

On the carousel with Daddy
LOVES playing on the playground
Making friends wherever he goes...
Dancing with our waitress...we're pretty sure Christian has a thing for Asian women.
SUSHI! Mana from the gods!
Christian also got to see Santa! And he LOVED him...naturally, my child knows where his bread is buttered...

Grandma still loves to dress me up...

We spent Christmas at my mother's was wonderful! I will do a longer blog of Christmas day, but we had so much fun!

We've had some busy months! And our little man has flourished. You never understand how thankful you are until you take time to stop and recognize all of your blessings...and the Clarks aren't short on blessings! Here's to a quick "wham-bam-thank you-ma'am!" catch up blog!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Q & A...because I'm like, ten years old...ok!? Sue me!

I copied this from a fellow blogger Sometimes, the smallest things take up the most room in your heart...

Fill in the blanks....

If I were to get pregnant again...
**I would scream. Seriously. Because secretly I wouldn't mind (which I suppose isn't a secret anymore...), but I would also be kind of scared because I was not a huge fan of being pregnant the first go round.

If I could have any job in the world...
**I would be famous. That's all you need to know. (And you know I'd be good at it. I was MADE for the stage, baby!)

If I had a day to myself...
**I would sleep in, get a massage and go's the simple things I miss most, people!

If I could get married all over again...
**I would elope.

If I could live anywhere in the US...
**Montana, Wyoming or the Florida Keys...

If my boy would have been a girl they would have been named...
**Francesca Denise...SUCH a beautiful name!

If I could have any talent in the world...
**A voice like the girl in know, the one who no one likes. Her voice amazes me. I can't believe that God gave someone a voice like that.

If you met me in real life...
**You would realize that I am rarely being mean...I'm just being funny! Or at least I think I'm funny...

If I could go back to school and get a different degree...
**I would go back to school to be a lactation consultant or a, the old school know, the ones that give you a piece of wood to chomp down on and tell you to shut up and push. 

If money was no object...
**I would have a shelter for homeless animals and kids...and I would own J Crew and take Michelle Obama out of their marketing. 

If I could meet one celebrity, it would be...
**Michael Moore...and then I'd punch him in the face. 

If I could shop at only one store the rest of my life...
**Macy's...if you can't find it at Macys or BBW, you don't need it!

If we were to get another pet it would be...
**A bird! Christian loves birds just like his mommy!

If I could go on a trip right now...
**I would never come back...seriously. The Keys are calling my name.

If I had to choose between a house cleaner and a personal chef...
**House give my hubby a break already!

If I had the option of plastic surgery...
**I'd get 'er done up right! I am not opposed AT ALL!

Alright! Now feel free to copy and paste to your own blog! (But only if you're ten years old like me...)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Let's Go Team Christian! 6 Month Checkup

Right before we went to the mountains (Literally. After the doctor visit, we went home and loaded up the cars!), Christian had his 6 month checkup. Because of Mommy's hectic schedule, we weren't able to see the doctor until just a few days before he turned 7 months old. I'm not sure if that's a bad thing, but Mama's gotta do what Mama's schedule know?

This doctor visit was really special because Daddy got to come! Ken hasn't been to one of Christian's well child checkups because I usually take Christian on one of my days off and Ken is usually working on those days. It was helpful to have that extra set of hands there to keep Christian occupied since his patience levels are low and his energy levels are high!

Yay! Daddy is at the doctor's office with us!
16 pounds! Good growing, Buddy!
25 inches long!
 Christian's weight and growth percentile dropped a little bit. I was concerned that he was only in the 10th percentile whereas he was in the 25th last time. Dr. Rosenthal assured me that his growth was long as he's growing, there's nothing to be worried about (riiiiight...try telling a mom that!) But I had a hard time believing he was only in the 10th percentile. I mean, to us he has grown soooo much! He feels heavier and looks longer. He's wearing 6-9 month clothes (and even some 12 month clothes!) All I can deduce is that there must be some pretty big babies out there setting the curve so high. I think about all the babies who come in my store that outweigh Christian by 10 pounds sometimes !!!!!! and are the same age, and I guess I am thankful that he's not obese at a young age.

Dr. Rosenthal said that he's just "a little guy" which makes him that much more endearing to me! She did suggest that we feed him more solids when I told her he was only eating about 3-8 ounces of solids a day. She said to make sure we are offering them at every meal...and since then we have made a concerted effort to do so. But honestly, Christian is not a huge fan of solids just yet. He'll eat them if he's hungry, but he'd rather nurse if I'm around. Plus, he's such a piggy when it comes to nursing that he's usually full from milk and isn't all that hungry for more. Really all a baby needs till they are about a year old is breastmilk. My mom didn't feed me any solids till I was a year and I'll eat anything. I think the common concern is that the older a child gets, the less open they are to new and different things.

The best part about the whole visit was hearing about how sweet and good natured Christian is. The nurses LOVE him! They ALWAYS comment on what a pleasure he is.  Thank goodness!
Stethoscopes also double as fun toys!
Same thing with thermometers...
Just about everything is fun to play with!
After all his measurements were done, along with his temperature and breathing and heart rate (which were all perfect, thank goodness!) was time to wait...

And eat...
And wait...
And wait...
 And wait...

When the doctor finally visited Christian, he was really enthused with all of her gadgets. She let him have one of the tongue depressors since he laid claim to it anyhow (go figure...) She loved how happy he was and how entertained he was by every. little. thing. Seriously. It takes almost nothing to amuse our child.

Her only concern was that we weren't pulling his skin back enough from his circumcision. Apparently, if you don't pull it back on a daily basis it could grow back and he'd end up having to have another surgery.  Obviously that is not something we want to have's so weird having a little boy though. I never would have thought that something like that could grow back. And I'm sure one day he'll hate me for writing this, but oh well! It's my right as Mother to embarrass my child!

After Dr. Rosenthal got done inspecting every inch of His Majesty, it was time for Christian's favorite part...edible vaccinations! Woo hoo! Yup. You know my kid! He'll eat just about anything...
But with the good comes the bad. Poor little man never had a chance...
However sad that little face might be, it only lasted for a moment. He is such a trooper with his Daddy and Mommy's tolerance for pain...seriously, this kid almost never cries from pain...
Even though I was a little upset by Christian's growth, we still had a great visit. We did decide, however, that doctor visits should take place in the morning hours instead of in the afternoon...Christian was a little grumpy there towards the end. 
His next appointment is in December for his 9 month well child checkup. I can't wait to report his growth and progress!