Tag Archives: Marriage

When to Be Serious and Silly

I gave birth to my baby 3 1/2 weeks early. There were some complications. He, nicknamed Dozer, was swept away from Andrew and me to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) within 30 minutes of being born. We had never experienced anything like this before and were inundated with emotions.

We were shocked – he had arrived and left so quickly. We were upset – we didn’t know very much, only that something was wrong. We were nervous – could it get worse? We were happy – he was alive! We were confused – what exactly was happening? We were relieved – they could take care of him and make him better. And I was in pain, but okay.

Our new baby’s condition was a serious thing, but we had each other.

Once we found out more, we knew that Dozer would be okay, it would just take some time – about a week in the NICU. We did not like this… well, we did because it meant that he was getting the care he needed by capable and caring doctors and nurses, but our instincts were telling us otherwise. It should only be a week… but at the same time, it’s a whole week!

We knew he needed to be incubated with tubes in his noses and throat and wires stuck all over and IVs in his veins, but our instincts were telling us to hold him skin-to-skin, smell him, feed him, hug and kiss him, love him, take him home. Our other two sons still haven’t meant their new baby brother. We want the family together. But we must be patient, stay calm, and do what we know is best.

Andrew and I are taking our baby’s health seriously. We listen to the hospital staff and follow rules. We participate in whatever care we can. We even go home without him to eat and shower and spend time with Wingnut and Pigpen because we need that self-care and our other children still need our time and attention. We do what we can, when we can, even if it never feels like enough.

And we joke while we do it.

We keep ourselves occupied instead of needlessly worrying – watching a movie, playing games, reading, talking. We make silly comments. We laugh when Dozer farts. We make fun of his squishy faces. We make fun of each other. We connect with each other and other people. They are there to help us. We are helping each other – supporting each other – being silly to keep each other sane.

Being serious and silly are equally important, and most times should be practiced simultaneously.

Do what needs to be done… with a light heart.
Accept things as they are… while doing whatever you can to make it better.
Be wise… by finding a way to laugh.
Trust… and brighten when possible.

Be serious… and silly.

Andrew and I are bummed we need to wait to bring our baby home and our family together. But we are so, so happy that he is here at all and getting stronger every day. We are able to get through this difficult and serious time with slight sillies – by lightening the situation up for each other so it’s never too heavy for either of us to bear.

What’s In My Hospital Bag for Baby #3

It’s nice to have some extra clothes and home comforts in the hospital with you when it’s time to deliver your baby. And of course there are the things you need, which is actually a lot less than you might think (especially for a baby born during warm weather).

I’m speaking from the vantage point of delivering a baby in a hospital as opposed to anywhere else because a hospital is where I birthed my previous two babies and plan to birth my third. I really have no idea what other situations might be like or the accessories they might entail. Judging from experience, I like how easy my hospital makes it for me.

First, a list of what is in my bag.

The Essentials

  • A postpartum outfit. For me, this summer, this means maternity waisted (as in not full-panel elastics) shorts and maternity waisted jeans (I highly doubt I’ll wear the jeans, but who knows, maybe there will be a cool night); a loose v-neck t-shirt; and one nursing bra. I will have the shoes I wear to the hospital – either sandals or flip-flops. A nice summer dress would also do nicely, but I’m wearing them constantly pre-delivery and I don’t want to take even one out of rotation to make sure it’s clean and packed and ready to go.
  • 2 outfits for the baby. Outfit 1: A Newborn Size short-sleeve onesie; tiny shorts; a thin cotton hat; and Outfit 2: a Size 0-3 Months short-sleeve shorts romper; with previously mentioned thin cotton hat.
  • Baby mittens. So the silly baby doesn’t scratch himself up with his newly exposed fingernails.
  • 2 thin baby blankets. Many people take the blanket from the hospital, but they really don’t want you to. I use hospital blankets whenever possible, however, so if they get messy they will be laundered right away. I wrap my newborn in one blanket for a while and then send it home with visiting family so they can introduce the scent of the new family member to our cats. The other thin baby blanket should be more than enough to keep the baby warm if his outfits aren’t enough.
  • Extra contact case and solution. I am in the habit of removing and cleaning my contacts every night and I suspect my eyes would hate it if I kept them in for 2-3 days straight in the hospital. I just don’t like sleeping with contacts in either. I want to be able to put them back in during the day, though, because my glasses aren’t comfortable enough to wear all day.
  • Eyeglasses and case. Okay, these aren’t technically in my bag yet because I still wear them every night. But I have a Post-it Note next to my bag reminding me to grab them out of my nightstand before leaving for the hospital. As it gets closer to my due date, I will just store them in my hospital bag, taking them out for whenever I need to use them at night.
  • My purse. This includes my wallet with all necessary ID, insurance cards, and money, and my cell phone.

The Comforts

  • Nursing pads. At home I use washable organic cotton nursing pads. A cousin had given me a box of disposable ones that I kept forgetting to use at home when Pigpen was nursing. I’m packing them mostly so they’ll get used, and somewhat because I think they might be convenient to have.
  • Cell phone charger.
  • Camera and charger.

Now a list of things I am not bringing.

  • Diapers/feminine pads/disposable underwear. The hospital provides all we need and more to take home with us.
  • Toiletries. The hospital provides it all. And I’ve actually never showered in the 2 days spent at the hospital after giving birth. I’m too busy sleeping, nursing, interacting with doctors and nurses, and generally recovering. I’ve already established that I don’t need to shower very often to feel good. You may want to shower, but the hospital should provide all you need to do so.
  • Slippers or socks. My hospital provides comfy, fuzzy, grip-y socks with my gown as soon as I get a room.
  • Baby socks. Summer here is quite warm and, again, the baby blanket can pick up any slack.
  • Book or magazine and journal. I’ve brought these before and never used them. During the day, I’m busy. At night, I try to sleep. For entertainment, I talk with my husband or we watch the luxury of cable tv, which we don’t have at home.
  • Snacks. The hospital provides me with all the food I need. Andrew isn’t included in the meal plan, but that’s up to him. I’ve got enough to worry about. If I get hungry, I send Andrew out to bring me extra food.
  • iPod.

All that I am bringing fits in a medium-sized backpack with room to spare. I am a minimalist so I am not bringing much. But I will definitely have everything I need. I’ve learned I don’t need other “comforting” items, because as long as my husband is there and my baby is healthy, I’m good.

2-3 days is not a long time and there is actually a lot to do. Mind you, I believe that rest is a very important thing to do in the hospital. (Especially before we bring our tiny new infant home to two toddlers.) I don’t need my hospital room to emulate a luxurious hotel room or spa experience to accomplish the simple act of resting. We are there to get our baby safely from my belly into the world and to ensure he’s healthy enough to go home. Then we get comfortable, in our family home, together.

Making Religious Holidays My Own

Over the holiday weekend, my family and I went camping. Being Easter, it was a holiday for only some. I grew up celebrating Easter. Andrew grew up celebrating Easter. But neither of us would call ourselves religious now and don’t believe in Jesus as the one and only messiah. So why continue to celebrate it? Partly because our families still do, but we’ve come to see it a little differently.

For Easter, Andrew and I have decided to celebrate the arrival of spring, specifically with the first camping trip of the year. We share meals and traditional foods (pufek [spelling??? which is a German bread], liverwurst, and strammer max for me) with family. We don’t dress up or go to church. We spend time together outside, enjoying the freshness of spring, and send the children out on a little egg hunt just because it’s a fun game to play outside. And of course we eat chocolate. Easter, for us, is not about Jesus, but about family and nature and getting out to enjoy the warmer weather.

It’s similar with Christmas. I don’t celebrate the coming of our lord and savior or whatever. But I do like a lot about the holiday, such as the sharing, coziness, warmth, and love. So when I celebrate Christmas, I celebrate the coming of cuddly winter with the closeness and coziness of my family and friends. Since it’s also so close to the end of the year, I reflect back on that year and celebrate it for what it was. Then I celebrate the coming of the New Year with new beginnings.

It didn’t take a lot to get here — just a little shift in thinking. It helps that Andrew and I are on the same page with these religious holidays, too. Celebrating in this way, I am able to comfortably share traditions with my family and friends without feeling like I’m sacrificing my own beliefs or pretending to follow others. I’ve come to enjoy these times again instead of constantly questioning the history and purpose, as I did a few years ago. I am now at a good place with them and feel content.

Perhaps a shift in thinking is all it would take for you to have a more enjoyable holiday?

Night Out – A Short Story

It was Friday night and Natalie’s husband stayed home with their children while she went out with a couple of her old friends from college. They went to bar on the river with outdoor seating and dancing.

There were four of them all together, but Natalie was the only one yet married. Soon enough, after they all caught up with one another, the others were off talking and dancing with men, and Natalie was left alone.

She walked up to the bar and bought a drink. Seltzer with a splash of cranberry and a twist of lime. A man walked up beside her and they started chatting. He was nice and funny, just like Natalie. It wasn’t long before he noticed the ring on the third finger of her left hand. The plain silver band contrasted starkly with her dark skin.

“Oh, you’re married?” He asked.

“Yes,” Natalie said.

He bent his head down gravely, “Is it serious?”

Natalie couldn’t help herself and laughter bubbled up and out. “Would you like to dance?” She asked the man, Dustin.

“Uh… sure,” he said. He put his glass down on the bar and she did the same.

They walked to the open area next to the band. The band played jazz that warmed the cool air off the river, jazz as smooth as the wooden boards beneath their feet, jazz as bubbly as Natalie’s laughter.

They held hands and kicked and twisted. Dustin couldn’t remember the last time he danced with anyone like that. Maybe never.

“You’re good,” he said.

“Hmm?” she looked as him again. Most of the time, her head was lost in the music and the movement.

“Do you like to dance?”

“Oh, I love it,” she said.

“I can tell.”

“Almost as much as I love my husband.”

Dustin’s smile faltered for only a moment. Natalie didn’t see it because she had dipped her head back and around.

They danced a while longer, to a song even faster than the one before.

“Then why are you here dancing with me?” Dustin asked.

Natalie did a move that seemed almost a shrug. “You’re here and you’re fun.”

“Yeah?”

He seemed to be waiting for more.

“That’s it,” she said.

Dustin had never encountered a woman such as this before. She was charming and he was charmed. He had gone out for beers and distraction and stumbled upon magic. He knew that magic and he missed it.

The night couldn’t last forever. Natalie’s friends found her so they could all walk back to their cars together. Natalie laughed at the tales her friends recounted as they took out their keys in the parking garage.

She put her high-heeled shoes on the passenger seat and drove home barefoot. She walked still barefoot up the front path to her house.

Her husband loved tasting the lime on her breath when she got home, the children fast asleep. They danced in the living room, after she left her shoes on the floor by the couch. They danced down the hallway to their bedroom, where they danced some more, the sheets dancing above them.

Dustin had had a few beers, but drove home anyway. He was used to it. He was, however, more focused than even he expected. He parked in the street in front of his house and slipped his wedding ring back on as he walked to the door. He was used to that, too. But he wasn’t used to this feeling of floating.

He floated in the door, kissed his wife who was barely awake on the couch, a magazine open on her chest.

“What was that for?” She asked, suspicious.

“Oh, did you want to sleep on the couch all night?” He asked lightly, with a smile.

“No…” His wife said. She had gotten used to a nudge.

He took her hand and he pulled her close.

“You seem… happy,” she said.

“I am happy.”

“Why?”

“I am happy with you,” he kissed her. “You make me happy. You’ve made me happy for a long time.” He had almost forgotten.

He kissed her again and the heaviness of her sleep lifted away from her. They floated up the stairs, floated into their bedroom, and floated some more, the sheets floating above them.

We Got A Christmas Tree!

Getting our Christmas Tree was so easy and enjoyable this year.

It was very, very cold so we did leave the children with their grandparents, but they are so young they don’t really care about picking out the tree yet. So it was just me and Andrew. And getting just two to agree can be tough enough!

But it went quite well this year. Andrew usually wants the biggest tree he can squeeze into our living room, but I prefer small trees that I can walk around without knocking into. This is our 4th tree that we got together so we were used to what the other expected and we compromised pretty well. Andrew agreed to a smaller size and I agreed that I couldn’t ask for much smaller than that.

So we got a medium tree with strong branches and a wonderful fragrance. It’s a Fraser fir, I believe. We borrowed my in-laws’ cargo van so tossing it in the back was easier than strapping it to a roof. And since it was small-ish, Andrew was able to carry it in the house and secure it in the stand with barely any help from me at all. Finally a year in which we didn’t need to hack off the top or bottom to fit the star! Or worry about it toppling over from its own weight.

We hung only 2 strings of lights — 1 white and 1 multi-color. Just enough sparkle to illuminate the tree’s natural beauty.

We  hung the ornaments as a family — Andrew and I taking turns helping Wingnut hang or holding Pigpen — while we listened to Christmas music. It was a wonderful evening. The tree is now the statement piece of our living room — right in the center. It’s beautiful and I love it. And keeping it simpler (i.e. smaller) this year, made the whole process easier and, thus, more enjoyable.

I Believe in a Thing Called Positivity

I’ve been through a couple rough patches in the last weeks. Being depressed and tired and moody and just… bleh. More than bleh. Ugh. Even mmmmbblllleuggghhhhh.

I wanted to get out of that funk. A mood funk is not like music funk. Music funk is fun. Mood funks are… mmmmbbllleeuuggghhhhh.

I thought a good way to get out of it would be to… how do I say this? Find some religion. No. But nurture my spiritual side. Everyday life is mundane. We eat and sleep and poop and take care of all that needs to be taken care of to survive, but we often neglect our higher self or spiritual well-being.

I explored a few avenues of spirituality that I believed was best suited to my lifestyle, but they didn’t end up working for me. I won’t go into it to much, but instead will just jump right to the conclusions.

jump to conclusions

I’m not good with idols or gurus or talismans. I like nature — I feel at peace when “communing” with nature, i.e. doing nothing while just being near or in it. But living a life in the modern world, I don’t always have the time or situational circumstances to be out in nature when I need a little connection to the universe.

So I started a journal. (Again.) One where I can complain without burdening my family and friends (especially my huz), wonder and blather on about things that no one else I know will find interesting (which is the better pencil? Dixon Ticonderoga or Staedtler Norica? This guy knows. And cares.), and, most of all, where I can appreciate all the good stuff in my life. Because there is always good stuff, no matter how crappy I’m feeling.

I don’t always complain or commiserate, but every day I practice gratitude. Every day I make a list of any simply nice or extravagantly wonderful thing that graced my day. I don’t think I’ve every thought of less than three in a day. Usually I can think of more, but I just get tired and want to sleep rather than continue the list. Depends on the day.

But this practice of gratitude, of being grateful for anything (not even near everything) has helped improve my mood exponentially. It’s a personal reminder to just think positively about my life. Daily.

Taking the time to think of things to be grateful for everyday puts me in the practice of thinking that way all the time. Instead of being a pessimistic naysayer, I begin to automatically look on the bright side of things. And even if there are that many bright things, or they’re not that bright, but putting my focus on them puts the crap things in the background. So then they don’t bother me as much.

Gratitude and positivity are a way of life for me. I did it a lot in more years ago (before adult life got in the way) and it affected myself and others in a positive way. I made life better! For myself and others. It’s contagious. When I was a teenager working as a pizza delivery driver, one regular customer told me if I could bottle my happiness, I’d be a very rich person. I remember that compliment because it was one of the best I’d ever received. Not because of riches, but because he saw in me a potential to spread happiness. Who doesn’t want happiness? Everyone wants to be happy. And I could help propagate it!

Getting back to that way of thinking and appreciating has done wonders. It’s such a small and simple act, but that’s the great thing about it — it’s so easy! My mood has improved. My energy as increased. My love flows more freely. It’s a wonderful feeling. I recommend it to one and all.

Be positive and grateful and you will create your own happiness.

Enjoy.

A Simple Wedding

I started writing this post a few different ways already, but neither seemed right. So I tried to think about what I really wanted to say with this post and realized I mostly just want to remind anyone reading that they can do their wedding their way, instead of the way they think society and our culture wants them to.

In my first post attempt, I started talking about trends I noticed among my peers about weddings, but that scope was way too small to be anywhere near accurate. Then, in my second attempt, I tried narrowing it down to my personal experience and talking about the details of my own simple wedding, but that seemed too specific to be of general help. And neither of those approaches were very accurate in what I wanted to say.

I just want to remind readers that you have the permission to give yourself to do things your way. I planned my wedding without being familiar with minimalism or other conscious-living movements; It would have been nice to feel more supported about being different and doing things differently. That’s what I want this post to do: Support others in deviating from the status quo — bringing people back to appreciating the personal values of weddings, not the commercial-driven extravagance of grandeur and materialism.

Of course there are other factors besides your own whims to consider, such as money, family, and your partner. Ultimately, your wedding is a ceremonial celebration of your love, and it would be best to go into your wedding planning with an attitude to protect that pleasant and loving feeling no matter how things end up going.

As with a simpler life, a simpler wedding has the benefits of less cost, less worry and responsibility, less clean up, and less stress, while leaving room for more fun, more relaxation, more time, and more love.

If you are here looking for some inspiration, I’ll give you a little peek at some of the unorthodox ideas that my husband and I used in our wedding with which we were incredibly pleased:

  • Engagement Ring An untraditional and ornamental ring with a small stone. About $326
  • Engagement Party No registry.
  • Bridal Shower Didn’t have one.
  • Bachelor Party A weekend camping.
  • Bridal Party Only a Maid of Honor and Best Man. They both wore what they wanted.
  • Wedding Dress A short, beaded flapper dress that Andrew helped me pick out and I’ve worn again multiple times. $285
  • Invitations Designed and printed them ourselves.
  • Photography No video or professional photos. A friend volunteered to take photos all evening.
  • Music iPod playlist compiled of song requests from RSVPs played through borrowed DJ equipment. We used the microphone for announcements and speeches whenever we wanted.
  • Favors Tree saplings wrapped in tiny burlap bags.

Weddings are such a huge do now, that it feels inadequate to write such a short post about them. And yet, it feels appropriate because a wedding is just a party, after all. It’s just one day. It’s importance is in what it represents — the start of your married life together. Spend less time and energy planning the day of your wedding and more on the life of your marriage. I think you’ll find the results to be much more satisfying.

Enjoy!