Tuesday, October 25, 2011

on being a new parent...

it's been a long time again, sorry to say our life has been nutty lately and blog posts fall pretty far on the "to do" list around here. i was inspired the other day to write this up or at least get my thoughts out in the world so they are no longer swirling in my head. as joel can tell you, sometimes i can get caught up in a thought (or series of thoughts) and really process them to death. so sometimes it's good for me to write them out and put them into the world, a nice release you know? well on to the meat of it...

recently we've had a baby explosion in our life, which is so wonderful and makes us more excited for the arrival of our little one. this weekend i was able to see one good friend's new baby (3 month old so not that new anymore!) and talk to a friend with a 3 week old over the phone. i was reminded how hard it is to have a new baby for the first time and all the emotions and thoughts that go into that fourth trimester! i also remember feeling so lost and almost paralyzed at times by indecision and not knowing if what i was choosing to do was "right" or the "best" thing to do for eli. such a hard time! so i wanted to write a post about some of my thoughts about what we new parents need in the very beginning and reminders of what we need throughout our whole journey as parents. these are just my thoughts, you may disagree or think otherwise and that's fine. it's just some of what i feel i've learned these past few years and need to remember as this little one comes.

be careful with parenting books

the credit should actually go to my mom for this one! before eli was born she reminded me that babies don't read parenting, sleep, feeding, "approaches" books or any books for that matter. each baby is unique and may take a little from every book, a lot, some or none at all. i think for me this was one of the hardest things to learn and remember. i like to read and "have a plan" and babies don't do that, especially newborns! they don't have schedules, they're not predictable, they don't stay with the same thing or routine. which on one hand is so frustrating! but on the other it's a beautiful thing, a lesson that we need to go with the ebb and flow of life. not just march along on the set path we maybe envisioned for ourselves. life is a winding road with forks and switchbacks, hills and valleys and long stretches in which the road seems to go on for miles. i think that our kids teach us to enjoy the journey if we allow ourselves to let go of our set plans and enjoy our world around us. and if you've read a book that you think is good, go ahead and recommend it. but don't be offended if your friend doesn't agree or doesn't follow the advice. it doesn't matter, this is not about you or your baby. it's about their own unique family and it might just not work for them at this time. when we recommend books we always preface it with "this worked for us but it may or may not work for you. take it with a grain of salt, ultimately do what works best for YOUR family."

everyone has their own path

going from this parenting book idea is a reminder that every family has their own path and it is unique from one family to the next. what works in one family may not work in ours or in our friend's lives. it doesn't mean that it's wrong. it doesn't mean that they are going to screw their child up for the rest of their lives (obviously this excludes neglect and abuse). we need to extend grace to each other and stop making the families in our lives feel guilty for their choices. so a family chooses to nurse their baby to sleep or they have baby sleep in a nursery or they co-sleep. it doesn't matter, let's extend grace to each other and not push our agenda or ideals on another family. you have no idea what is going on behind closed doors or what dynamic is not obvious to you. let's approach each other with the attitude that if it works for you, it works for you. let's try to embrace that diversity and acknowledge the wisdom in each individual approach.

extend grace

first and foremost, let us extend grace to ourselves. having your first baby is HARD! the first 8 weeks (or longer) are really hard, your life has been turned upside down and inside out. it's okay not to be running errands on day 3 or even week 6. or only getting a half a load of laundry folded because you need to nurse and sleep almost all day. you've gone from a life centered around you and your partner (if that's the case) to a life in which a being depends solely on you. that is hard! we need to extend grace to ourselves when we just feel like there's no end or all we want is more than 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep and we resent our baby (again, obviously not if it leads to neglect or thoughts of harm, that's not okay). it's okay to have those emotions, being a parent is hard and we, as a society, don't talk about it! that was one of the things that we found most frustrating after having eli. no one wanted to talk about how hard it is with a newborn. people were taken aback when we said "we've learned we're not newborn/baby people, so this really sucks" which made us feel guilty. or made us feel like we did something wrong. extend grace to new parents, don't try and fit them into the model that you feel is best. give grace.

we're meant to raise our children in community

as a christ-follower, i believe that we have been designed for community. for me, the trinity ultimately exemplifies this concept and since i believe we are created in god's image i believe we NEED community. therefore, we need to raise our children in community. and i believe that community needs to be diverse, not a homogenous one in which we only include people who think and believe like us. it requires you be confident in your choices and your thoughts but willing to listen and be open to other ideas. one thing i love about the mothers, families, singles and couples that make up our community is that no one is the same! we all approach parenting and life a little differently but our main goals are the same. we just travel different paths to get there. we all want our kids to love others, treat people with respect, explore their world, challenge their world, seek out adventures. there have been many times where we've leaned heavily on each other to get through this life. amongst some of my closest mom friends we have a joke that our kids are screwed because instead of just having one mom they have 4 moms to contend with and keep track of them! it's good to share parenting with others and trust others to love your kids and help them develop into the amazing adults they're going to be someday. i strongly believe we're not meant to wander or navigate this life alone, that is an existence that is fruitless.

thank you for letting me put this out there and hopefully get it out of my head. maybe it will make some more space to start preparing for baby #2!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


what's heaven for almost any toddler? free range in a strawberry patch! over 4th of july we traveled to eau claire and were able to go strawberry picking (for super cheap). initially when we arrived eli didn't know/understand where we were but it didn't take long. after about 5 minutes roaming the rows with grandpa he realized that they were laden with one of his favorite fruits. and if he asked grandpa for "berry peez" than he could have one. well it only took about 5 more minutes before he realized he could just cut out the middle man and go for the fruits himself. oh boy, watch out! he was like a kid in a candy shop! the squeals alone were entertainment enough! thankfully grandpa had the foresight to distract eli so he didn't gorge himself on strawberries (and gave him some time to get some red handprints on a shiny, white buick.) needless to say eli had a good time and we picked a ton of fruit to last us through the winter!

holy camoly

oh.my.word. it's been 6 months! well we've had changes in the anderson household and our family is about to get a little bit bigger. that's right, in december/january we are expecting another little one. are we crazy? maybe, but we decided eli shouldn't get ALL the attention (wink, wink). here are some answers to some common questions we've recieved:

how do you guys feel about being pregnant again?
it's interested how different this pregnancy is compared to eli's. part of us feels like "ho,hum, shannon's pregnant" and it doesn't feel as big this time around. (hopefully this little one doesn't get the wrong impression.) we're excited that we're pregnant it just seems as we're more used to the idea, if that makes any sense at all. we do have our 20 week ultrasound next week and i'm really excited to see the baby (we're not finding out, we like surprises). i'm excited to put a "face" to this baby and to see it move around. one thing we will say, this pregnancy seems to be flying by so much more quickly. it's hard to believe that i'm almost halfway there! like a dear friend describes, it's like when you drive to someplace new on the way there it seem like it takes forever but on the way back it doesn't take that much time at all.

homebirth? again?
yes, we are going to have another homebirth provided everything is normal and going great. we're sticking with our dear friends and midwives from open arms midwifery and couldn't love them more. since we're having a winter baby, i'm excited not to have to drive to the hospital in snow and ice. (knowing our luck, there will be a super storm!)

how do you(shannon) feel?
i've been feeling okay, my first trimester was pretty rough. lot's more nausea and more gastrointestinal issues than i remember with eli. thankfully, those symptoms have subdued and at least i can manage my heartburn with some prescription medication. also, i'm learning/remembering what i should and shouldn't eat and how that effects how i feel. for example, i can't eat hamburgers; they make me feel awful. i think it may be the high fat content of the burger that makes it hard for my body to digest the food (which is a total bummer here in grilling season). i've also been experiencing more braxton hicks contractions than i remember and the leg cramps have returned in style. oh well, i guess it's natures way of just getting me ready for interrupted sleep again. i've been feeling the baby more and that is absolutely wonderful! it helps with the "ho hum" feeling i described above and gives me a shiver every time. today, after reading a dear friends birth story, i had my first real rush of excitement about meeting this little one. who will it be? what will it do? is it a boy or a girl? that felt good.

overall we're starting to remember the mystery of pregnancy and the anticipation what this little one will be like. it's nice to be on the other side of parenthood with a little bit of experience under our belts. it has been helping to relieve some of the anxiety of a new baby knowing that no/low expectations are best. we are reminded to think about this pregnancy and this little ones future life with an open mind.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

the twinkie wars...

so most of you know this already but i'm pretty stingy when it comes to refined sugar and sweets for eli. i know, i know...some say we're being too uptight and depriving him of the wonders of juice and ice cream. but really, we ALL (especially me) could eat less sweets and refined sugars and our waistlines would be much happier. nonetheless, grandpa cole has been threatening this mama with boxes and boxes of twinkies for little eli. so far no battles have been started though that changed this week. grandpa cole and grandma ruthie were visiting this week and grandpa cole had a 'special' surprise for eli. low and behold, a twinkie! well folks, victory was mine in this first battle in what i'm sure will be a long twinkie war! it was classic, eli was eating lunch and grandpa brought out the big guns, a gas station twinkie. he gave half of it to eli who proceeded to put it in his mouth, grimace, spit it out and hand it back to grandpa! Victory my friends, victory! many more attempts were made with the same results, no twinkie for this boy. he was content with his unsweetened, plain yogurt with blueberries.

now we all know that this was just the beginning, i foresee many more battles where i'm sure grandpa will win. but oh well, that's what grandparents are for, right?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

a recap of 2 months...

oh my how time flies. the holidays blew in and out of our household this year with a furry and i think we're still getting caught up. here's a recap of what has been going on in the anderson house lately:

- joel and i had our first night away from eli and it went wonderfully. thanks to sara and mike, we were able to have 24 kid free hours. we forgot what it was like to not have to cart a kid around and we could just...go. it was great but we (read: i) were ready to come back and snuggle up with our little guy.

- eli is officially walking! finally, at 15 months he decided that he could do this thing called walking. since then he hasn't stopped for a moment. for a long time he was walking but always had to hold onto something, a wall, a table, our weighted walker. but one day he just decided to let go and let loose.

- our previous "safe" zones are no longer safe now that he's walking. so our level of mess has moved up some so it's almost at eye level. makes you pick up a little bit more often!

- eli's new favorite past time is books, books, books. i don't think you guys understand. he will sit still for at least 10 minutes for us to read books to him. and this happens about 4 times a day! needless to say my vocal cords are getting a work out. he also has started wanting to read specific books and isn't too happy when you suggest something else (because you've read Curious George 4 times already today).

- joel has finally been assigned his own crew at e80 plus, thank god! it means way less travel for us and more consistency for joel at work. both really good things.

- i (shannon) have started my own business. this month i'm launching a home based breastfeeding counseling business. the basic idea is that i will travel to women's homes and help them with any breastfeeding issues they may have and support them. you can check out my website for more details at www.madisonbfsupport.com. most of my work will most likely come from personal referrals so pass the word folks. much appreciated!

- i (shannon) had my first long weekend away from both eli joel. my friends from college and i all met in NYC for a long weekend of wine, amazing food, shopping, amazing desserts, shopping, sangria and connecting. we've decided that every year we're gonna take a trip the 4 of us to connect and recharge with each other. and we've decided that the year we turn 30 we're going somewhere warm!

- there are a variety of places that we are now known at: crema cafe, woodmans, the children's museum, goodman community center, nursery at church and hobby lobby. i guess it pays off to frequent places so often they know you and say "how's it going this week?". i really enjoy that consistency and feeling that we're part of this community on the eastside.

- playgroup is expanding and we've needed to move to the basement for more room! it's so great to see the kids finally playing with and off of each other.

- lastly, eli LOVES to sweep (or play with the broom, however you'd like to see it). and joel and i had a breakthrough....the shortened swiffer! joel noticed that you can take sections out of the swiffer and now we have a perfect "eli height" swiffer. and he is swiffering all around the upstairs! i've attached a cloth diaper to it and my floors (at least the back hallway) are looking pretty nice. i figure we need to cash in on this enjoyment of cleaning while we can!

we'll have more on snowpacolypse 2011 (or snowmeggedon as i call it) later. it deserves it's own post with some supporting videos.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

date night

no, we haven't fallen off the face of the earth. i promise. we've just been busy trying to keep up with all of eli's movements (he's trying to turn doorknobs but isn't quite tall enough).

so earlier this fall joel and i decided that we needed to be more intentional with going on dates. so we've made the commitment to having a date night every other wednesday night. we've got a standard high schooler we use for childcare (though we may be looking to set up an exchange with a certain new aunt and uncle in our family).

so far, we've had some pretty fun dates. mostly it's low-key, no pressure dates. just a simple dinner and, now that we're parents, errands sans child sometimes. some fun date nights have included:

-a trip to stoughton's movie theater where you can get pizza and watch a movie in comfy seats. totally awesome experience, we recommend it!

-checking out smokey jon's bbq on the northside and finding out there isn't much to do on the northside at night.

-dinner at brocach's irish pub and strolling down state street with a cup 'o' joe and dessert.

-a date night in complete with dinner on our nice dishes, a fire and smores with reeses.

we've found that carving out this time for just us has been so good. it's great to reconnect and enjoy each other outside of the house. this week will be a very special date night as it falls on our three year anniversary and we can't wait to celebrate!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

First steps...

this weekend we were playing at the library and eli took his first assisted steps. i'm not sure if he really knew what was going on but he's getting better and better at it each day. last week he started pulling himself up on furniture and has quickly mastered that task. i captured some of his antics on video, so enjoy!