Look What I Made

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Those who know me know I’m a crocheter. I have always shied away from sewing machines. I had this irrational fear that I would sew my finger to the fabric. After crocheting a doll for Miss E’s 2nd birthday and hand-sewing the dress I realized that maybe sewing machines weren’t as bad as I thought. So I decided to get myself a sewing machine for my birthday.

My first cloth doll

My first cloth doll

With the sewing machine in hand I was ready to try my first cloth doll! I had been hanging on to this free pattern from Gingermelon since I had started thinking about a sewing machine. I finally tried it the end of February. I made a very cute mod doll, at least that’s how I think of her. There is something about her that makes me think Austin Powers. Haha! Making a cloth doll was MUCH easier than I thought! Like crochet you just need to take it one step at a time. I was too intimidated to try embroidering the face so I used markers I had on hand. I did get gutsy and hand embroider the ballerinas’ faces.

Since I was able to make that doll pretty quickly I got the crazy idea that making dolls as party

Little A's party favor

Little A’s party favor

favors for Little A’s first birthday would great! A guest at the party asked if I came up with the pattern myself. I told her no, I used the Gingermelon pattern and just changed the hair, face, legs/feet and arm length and placement. So I guess I really did make the pattern my own using the wonderful free pattern as a guide. I LOVE the way the ballerinas turned out! They were the perfect addition to Little A’s party, especially since the fabric matched the birthday party set I had been hanging on to for years.

Ballerina Close-up

Makes me smile when I see this face.

Why did I decide to blog about this? I ran across a post about The Spectacular Softies Contest. This was unbelievable timing for the start of my doll making adventure. My mod doll was finished on March 2nd and my ballerinas were done a couple of weeks later. In order to enter you need to post through Instagram or include a link to a blog post. Since I don’t have Instagram (yes, I know, I’m behind the times) I decided a quick blog post, even as disjoined as this one, would be the best option. You can be sure you’ll be seeing more dolls from me in the future! 

Why I’m Okay with My Little Girl Wanting to be a Princess

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I have wanted to write this post for a while now. I just hadn’t found the time, but early this morning I saw a post that irritated me enough to get me to start writing. The post was called 12 Very Important Messages for Princess Loving Girls .

What irritated me most about the post, you ask? Basically, everything in the post is telling girls THEIR choice to be a princess is WRONG.

Miss E and her cousin going through the princess treasure chest.

Miss E and her cousin going through the princess treasure chest.

Isn’t that the opposite of what we are trying to teach them by breaking down gender stereotypes? Aren’t we trying to show them that IT’S OKAY for them to be WHO THEY WANT TO BE!

I’ve seen it so many times that we shouldn’t encourage our girls to be princesses because all they do, is wait to be rescued. Instead we are to encourage them to be superheroes. Great! Let’s take a look at the most popular.

Let’s encourage our children to be Ironman, a spoiled rich kid, smart, with a BIG drinking problem. But hey he saves people so its okay!

Okay, no Ironman? How about Batman, look at that, another rich kid. This one never got over the tragedy of his parents death so he turned vigilante, which I’m pretty sure is illegal! On top of it all he lies to those he’s closest too. Yes, it might be to “keep them safe” but aren’t we trying to teach our children, a lie is a lie?

Then there is Superman, an alien with super powers. He too, lies to those closest to him.

Spiderman, bitten by a spider and given super powers. Tormented by the guilt he felt over his grandfather’s death, he decides to become a vigilante, and lie to those closest to him.

My personal favorite, Hulk, a scientist, his strength is triggered by his anger. His IQ drops the bigger his muscles get.

And let’s not forget Wolverine. What can I say about him? He is pretty much a sociopath.

Don’t get me wrong, I love superheroes. My point is, I’m not sure those are the individuals I want my daughter emulating.

SO now I ask, what is so wrong with girls wanting to be princesses?

Ariel, a mermaid who wished to see more than the ocean she lived in. She rescued a prince, it was the prod she “needed” to take the dangerous plunge into the human world. She didn’t lose who she was even after she lost her voice. She got to experience that world she longed to be a part of. In the end, with the help of her prince, they defeated the evil witch.

Rapunzel, trapped in a tower, she did not let her circumstances keep her from wanting to see more! When the opportunity came she “convinced” a thief to show her the outside world. She took her future into her own hands. In the end she was willing to give up her freedom to save the thief that had given her so much.

Jasmine, at an age where she had to choose a husband, she held out looking for her right fit. She stood up to her dad, helped Aladdin defeat Jafar (by distracting Jafar), and with her perseverance her dad changed the law so she could marry who SHE deemed appropriate.

Mulan, she saved China. Nuff’ said!

Belle, she gave up her freedom to save her father. She showed tremendous courage not backing down to the Beast. She also saw the good in him and helped him find it in himself. When he gave her her freedom back, Belle put herself in harms way to save him.

In the interest of time I won’t do all the princesses. I will point out that while Cinderella and Snow White were more passive, they did show some very important traits. Both princesses never lost their optimism or sense of hope! How many people would be able to live through what they did and still have a kind word and smiling face? Not many.

While I know everyone interprets things differently, these are the traits I’d like my daughter to see. Really, optimism and hope is something most of the Disney Princesses have in common. In this world, if I have to choose what I want my daughter to imitate it would be those traits. So I’ll let her be a princess.

I supplemented with formula and you know what? It worked for us.

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On July 6th, Miss E turned 18 months, on that day I nursed her in the glider I hadn’t used for a while. As we sat there I couldn’t help but think how far we’ve come. I want to be honest. Those first few weeks were HARD! I wish people had been honest about it. The biggest thing I had heard was breastfeeding is natural, your body was made for this. Well, apparently my body was made to have a baby too and we know how that ended. If you’re wondering, Miss E was born via an unplanned c-section after 12+ hrs in the hospital. I couldn’t push her out, but that’s a story for another day.

Taken while nursing on her 18th monthday.

Taken while nursing on her 18th monthday.

Anyway here’s what I want to say: while I agree formula should not be pushed on anyone, I do believe if used “properly” it can be beneficial to a nursing mother. My intent is not to judge how someone chooses to feed their child, but to share how it was beneficial in my own breastfeeding journey. I can already hear the gasps and tsk, tsk from lactation consultants and breastfeeding advocates. But you know what? I don’t think I’d still be breastfeeding if supplementing hadn’t been suggested.

As a new mom I was worried about Miss E’s lethargy. Her latch was pretty good but getting her to take an interest in nursing was a bigger problem. I felt that maybe this wasn’t the way it should be. I talked to the nurses and they mentioned it to the pediatrician. On his next rounds he asked me what were my concerns and I expressed them. He then shared with me that in his family his wife, also a pediatrician, struggled with breastfeeding their first child. He said that with all the studies out there, they didn’t want to chance nipple confusion by introducing a bottle. It was different with their second child. After much research they decided that supplementing with formula wouldn’t be so bad. Their second child was a better breastfeeder. He explained that since my milk hadn’t come in yet Miss E was using a lot of energy for little return and that could be causing the lethargy. He then explained to me how to supplement if I chose to do so. At each feeding I was to continue putting Miss E to each breast for 10 mins, only after that was I to give her a bottle. We only did it for her first week. After that I was comfortable enough that my milk had come in and she was nursing better.
So what’s my point with all this? I had resolved to breastfeed Miss E, but I know if I had continued to worry about whether or not she was getting what she needed my resolve would have faltered. Having the formula available allowed me to continue to try breastfeeding without the fear that she would starve. It was a real fear for me, especially after my body “failed” at another natural process, birth. Since there is formula I stressed a little less about nursing. I knew that if it turned out I couldn’t nurse I had a back up plan.
I think because of my experience, I don’t understand why we get into the “mommy wars” over breastfeeding vs formula feeding. Shouldn’t the point be that we are feeding our children. There are so many reasons why people choose to breastfeed and there are probably just as many reasons why people choose not to. The important thing we need to remember is that we have not walked in another woman’s shoes so who are we to judge the decision they come to. We also have to be careful because putting so much emphasis on how much of a “superwoman” someone is for breastfeeding, we neglect to recognize that although breastfeeding is natural, not all bodies are made to do it. We would never make a diabetic feel bad for not being able to produce insulin.

Sometimes You Have to Make Tough Choices: Goodbye Rummy Lebeau

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I knew that in becoming a parent there would be times I would have to make tough decisions. It doesn’t mean I have to like it! Sometimes you need to put on my big girl panties and deal with it. Today is one of those days.

Rummy Lebeau at about 1 year

Let me start at the beginning. It was probably March or April 2006 that my sister, Gigi and I, along with my aunt and my cousin, went to an animal adoption fair. I wasn’t looking for a pet. I even told my sister I didn’t want to go, I had a feeling I’d come home with a dog. And that’s exactly how it went! My heart was stolen by the little lab mix puppy with the saddest eyes. The rest of his litter mates had been adopted. He was the only one left. I don’t think I’ll ever forget how he looked in the pen, sitting there just staring. It felt like he was looking right through my soul. I was ready to walk away. I didn’t want the responsibility of a dog. But as we returned to the car I realized I couldn’t leave without him. We went back. I remember I sent my sister and cousin to snag him because there was another woman looking at him. I still needed to find where I had to go to get him adopted and didn’t want to take any chances. That day Rummy Lebeau became a part of my life.

For the most part he’s been a good dog. He loved the beach and car rides. He loves to cuddle and be pet. He was diagnosed with hip dysplasia when he turned a year old, it was pretty bad even then. He developed an auto-immune problem and has a shellfish allergy. He had always been neurotic but I didn’t think much of it. He started biting his paws and was diagnosed with anxiety a little while later. Those first couple of years he had definitely been a source of comfort. If I was ever upset he would make his way into my lap and give me a cuddle.

Fast forward a little, otherwise we’ll be here all day, J-man and I started dating. Rums quickly became his favorite. When we moved to Virginia, we looked for land that would allow us to put the least amount of stairs to get outside. We were looking for ways to relieve Rummy’s hip pain and limping. It worked. Rums loved the transition to Virginia. He was like a little pup again.

Unfortunately, in the spring of 2010 we had our first biting incident. Rums was asleep and I accidentally stepped on his head. He got me on my left foot. Rummy JeffNothing too serious, just two puncture wounds. J-man and I didn’t think much of it. I mean I was the one to step on him. Then in October it happened again. This time it was my sister. She was laying on the couch and had a cramp in her leg. She went to stretch and Rums was right underneath her. She didn’t touch him, nevertheless it must have startled him, he bit my sister on her calf. We had a trip to the ER and now a documented case of biting. Rums was quarantined and life went on. J-man and I learned to be more vigilant when it came to a sleeping Rummy.

In the back of my mind I kept thinking of what one of Rummy’s foster parents said when Rums was about 6 mos old. We ran into him at PetSmart and he recognized him. He asked if we were having aggression issues. I told him not that I had noticed. He went on to tell me that one of Rums litter mates was returned because he was showing signs of aggression. All I kept thinking was, did it just take Rummy this long to get there?

Now that we have a very mobile Miss E that doesn’t understand the “dangers” of a sleeping Rummy, a couple emergency trips to the vet for injuries to our Chihuahuas and a few close calls while he was sleeping, J-man and I were forced to reevaluate Rums future. I had talked to our vet a couple of times. I looked into a Lab Rescue and the ones I found were not taking new cases. The vet told me that Rummy wouldn’t get adopted at a pound, which I knew, especially with a documented biting history. We talked about a behavioral specialist but even as we discussed it we were sure that wouldn’t fix our problem. As the vet said this last time, as Rummy gets older the sleeping/startle/biting issue will only get worse.

This is where J-man and I needed to make our toughest call as parents so far. We made the very hard decision to put Rummy down. Its funny, the weather in our area has definitely been echoing my heart. We’ve had on and off rain since we made the final decision. Its a hard day. One filled with tears every time I look at Rummy and see that little pup with the saddest eyes. It’ll be even harder when we get home tonight and for the first time in 7 years he won’t be with us or on the other side of the door barking to let us know we’re home.

I want people to know he’s a good dog, just unpredictable and that’s a chance we aren’t willing to take with Miss E, no matter how much it hurts.

Handsome Rums

Grief: A Sneaky Little Bugger

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I had planned that my first post of this year was going to be a recap of my year with Miss E. Plans changed. I haven’t had an opportunity to sit and really put together how I feel/felt about the last year. Then over the weekend there was a drastic change to my thought process. Let me take this moment to point out that I have NEVER experienced loss as a mother. I have experienced loss in many other ways, as a daughter, granddaughter, niece, friend, etc, but I can’t imagine these types of losses compare to that of a mother. Now I can continue with my story.

Over the weekend I was enjoying a child-free shower. J-man was home which meant I could really relax and enjoy my shower time. Translation: I could think. That was probably my mistake. I was trying to put together something in my head I could use to post about Miss E’s first year. As I was thinking, I remembered that at this time last year while we were excited to celebrate Miss E’s first month in this world, friends of mine found out they weren’t going to be so lucky. And that is when it happened, I started crying, then sobbing. I shed tears for that sweet angelbaby who never opened her eyes. I sobbed for that mother who didn’t get to experience all those firsts. I cried for that father who would not get to revisit the toddler years.

I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to pull myself together when J-man and Miss E walked into our room. Luckily, I was able to stop. I wasn’t sure how I would explain that I was grieving over someone else’s child. It wouldn’t come as a surprise to him though. Last year, as this friend shared her story via a blog, I would read it and J-man would always know by the tears rolling down my cheeks. He once asked why did I read if it upset me so much. I explained to him that this poor friend was living my greatest pregnancy nightmare. In my own way I felt that by reading her posts I was helping to support her across so many miles. Even now as I think about it my eyes fill with tears for their loss. I can’t begin to imagine what that must be like.

About 22 years ago my mother had a miscarriage. I’ll admit I don’t always think about it. I was about 10 maybe 11 when it happened. When my mother had the miscarriage we didn’t know what she was having but I always say it was a little girl. You see when my mother was pregnant so was Elly Patterson, the mom from Lynn Johnston’s comic For Better Or For Worse. Read on, this thought isn’t as random as it sounds. I had always liked that comic strip. I liked the art work and the children, Michael and Elizabeth, were about mine and my older sister’s age. After our loss, April was born to the Pattersons. As weird as it sounds after that I think I was more invested in the comic strip. Sometimes I would read April’s exploits and think that my sister (because it just had to be a girl ;o)) would have been about the same age, doing similar things. I guess it was part of my healing process. To this day, whenever I read For Better Or For Worse, especially if April is “starring” in it, I think of  her, my baby sister who wasn’t.

Why the story about April Patterson? I was trying to figure out why I feel like I am grieving my friends’ loss so strongly. Then it hit me, Elena is Anna Lucia’s April. I think that is why I mourn her so!

To Believe or Not To Believe

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It’s that time of year when the great Santa debate begins. Okay maybe I’m a little late in posting but Miss E is too young to really know. In my house I’m really the only one who has been stressing this. I thought I had it. I thought I knew just what we were going to do. Yet after a meeting with my local mom’s group, I realized I had no clue.

I keep going back and forth. I want the birth of Jesus to be the focus. That’s how I grew up, that’s what it’s all about. I don’t want it to be an after thought. Originally I decided I wouldn’t encourage Santa. I wouldn’t ban him from the house but I wouldn’t bring him in excessively either. I was sure I knew how to balance it all. Then about a week ago Fred Claus was on and I enjoyed watching it. It got me thinking. I love all those old Santa movies, you know which ones I’m talking about with the voices of Fred Astaire and Mickey Rooney. If I’m not encouraging Santa does that mean we can’t enjoy those movies?!?! This thought brought me back to the debate in my head. Then a couple days ago Elf was on TV. Well that’s another movie I really enjoy. To be honest I’m a sucker for just about all G-rated Christmas movies. How can I not be? They are fun! I decided they are so much fun I can’t take them away from Miss E.

She has her own child friendly nativity and I’ll make it a habit to read The Christmas Story. But for right now I’ll leave my Santa issues at the door. I don’t want to take the fun out of Christmas for either of us. Luckily, I think I have a few more Christmases before I really need to answer the ultimate Santa question.

Confessions of a Co-sleeper

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Hi, my name is Lady E and I’m a co-sleeper. Isn’t the first step of acceptance admittance? If that’s true then maybe I should start again. Hi, my name is Lady E and I’m a new mom. I know what you’re thinking, Miss E will be a year soon, and new mom usually refers to the first 6 mos. I’ve had an epiphany, I’ll be a new mom for Miss E’s entire life. Think about it, soon I’ll be a new mom to the toddler years, the preschool years and then the tween years, teen years, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera ( sorry I just had a King and I moment).

I digress, let me get back to the topic. What am I confessing to now? Why all the acceptance and admittance? In the past year (or close to it) and I suppose the 9 months prior I’ve learned a bit about myself. I think deep down inside I knew it but motherhood brought it to the forefront. I can be pretty stubborn and inflexible, which makes it difficult to accept changes in the plan. I remember prior to my pregnancy I said I would only gain the recommended amount of weight. I was going to exercise and eat healthy. I, who struggle with weight was not going to let pregnancy become an excuse for overeating like others did. Well by the end of my pregnancy I had gained twice the recommended amount(darn nightly bowl of ice cream)!!! I was going to lose the weight quickly, yet here I am almost a year later and I still have half the weight to lose.

I had a plan! I thought being a mother would come easily, so many people have said I’d be a great one. Ask a few people I know I swore my child would NOT be in my bed but I refer you to my opening statement. My plan was to give myself the first 3 months to get settled in and find my groove. By 6 months Miss E would be in her own room and we’d have a routine. Instead Miss E is not only still in our room but also in our bed!

Maybe I’m just not as consistent as I thought I was. Or maybe the truth is that in the thick of it I have had to change my plans. That the things I was so sure were right haven’t worked for our family. Maybe admitting I’m a co-sleeper is more about accepting the changes to my plan and learning to be more flexible. It’s about being ok with the decisions I made in the middle of living life. Like they say, you really don’t know what to expect until you’ve gone through it. I need to remember these words because no matter how you think things will go you can’t be sure until you get there and as a new mom I have Miss E’s lifetime worth of new experiences. So I’ll say this to my future self: It’s ok to deviate from the plan, co-sleeping hasn’t been as terrible as I thought. Now trying to get Miss E out of our bed that’s probably a different story. ;o)

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Early Morning Confession

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Okay, I have a confession to make: for the last couple of days I’ve been having a lot of “the grass is always greener” moments. What I mean is I’ve been very tired and could use a break. When I get like this I think my working mom friends have a much sweeter deal than I. I’m aware of how that sounds, especially since I know many people wish they could stay home with their children. Nevertheless last week while I was up 5+ nights with Miss E who was having a difficult time cutting a tooth and I think a cold to boot, I found myself envisioning what it would be like to trade places with my husband for a day.

Baby Blue Eyes

Before people chastise my daydreaming let me see if I can get you to understand. I by no means think working parents have it any easier than those who stay at home. I know the demands of family life and a career can’t be easy, each comes with their own level of stressors. The saying of no sick days, holidays, etc. applies to all mothers, whether you work out of the home or not. And here is where my thought process can get controversial; sometimes I feel like working parents (and I choose the word parents with purpose as I think of my husband as I write this) get a daily respite from “home” life. Of course I only see the good parts of working as I think of the position I enjoyed. I see how if I was out of the house I could use the bathroom in peace. Or even if I had to eat lunch at a desk it would most likely go uninterrupted. I imagine what it would be like sitting in a meeting engaging with other adults as opposed to trying to coax a little one into taking a much needed nap. I picture an afternoon of no barking dogs or crying baby. A day were someone else is tending to my child so that I haven’t spent all my waking hours answering to the most demanding individual I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

Then Friday after a nursing session Miss E looked up at me with her big blue eyes, just a shade darker than her daddy’s, smiled and placed her hand on my face. Well wouldn’t you know, as I took her hand in mine and kissed it, I realized my grass might actually be greener.

Late Night Cuddles

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You know, when I’m feeling rather nostalgic I don’t really mind the late nights “rocking” Elena. It’s these nights I know I’ll miss in a few years. This quiet time we have together, my baby girl and I. We don’t do anything exciting. I sway and pat her back to the rhythm of “I’m A Believer” (The Monkees version), as it plays in the background. I know I’m with her all day so it not like I’ve missed seeing her. Yet for some reason on nights like tonight I want to freeze time. I look down and kiss her head and want to remember this forever.

I get sad wondering if I’m going to remember these moments or are they going to slip away like I feel others already have. It’s only been six months and she’s already such a different being than the itty-bitty baby we brought home. She’s starting to get mobile. She’s exploring everything. She has two tiny teeth and sometimes prefers to be left alone to play. I feel like time is going much quicker than I expected. I know there isn’t anything I can do to stop it. So for tonight I’ll play her favorite song one more time, hold her close and enjoy this moment for they truly are fleeting. 

Apologies in Advance

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This post is really just to make me feel better.

I don’t like to offend people. Don’t get me wrong if I don’t know the person I don’t worry so much. I just feel as I continue to blog I should apologize to those who have any interaction with me. You may wind up in one of my post.

After thinking about it I realized in order to write honestly I might actually offend someone. Not on purpose of course. Consider this: Parenting is about making choices, the right choices for your individual family. With that being said, everyone has an opinion on parenting choices. I am no different. I’ve known since day one my husband and I have different views on parenting. But that’s expected; we weren’t raised by the same person (which is a good thing otherwise our relationship would be just a little creepy).

Anyway let me get back on track, since this is a blog on my experience (I use “my” instead of “our” because I write and my poor husband doesn’t usually see a thing until its posted) in parenting it will include much of my opinions. I’m sure I will include stories of things that make me chuckle or upset me. So with that I ask that you not judge those that may be included in posts. Remember this is a one sided view of things; I don’t pretend it will be anything else. I understand as we continue in our parenting journey we (or I since this is mainly about me as I’m the one writing) are not going to see eye to eye with everyone in the world.

As much as I will try to keep others out of posts, we don’t live in a bubble. This brings me back to my reason for this post: I’m sorry if in writing I offend you in some way. Hopefully no harm will be done and if a post really offends you feel free to call me out on it. :o)

There. I feel so much better.