Saturday, June 30, 2012

Home | Dada and Bruno (10 days old)




Cody's parents started a tradition of taking a picture of Cody's dad with each of his kids on their respective birthdays, starting at birth. We've been doing this with Seb, and thankfully Cody remembered to do this with Bruno, too. Not quite on the day he was born, but 10 days is still pretty good.

Sebastian, Bruno, and I are snug in Ohio right now, while Dada is hard at work in Durham. Wedding week has begun, and while Seb is positively giddy with all the distractions of the farm, mama is trying to nurse away the pounds so she can get into her bridesmaid dress, and Bruno is happily packing on the pounds that said nursing provides. We sure miss Dada, though.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Home | What love looks like

Cody is without a doubt the most selfless person I know, and is no stranger to sharing. I pray that our boys pick up on this and learn to be as giving as their dada. Guys, this is real life, and it's awesome. These two never cease to brighten my day.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Bruno | The first days

Here are a smattering of pictures from Bruno's first days. He's had quite a few visitors, many of whom I forgot to take pictures of, unfortunately. The most tragic of whom is my sister who flew down here to help us out for a few days and did a magnificent job of somehow keeping Sebastian entertained (to the point where I think he thought she was his second mama), and the apartment spotless, laundry laundered, and tasty food on the table. Did I mention she made brownies from scratch? Twice. The daily 500 calories I'm burning from breastfeeding don't even make a dent in the amount I consumed because of those brownies. But they were so so good.

So what have we learned about Bruno this week? Well, he gained a whopping 3 ounces in his first couple days, which was shocking because most babies lose weight! He has dimples just like his mama, which makes me incredibly happy, and his feet and toes seem to be just like mine, too. He is an expert when it comes to nursing, has a really cute cry that we don't hear very often, snorts when he's hungry, and has already smiled, like a lot, and I'm not talking about sleep smiles, but real, during the day, wide-awake smiles. This kid is advanced.

Sebastian is doing well, and though we had a couple rough days, he seems to be adjusting really well now and showing more interest in and fascination with Bruno. He is growing into such a sweet big brother.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Seb | The boy who taught me

This boy. He taught me how to love a baby crying in the night, how to love giving my body to someone so helpless, how to love waking up every couple hours in the night—just to check on him—, how to love playing trains, how to love reading the same book about trains repeatedly, how to love changing poopy diapers, how to love singing songs before bedtime, how to love going on what only a toddler would call an adventure, and simply, how to love.

This boy taught me how to be a mom, and I miss him so very much these days. The most challenging part of this first week with Bruno hasn't had anything to do with nighttime feedings, engorgement, or any of the usual postpartum discomforts, but has had everything to do with not being able to be the same kind of mom to Sebastian.

Man I love this kid. I know that most of what I'm feeling is probably just a result of having so many new and emotional things happening in such a short amount of time. Things aren't normal right now, but they will be again soon. Not a new kind of normal, because I hate it when people say that, but a better normal. God is growing and shaping our family into what it is supposed to be, and that's a good thing, even though it's not easy.

I'm praying now for peace and patience. I love this new little man of mine, but am struggling to figure out what it looks like to be a mom of two. So for now I'll just keep loving and waiting. Also, what a relief to know I'm not the only one!

P.S. Cute, gratuitous pictures of Bruno coming soon.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Baby #2 | Introducing...

Bruno Joseph Strecker
10 pounds, 1 ounce
Twenty-two inches
of perfection

My contractions woke me up at 3 a.m. yesterday, June 18th, and by 2:00 p.m. we were laboring at the birth center. When we arrived, I was already at 8 c.m. and 100% effaced (an exact answer to prayer!). Things progressed perfectly, and with the amazing support of Cody and my friend, Elisabeth, our sweet baby was born just over two hours later. Praise God for all of his provisions.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Mama | Two things on birth

Leigh at Marvelous Kiddo shared both of these links today and I wanted to pass them along. One is about the last days of pregnancy and the other is for a site called visualizing birth. The thing that I found via the last link, which really struck me and that I want to share (warning: for the daring!), is this video of a French woman giving birth. She is astoundingly calm and joyful, powering through as her baby crowns and as she continues to push the rest of her baby out. It is a graphic video, so don't watch it if that bothers you, but I found it really refreshing and astounding to see someone remain calm and allow her body to open up and birth her baby. We are so bombarded with images of women struggling and fighting in labor, screaming in pain and misery, and although it probably rarely looks the way this French woman makes it look, birth can be different, and I like that this video shows you that. I hope you find these links helpful as I did!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Husband | Twenty-seven

Cody's birthday was yesterday, so we celebrated by having a group of friends over to consume vast amounts of coffee cake and chocolate-cherry cupcakes. Sebastian had such a fun time hanging out with "the dudes," learning to fist-pound, throwing a ball around, and I'm pretty sure he even got Jordan to read If You Give a Mouse a Cookie to him right before bedtime. As for the birthday boy, I think he gets better looking with age, so although I hate getting older, I don't mind so much when he does. (Don't worry, I remind him frequently that I love him for his insides, too. To which he responds, "Do you love me for my pancreas?").

I'm excited to see what God has in store for this funny, good-looking, and talented man of mine. I predict that the first significant event of his 27th year will be becoming a dad again! What a great way to start a year, eh?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Cloth | The best wool covers

If you're considering using wool covers with your cloth diapers, try these, and buy them up fast. They never stay in stock for long. I can't say enough good about our underwoolies. They are trim, cute, hold up so well, and are just darn cute. The price may seem steep, but these are our most durable covers. Others that we have are felting (which also means shrinking) over time. Not these, though! They have pilled a little, but are still pleasantly flexible and have stayed true to size. Do you think I can put my boys in the Aster color?? Haha it looks so pretty!

P.S. How to Lanolize Wool Covers.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Mama | Blessings abound

I can't express how supported and encouraged I've felt during this pregnancy, especially as it nears an end. Our Durham friends specifically have gone above and beyond what we could have ever hoped for not only in prayers and encouragement, but in blessing us with thoughtful gifts, parties and brunches. Just this morning the ladies in my bible study planned a sweet brunch during our study, and completely surprised me with a gift certificate for a massage (!!!) and the exact Aden & Anais blanket I had been wanting! (Many thanks to Elisabeth for doing the legwork on this one!) Even without these gifts, these women have already overwhelmed me with the ways in which they've blessed me. I have no doubt that it is because of their prayers, and the prayers of our family and other friends, that I feel so great about this pregnancy and upcoming birth. I have no fears or worries left, and am just waiting eagerly to meet our beautiful little boy. I say this because I want to emphasize the way God can show his blessings to us even without financial or material gifts, but sometimes we get those, too.  I am so thankful for these ladies and the way they have sought to cover us with prayers and blessings of all kinds.

If you are pregnant and feeling overwhelmed by money stress or are saddened that you can't afford that perfect little blanket or sweet pair of booties, be encouraged. The reality is, you may not get those things, but seek out the prayers and encouragement of friends. I can't tell you how much those types of spiritual gifts and support can bolster you in the difficult times of pregnancy and during new motherhood. I have learned that it is in those things that we see most the hand of God at work.

Also, I would be remiss if I didn't mention how amazingly blessed Cody, Sebastian, and I were to have Cody's parents stay with us for 10 days! Cody was only here for a bit of it, as you know, but he felt at ease being away, knowing that his parents were here to help take care of things, especially if little man made his arrival while he was away. Thankfully, baby waited, but we were still so blessed by Cody's parents' presence. Seb developed something akin to an obsession with his Pawpaw, which was so sweet to see, and I'm glad for that time if for no other reason than it gave Seb a chance to bond with two of his grandparents. So thank you, Mom and Dad Strecker for giving Seb a bike, teaching him to ride it, taking him to the pool, on walks and to the park, and for letting me nap at all hours of the day, for cleaning and cooking, for buying groceries and filling the car up with gas, and being a calming and loving presence for us while Cody was away.

Much love to you all, and many thanks to our friends and family. We can't wait to introduce our dear little boy to those who already love him dearly and pray for him daily. I am so glad we have such an incredible "village" to raise our children.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Seb | My little gardener

Mamaw is inspiring a love of gardening in Sebastian. It's his special job to water the herbs, and he just looks so darn cute while doing it. Of course, one needs the proper head gear for such a dangerous task...

Little One | Bears and Chickens

I ran across these sweet items and wanted to share. The onesie would make such a lovely gift for a boy or girl, and I can't help but look at that mama bear and her cubs and imagine Seb having such a fun time putting them all together like a little puzzle.

Beso has a great roundup of 9 Indie Kids Boutiques that you should definitely peruse if you have a little time.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Nightstand, VOLUME TWO

My nursing/reading spot, already well used and well-loved. And Cody has since set up a reading lamp for me!

I finished reading Babies, Breastfeeding, and Bonding, by Ina May Gaskin, and wanted to share my thoughts on the book, as promised. This started out as my favorite book on breastfeeding. I really appreciated that Gaskin wasn’t writing about breastfeeding from the angle of a specific method, but was clearly sharing what, in her experience, works and doesn’t work, as well as challenges a nursing mother can or will face, and ways to overcome them.
Gaskin makes the point that it is traditional for children in non-industrialized countries to be breastfed from birth up to seven years, and rightly so because of a lack of alternative good nutrient sources. I’ve heard many in the U.S. argue, as I’m sure you have, that extended breastfeeding of this kind should be the case for American women and their infants, as well. To my surprise, Gaskin stated that although extended breastfeeding is the norm in other cultures, it need not be the norm in the United States. We have such easy access to all the nutrients we need that our babies need not be dependent on breast milk for nearly as long as other children who have very limited access to nutritious food. She still maintained that a child should be breastfed for no less than one year, and I doubt would be against extended breastfeeding, but it was refreshing to hear her take such an approach to the topic of extended breastfeeding. Lining up well with Gaskin’s statement, most sources that I have read seem to point almost exclusively to extended breastfeeding as a means of continued bonding and closeness with ones child, and that it is nutritionally unnecessary after 2 years.
Once one gets past the great practical advice in the first half of the book, Gaskin’s work starts to show it’s age. Many of the topics she talks about are worthy of time and discussion, but she spends much of these chapters sharing quotes from people whom she had surveyed who were born in the 40’s and 50’s. These opinions and anecdotes are interesting, but tell me nothing about the way our generation views breastfeeding, or how one ought to view it today and always. There is most assuredly nothing of a timeless nature in the latter half of this book. 
One of the reasons I had been eager to read Babies, Breastfeeding, and Bonding, was to gain further insight into the appropriateness of public breastfeeding, further developing my thoughts on the matter, and to understand how some seem to be able to at least pretend that there is nothing sexual about breasts. All that Gaskin really did to shed any light on these subjects was share what others, again, born in the 40’s and 50’s had to say. She, and others, argued that there is simply nothing sexual, or at least nothing inappropriate about bare breasts, particularly when they are exposed for the sole purpose of feeding a baby. I agree that breasts have an incredible functional purpose, one that I thank God for, but I can’t help but be aware of their sexual nature as well. Perhaps it would be more convenient if they weren’t viewed that way, but in 21st century America they are. Although I am in full support of discreet public breastfeeding (and this doesn’t necessitate a cover!), it seems futile to me to pretend, as it seems many would like to, that there is nothing sexual about breasts. My thoughts, which are still forming, is that breastfeeding in public should be just as accepted as bottle feeding in public. When there is no exhibition, but simply a mother providing nourishment to her child, it is something that should be praised by all. 
It was good to read this book, and though the latter half was not what I had hoped it would be, it still enabled me to think through a few aspects of breastfeeding, and form my own opinions a little more concretely. I’d love to hear your thoughts!
P.S. I’ve heard from friends that when they had their second baby, they tended to shed the cover more when they were in public, because they had gotten good at being discreet without it. I’m interested to see what it looks like for me to breastfeed this second little babe of mine. DId you go without a cover more with your second?

And in case you missed it... The Nightstand, VOLUME ONE.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Celebrate | Cake toppers

I think these little cake topper candle holders are so sweet. If you're someone who's not into doing fancy cake decorations, one of these would make such a sweet birthday cake tradition. I love the idea of having a different one for each member of the family.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Seb | A birthday bike

This sweet little man of mine is finally the proud owner of a bike. He is beautifully persistent and patient, enduring many crashes, but with a steady look of determination all the while. He is going to practice all week so he can impress Dada with his biking skills. Thanks, Mamaw and Pawpaw!

Husband | Celebrating early

Cody's birthday isn't for another week and a half, but we decided to celebrate early. We went to the Mellow Mushroom in downtown Durham, and had fun after dinner letting Seb explore the "bawter," and taking advantage of the lovely weather for some family pictures. Husband is now gone for the week, busy from dawn 'til much later than dusk with training for his summer job. We miss him around here, but have Mamaw and Pawpaw to keep us company. Now we're just praying that baby boy stays put until Sunday evening!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Seb | How do I look?

I think it's safe to say that after turning two, Seb's coolness factor has gone up a few notches.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Pregnant | 10 tips for surviving—and dare I say, thriving— during those last few weeks

See tip #2 for why this picture relates at all to this post. Thanks, Katie (and Brian)!

If anyone needs a survival guide, I think it’s extremely pregnant women, so here are a few tips from little ol’ moi.
Stick to those things that made your body feel well and healthy in the second trimester. That means keep drinking water, keep eating healthy, and keep exercising. I’ve failed at this miserably, but it’s still a good idea.
Surround yourself with awesome, supportive, and loving friends. Some such marvelous ladies threw me a baby shower last weekend, and it was such a blessing. We talked, we ate, we crafted. A couple days ago I went on a long walk with another friend (you know, trying to walk the baby out in the heat), and yesterday I received some packages in the mail (above) from that very same friend. Good friends definitely help pass the time, and make it sweet. I love that I’ve been reminded daily what amazing people are going to help us raise our boys.
Make each day such that at the end of it, you thank God that you didn’t have the baby the day before. This is one of my best tips right here, so take note! Keep reading those birth books, keep tackling projects around your house, keep doing those kegels. I tell myself each day that there is a reason that I’m still pregnant, and things I need to be doing besides lying in bed with a newborn. If you spend each day like there is purpose in it, you’ll find yourself forgetting about your extreme discomfort, growing stretch marks, backaches and lack of sleep.
Sleep. Now we all know that sleep is an elusive concept at the end of pregnancy, so my strategy is to look at it as bootcamp for a soon-to-be-mother-of-a-newborn. When I was at the end of my pregnancy with Seb, I spent a lot of time thinking wistfully about the day soon coming when I would be able to get some rest. Right... So now, when I have to get up to pee or readjust my huge self every hour or two, I just think of it as training for when I have to wake up that often to nurse my little man. I’m going to dominate the night routine, let me tell you.
Feel free to crank up the air conditioning. It’s only a few weeks of added cooling costs, but if you feel sluggish and miserable because it’s 80 degrees in your home, turn on the AC. I resisted for a while, but it has made such a difference in my ability to cope with being so pregnant. I cut back when I can, but if you can’t, don’t. It’s not worth it.
If you don’t sleep well at night, take advantage of any amount of drowsiness during the day and try to get a few winks. I take naps every day because I don’t get much sleep at night and find that I rest better if it’s in smaller increments throughout the day and night. The reason I think this is so important is because the majority of women go into labor in the evening. If you haven’t been sleeping well at night, and then you deprive yourself of a nap, those contractions, or sudden breaking of your waters just as you’re about to get some much needed rest will make you want to cry. My water broke with Seb at 1:00 a.m., just as I was falling asleep. It was a long labor, so I went a very very long time without sleep, which made it much more difficult to cope.
I have this ridiculous goal for myself. I know that a lot of women could care less if they have shaved their legs or painted their toenails (especially when it’s so difficult to reach them!), but for some reason I do. It makes me feel like I’m ready to go, so you better believe I don’t put off a shower until the next day because it’s late at night and I just don’t feel like drying my hair. There’s not much about your body that you can control at the end of your pregnancy, and if that bothers you, pick a few things that will make you feel better, and commit to doing them. My essentials: razor, Palmer’s body oil, and nail polish. Bam. You’ll feel like a goddess in spite of your swollen ankles.

Give into crazy nesting urges. It's exhausting. It's weird. But it's kind of fun, too.

Save some of that baby laundry. Of course you need to have some essentials on hand in case the baby makes an early arrival, but save some more unnecessary tasks for those days when you're just waiting waiting waiting.

Whether it's through reading, talking with friends who have had babies, talking to your doc or midwife, or simply praying, try to get to a place where you feel at peace about labor and delivery. I went through a patch where I just couldn't think of anything but getting this baby out NOW, and then I went through a patch where I was so freaked out about giving birth that I didn't think I would be able to handle it when my contractions hit, and now, I just feel so good about it. I'm ready. I know what I need to know, my family it taken care of, my refrigerator is full, I have lists on the fridge with household chores, emergency contacts, foods Seb will eat (this is just silly...), and even directions for washing Seb's diapers, in case I have to rush to the Birthing Center right before I get to throw a load in! We. Are. Ready.

And now so are you. Go kick those last weeks of pregnancy in the pants.