Monday, July 27, 2015

Holt's First Beach Trip

My family has vacationed in the panhandle of Florida every summer since I was two. We originally started in Destin, but after about 12 years or so, tourism had boomed and it was WAY crowded. My parents decided to move down the beach about 20 miles east to the quaint little town of Seagrove on Highway 30A and we have been going there ever since.

All of us look forward to this time every year---we seriously start counting down the days in January. It was really special once I got married and I got to bring a boy with me, but this year was equally special because it was the first time my child got to experience the ocean. I cried watching him--his huge grin, squeals of delight, splashing in the water, walking in the sand. I will never forget it.

love at first sight

that belly though

loving the water

Let me start from the beginning of the trip…..

We left Friday night at midnight and it was a 12 hour drive. How did we manage having an 11 month old in the carseat that long? One word-----BENADRYL. Don't judge until you've tried it and know how magical it is. Holt slept all night while driving and then the next morning after breakfast when he was awake for a little while, he just sat back there contentedly (which he never does at home). He did awesome! 

We arrived about 12:30 or 1:00PM Saturday afternoon and stopped in Seaside to stretch our legs and eat some lunch. Holt loved walking around the amphitheater and watching all the other kids. 

Holt and RoRo 

We got into our condo about 2:00PM or so and Holt saw the ocean for the first time from our balcony.

We immediately unpacked and got our suits on to head down to the beach. It was a magical moment to watch my son experience the feel of sand and saltwater for the first time. 

The water was absolutely beautiful--crystal clear and perfectly shallow for a toddler. He had the time of his life. The rest of our week consisted of beach time (and nap time) during the day and going out to eat at night. I had to let go of our schedule a bit and just kind of adapt to vacation time, but Holt did beautifully. He played so hard that he napped well during the day and slept well at night. 

precious sleeping baby

All too soon, it was time to head back home. My mom, Daniel, Holt and I left Friday night around 11PM (again with Benadryl) and got into Conway about 10:30AM Saturday morning. We had a 2-hour layover there for lunch, and just to have a break from driving, before hitting the road for the last 2-hour leg home. The not-so-fun part was arriving home to our A/C being out (and it's 100 degrees outside---no bueno), but thankfully we were able to get it fixed within a few hours and the house slowly started cooling off (thanks Mike and Denise!!). 

I'll leave you with a few other photos from vacation, and you can view the whole album HERE

I'm not sure who had more fun ;)

beach BABE

family selfie

my favorites

L to R: Kirby and Hannah O'Meara, Missy and Roe Henderson, Holt Lowery, me and D

sunsets are prettier at the beach

baby cheeks (saving this for his future wedding slideshow)

magical week with my boys

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

12 Lessons in 12 Months of Motherhood

"the day a baby is born, a mother is also born.  she never existed before.  the woman did, but the mother, never.  a mother is something absolutely new." --Rajneesh

As the days dwindle and we approach my baby's one year birthday, I am reflecting on what this past year as a mother has taught me.

#1) Motherhood is not for the faint of heart. It is the HARDEST "job" I have ever done. As a mother, you're essentially "on call" 24/7---and that's just to care for your child. You still need to keep your home in somewhat of an order, the laundry clean, dinner cooked and cleaned up, etc. It. Is. Exhausting.

#2) Motherhood is one of the BEST things that has ever happened to me. Yes, as previously mentioned, it is the hardest thing I've ever done. BUT, it is also the sweetest and most rewarding. The bond a mother shares with her baby is unlike any other. Experiencing life growing inside you during pregnancy and then holding your baby in your arms, nurturing him or her, feeding him or her, cuddling him or her. It is unexplainable. You never truly comprehend the amount of love your own mother feels for you until you have a baby of your own.

#3) I have the utmost respect for single mothers. Y'ALL. I seriously do not know how single mamas do it. The Lord graces them with a supernatural and divine strength and energy. There are days when I am counting down the minutes until my husband walks in the door, just so I can have a 10 minute break---I can't imagine the toll it takes on you. I have been lifting you up in prayer especially during this last year!

#4) I can function on less sleep than I thought. I LOVE sleep. My husband used to tell people it was my favorite hobby or pastime (ha). We all know, once you have a baby, THAT goes out the window. Gone are the days of sleeping in (what is that?). You start out your journey of motherhood up every 2-3 hours at minimum, then you go all day and MAYBE catch a few minutes of shut eye, then you're up doing it all over again. I'm here to tell you, somehow you just do it. The Lord helps us and you adjust and you actually don't mind the 1AM and 4AM feedings (even though you didn't go bed until 11PM); and as soon as you hear your baby cry at 2:30AM, you're instantly awake and run to comfort him---and then once he goes back to a blissful sleep, you lay there for the next 15-20 minutes (at least) praying that the Lord watches over him and protects him while he sleeps and watching his little chest rise and fall on the monitor. Less sleep is only temporary. Eventually you get your nights back.

#5) It passes in the blink of an eye. SERIOUSLY. People tell you that as soon as you have kids, time goes by even faster and they are absolutely right. The amount of growth and development that babies go through the first year is astounding. Mind-blowing. Live in the moment---the dirty diapers and the feedings and the teething and the laughter and the discovery. Your child is only that age ONE time---don't wish it away.

#6) Doing parenthood with my husband has made me love him even more. Watching his face light up with awe and wonderment when Holt was born, staring into his tiny little face, examining every inch of his tiny little body, comforting Holt when he cried, changing dirty diapers, getting up with me for every night feeding that first month, working hard to provide for our little family, being intentional and playing with him, teaching him words, encouraging him to roll over and crawl and walk. I get teary-eyed just writing this. He truly is the BEST father and I feel so grateful and blessed to raise children with him.

#7) Take a break. Leave your child (or children) with someone you fully trust and get away either with friends or your spouse. Is it hard? The HARDEST. Is it necessary? Absolutely! My husband and I have left Holt two different times for 4-5 days each during this year. And you know what? I rested, relaxed, spent quality time with my husband, and everyone survived. Now I couldn't wait to get back home to my little man, but it was just the recharge I needed to be the best mom (and wife) I can be.

#8) You will worry on a daily basis that you are failing as a mother. Mom guilt is a real thing. You will feel guilty about accidentally hitting your kid's head on the car door (don't judge--it will happen) or guilty that you quit breastfeeding even when you had no control over the fact your body just quit supplying milk, or guilty that you're not feeding your baby the most nutritious, organic foods available.  You will worry that they aren't peeing/pooing enough, that they haven't had enough tummy time, that you don't have enough clothes on them (or maybe too many clothes), or is his fever too high and should I call the doctor? Heck, you'll worry yourself sick and feel REAL guilty for wanting to take a break from your beautiful, bouncing baby (see #7)!  Don't give in to the worry and anxiety and mom guilt. Don't let it rob you of the joy of motherhood. Your baby will survive….and so will you!

#9) It's hard to have a social life with little ones. Once you start having babies, really until the youngest reaches about 4 or 5 (theoretically speaking, since I currently don't have experience with this age), your schedule and life revolves around this little tiny human. You enter this weird, alternate reality where it's easier to do lunch with people than dinner because your kid goes to bed at 6:30 at night and if they go to bed later than that, just kiss the next day goodbye because you'll be home with a cranky, sleep-deprived child and you'll just want to pull your hair out. To all my single friends and married-without-kids friends, please don't take it personal when I tell you I can't go to dinner and a movie. It's just a temporary season I'm in, and one day you'll be in it too and you'll understand.

#10) Play-dates are necessary to maintain your sanity. Trust me on this one. Having time to talk to another adult and just talk about girl stuff (Jesus, motherhood, parenting, movies, food, etc) is so refreshing! Plus it is great for your kids to play with other kids in different settings---it's a win-win!

#11) Motherhood is sanctifying. I just thought I realized how selfish I was when I got married. Not even close! Becoming a mother requires a level of selflessness that is HARD. I never understood my mom continually putting herself last on a daily basis. I feel like my days are reduced down to: wake up, eat, play, change poopy diapers, sleep, repeat. Sometimes I have a selfish attitude and have a pity party for myself. I would much rather spend money on clothes/jewelry for myself or getting my nails done or travel or going to the movies than diapers or rash creams or baby necessities. But, the Lord grows me and shows me my selfishness and helps me to prioritize and put my family first. But did I mention it's HARD?

And lastly…

#12) The love you will have for your child is overwhelming. It's completely foreign, yet natural and familiar all at the same time. At times your heart will almost feel "heavy" because it is filled to the brim and spilling over with love for this tiny little human you helped create. You will cry for no reason other than you're just staring into their little face and they smile at you for the first time. You will cry every time you watch a movie or TV show and a baby is born because you will instantly be transported to when YOUR baby was born and you saw them and heard their cry for the very first time. You will read mommy blogs and birth stories and cry. When your child laughs for the first time, when they crawl or say their first word or take their first steps, you'll tear up because you love them so much and you're so stinkin' proud. Motherhood gives us a glimpse of the love God has for His children--how wide and how deep is His love for us. It is the same for our children--no matter what Holt, or any of my other children, do, I will unconditionally love them for the rest of my life.

Motherhood is a privilege. It's a joy. It is a ministry. And I wouldn't trade ANYTHING in this world for it.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Holt: 11 Months


Here we are at 11 months….30 days away from turning the big O-N-E!

*Little Man is EVERYWHERE, let me tell you. He has really stepped up his game this month! Haha
He took his first steps when he was 10 months and 4 days (June 11) and then really was not interested in walking AT ALL for the next 2.5 weeks. About 1 week ago, he started just randomly taking steps here and there, and he amazes me! He will just up and walk like 10 steps across the room and then sit down. I know any day now he will wake up and just decide he will walk! I better have my running shoes ready! I have to admit, he took longer than I originally thought---I figured I would have a walker before he was 10 months old, so I am pleasantly surprised.

*Holt learned how to clap this month! It is the CUTEST thing! He just grins and laughs. So fun!

*He constantly babbles. No new words, but all day long, it's a constant stream of "baba", "gaga", "dada", "nana", "mama", etc. I love it! I can't wait for him to start having "conversations" with anything and everything and everybody.

*All the Lowery crew got together this month to celebrate summer birthdays. We had all 9 grandkids together and it was so fun! Daniel's Grandmother Ruth got a picture with all of them and it was priceless:
all the lowery kids with grandmother ruth

*We celebrated Father's Day---the 1st one with Holt out of the womb. Daniel is such a great father---as soon as he gets home, he greets me and immediately grabs Holt to play. And Holt ADORES his daddy! He has a special laugh only for him and his little face just lights up as soon as he sees him. It makes my heart go all gooey to watch them together. I can't wait to see how their relationship develops as Holt grows up.

happy father's day!

this boy loves his daddy!

*Our church had VBS this month and it was Holt's first time to go. I was a little weary because I knew he would only get 1 nap a day for an entire week, but he ended up doing better than I expected. I worked with the 4th grade and it was a WONDERFUL week telling these kids about Jesus! Our children's pastor did a phenomenal job---we averaged over 400 kids for the week, and it was so fun to see them show up everyday eager to learn and sing all the songs.

*Holt swam in a big pool for the first time this month and to say he loved it is an understatement! The entire time he was in the water, he kicked, splashed, laughed, grinned---he did everything but go underwater! He was NOT happy to get out either ;) That makes me SO excited for our Florida vacation coming up.

water baby

*We had my family's annual reunion this month and it was in Fort Smith (SO nice not to have to travel anywhere). We went to Creekmore Park and rode the train for the first time, we had wonderful food, and had a great time catching up with everyone. One of my cousins has a baby 2 months older than Holt and they had a blast playing together too! Holt was a champ that weekend---it was hit or miss on naps and he typically was up about 2 hours past normal bedtime, but he did well. It was hard for this mama--I had to let go of my needing to be in control, especially where his routine and schedule is concerned. Having Daniel and my parents and my sister and her husband and everyone else to help was key! I knew Holt was in good hands and that they could help distract him and feed him and keep him in a good mood.

riding the train at creekmore park

celebrating Poppa's birthday

*Holt came down with a cold at the end or reunion and over the next week, his cough started sounding congested. I took him into the doctor because I wanted to be sure he wasn't getting an ear infection or fluid in his lungs and he checked out perfect! No fluid anywhere (yay!) so it just has to run it's course. Hopefully he will be over it before we leave for our trip.

*We celebrated his first 4th of July this month too! He had to go to bed before the fireworks, but we grilled out, swam in the pool, saw family and some of our best friends, and had a great time! Bonus on him sleeping through all the fireworks going off on our street for 2 hours!

My heart overflows

sweet boy

we love cousin Katie Jo!

Weight: 20 lbs. 10 oz. (50th percentile)
Height: 29 ¼ inches (50th percentile)

Our little man has completely averaged out! I knew he had hit a growth spurt earlier this month, and the scale showed it too! He grew an entire inch and probably put on 2 pounds or more!

Favorites: *making music---pianos especially *dogs *kids *walking (he's taking steps!) *eating *remotes---when we go to anyone's house, he WILL find the remotes :) *swimming, splashing in the water

Milestones: *taking steps *clapping *1st VBS *1st swim in a big pool *1st July 4th celebration

Sleep: This kid just about killed me this month. He went to bed at 6:30pm, but he seriously woke up between 5:30-6:00AM EVERY MORNING for almost the entire month. The past 2 days, he actually slept in til 7:30am and I'm hoping we are getting back to THAT sleep routine. He still takes 2 naps a day for around 1.5-2 hours each.

Feeding: This child can put some food away! He hit a growth spurt earlier this month and I literally felt like he at all day long. I could not keep him full! But he eventually got back to his normal eating habits. Now that he can eat dairy, he pretty much can eat anything---it is SO nice! I am also in the process of weaning him onto whole milk. Bye formula! I go into much more detail in my last Baby-Led Feeding post. We are down to two sippy cups now---6-8 oz in the morning and 6-8 oz before bed. He drinks water throughout the day.

summer baby

we love bubbles and our friend Lorna