Tips for New Mamas - Part 1

I was one of the first among my friends to get pregnant and have a baby, and so I have solicited lots of advice and done a lot of research throughout this journey. Some friends have asked for advice on various pregnancy/motherhood topics, and so I want to document what I have learned so that hopefully more friends can be blessed. I am still learning so much, but I have also learned some things along the way...

1. Babies don't need as much as you think they do. And even though you want to buy them all kinds of cute toys and clothes, you will eventually be trying to get rid of it all when they have outgrown them! Keep a long-term perspective when buying baby items.
2. Buy neutral. If you may have more babies in the future, try to buy at least the "big" items (stroller, car seats, carriers, etc.) in neutral colors so they can be re-used for future babies.
3. Most valuable purchases for us: BumGenius 3.0 diapers (24, doing laundry every other day), Ergo baby carrier (don't buy the infant insert though - it is worthless), Medela breastpump (Breastfeeding saves soo much money. Formula is expensive!!)
4. Don't be afraid to borrow or accept hand-me-down's! Ask your family members, friends, co-workers if they have old baby things they want to get rid of. Our crib, changing table, rocker, most baby clothes, and most toys were hand-me-down's from various people. Sure, you will get hand-me-down's that you don't like - but you can throw what you don't like, and keep the rest!
5. Garage sales, thrift stores, and consignment shops are great for maternity clothes, baby clothes, and toys. You can find like-new things, and pay a fraction of the price.
6. Don't be cheap on the important things, and on items that will be used frequently. It is worth it to make the investment up-front on car seats, strollers, diapers, breastpump, carriers, etc.
7. For maternity clothes, look through what is already in your closet - especially when you aren't too big yet. I found lots of shirts that were flowy enough or long enough to work until the 7th month! Also, a belly band is great - it basically looks like a tube top that fits around your waist, and allows you to wear normal jeans and pants unzipped for much of the pregnancy. Also, now that I'm not pregnant, I still shop to find clothes that will work normally or during prenancy. :)

Morning Sickness
1. Experiment to find out what works for you. It's a different experience for everyone!
2. For me, the thing that helped most was eating small meals/snacks frequently. If I let myself get hungry, I would usually get sick. Keep healthy snacks on hand - fruit, dried fruit, crackers, yogurt, hard boiled eggs...
3. Having some sort of protein in the morning helped. I got into the habit of eating a thing of yogurt every morning when I got to work, and I would feel so much better.
4. Rest!! If possible, take a nap. Let your husband take care of things around the house... or just let it go for awhile. :)
5. Extra Vitamin B seemed to help. This is available in popsicle/sucker/pill form.
6. Peppermint also helped, especially if I was just beginning to get nauseous. Peppermint tea, gum, mints, whatever!
7. Apparently ginger can help - I never tried it though.
8. I threw up a lot, so I always carried a ziploc bag in my purse - just in case!
9. Eat what sounds good. If nothing sounds good, eat something bland anyway.
10. Avoid smells that bother you. (duh!)

That's all for now! Please add your money or morning sickness tips if you have any!


The Blessing of Friends... and Pandora :)

I am so thankful for my dear women friends. There was a time during college that I was incredibly lonely for female friends, although completely smitten by my boyfriend (now husband :). There is just something about talking to a dear sister that can never be matched. For a time, most of my dear friends were in different states. And some of them still are. Actually, one will be leaving for Nigeria soon! But I am learning that distance doesn't matter so much. Sisters are sisters, no matter how many miles separate us. And for a time, most of my women friends were in completely different life stages than I... and most of them still are. But that doesn't matter so much. With God as our common Father, and Jesus as our common Love, the other differences that could threaten to rip our friendships apart are just so small.

And Praise God, he has provided new friendships to me as well! He knew that I needed some girls to just hang out with, to get to know, and to share life with. These ladies are mainly in similar life situations, and are also sisters... and I am so blessed to have them in my life. They forgive my busyness, my baby-focused-ness, my tendency to share and then withdraw. And I am praying that God will give me the courage to be vulnerable, and to make the time to be a good friend.

Now that I have a family of my own, I am learning that it takes intentionality to be a good friend. When I was younger, friendships were so natural. I saw my friends every day in school, went to church with them, shared extra-curriculars with them. Now, my life generally revolves around providing for and caring for my family. Friends sometimes seem like a luxury. And yet I know they are a necessity! God has called Christians to live in community, to share life. It is selfish to only focus on my own family. Yes, they are my main priority after God. But I am not loving God and my family if I am not also loving others, and allowing them to love me.

On another topic, I have recently discovered Pandora.com. Pandora allows you to create your own radio station, based on specific songs or artists you choose. Then it finds related songs and adds them to the station. I have discovered some new Christian artists that are amazing! (Alli Rogers, Jon Foreman). And, it's a helpful way to listen to music at work. :)

Here are the lyrics to one of my new favorite songs, Who is this God, by Alli Rogers:

All the way down, all the way down to where I fell
I stare at the ground, blood that I have spilled
But just to feed me you bend all the way down
All the way down to where I fell

Who is this God that loves me still?
This love that keeps me safe when I run
Safe when I'm young and foolish
Out of the dark, out of the dark that hides my face

I'm coming apart when you say my name
With ties of love you lead me out of the dark
Out of the dark that hides my face

Who is this God that loves me still?
This love that heals me when I am bound
When I am found and humble

With love you lead me
You bend to feed me
Taught me to walk
It was you all along

Who is this God that loves me still?
This love that finds me when I am lost
Although it cost you everything


Loving my Baby and Learning to Be Myself

I love this time in my son's life. He is now ten months old, and he makes my heart so full! From the time he wakes me up in the morning (with a cry, a whine, a roar, or a MAMA!) to when he falls asleep in my arms at night, he brings a smile to my face. His smile is pretty much the cutest thing in the world, with six teeth, the roundest little charlie brown head, and his little scrunched up nose. :) He loves chasing me around the house, and being chased. He loves playing peek-a-boo with the curtains as I change him. He loves his daddy, and laughs at every little thing Kyle does. He eats all kinds of bits of food, from avocado to canteloupe. And sometimes tries to eat little bits of dust and string and grass, too... :) He's going to be a climber, I can tell. Today I caught him standing on his little Bible, trying to get something on the coffee table. :) At least he had a firm foundation! Haha. He loves his little ducky in the bathtub, and is pretty content in the swimming pool, as long as it's not too cold. I am amazed at how much I love every little thing about him. Even the smallest things he does make me filled with joy.

I'm learning more and more of how God must think about His children. If I have this much love for my little one, how much more must God love me? If every little thing my son does makes me happy, how much more must I make my Father smile? If I will do anything to help him when my son is hurt or scared or sad, how much more must my Father care when I am hurting? If I child-proof my house to keep my little man safe, how much more must my Father protect me, in ways I will never know? Thank you, Father, for the love that is beyond my comprehension!

I had a wonderful time over 4th of July. My aunt, uncle, and cousins were in town from Ohio, and it was so much fun to catch up and show off my son! It's strange that the oldest of the three cousins are now mommies ourselves! It seems like we were just spending all day in the pool, spitting watermelon seeds, and begging our parents to let us have sleep overs. :) We also ended up putting in another house offer last week, and are once again waiting to hear... and still searching in the meantime. We are getting weary of the whole house hunting process, but I have faith that God has good plans for us!

It has also been cool lately to see where God is leading my friends. From overseas teaching, to overseas missions, to med school, to nursing school, to motherhood... it is amazing to see how God has grown us and guided us. I think it is tempting to be jealous of others' opportunities, but I try to remember that God has placed each of us where He will be glorified most.

I have been reading Spectacular Sins (Piper) and Justification and Regeneration (Leiter), and both have really helped me to know God in new ways. I especially recommend the latter for those who want a clearer perspective of what it means to become a Christian and live as one. The author writes about verses I've read thousands of times, but puts them in context of the entire Bible, and has helped me to understand what it means to be a Christian so much better.

A few quotes...

"Sin is a defeated foe. The war against sin has already been one. Like the pockets of resistance that sometimes continue to struggle on in ignorance after the treaty of surrender has already been signed, so sin continues to fight on in our lives with no hope of ultimate victory. Though the believer's conflict with sin may at times be fierce, the final outcome of the battle is assured.
For the Christian, sin is but an early summer snow. Such snows fall occasionally even in the warmer climates, but they are only the death throes of a winter that is past... Christian, sin does not stand a chance in your life! You can fight against it with the confident knowledge that summer, not winter, is approaching! The remnants of sin that you still face are just the vestiges of what you once were; they are not an expression of who you are now, and they will soon pass away forever!" (Leiter 88)

"The Christian is no longer a sinner, but a saint... his true nature - what he really is deep inside - loves God and holiness. That this is actually the case is made obvious by the fact that every true Christian feels miserable and grieved when he does sin. Why does he feel miserable? Precicely because his true nature is to love holiness!
Beloved saint! Do not let the devil tell you that you are worthless and vile as a Christian. You are a child of God - "holy and beloved" in His sight! His very nature ("seed") is within you, and you bear the family likeness! The new birth is a real birth." (Leiter 73)

May all of you believers live as who you really are. Revel in the truth that you are a new person, righteous and holy and loved by God!