Wednesday, January 22, 2014

More then and now: having a baby 5 1/2 years later


On Saturday, January 25th, 2014, I will be miserable for many hours. But I will become a mom - again. Induction day! We will meet baby Andrew and see his face. Will he have blue eyes like Amelia? Will he meet her 9-pound birth weight, exceed it, or (hopefully!) weigh in a bit less? We are ready to find out. Wish me luck!

Having a new baby almost six years later brings to light many differences. Pregnancy was different and my preparation was quite different. Now that the birth day is nearly upon us, I am fascinated by the communication differences we have now.

Then was April 2008...

Then, I had to compile an email list for my husband so he could send out the announcement email shortly after birth. It included only the closest and most important people.

Then, we needed a laptop computer in the room to send the family updates and the final "big news" email.

Then, loved ones who were not present could only see baby Amelia in emailed photos or short video clips that were small enough to send.

Now it is 2014...

Facebook exists. It did exist in 2008, but I was very new to it and most family members and coworkers were not connected yet. It could not serve as a mass announcement vehicle to most anyone who has ever known, worked with, went to school with, or blogged with me. Now it can.

Now, immediate family and very best friends will receive text messages as things progress and when the big moment arrives.

Now, we do not need our laptops. We can keep the world informed and fight hospital boredom with iPads and smart phones.

Now, I can Instagram his first photos and squeaks. Which will, of course, auto-publish to Facebook and Twitter. (Follow me on those via the icons to the left! Also BalancingMama on Instagram.)

Now, we can Skype or FaceTime with those far away. They can see us and the baby in real time. And I can even tell Amelia goodnight semi-in-person.

Stay tuned!
THREE days to go.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Family Fun at The Alliance #Atlanta: Shrek The Musical!

The Alliance is pleased to present SHREK THE MUSICAL, based on the beloved Dreamworks film character and William Steig’s 1990s book, February 22 through March 16, 2014 as part of its Alliance Stage Family Series.

A delight for the whole family, this musical will charm even the hardest ogre-ness out of everyone. This musical ran for 12 months on Broadway and is now adapted to a family friendly one-act experience. Perfect for families with children age 6 and up.

If you want an extra-special event experience, check out all the happenings on March 8th when the Alliance holds their annual family fundraising event, FAMILIES Centerstage. The Woodruff Arts Center Galleria will transform into "Shrek Land", a family fun fair with live performances, arts, crafts, and music. Tickets for FAMILIES Centerstage include tickets to the 1:00 or 4:00 show with the festival in between.

For more info...

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Note: I received complimentary tickets to an opening weekend performance in exchange for pre-promotion and a post-show review. As always, all opinions are 100% mine.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Almost mama to two, nearly six years later #pregnancy

Sometimes I am asked, "so, is it different this time around?"

Um... yep.
Spring 2008

My first pregnancy was okay. I can't say I was ever one of those women who loves being pregnant. It was enjoyable to see the extra smiles from complete strangers, but I was basically ready for it to be over nearly as soon as it began. I did, however, have more time to rest and really think about what was to come. And it was a long time ago - almost six years.

With the first pregnancy, I came home from work and took a nap. I had a baby blog to update family and close friends on every little development. Then, we knew her name right away. I had a baby book in the works, with cute scrapbook decorations and photos of the journey and my growing belly. I had a baby shower and was so excited to receive everything.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The circus returns! Feld Entertainment presents: #RinglingATL "Built to Amaze"

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey presents BUILT TO AMAZE is coming to:

Arena at Gwinnett Center (February 5-9, 2014)
Philips Arena (February 12-17, 2014)

Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey ® Presents Built To Amaze! is the 143rd edition of the Greatest Show On Earth. Surprise and wonder delights audiences with over the top feats of strength, agility and courage. As the momentum builds so does the anticipation, anything can happen when Ringling Bros. Presents Built To Amaze! 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

More than just winter blues: part 3 #mentalhealth series

Part 1 of More Than Just Winter Blues was an introduction to guest poster Natalie Mohr and her own personal journey as a mother struggling with mental health issues. In Part 2, Natalie shared some important lessons about finding professional help.

Natalie P. Mohr is the author of "The Tale of the Lantern Lady," an allegorical short story about those who suffer from mental illness and depression and those who bridge the gap between pain and positive change in their lives.

For the gritty and very real version of Natalie's journey, see her other guest posts via Hope Rising - Natalie Part 1 and Hope Rising - Natalie Part 2

Lessons from a Medicated Mama - part 3
*a guest post from author Natalie Mohr*

Finally, it is important to find ways of coping - and self-forgiveness - within yourself.

Seek to find ways of coping. Sometimes, medication alone is not the only remedy.  Learning coping skills help us face challenges and negative patterns that are counter-active to our improvement. We may be unaware that things we are doing are worsening our condition.  In these circumstances, a good therapist is essential.  Just like doctors, there are good providers and others who for whatever reason are not a good fit. Find one that specializes in your type of illness. If you are uncomfortable with your therapist or feel that their treatment is not helping, find another one. Do not assume that all approaches are the same.
When I am depressed,  I tend to think irrationally and go deeper into a downward spiral of negative thoughts. I think things will never get better, that I won't make it through the tunnel. I feel like I'm not  cut out for society.  I am sometimes overwhelmed by simple tasks and great feelings of guilt for not fulfilling my expectations of myself. I might uncontrollably burst into tears for no reason. When I am in the darkness, I often need the guidance of someone else to point things out, bring things to light and remind me of the positive times when I have fulfilled my expectations and have accomplished things. 

Don't be too hard on yourself. I personally set high standards for myself and have high expectations of what I think I should accomplish as a good mother.  I want to be superwoman. I want to take my kids to every enrichment opportunity out there, help them do crafts, read to them every night, all while having dinner on the table by 5:00 and a spotless house. I have learned not to completely eliminate goals, but to recognize my limitations and readjust them.  Sometimes it is as simple as altering long term goals into simple short term goals. Learn to recognize negative self-talk and destructive thoughts. Sometimes my house is a wreck. I have no energy. During periods of depression I can't bring myself to do laundry. I have to rely on the help of my husband to do household chores, cook and take care of the kids. I can't make it to church. I end up frequently cancelling plans. I don't want to get out of bed. I go without make up or fixing myself up. At extreme times, I have even had episodes of being unable to care for myself.  I feel an extreme sense of guilt, which worsens the depression. Accepting that I have limitations outside of my control during times of depression, especially in the winter, has been difficult for me. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

More than just winter blues: part 2 #mentalhealth series

Part 1 of More Than Just Winter Blues was an introduction to guest poster Natalie Mohr and her own personal journey as a mother struggling with mental health issues.

Natalie P. Mohr is the author of "The Tale of the Lantern Lady," an allegorical short story about those who suffer from mental illness and depression and those who bridge the gap between pain and positive change in their lives.

For the gritty and very real version of Natalie's journey, see her other guest posts via Hope Rising - Natalie Part 1 and Hope Rising - Natalie Part 2

Lessons from a Medicated Mama - part 2
*a guest post from author Natalie Mohr*

Since my initial diagnosis and years of treatment, I have learned a variety of lessons that I would like to share. 


Don't be afraid to ask for help. Your health is your first priority and you are your own advocate.  Do not allow fear of stigma or what other people or family members will think of you to deter you from seeking help.  Mental Illness is not a sign of weakness. Psychological disorders are physiological issues and are no different from other physical health problems. Sometimes the causes can be identified by hormonal fluctuations, hereditary conditions, health problems, chemical imbalances or other conditions. If you are overwhelmed by taking care of yourself or your children, ask for help from trusted friends and family and seek help from a professional. Surround yourself with a positive support system.

Always routinely take your medication and communicate with your doctor. Don't assume that if one drug doesn't work that there are no other effective options.  Be patient. Sometimes it can take months or in worst case scenario, years for some people to find the right medication and effective combination or dosage.  It can be discouraging but don't give up!

If you are unhappy with your provider, find a new one. Your mental health is essential to your well being and you should NEVER compromise your quality of care. For some people, it means the difference between life or death. Make sure you find one that is responsive and who will listen to you.  Search online or ask around for good references. Practitioners often have different philosophies when it comes to medication and treatment options. Some take traditional approaches while others are willing to go outside of the box.

Monday, January 13, 2014

More than just winter blues: A real discussion about mental health

Natalie P. Mohr is the author of "The Tale of the Lantern Lady," an allegorical short story about those who suffer from mental illness and depression and those who bridge the gap between pain and positive change in their lives.

Lessons from a Medicated Mama
*a guest post from author Natalie Mohr*

Motherhood can be one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences. As mothers, we feel a sense of purpose and fulfillment through our roles and the reciprocated love from our children. However, when combined with mental illnesses or depression, the responsibilities of having a little one dependent on you can seem overwhelming and even impossible.

Mental illness is a topic that is often not discussed. However the National Alliance for Mental Illness states that 1 in 4 Americans experience some form of depression or mental illness. Many feel their struggle must be kept "in the closet" and fear the potential criticisms of others. Attitudes like "hide you're crazy," "suck it up," "get it together," and "quit being lazy," are examples of negative stigma that deter many from seeking help. It's not "all in your head" or something you can just talk yourself out of.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Saturday Sleepies

I like photos of cute kids (and animals) sleeping!

after a night at Disney World

A's cousin's dog taking a snooze

Happily snuggling a new friend

Precious nephew Logan


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Favorite Childhood Toy

Mama Kat threw out another great writing prompt this week: "A childhood toy you once loved." I was pulled back to a post I wrote 2 1/2 years ago, also via a Mama Kat prompt. Since it has been a while, I am resurrecting that post here.

I so love this guy.

- - - -
March 11, 2011
He wasn't what you would call handsome. His head was too big, a bit too round. His ears were large. He had an odd fashion sense, always seen sporting red and blue overalls (minus the straps) straight from a country farm. And he was perpetually dirty.

I was just a little kid from Tennessee. I did not care about his clothes. I overlooked his bulky head and his desperate need for a bubble bath.

I loved him.

I loved him because he was the strong silent type. Always ready to listen and never one to talk back. If I needed a hug, he was there. If I wanted to play pretend, he was there. He was an ever-present friend in my childhood years.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

#WW in Tennessee: Davy Crockett birthplace (and a nice little park!)

We had one beautiful not-too-cold sunny day in Tennessee just after Christmas. After spending several days indoors enjoying family time, it was time to get out and explore a bit. I lived in East Tennessee for my entire life until college, and did not know that Davy Crockett's birthplace was a short drive away near Jonesboro, Tennessee (TN's oldest town).

There is not much to Davy Crockett's actual home, it is very small and primitive (obviously). But it is interesting to peek inside the house, fenced garden, and chicken coop.

When I asked Amelia what she would think about living in a house like this, she replied: "It would be gross and stinky!" I guess we need to work on understanding how blessed we are today.

The park around the home is quite lovely! A river runs along a big stretch of grass with a large picnic shelter, charcoal grills, and plenty of sticks and rocks to splash into the water. It was a nice quick trip outdoors, and we were so thankful to see the sun! (It has since gone away again.)

Monday, January 6, 2014

Mickey Mouse inspired baby nursery #Disney

Our new family member arrives in less than 26 days! We are still scrambling to get things in order, but the necessities are done. Clothes and bedding are washed and the larger items have been pulled out of the basement, cleaned, and set up. He will be able to nap and have clothes, at least!

The baby's Mickey Mouse inspired bedroom is not completely polished yet, but I am anxious to share - so here it is! The Mickey room began with these crib sheets:

I fell in love with the colors and fun pattern. And, clearly, we are a family of Disney fans (see past posts Mama's Bag for Disney World and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party). These Mickey Mouse head sheets - as well as a full crib bedding set - are available at Babies-R-Us. We also purchased the fuzzy blue Mickey Mouse blanket; it is luxuriously soft and warm and will make for great daytime snuggles!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

From "slow" to "adapt": A theme word as we begin another year

At the start of 2013, my word for the year was "slow". I wanted to allow myself to sloooow down. I felt rushed through life and parenthood because there was always something to be done.

I am not certain I slowed very much this past year. A new home, new pregnancy, new school schedule, travel, and work consumed most of my waking (and sometimes dreaming) hours. Often, slow was just not feasible. If we didn't want to be late or drop the ball for someone else, that is. Always something to do for someone else.

Kindergarten was a change.
The new home was a change.
2014 will rock our household even more - a' la baby boy.

We have been a family of three for 5 years and 9 months. Twice as many adults as kid. Twice as many girls as boy. But in three or so weeks, everything will be tied up. Two adults, two kids. Two girls, two boys. (Eventually, three will be tall and I will likely be the lone shortie, sigh.)

For 2014, the word is ADAPT.

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