Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thou Shalt Not Whine

If the Hancock family had a family crest, alongside the cross, a Crimson A, and a roll of duct tape, I am certain the slogan to the left would be engraved boldly.  My aunt even has something similar hanging in her kitchen lest we forget.  Whining was one of the deadly sins growing up.  In fact, I think I probably could have gotten away with cursing before I could escape the penalty of complaining about my situation.

Today, of course, whining drives me crazy.  Growing up in a zero-tolerance, if-you-whine-you-will-die (kidding...a little) household doesn't lend itself toward apathy for complainers in adulthood.  As I was scrolling through facebook on my phone while waiting for Carter to slip into dreamy world a few weeks ago, I was struck by how many people's comments were just...whiny.  It didn't make me annoyed like whining usually's facebook...I can just not read it if it annoys me.

I was less annoyed and more...intrigued.  Generally, most people were whining about the harder aspects of really great things.  Whining about jobs, relationships, how busy things are, repairs needed on houses and cars...I totally get it.  I am not innocent here.  I have complained about some of the same things.

Later, I was talking to two of my sister-in-laws, and we ended up on kind of the same topic.  People complaining...and how it can really hurt others who wish they had the things others were complaining about.

Because...for every mom who complains about how tired she is of all the toys on the floor, there is a woman who wishes toys scattered her floor and babies filled her arms.

For every husband who complains about not having any time with the guys, there is a widowed man who wishes he could hold his wife's hand for one more afternoon.

For every single girl who whines about still being single, there is a busy mom who wishes she would have done more with her time when she had it.

For every man who is tired of going in every day to the same mundane work, there is a man who would do any job to provide for his family.

For every couple that longs for children, there is a broken family who looks at that couple wishing their relationship was as close.

For every family longing for more financial security, there is a family who wishes for a time when their lives were more simple.

I could go on and on.  My heart is so convicted.  In moments of difficulty, it is okay for me to acknowledge it...and maybe even vent it out for a bit.  But when the spirit of my heart is consistently unsatisfied with something, I need to be reminded sometimes:

There is always someone who wishes they were in your shoes.

I shouldn't minimize the difficulty of hard situations, but instead acknowledge the hardship and the blessing.  Not wasting any of my precious time complaining about my gifts...and enjoy all the good parts of each stage of life while understanding that every period of life has its share of adversity.  I know this in my head.  I need to repeat to my heart until it is the reflexive response of my heart in hard times.

I read this out loud to Steven before posting...and he said it was a hard pill to swallow.  He's right.  It's hard for me to swallow.  I wondered if I should even post it.  Maybe no one wants to read my "stop whining" post...but, I guess I'm like facebook.  You could always just close the window, right?

So we can consider this a reminder to me...and perhaps a reminder to you, if you like.

I pray our eyes are awakened to the good and the blessing of every situation.  I pray that we will see all the He has orchestrated through His eyes.

I pray we won't whine.


PS: Carter pulled up on the edge of the tub today...almost to a full standing position.  What a strong, determined little man!  What a busy little mama I'm about to be.  Go Carter!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Park Play

Carter's first visit to the park!

This is the shot we spent most of the time at the park trying to capture.

Though he seemed to like swinging...this was what he did most of the time :)

He is just starting to get strong enough to balance standing up if there's something sturdy to hold on to....

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Letters to Carter

Dear Carter,
I can't believe how fast this time is going.  It seems like you are changing every single day.  As we prepare for Baby Hancock to come, I packed up some of your clothes for him to use.  I can't believe how tiny they are.  I forget that you're getting bigger...and those clothes show me that indeed you are.  Of course, I would wonder if you weren't- especially considering the way you eat!

You started solids with a love for sweet potato...and that love has extended to all your other solid foods!  You now eat sweet potatoes, avocado, peas, squash and zucchini (you make a face when we give you this...but you still eat it!) split pea soup, carrot, banana, pears, and apple.  You do love them all, but there is nothing like banana in your world.  You smack when you eat it...trying to relish every morsel, I think.  It's so cute now (but don't get any ideas...this will NOT be allowed soon!)  You still love your milk, and you just get so mad with your 3 ounces.  But every time I give you 4, you spit up.  Surely that can't be worth it, dear.

Your thighs are getting chunkier and chunkier..and your little belly is starting to hang over your diaper.  However, you are just at the cusp of crawling, and I know the increased activity is going to take away a little of that "baby fat" I love so much.  You are reaching for things that used to be way beyond your reach.  You reach waaaaay beyond your feet and then bring it back to your lap.  Mostly you just bang the toys on the floor and chew on them once you get them.  Then you drop that toy and start again with something else.  It's like you just enjoy the reaching practice.  I guess your little body just knows what you need!  Sometimes, you flip over on your belly when you reach, and then you wiggle like a little fish out of water trying to get to the toy.  You are just starting to push up until your arms are straight, and push off your little toes.  You're not crawling yet, but it's fun to see you work at it a little every day.  Your favorite toy is the wooden, stackable train that Uncle Travis and Aunt Susanna got you for Christmas.  You love to pull off all the pieces and bang them on the floor.  When one gets away from you, you go for the next piece.  One day, you'll be putting it all back together too, but for now, I am in charge of collecting the scattered pieces so you can play the game again.

Even though you're not a crawler, you sure do love to move.  In nursery, you love to grab everyone's toys...and the little girl's curly hair that likes to sit beside you.  (Although she probably won't for long!)  You still seem to prefer curly hair to straight...I secretly love that.  Your own hair combs perfectly straight, but is a curly mess on top in the mornings.  I don't know which way it will go, but I will love it either way.  Almost every one we see comments on your big, beautiful brown eyes and your crazy expressions.  You are starting to wave at them...though I don't think you know what you're doing, it makes the people around you feel special.

Like your Mama, you almost always have lots to say.  Your shriek is quite deafening, and when you do it, you tense your whole body.  You also love to say, "bababababababa"....I'm trying to turn it into "Mama" and Daddy is trying to turn it into "Dada"...but the "b" sound is quite clear.  The other sound you make every day is laughter.  Oh, how I love that laughter.  I do the silliest things to hear it...and these days, it doesn't take much.  You love when we put you up in the sky and wiggle you around, when we tickle you (especially your back and toes!) and when we "scare you" by jumping around corners.  The thing you love the most though, my sweet boy, is when we hold our fingers over you, getting closer and closer...and then grab your little belly and run our fingers over your tiny ribs!  The closer our fingers get, the more excited you get, shaking your hands, squealing, and kicking.

As your "happy" personality develops, so has your little will to get your own way.  When you don't want to be put down in your car seat/high chair/floor/ arch your back and squeal...I can't believe you already do  that, but yet, here we are.  It will be so many years before you understand what we are doing is best for you.  But we will help you, a little every day, see the truth of your own little defiant sin and your need for a Savior whose grace is enough.  I pray for that day already, dearest son.

I love the mornings, when your hair is a mess and you are so cheery and well-rested.  I love your enthusiasm for meal times, and your effort to grab things when you play.  I love the way you bat at the books I try to read you, and then way you lift your arms for me to pick you up.  I love the way you light up when you hear my voice and the way you squeal and flap your arms when Daddy comes home.  I love watching you snuggle and play in the afternoons with Daddy as we catch up.  I love the tidal wave that you create in the bathtub with your vigorous splashing, and the way you smell right before bed.  But most of all, I love to rock you.  I love the way you lay your head on my chest (after you've pushed and kicked and cried for a bit because the 3 ounces are gone!) and start giving in to sleep.  You almost always hold my hand and stroke it with your tiny fingers.  Just as your start to slip toward dreamland, I lay you down in your crib so that you can fall asleep.

I can't believe I get to be yours Carter.  I love you so very much.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Blackberry Pie

Blackberries are not a toy.  Turns out...this particular blackberry really wasn't a toy.  It had to be replaced days after these pictures were taken.  I can't directly blame my little cherub...but I'm pretty sure the evidence points to him! (or me for letting him play with it in a pinch!)


Friday, April 15, 2011

The Princess Who Found and Squished the Pea

As most of you know, we haven't been sleeping much at our house. Carter always spit up a lot, but last December, things got significantly worse.  His tummy hurt a lot, and he had a ton of gas.  This pain started waking him up at night.  As in, every hour after midnight.  Then...just every hour.  To do this for a night makes for a tired day following.  To do this for a week gives you that overall groggy feeling.  A month?  A general feeling of continual tiredness.  3 1/2 months later, the Lord had physically sustained us.  But we were EXHAUSTED.

I wouldn't change anything.  A baby that is hurting needs to be held.  Period.  Even if it's every hour, every night.  I think my quest to make him feel better may have also been fueled a bit by my own personal desire to just SLEEP again.  So...we tried a milliion different things that you've read all about on this blog.  Finally, we found the answer.  After all those experiments, research, doctor visits, and squash and zucchini, we figured out that the problem was hyperlactation and our little piggy eating more than he can handle.  I am currently pumping and giving him 3 oz at a time, every 2 hours...and he's not spitting up!  I mean, he spits up on occasion...when he lunges for one too many toys right after meal time...or when we wiggle him all around right after he eats...but they are normal spit ups.  These aren't the "oh my gosh did you see that spit up hit the other side of the room!?!" stuff that we were dealing with a few months ago.  I realized yesterday that the little bucket I kept in the laundry room for all the little clothes that I treated for stains from spit-up and explosive diapers (hope you've learned to not read my blog with lunch!) was empty...and has been...for weeks.  Ahhhhhh. 

Our sweet baby is just generally...happier.  He was always really well-natured, especially considering the way he felt.  But, what a happy kid.  Now that he's not in pain, it was time to break some of the bad habits we'd formed just trying to make it through the nights.


From all the research I've done, I knew that I didn't want to try the "crying it out" method.  That being said, I know that this method has worked for many of you, and I'm not critiquing...different strokes, you know?  Not necessarily because I can't stand the thought of him crying, because I know crying is part of being a baby, but because there's some pretty convincing research out there discussing the dangers of long-term crying on their little bodies...and it hurt me to think of Carter using his only method of communication and knowing it wasn't going to work. 

I also knew that, though it works for some people (can you tell I'm a "live and let live" kind of girl?), I would not be letting Carter sleep with us even though I knew it would be easy at the moment. 

I needed something in between.  So I ended up slowly following the methods described in The Baby Whisperer by Tracey Hogg.  Now, like any good parent, I modified it a bit to fit Carter's needs.  And I couldn't just jump in.  If the whole point was teaching Carter to soothe himself in the night, the pacifier had to go.  Carter can pick it up and reinsert the thing by himself, but he's a little like his Mama in the middle of the night.  Let's just say...they're not his brightest hours.  He could never get the thing inserted in the middle of the night.  Or...he didn't even try...I don't know.  What I do know is that he certainly never put it in by himself and would cry until we did.  The first few nights, I rocked him while he cried for his pacifier...and then put him in his crib once he was asleep.  And then repeated for hours througout the night.  Once he'd gotten that down pat, I started rocking him until he was sleepy and putting him down awake.  I stood next to his crib, hand on his little chest, until he fell asleep.  A few nights later, we progressed to me standing next to his crib...and then...I just laid him down.  It did take a little bit of crying.  It was always his "mad" cry...mad that I was doing things differently...mad that he wasn't getting rocked...mad because the routine was different.  But I wasn't just leaving him to figure it out himself.  It was sleep training in the truest sense...with me there helping him along.  Now...things are perfect yet.  He still cries a little bit when I first lay him down...but...get ready.


It was like manna from heaven.  Like warm chocolate chip cookies straight from the oven.  Like an Alabama touchdown in the last seconds of the game.

It was gooooood.

He cried a few times...around 3 and 6...but both times were just self-settling whimpers that sent him back to sleep on his own.

I was, frankly, shocked.  3 1/2 months of terrible habits, solved in a week and a half.  I know there will still be nights of setbacks, teething, sickness, nightmares, etc. 

But they won't be every night.  They won't be the norm. 

We're still figuring out naps...his little body is in so much shock about the night sleep he is getting, he is readjusting his days a bit.  I'm giddy...and realizing how much better a body feels after a complete night of rest. 

Thank you so much for all of you that encouraged us, listened to me go on and on about our latest experiment so I could think through it out loud, and prayed for us.  Our little boy is well...sleeping...and I feel like a princess warrior who stabbed the pea that was under our little boy's mattress and squished in emphatically with good sleep habits!

Hah little pea!  Take that!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Baby Shower Superman

After I wrote about what I am learning about love the other day, my friend Kyle interviewed Steven and me on Skype about how our view of love has changed since we've had Carter.  He used it to speak to 5th and 6th graders about Eph. 3:14-4:1...coincidentally the verses I pray over Carter every time I rock him!  Anyway, as I was going over what I said during our conversation with Kyle and rethinking better ways I could have said it. (sadly happens almost every time I open my mouth!)  I kept dwelling on the concept of love and how our perspective and understanding of it is in constant change.  It's like we are looking through the lens of a camera.  Every day we zoom back a little more, seeing more of the big picture of love.  Some days, we zoom back just a bit.  Others, we take giant leaps back.  One day...we will know the fullness of love...when we know God fully and completely; I'm glad that's not going to happen in my earthly body.  I am certain this brain could not handle that.

So anyway.  I was thinking about love, in general.  If I had to define love...what it means to me right now...I'd define it as this: Love is waking up every morning and choosing to care about someone else more than yourself.  To love like that is hard.  To be loved like divine.

I happen to be married to someone who is a hard worker.  As part of Steven's proposal to me, he wrote:

"A thousand words of love and devotion on a thousand pages I would write for you-but I think I'd rather take your hand and walk and talk with you through the Botanical Gardens, because I'm learning that love not only inspires-it walks. I would sing an endless song to all who would listen to a man enthralled by his beloved- but I'd love to sit on a porch swing and plan our future, because I'm learning that love not only sings-it listens. My love, I could stay eternally in one place intoxicated by your presence-but I would rather rise and carry what is too heavy, reach what is too high, or fight what may seem too strong, because I'm learning that love not only waits-love acts. Love moves for the beloved."

**ahhhh, I am such a lucky girl.

Those weren't just words.  Every day, Steven carries what is too heavy and fights for what seems too strong.  And it's not always romantic.  Sometimes he is rising and carrying me by staying up with Carter through the night.  Sometimes he is picking up what is literally too heavy...trash bags, recycling, groceries from the van.  Sometimes he is reaching...for more time to do all the work required to provide for us.  Sometimes, love acting is shower stuff.

I like baby shower stuff.  It makes me smile and lets me make and create.  Not so much for Steven.  But because he loves me...

That's right.  He loved me by doing a TON of work to make a lovely baby shower for Susanna and Travis a reality.  Unfortunately for Steven...I couldn't do things simply.  Who knew putting a baby shower together would require quickcrete, power tools, and an odd assortment of rocks and other weighty 11pm the night before?

Who knew that I would need someone to break into acquire entrance into a thermostat box so we would not be sweltering through the shower since I forgot to get the particular key to reset the temperature?  Who knew the only tool we would have available was a paper clip found in the floorboard of the car?  (He would like to be called MacGyver from now on, if you please.)

Who knew I would need a photographer to capture all the details and sweet moments...while helping me juggle our little sleepyhead?

I don't think just anyone is capable of pulling off these kinds of things.  No, I think you have to be a pretty special person.

A baby shower Superman of sorts.

I'm blessed by a husband who loves me.  He loves me with a love that is full of sacrifice, movement, hard work, and selflessness.  A love modeled after Jesus' love for the church.

I think I'll get him a cape next Christmas.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I love you...more

When I was little, this conversation could be heard almost every day at our house:

Me: I love you Mama.
Mama: I love you too.
Me: I love you MORE.
Mama: I love YOU more.
Me: No...I love YOU more.
Mama: You can't even understand how much I love you.

She would sometimes go on to tell me that I would only be able to understand when I had babies of my own one day.  That always sort of annoyed me.  As a child, it annoyed me because it ended the back and forth of the conversation that kids that age love.  As a teenager, it annoyed me because I thought I understood love.  Even as an adult, I wanted to be able to access this kind of I could love her like she loved me.

Mama and me "pre-comprehension"

As so many things in life, I understand what she means now. When I hold Carter, I know there is no way he understands the way I love him.  I want to slow down every second.  I want to rock him for a hundred years.  I want to kiss every little square inch of his precious face. He makes me laugh.  He makes me cry.  He amazes me as he grows and changes every day.  Being Carter's mom makes me more of who I was born to be.

Holding Carter for the first time.  Exhausted, teary...HAPPY

My house is messier than it used to be.  I'm not always on time anymore.  I can't do as much for others as I used to.  I am generally far less "together" than I was.  I knew all of this would happen when Carter came and I wondered if I would miss "pre-baby" life.

I don't.  Not.  One.  Bit.

I'm not saying I love the new layer of grime on my kitchen floor.  I'm not saying I don't notice it.  It's just...not something that captures my attention anymore.  My heart shifted when Carter was born.  It changed my desires, perspectives, and drives.  When I left teaching, I wondered if I would miss it.  I do miss the people that I taught with and the sweet students I spent my days with...but I feel like I'm absolutely still teaching.  I am doing what I've always done...but with one precious little man that takes my breath away.  (And without standards or PASS...can I get an amen?)  Every day good.  Even when things have been rough (read: no sleep) I go to bed each night so unbelievably overwhelmed that I got to rock my own sweet son to sleep and snuggle in next to a man who loves me completely.

I don't wonder now what Mama was talking about when she said I didn't understand the love a mom has for her baby.  But I do that I understand just a little more of the way she cares for me as her daughter, what must the love of my God be like?

I know the Father's love is out of our realm of comprehension, I just am struck at how much.  If the love of a mother for her child is beyond my ability to describe, God's love is out of my ability to even begin to understand.

But this is what I know: You don't have to understand love to have it...and you don't have to comprehend it to give it.  One day, Carter will hold his own sweet baby and be filled with awe that this was the exact way I have felt about him all these years.  And one day...I will run into the arms of God...and I will be overcome with the way He's felt for me.

Because He loves me, you, us...more.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: A Mountain Weekend

Listening to Uncle Rique and Aunt Gabby play sitting on Abuelita's lap...with the door open overlooking the mountains.  Doesn't get much better!

Happy Birthday Aunt Morgan!

This is what the first several "family pictures" looked like when I got the images from the camera.  It takes us awhile to get a usable shot..

Oh hair pulling!

You can gaze at Aunt Sarah all you want...just don't pull her hair!
Castillo Family Mountain Trip time there will be another baby boy Castillo in this picture! :)