Thursday, December 31, 2009

Reflections on 2009

As I think back to this past year I'm filled with mixed emotions. This year has been one of the hardest for me in a long time. It was filled with much joy, but also a lot of difficult days. When I think about 2009 one word specifically comes to mind: sleep (and a lack of it).

The year started with a pregnancy, which gave us much joy and excitement. It also left me feeling sick pretty much 24-7. On top of feeling sick I had to care for Ethan, who was at his most difficult stage ever (13-18 months). The days were long during this time, but I was still excited that we were adding onto our family.

Once I was 20 weeks along I finally felt relief from the relentless all day sickness. However that is also when the insomnia started, and quite frankly also the beginning of one of the darkest times I've ever experienced. Night after night I would lay there, unable to fall asleep for hours. This would just lead to anxiety, which in turn kept me from sleeping. I would face each day so very tired. Pregnancy in and of itself makes you tired, but add to that a lack of sleep and a very busy and difficult toddler, and you have one very tired mama. A lack of sleep does some crazy things to you. I went through a few months of depression and had a lot of anxiety. I went to counseling and even saw a psychiatrist. I took Ambien for a few months. I think I only made it through that time by the grace of God.

In September we welcomed our sweet baby girl into the world. This was a very joyful time for us and to be honest I was very relieved not to be pregnant anymore. I'd love to say things magically got better, but they really didn't. Thankfully I haven't had any more depression and I've felt a lot more like "me" since having Alayna, but I am not on the other end of my struggles yet.

Alayna is a sweetie pie, but she wasn't the easiest newborn. She pretty much cried non stop unless you were holding her for the first two months. She's gotten much easier, but still does not sleep through the night.

Having a newborn that wouldn't sleep unless she was being held certainty didn't help my sleep issues. For the first two months of her life I slept with her in the easy chair... in the living room. There was not one night during that time I slept in my bed. I was at least able to get chunks of sleep during this time, and that was an improvement believe or not. However I still was not getting the sleep I needed, and always felt tired.

When she was two months old I at least started sleeping in our bed again (with Alayna in the crook of my arm). About three weeks after that I was able to get her to finally sleep for the first half of the night in her own bed. We are making progress :)

I went to acupuncture for a while, and it seemed to help. However it's not something we can afford for me to do on a regular basis, so I haven't been going anymore. I'd love to say that I'm at the other end of my struggles.... but I'm not. Things are getting better and I at least feel like myself again, but I'm still struggling with sleep.

I went to my family doctor just this week to see what he could do to help me. I'm trying something for a few weeks to see if it helps (not a sleep medication, I am done taking those). I've also recently returned to the gym and am really trying to work out regularly. I'm hoping this helps with the anxiety I feel in the evenings, which prevents me from falling asleep. At the very least it feels good to work out again.

As 2010 approaches I feel hopeful I just want to be "me" again.... a happy, healthy mama that is able to get the rest she needs during the night. I am confident that the Lord is not going to leave me in this place forever. While 2009 has been a very hard year, I feel like 2010 will bring relief.

2009 has had many joyful moments and blessings, I don't want to make it seem like nothing good happened. I loved seeing my little boy blossom into a two year old who communicates very well. I adore my sweet little girl and am so glad she is here. She delights us and brings so much joy to our family. My husband has been wonderful, caring, and supportive; and I am grateful for his love and friendship. Our families continue to bless us richly and we are so grateful to have them nearby. I have a lot of joy throughout my days and I thank the Lord for blessing us so richly. I really try not to dwell on my struggles. I strive each day to find my joy in the Lord and look heavenward. This life is only temporary and there will ALWAYS be struggles of some sort. I'm trying to remember that and to make what time here I have count.

My goal for 2010 is to make my time matter. I know I am a busy mama, but I want to do things that are worthwhile. I want to invest in other people and show them the love of Christ. I want to enjoy my children and savor my time with them. I want to be the best mother I can be, and not simply try to "get through" each day. I want to love my husband and enjoy him to the fullest, and be the best wife I can be. I want to make sure to savor all the little things that are so great about each and every day.

Now if I can just get some sleep this year, I will be one happy camper :)

Lastly here is a picture of me last week at Jolene's....
... and then one of me this morning. I got my hair cut yesterday and I love it. You can't tell but it's shorter in the back. It feels good to have a "fresh" look :)

May the Lord bless you abundantly in 2010!!!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Boxing Day with the Flores'

We spent the day after Christmas, also known as "Boxing Day" in the UK, with the Flores family. It seems to have become a tradition since we did the same thing last year. We had such a wonderful day hanging out and relaxing. We were there from 10am until 10pm! It's amazing how time flies when you are busy caring for newborns, chasing after toddlers, eating, relaxing, and just having fun with friends.

We enjoyed a walk around the neighborhood in the crisp, cool air. We played a game, exchanged gifts, and we mostly just did a lot of hanging out and eating :)

Cute little Jonathan

The boys exchanged gifts. Ethan LOVED the cool car ramp Christian gave him.

Matt made some very yummy ollie bollen. Ollie bollen is a delicious Dutch treat that is kind of similar to donut holes, but way better.

The Dad's holding their babes
We did a fun wine tasting. We each brought 2 bottles of Merlot. Jolene corked them, and then covered them with bags so we wouldn't know which was which. We then got to taste each wine and write down our notes, then uncover the bottles and see how our notes compared to the descriptions. It was a lot of fun.
The babies
We got a visit from our good friend Loi. We were all friends at UCR. We convinced her to stay longer than she had planned. We put the boys to bed and played a few rounds of Apples to Apples. It was a lot of fun.
Finally around 10:00pm we packed up and headed home. Thankfully Ethan napped in their pack and play, and went down for bed in it too, so he was not up until 10:00. It was such a great day. Thanks for having us Flores'!

The Bumbo Returns

We got the Bumbo down for Alayna to use. She loves it. All of the sudden she can "sit up" and see what's going on. Ethan likes to hand her toys and she loves to watch all the action. It's nice to have one more place I can set her when I'm trying to do something.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Cleaning up the leaves

I've been meaning to post these pictures from a couple of weeks ago. Ethan LOVES to help Matt clean up the leaves. We have an endless amount of leaves for a couple of months in the fall/winter, so there is definitely no shortage of them!

Alayna at 3 1/2 months

I took a couple of pictures last week of Alayna that I've been meaning to post. She's a happy little girl at 3 1/2 months :)

She loves her hands right... they are always in her mouth

Ahhhhh, I just love pictures of them sleeping.... it's so sweet. She was sleeping on my lap right here.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas with my family

Christmas was so much fun this year. This was the first year Ethan really started to understand what Christmas is about. He was all about opening his presents and playing with his fun new toys. It was so much fun to see his face light up and to watch his excitement. I have to say, having a little one around makes Christmas way more fun. We had my mom and brother over on Christmas Eve. We ate appetizers and opened gifts. After we put Ethan to bed we played Apples to Apples (one of the gifts Matt got me).

Christmas morning was pretty low key. We got up, ate breakfast (pumpkin pancakes from Trader Joes), and let Ethan open his remaining gifts (the ones we got him). We spent the rest of the morning hanging out and letting Ethan play with his new toys. Matt fixed a minor plumbing incident with our handy dandy snake, and we all rested during nap time. After nap time we headed over to Matt's parents house and had a delicious meal of smoked turkey and then played Apples to Apples again. It was a great day!

Our little cutie didn't have a clue what was going on... but she loved watching all the action and being held :)

My mom got Ethan his first trike. He was very excited. Now he needs to learn how to pedal and steer it at the same time.
Me and my bro

Grandma loving on Alayna

Ethan loves to wrestle with his uncle Jerrod. He loved the presents Jerrod gave him... a tool box, a microwave and pretend food, and some fun cars.

Alayna slept through some of the festivities
One of the fun cars Ethan received (from my mom)
This was on Christmas morning.... our cute little stocking stuffer :)
We got Ethan a Doodlepro, which he loved

Our other gift for Ethan: a tool bench
We are so blessed to have such a wonderful family.

I have pictures from when we celebrated with Matt's family, but I'm tired.... I'll post them later.