Monday, November 30, 2015

The Mom Who Cried Molars.

I’ve literally taken hundreds of thousands of pictures since Forest was born and all of these photos are eating up the memory on my external hard drive. We are finding many memory solutions, but one fix is to go through and delete all the fuzzy, blurry or redundant pictures that are just eating up space. It took me nearly an hour to just get through April 2015, and each delete felt like a knife to the heart as I sorted through Forest’s fleeting babyhood and decided which memories were worth saving. 

The point of this post is not to drive down memory lane and get nostalgic, but to remember how certain I was that Forest was teething last Easter. The pics of him in his Easter Jammies were heavily photoshopped as I painstakingly tried to cover up the copious amount of drool pooling out of his mouth.   

Drool + tears = teeth....right????

He had cut 16 teeth by the time he turned 14 months, and since he was always such an early teether getting teeth 2-3 months before his buddies, we were expecting the ‘2 year molars’ to make their appearance well before his second birthday. 
6 teeth at 6 months

A full mouth of teeth by 14 months

So when he became a sleep deprived cranky drooling mess around the 17 month point, we braced ourselves for another round of nightmarish molars. But when the symptoms passed after 2 weeks with no teeth to show for it, we were left scratching our heads in confusion. 

At 22 months we had a similar phase and I swore that when his mouth was wide open from his constant wailing, I could spot teeth just under his gums. But yet nothing ever surfaced. 

At 23 months he had a few nights in a row where he’d wake up, cry for 2 minutes and then go back to sleep and we were sure that this time it was the real deal and he was teething. And yet….nothing. 

When Jon’s parents came to visit for Forest’s birthday, his mom commented that she was sure he was teething. I plopped my finger in his mouth only to get a hard bite down by my toddler, but not before I confirmed that there was no tooth coming through.   

By this time, I was feeling like the mom who cried molars. I had been burned more than 4 times thinking ‘This is it! The last set of teeth are coming through which explains why my child is being a monster!’ But when the crisis passed and we had no teeth to show for the misery, I was baffled and confused and frustrated. Why the hand chewing, drooling, night waking, short naps and 8 poops a day (TMI?) if he wasn’t teething???? 
So when a week ago Forest started taking crazy short naps and waking super early, I didn’t even think of teething. I was scrounging sleep training sites about if he could possibly be dropping his naps completely and chalked it up to the 2 year sleep regression and assumed his crankiness and resistance at meal times was due to him being overtired. Then on Thanksgiving, I was giving him fish kisses (his new favorite thing) and when he opened his mouth to receive his fishy kissy I spotted something white on the inside of his gum. 

I instantly popped my finger inside his mouth and felt that long awaited tooth poking through. I started jumping up and down and yelling to Jonathan ‘We have a tooth! We have a tooth!’. He rolled his eyes not believing this claim since I had ‘thought’ I saw teeth back there many times before. But Jon played along, sat Forest up on the kitchen island and bravely felt around his gums for confirmation. When it was confirmed that I was not crazy and that a molar had indeed broken the skin we all started high 5-ing. Forest was yelling ‘Tooth! Tooth!’ probably having no idea the significance of the accomplishment. 

But it just explains so much and y’all I was having a rough week! I haven’t cried this much or been this frustrated with him since…..well probably since the last time he cut teeth back at 13 months. It is just such a relief to know that there is a reason for his crummy sleeping and whiny behavior and fruit strike and that this state of affairs is hopefully not the new normal but just a result of teething discomfort and pain. I put Orajel on his gums before his nap Thursday and he took his longest nap in 2 weeks. Phew! (Of course then he went and caught a cold which has him all screwed up again so our victory was short lived. Sigh.)

We are gearing up for a long few weeks as all 4 molars break the skin, but at least now I have something to blame the struggles on. And best of all, it is something that is temporary and will pass! I think the hardest part with parenting first time kiddos is not knowing if something is a temporary phase or the new status quo. I was thinking ‘oh gosh- is this the terrible twos because it is indeed TERRIBLE!!!’, and I’m sure that developmental phase is part of it, but it’s also nice to know that the terrible 2-year molars are also partly to blame! 

My apologies to my family who will be spending Christmas with a potentially cranky toddler (the same thing happened last year as he teethed his canines over our trip home), but maybe they will be all in by then. Fingers crossed they all come in swiftly!  The best thing about the 2 year molars is that they are the final teeth! Woohoo. I have literally been saving a bottle of sparkling wine for exactly this occasion. Once that final molar pops through we are definitely breaking out the bubbly!  
Source (my attitude about the last molars!!! I really need this shirt.)

Thursday, November 26, 2015


 Happy Thanksgiving everyone. It's truly one of my favorite holidays and I seem to get way too sentimental everytime it comes. What could be more important than a day centered on gratitude? It's certainly something that we could all use a bit more practice in!

I'm at a point in my life where 'grateful' just seems to be a wholly inadequate word. The past year was one full of heartache and fear and growing pains as I learned the lesson that even though God loves us, it doesn't mean we will be protected from grief or illness or tests of faith. I learned that it's not always about being strong- it's more important to be faithful; to let God be strong in our stead. To let Him fight for us and keep our hearts pure and our faith intact even when our bodies fail and our hearts break. Sometimes we have to praise Him through the storm and that is, quite frankly, a scary admission. 

So it's been a refining year for me, and one that has widened my perspective and clued me in to a little insight: My life is blessed beyond measurement. It won't always be this good, and I know there will be hard times ahead, and I hope that when those times come I have the faith to still be grateful and to give thanks in all circumstances. But as for now, I seriously could not ask for better circumstances. I feel lucky and undeserving of all the blessings in my life. I am especially thankful for: 

1) My health and the health of my husband and child.
2) The beauty that surrounds me in Northern California, both the landscape and the weather. 
3)  An upcoming holiday with family and friends in Louisiana.
4) A Savior who brings peace, joy, grace, healing, and mercy. 
5)  The ability to comfortably stay home with Forest, which is truly a dream job. 
6) A husband who is sweet and humble and who works hard and is great at what he does, both at work and at home. And it doesn't hurt that he is also a hunk....

7) A son who is full of joy and spunk and sweetness. 
8) A family who loves us and supports us despite the miles between us. 
9) A global network of friends who feel like family no matter the distance. 

And gosh, just so so so much more. It's honestly ridiculous and I often pinch myself to make sure this is really my life. I may not have realized it until recently but God has given me every single thing I ever asked for, down to the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel snoozing on my couch right now. 
It's a scary thing when you realize you have all you ever wanted. Jonathan and I joke that we're peaking too soon. There is so much at stake. We have everything to lose.  

I was driving to a gorgeous park the other day to meet up for a playdate with a dear friend. The weather was perfect, the light had that mystical Fall look, and the autumn trees with their mountainous backdrop were just so beautiful I started to cry. Because I just never wanted it to change. I wanted to stay frozen in this season of life. But that's not how life works. I know it will change. That's the nature of the game. But I'd just like to say for the record, I am just so thankful for this moment in time. 
Photo by Jennifer Wilhite Photography. Full family photo reveal coming soon!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Weekly (HA!) Pinterest Project: Sesame Street Paper Plate Craft

I’ve been totally slacking on my Pinterest projects lately. I keep accumulating good ideas but never seem to bring them to fruition. Finally two weeks ago, Forest was having a bad asthma day so I decided it was time to get our craft on. The boy loves painting as well as all of the characters from Sesame Street so when I saw this idea floating around on Pinterest I collected all the supplies for a rainy (or asthmatic) day.
Its pretty simple. All you need is: 
-Construction paper (a multi-pack depending on which character you want to do. We did Elmo and Cookie Monster so only needed orange, white, and black.)
-Washable Paints in whatever colors your monsters are. We used Crayola Washable Paints in primary colors yellow, blue, green, and red. 
-Toddler Paint Brushes. 
-A pack of cheapo white paper plates. I just needed 4 of these but unfortunately Target was only selling them in packs of 200 so I now have basically a lifetime supply. 
-Scissors.Toddler scissors if your little one has the dexterity to use them and wants to 'help', but I just did this part on my own.
-Glue Stick. 

I let Forest paint the paper plates in their individual colors while I got the mouths and eyes ready to glue on. 

I didn’t use a stencil and just eye-balled and free handed the proportions I needed. Then once the paint was dry on his paper plates I had him help me glue the features onto them. 
 He was instantly OBSESSED and asks to ‘hold cookie’ and 'paint plates!' all the time. It was fairly simple and since I have several white paper plates left over I have a couple of similar crafts in mind for the upcoming holidays. Like how cute are these turkeys??? 
 Thanksgiving Paper Plate Crafts for Kids (Find turkeys, pies, pilgrims, and more!) - Crafty Morning:
Totally doing it. Any of you creative readers have other ideas for what to do with 196 paper plates? 

P.S. Forest’s asthma is doing sooooooooooo much better (and I probably just jinxed it by typing that) but we were able to get it under control with a few days on Claritin which we much prefer to his inhalers. Praise Jesus!

Friday, November 20, 2015

8 Book Recommendations for Your Holiday Season!

If you were to look at my music library on my iPhone you would probably laugh. I have everything from old time hymns to gangster rap. It’s quite schizophrenic. Recently I’ve noticed that my reading list looks about the same. It includes various genres and the subject matter ranges from potty training to post-apocalyptic survival stories and quite a lot in between. 

I’ve recently surpassed my reading goal of 40 book in 2015. Right now my count is 44.5 books, and while I’ve enjoyed most of them to some extent, recommending them is a whole ‘nother ball game. I feel like recommending a book comes with a lot of pressure, especially since I’ve cultivated quite a reputation as someone who reads, like, a lot. What if I rave about a book that falls flat for someone else? 

It’s something I take very seriously, so I usually preface my recommendations with ‘I enjoyed it but it might not be your cup of tea…’. The following is a list of my favorite books of the last few months, but they may or may not be your style. However, I always recommend reading outside of your comfort zone! Historical Fiction is my go-to fall back genre, just like singer/songwriter is my singular music of choice. However, reading 40+ historical fiction books in a year would get boring the same way that listening to the same Ed Sheeran Pandora station does after a while. That’s why I love getting recommendations from you guys and I hope that through me you may discover one of your new favorite books. 

I feel like I also need to preface this by admitting to the fact that I am in no way a book critic and my descriptions leave something to be desired. Because of this I have linked all the titles to their summaries on Amazon in case you want to know more. Let’s get going ! 

To me this book proves that an author can surprise you. I had several trusted friends recommend this to me before I took the bait. I had read one Kristin Hannah novel before and found it totally cringe-worthy. I could hardly even finish it and swore to never read another title by her again. But my friend Jillian told me to trust her on this one and I’m so glad I did! First off, it a historical novel that centers on Europe in WWII, which y’all know is probably my favorite period to read about. This one deals with occupied France and is an expertly told and emotional tale of two very different sisters and their role in the resistance to Germany’s rule. I don’t even feel like I need to preference this one with a ‘it might not be your cup of tea’ statement, because I truly think this one has universal appeal. Trust me on this one;) 

Fitting in with the Europe in WWII theme, this nonfiction books follows 4 English women who met and married American soldiers based in England during the war effort. It tells of their courtships and eventual moves to America. As an ex-ex-pat, I’m always intrigued by tales of those who relocate to a different country, especially those who do so to America. Unfortunately it wasn’t a happy ending for all of them, but still a captivating read. 

 Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
I was late to the game on this one too. While I wouldn’t give this book a 5 star rating, I still enjoyed it immensely. I think the hiker/nature lover/Californian in me was intrigued by Strayed’s solo journey across the west coast wilderness that is the Pacific Crest Trail. I’ve always had a desire to do a long distance hike, namely the West Highland Way in Scotland, and this memoir allowed me to catch a glimpse of what that might realistically look like. 

The narrator was slightly unlikable and I found her lack of research and preparedness maddening but certainly I applaud her accomplishment in both hiking the trail and writing a book about it. Well done! 

Oh my goodness. This book. I think it has dethroned The Book Thief as my new novel against which to measure all others. It was absolute perfection which was odd given that for some reason the title, synopsis and cover did not grab my attention at all. But Ann Patchett is a genius and has quite possibly written the perfect novel in Bel Canto

I really feel like I can’t do the story line justice but basically it starts at a private birthday party in an unnamed South American country where a prestigious Opera singer is entertaining several well-to-do patrons. A militant group breaks in and takes everyone hostage and complicated relationships ensue. It didn’t sound that interesting to me, but take my word for it, it was beautiful and uplifting and heart breaking and complicated and everything you could possibly want in a novel. 

This was a labor of love for me, and you can tell it was for the author as well. It’s quite lengthy and slow, but I think it needs to be to get the reader invested and confused enough to really feel the frustration facing the aid efforts in Sudan and throughout Africa. It basically follows several different characters and the incidental role the play in eventually smuggling arms to the Sudanese resistance army in their fight against the Islamic government in power. Certainly not a fluffy feel good novel but deserves a read, for sure. 

This is an interesting take on post-apocalyptic science fiction. It follows a theater tour as they travel through a population decimated by a modern day plague, performing classical music and Shakespearean plays under the motto that survival is not enough.  It didn’t knock my socks of but it was a fun read and different style than my usual stuff. 

Phillipa Gregory is my ‘guilty pleasure’ author and my go-to when I’m in a reading slump and need something to get me going again. She’s known for her historical novels centered around the English Royal family during the 15th-17th century. This particular novel is the second in her Cousins’ war series and follows Margaret Beaufort as she protects her son, Henry Tudor, a legitimate claimant to the disputed English throne, until he comes of age. 

Jonathan and I are currently watching ‘The White Queen’ which is a STARZ series based on these books so I’m trying to binge read them all. Next on the list is The Kingmaker’s Daughter, though apparently The Lady of the Rivers is the prequel to them all so I need to go back and read that one as well. Currently there are 6 in total. 

This is a true memoir about a 24 year old journalist who started displaying symptoms of paranoia and psychosis in addition to seizures. Instead of being put into psychiatric care, she was hospitalized on an epilepsy unit where she was kept for nearly a month while doctors tried to solve her mysterious case. They eventually figured out that she was suffering from a rare form of encephalitis that had only been discovered 2 years prior. This memoir follows Cahalan’s descent into madness and her slow journey to recovery but leaves you questioning how many people (historically and present day) have fallen through the cracks and their mental health issues are actually stemmed from a physical cause that goes un-diagnosed. Chilling. 

Okay, that’s about all I have for you today. I hope that gives you a few reads to get you through the holiday traveling season. Currently I’m reading The Magician’s Assistant by Ann Patchett and next I’m planning on moving through the rest of the Cousins’ War series by Philippa Gregory, but I may need to break that up a bit. Any suggestions for me?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

It's Fall, Y'all!

Gosh I love Fall. The weather has finally turned cooler here, the leaves are changing, we’ve got some much needed rain, and the Autumn light hitting the hills is just incredible. It’s all so refreshing after facing summer like temperatures into late October. Yuck. Another great thing about Fall is the IHMC Fall festival. IHMC stands for ‘Iron Horse Mothers’ Club’which I joined shortly after moving here. It’s where I met many of my momma friends and Forest’s playmates. There was even a playgroup specifically for babies born in the Fall/Winter of 2013 so that was a perfect fit and we have met for playdates almost weekly since the babies were 3 months old. 
Play groups are probably my favorite thing about this moms’ club but they also put on a Fall Festival every November that is absolutely perfect for the toddler/preschooler set. They have train rides, face painting, small-scale carnival rides, fun jumps and all-inclusive carnival food too.

It really is a top notch event and I’ve been super impressed for the past two years that we’ve gone. This past Saturday we were watching F’s buddy Bryce (whom we met through IHMC) and took him along for the ride. 

It was kind of fun to imagine what life with 2 would be like. It was surprisingly easier than we thought, especially since we just played man on man coverage the whole time. Jon was assigned to Bryce (by far the better listener of the two!) while I took Forest. 

Most of the time the boys wanted to do the same things but when Forest was gung ho about the fun jump and Bryce wanted to go on the trains again we just split up our efforts. 
I could see how that would get tricky if I had them both on my own though! God bless you, mommas with 2+ kids! 
Unfortunately, the timing of the festival was precipitously close to both boys’ naptimes so we ran into some overtired tantrums towards the end (by Forest, not Bryce) and had to call it a day. The good thing about this carnival being geared towards the under 5 set  is that an hour was plenty of time to get to ride all the rides and do all the activities plus grab a special snack before leaving. It was a great outing which made putting down two toddlers for synchronized naps pretty effortless! 
How was your weekend?