Hear Her Roar

Shakespeare must have had Paisley in mind when he penned:

“Though she be but little, she is fierce.”

Everything she does is loud. She farts like an adolescent boy. She belches with force. She blows out her diapers. She demands her next feeding. And unfortunately she cries bloody murder. She can go from asleep to roaring in less than sixty seconds.

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Finn was not this way. He barely cried despite eight surgeries before his first birthday. I’m beginning to agree with Joey that “girls are just drama.”

Who, me?!

Who, me?!

Anyone who says the newborn stage is easy is lying. Ly-ing. Don’t believe their posts or Instagram pictures. It’s a sham.

One month!

One month!

New (or veteran) Momma, please don’t think for one minute that you’re alone in this. It’s just hard. Parenting a newborn (and a disabled toddler) is pushing me to the brink of desperation. I’ve raised my voice, cussed a few times, huffed and puffed, gone outside for some fresh air on a number of occasions, and prayed hundreds of silent (or sometimes loud) prayers asking the Lord for His help.

Paisley was so laid back her first two weeks.

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Either this past week was a phase or she was fooling us all along. Baby girl struggles with acid reflux, is full of gas, and sometimes decides she’ll stay up all night long. Yesterday was the definition of “colicky.” I remember hearing about this tragic condition for newborns, pitying the parents of such a monster. Well, yesterday I was that mom. There is no “crying it out” for Paisley. She escalates until she is choking. Then Finn begins crying, sad for his sister and irritated with the noise. Then I begin crying…

I have no control.

Because she is my second child, I know this chapter of Paisley’s baby book is short. The newborn phase is fleeting. She WILL sleep eventually. We WILL sleep again one day. She will not cry all day every day. She will smile. There will be–and have been–good days/nights and bad days/nights. Last night she slept five hours at a time! A sweet gift from God after yesterday’s madness.

My prayer for today:

Jesus, this is what you’ve called me to for now. Thank you for our gifts, Paisley and Finn. Help me not to rush this newborn phase or wish it away. Help me to be patient, gentle and slow to anger. Give me energy despite my exhaustion. Love my family through me–and in spite of me. Give us rest.

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The Cookie

I hate making salads. I order them at restaurants because I don’t like making them at home myself. I’m a lazy salad-maker. I hate all the veggie chopping and dressing mixing and lettuce washing.

Cooking, I enjoy. Baking, I love. I make a mean hot fudge pie, dark chocolate mousse I would bathe in (thank you, Bread and Wine), delicious chocolate cobbler, and pretty darn awesome chocolate chip cookies–if I do say so myself. Notice something? It’s not dessert to me unless it’s chocolate. Dark chocolate.

Pascha found a frozen roll of my cookie dough in the recesses of her freezer last night. She held it out to me like a kitten in cupped hands. Eyes wide, she said it was “like gold.” My brother, Chad, is working as a chaplain at Yellowstone National Park. I think he washes dishes and works the restaurant cash register or something during the week, but gets to preach on a deck overlooking Old Faithful on the weekends.

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He won’t settle down, marry and get a “real job” like the rest of us normal people. Instead he does cool things like guides Holy Land tours in Israel, teaches Bible courses at a camp in California , and road bikes in the Sequoyah National Forest. Boring. ;)

Mom said Chad has lost 10 pounds this summer because they don’t feed him much at Yellowstone. So this morning I baked him my famous Fluffy Chocolate Chip cookies, packaged them between wax paper and sent them off to Wyoming. Love you, Chad.

I’m going to share my thoughts about the perfect cookie.

First, let’s define what the “perfect cookie” is to me: soft, plump and a little gooey on the inside with a kiss of golden brown crunch on the outside. Fluffy. Not too buttery or sugary or salty. The perfect balance.

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If you like crunchy, flat cookies, you will hate these. Sorry.

My Secrets for the Perfect Cookie:

1. Butter matters. It should be set out on the counter for at least three hours so that it’s softened. Don’t even try to soften it in the microwave. That’s called melting. Melted butter makes for flat cookies. Cool, slightly soft butter makes for yummy cookies.

2. Corn starch makes cookies fluffy.

3. Buy good chocolate chips. Ina Garden is one of my favorite Food Network personalities. She says elitist foodie things like “use only good olive oil.” “Cook with good wine.” “Don’t ever use imitation vanilla extract.” But when it comes to chocolate, I agree with her. I buy Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips. Guittard are also fabulous. Dark chocolate contains fiber, minerals, antioxidants, lowers blood pressure and risk of heart disease and stimulates brain activity. Yes, please. If you don’t like dark chocolate, try mixing dark with milk or white chocolate to make it sweeter.

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4. Roll your dough into balls before baking. This makes them puffier.

5. Use an Air Bake pan. I see (and taste) a noticeable difference when I use an AirBake pan vs. a roasting or regular pizza/cookie pan. And eww…I don’t like the taste of baking stones.

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6. Put the dough in the fridge for about 5 minutes before baking.

7. Bake at 350 degrees for no longer than 10 min. (using my recipe below)

 

Recipe adapted from one I found on Pinterest. But I only use one stick of butter…can’t justify pulling TWO from the fridge. Sorry. I bake for 9 minutes exactly. Not 8. Not 10.

 

Take your rings off for dough rolling purposes.

Take your rings off for dough rolling purposes.

Yum. Freeze into a log for later or share with friends. You’re welcome.

Restless

I found myself going cross-eyed while reading the Jesus Calling devotional this morning. It was just what I needed for Finn’s first year, and last year I read it again, though half-heartedly. But this morning I decided to move on.

There’s nothing like sleep-deprivation to wake up your sinful nature. Needless to say, I’m in need of spiritual substance. So I’m reading Ephesians and Restless, a book by Jennie Allen, given to me by none other than our family bookworm, Leah.

The first two chapters already have me imagining all kinds of wild, brave thoughts.

Jennie recalls being a new mother, unsettled and in search of purpose beyond diapers. She believed motherhood was her calling, but felt she lost herself somewhere in the process. This made me wonder if motherhood is my calling? Is it my calling simply because I am a woman? Well, no; because not all women are mothers nor are we all afforded the opportunity to become such. So womanhood does not equal motherhood.

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I feel called to follow Christ. To live and love the way He did. I feel called to be a fitness professional–someone who attempts to exemplify health in a desperately unhealthy society. I feel called to be a loyal wife. And now, with two kids, I am officially called to be a mom. It’s a part of my identity. We even bought a mini-van.

2006 Honda Odyssey Touring. I'm in love and I don't care who knows it.

2006 Honda Odyssey Touring. I’m in love and I don’t care who knows it.

In Chapter One, Jennie says,

“…I pray [this book] will spark something in you…a vision, perhaps, of the unique reason God keeps issuing you breath.”

I love that line: “…the unique reason God keeps issuing you breath.” If we’re alive, we have purpose. We’re not done yet.

“I want you to dare to believe that God has a vision for how you are to spend your life…What if the things you love to do collided with the plans God has laid out for you?”

What if our deepest hurts became the catalyst for our deepest passions? What if the random relationships and activities that define our lives aren’t random at all?

“What if you could get past your fears and insecurities and spend the rest of your life running…after his purposes for you?”

Do you feel like your life has purpose or are you restless? Stuck? Suffocating?

C.S. Lewis is one of the most creative minds in literature and one of my spiritual heroes. He writes:

“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

This is not my home. But while I’m visiting, I’ll try (and oftentimes fail) to be a believer, a wife, a mom, and a personal trainer with purpose and intention.

 

Paisley’s Newborn Photos

Laura, lovingly nicknamed LaLa by my family, snapped a few photos of Paisley at our house the day after we brought her home from the hospital. She’s just so talented. And not for hire, sorry. :) Paisley has already changed a lot since these pictures were taken, but I’ll share the sweetness with you nonetheless.

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My MIL, Becky, made Paisley this quilt. So special to have a pic of the two of them together.

My MIL, Becky, made Paisley this quilt. So special to have a pic of the two of them together.

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Wet Hair

I just wanted to blow dry my hair this morning. To smooth it out with a flat iron and feel pretty.

I’ve worn it wet and curly for the past week. The curls get all weird and frizzy and I feel even more disheveled than I did before I showered. I smell like milk and spit up and my tummy still looks several months pregnant. Hormones are making me sweaty. Mascara can’t hide my tired eyes. I didn’t think a second child would make such a difference in our family’s tidy, established routine.

Just as I was starting the blow dryer, Paisley began crying, reminding me–her sole food supply–that it’s time to eat. Now.

Wet hair. No vitamins or water to wash them down. Smeared make up. Frantic. Late to pick up Joey for brunch at Kitchen No. 324. If it weren’t for my mom/Superwoman, I’m not sure I would have been wearing shoes. She has been so incredibly helpful the past three weeks. I seriously could not have done this without her. I’m not supposed to lift anything heavier than 10 lbs. post-c-section and Finn needs to be lifted just about everywhere. She’s been a saint…a saint with an aching back, no less. Thank you, Mom.

Anyway…Finn and Paisley are teaching me to chill out. To remember this time of delirious exhaustion is fleeting. Reminding me to enjoy the little things–the beautiful minutia that comprises our days.

Here’s what they taught me this week:

We need rest. Get it when and where you can.

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cat naps with Nana

cat naps with Nana

You’re blessed when you find pineapple in your fruit cup.

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Play it cool.

Play it cool. Wear shades.

Wear shades.

Share.

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Jersey enjoyed Finn's spilled chocolate milk.

Jersey enjoyed Finn’s spilled chocolate milk.

Wear what makes you happy.

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“Pack Pack” at dinner.

BabyLegs

BabyLegs

Thankful today for the little ones who help me savor the little things.

 

Time Out

“Finn, stop banging the table with your fork.” Bang. Bang. Bang. “You can turn it over and bang with the rubber like this…but you can’t bang with the metal. It hurts the table.” He looks me in the eye and smiles. Bangbangbangbangbang. “Finn! No. If you do it again, you’ll go to time out.” Bang. Bang.

I plopped him down on his bed, told him he was in time out, and left the room. He cried. I approached my mom in the kitchen and said, “Now what?! He’s never been in time out before.” P.S. We’ve since switched time out to a rocking chair in the living room so as not to confuse his safe place (his bed) with bad behavior.

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Joey and I are officially parenting…and it’s not as much fun as simply being parents.

Finn has tolerated his new little sister and every now and then we see glimmers of kindness and love toward her. He’ll ask to give her kisses or want to “pet her.”

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Sometimes we get a little excited and too rough...

Sometimes we get a little excited and too rough…

But Paisley’s arrival has also made Finn insecure and defiant. He’s calling us “my momma” and “my daddy” and won’t let us leave the room. We’ve had quite a few visitors, including his favorite people–both sets of Nanas and Papas–and he gets angry and cries when they leave. I think he feels like everyone’s leaving him. He’s a sensitive guy and his world has been rocked; he’s no longer the center of attention.

My heart breaks watching Finn choose wrong. Blatantly. He’s such a sweetheart; funny and affectionate and kind.

Fourth of July parade. A flag for each hand, a pet rock, a wagon and a blue sno cone.

Fourth of July parade. A flag for each hand, a pet rock, a wagon and a blue sno cone.

I hate disciplining him; I’d just rather laugh with him. But Finn is smart and needs boundaries from us. It’s just no fun.

Joey made the connection that we could easily take the fork away from him and remove the opportunity to do wrong. Just like God could remove temptation or difficulty from our lives. But then we may not learn discipline or self-control or trust. We give Finn a fork at dinner time, rooting for him to make the right choice to obey. I’m so proud when he does, and I’m grieved when he does not.

We’ve had our own, more pleasant “time outs” with Paisley in the past two weeks. She is a doll. She’s cuddly and content.

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Hates having her diaper changed and flips out when you have the audacity to undress her. She’s a fantastic eater/nurser/latcher/whatever and has even started sleeping 3-4 hours at a time at night. She has long, skinny feet like Joey’s, curly blonde eyelashes and beautiful pouty lips. She’s expressive and purrs like a kitten when you let her sleep on your chest.

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I’m soaking up these precious days (and nights) with her. Taking time to snuggle and play with her slender fingers and smell her sweet head.

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Time to pray and marvel at her innocence.

Parenting is hard stuff, especially when you’re functioning on a few hours of sleep and iced coffee. But so worth it. Oh, so worth it.

 

 

 

Now We Are Four

Paisley Dawn Armstrong was born Wednesday, June 25th, 2014 at 9:06am.

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She weighed 7 pounds, 6 ounces (Papa Terry won the bet and guessed her exact weight!) and measured 20 inches long.

Shameless-parent-boast-alert: she scored a 10 out of 10 on her APGAR test. This score measures the newborn’s muscle tone, color, reflexes, pulse and breathing. Dr. Anderson and most of the nurses in the operating room said they’d never seen a baby score a 10 before!

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She is perfect.

C-section went smoothly minus a few tidal waves of nausea–nothing the anesthesiologist can’t fix–and loopiness, swelling, soreness, exhaustion and hot flashes brought on by a generous cocktail of pain meds.

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Finn was so excited to meet Baby Paisley! He wanted to give her kisses and hugs and loved the car she gave him in the hospital.

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He’s hesitant around her, not interested in holding her at all and I think he’s wondering why she’s still in his house. But his overall reaction to her is positive and gentle. Prayers answered.

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We are four.

We are four.

Finn is a "helper."

Finn is a “helper.”

Our parents and friends have been so helpful the past five days–helping us care for two kids, brewing large pots of strong coffee, and feeding our mouths.

Baby girl has gained an ounce since leaving the hospital on Friday and no jaundice. Breastfeeding is going very well; however, sometimes I wonder if she’s part snapping-turtle. Ouch. I mean; ouch!

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This birth was way too easy compared to Finn’s. Joey and I were sitting in a quiet hospital room rocking our little angel and wondering when something traumatic was going to happen.

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Our fingers search for the shunt on her skull–a shunt that doesn’t exist, obviously. My mom was relaying our pleasant experience to my brother Chad (working at Yellowstone National Park all summer) and said, “They’re getting to experience birth the way it should be.” Chad The Wise One replied, “I disagree. Finn was exactly the way he should have been; and so is Paisley.” You’re right, Chad. Though Finn didn’t score well on his own APGAR, Joey and I are blessed with TWO Perfect 10’s.

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We are in love. Sleepy, snuggly, deliriously in love. All over again. (And Happy 8th Anniversary to my Love, Joey!)