TGIF with a capital !

Exahustion.  That's the word for the day.  I keep stopping myself from feeling like a marytr for being so busy because I think about all the working mothers in the world.  HOW DO THEY DO IT?  I truly don't know!  I know working moms who would love to stay home and working moms who need the independence of their job.  I'm now a stay-at-home mom who spends all her time working ;)

Jake and I have worked it out for me to be a stay-at-home mom... for the time being.  I LOVE it and feel incredibly lucky in countless ways.  However, the past two weeks have been so busy that I feel as though I am working full-time, if not over-time.  Hazel's been a peach about it and hasn't given me any attitude for the lack of play time or yoga time or cuddle time.

Perhaps that's because we get hours of cuddle time each day.  HOW?  Exhaustion + 1/2 an empty bed 'cause Jake works the night shift = CUDDLE TIME!  I still put Hazel in her crib for part of the night.  But after a feeding or fussy time, it's just WAY TOO HARD to get back out of bed to walk her to her crib.  So, I plop her way over on her dada's side of the bed and fall promptly back to sleep.

However, before I know it, I'm sleeping in an awkward nonmoving position with a baby pressed against me.  I scootch over to give her more space and leading with her enormous head, she promptly reasserts her dominance over me.  So, I scootch over again just for the satisfaction of watching my baby wiggle towards me for a cuddle.  It's heaven, albeight with a stiff neck.

I've declared this glorious Friday to be a JULIE DAY!  I'm going to spend my time doing things for myself and my family trio.  And what personal day would be complete without sleeping in?  So, I nursed and cuddled the Haze back to sleep when she awoke at her normal time (7:00... which isn't that early, but I really wanted to sleep till 8!).  She obliged me and I was even able to slip out of bed for my shower without awaking her.  I stepped out of the shower not to the normal sounds of crying when she discovers that I'm gone.  Instead, she had awoken and found her little baby ipod that I had set next to her.  Jake's mom, aka Grandma B., gave Hazel a plethora of Baby Einstein toys, as well as the wooden and Haba toys that we suggested for Christmas.  I've now added those noisy toys to the ever-growing list of things I was WRONG about :)  Hazel loves that toy and can easily press the button to change the classical song while watching the light display on the toy. 

So, it might be MY day, but I will gleefully admit to being very wrong if that means I get extra sleep and a happy baby!


My family tree is a forest

I just had a nice heart-to-heart with one of my mother-in-laws (I have two). She wanted to talk about how I feel about fitting into their family dynamics. It was my intention in the previous blog to point out some of the extreme differences between my family dynamics and Jake’s (and since he has 2 families, there’s a lot of dynamics!).

As a counselor, I’m fortunate to have had many people share their family’s dirty laundry (ie anything you don’t readily share with others). So, I know that it is a very common trait for families to anger, abstain, forgive, forget. My point is that this is different for me and I feel awkward with it. Jake doesn’t worry about censoring himself because he is ok with the ebb and flow of his family dynamics. If I were to anger one of his relatives, it would be/is devastating to me!

Another example: As I mentioned, Jake is LIVING with my parents! Recently I had a conversation with some of my cousins about how they were always terrified of my father. This surprised me, but is very understandable once they explained. See, any friend or relative that spent time at my house in their youth was, without exception, snapped at by my father and very likely given chores. My cousins have horror stories about coming to visit and being forced to trim Christmas trees ! It was QUITE an adjustment for Jake to figure out how to remain respectful of my father while also standing up for himself when getting snapped at. My sister and I can roll our eyes, move the screw driver over the ¼ inch to precisely where we found it, and move on. Jake has slowly gained that comfort level with my father, though his eye rolls are not as obvious.

So I admire my husband’s willingness to take on my family dynamics and I am glad that my in-laws have been gentle with their misfit of a daughter-in-law.

One final attempt to be honest, but smooth things over: My dad is not a mean guy. In fact, he’s extremely popular and well-known for his awesome sense of humor.

New Beginnings

Yes, I've been MIA.  I've been packing up my Grandparents home and unpacking them into their new home.  I've been mourning Jake's sweet Grandma and spending time with Kosker cousins, Aunts and other assorted family members.  I've been seeing the light at the end of the tunnel for buying and moving into our first home!  I've been watching my daughter grow exponentially, listening to her "talk" (the peak of her noise experimentation was during her Great Grandma's Catholic Mass) and convincing myself that her hair is getting longer.  I've been visiting my Grandpa while he's recouperating from a fractured hip in a Nursing Home.  I've been attempting to stay current with my normal life duties in the stolen minutes surrounding all of the above.

So, the bulk of my time is with the elderly and with a baby.  It's a nice contrast and I've given some thought to how people develop, how I want myself to age, how I want Hazel to develop.  Like the average person, I think that the ways I think are right.  I think the my family dynamics are the correct ones to have.  However, the beauty/hardship of marriage is being thrown into another person's way of thinking and into their family dynamics.  (Jake is LIVING with my parents and grandparents, he deserves an award for being flexible, understanding, and patient!)

Jake is accepting and forgiving almost to a fault (he walks the 70 times 7 that Jesus preached, but each time a loved one hurts him, I see a small portion of him shrink to pessimism).  I, on the other hand, am allergic to conflict and can still give you all the details of the time 11 years ago when a former friend yelled at me.  My extended family lives far apart, and though we're not all best friends (I haven't seen some family members for 15 years!), we covet time spent together and let misunderstandings go.  Jake's family is geographically very close, but there are members that have been shunned/ rejected (I think that geographic proximity is a big reason for this.  So, it's a blessing and a curse.).  That TERRIFIES me and I hardly know how to function at times for fear of alienating one of Jake's beloved family members.

Which of us will Hazel be like?  Or will she be like one of her Great Grandmas...  kind and gentle.  Though the Priest prayed for Grandma Kosker's sins, we surely couldn't identify one.  My Grandma walks a similar parth.  Has she ever angered anyone, lost any friends, or been rude?  No, I truly do not think so.  Maybe Hazel will be like them.  Yes, that would be best.


Welcome Home Tippy!

Jake's Grandma, Grandma Tippy Toe, passed away last night.  She was really a truly great Christian woman/ mother/ homemaker and has been ready to join her husband and heavenly Father for quite some time.  So, we will miss you Tippy, but we are so happy that you were able to pass away peacefully.


winter olympics

It's Valentine's Day and I thought I'd tell you about something that I LOVE... the Olympic games! I love the Opening Ceremonies, I love watching all the events, I love the heart warming background stories about the athletes, I love rooting for these strangers. I get nervous, teary, disappointed... a whole gamut of emotions.

However, I've clearly grown up because I can't help but be a wee bit cynical this time. The winter Olympians are pretty much all rich kids. Not that there's anything wrong with being rich, but I can't help but think about all the other people on this planet that, given the chance, could kick some skeleton (I'm referring to the sport, not the size of the ice skaters) butt!

Ok, I'm sure there are some stories of families selling their homes and living out of their RV so that their child star could practice their sport. However, for the most part... who really has the opportunity to try these sports to find out if they have mad skills? So, I will watch these snow birds and root for them, but I prefer the summer sports 'cause everyone gets the chance to run, but how many kids get the chance to ski/mogul/ice skate/biathlon (Jake would have been so good at that!)? Point made.


7 months and a skillful yogi

"Happy Baby", "Cobra/Bow" (a little unsure of the name of that one), "Upward Facing Dog"... have you ever seen such perfect form? You may notice the uber cool old fashioned baby scale... that's pushin' 18 pounds! The scale was found in Jake's grandparents' home. I LOVE IT! Baby #2 (who is not even a glimmer in my eye) will be photographed monthly on that scale!

She has gone from newborn to baby. Not sure when that happened, but the other day I noticed that I was carrying her on my hip! A major milestone! That's one of the great things about parenthood: being fully invested in each subtle growth. I never knew what a big deal it was to push up on your arms, roll over, sit up for a few seconds...

Hazel's stubborn streak has been waving it's flag this week. She seems to have a limitless capacity for screaming when things are not going her way (read between the lines: mama is not in her eyesight and/or holding her). So, when her dad or grandparents attempt to give me some J-ROK time... they end up rather tortured. Currently we're fighting it. It's her developmental need for her mama versus reality (nature vs. nurture). So far, nature is winning :)

I want to end this post by saying some more about Hazel's good qualities. She LOVES to be entertained and will smile at the slightest silly face or vocal inflection. She LOVES people (as long as mama is withing reach) and therefore is in heaven the three days a week when she helps me out with the after school tutoring program. She's also going to bed earlier and earlier. Last night she let her dad put her to sleep (after bath, massage, cuddles, and NO CRYING) around 7:30! WAHOO!

p.s. Marianne and Kelly and everyone else who was a little impatient for this post. SORRY :)


What a difference a year makes!

February 2009
Overnight snowshoe trip on 5 feet of snow in the Cascade Mountains.
February 2010
First hike with Haze in our Kelty Backpack. Hazel LOVED it... perhaps we'll do an overnighter next year?
my apologies to those of you who are anxiously awaiting the 7 month pics. I'm taking them tonight. I promise...


SEVEN is heaven!

Ok, seven is great, but heaven? Perhaps I need to be a little more real with the internet.

Hazel is seven months old today. The other day I was waiting for a LONG time (a hazard of being my Grandma's chauffeur) and I began scrolling through my cell phone photos. I could not believe the changes that have occurred in my little sweet pea! I would stare at her tiny face in those pictures and try to remember when she looked like that. So small, so different, a little alien. Ah, I am so smitten!

At seven months, there are fleeting moments when she will SIT UP... and then gracefully fall over (TIMBER!). She's begun a new adorable habit of chewing her tongue which is folded in half (proof that her dad's DNA is there... it's a genetic trait that I don't have!). She loves eating food (proof that my DNA is there.). Her menu consists of Earth's Best Rice Cereal, Banana, Sweet Potato, Avocado & Tofu. I'm introducing new foods every 4 days and have been able to use fresh foods thus far. So spoiled!

Her schedule is more predictable, however do to family and work obligations, I often have to disrupt her sleep/eat schedule. So that's a bummer.

Her personality is blooming and EVERYONE that sees her mentions her gorgeous eyes and how her smile lights up the room. Those of us that live with her know that she is a little high maintenance despite our attempts to not immediately respond to her cries/ requests for constant entertainment.

I just finished reading a novel in which the main character, a nanny, cared for 1-year old twins, redecorated the house, did all the grocery shopping, and prepared a healthy meal for the family each day. HOW? I want to yell expletives at this fictional character and beg her for advice. Yes, I've had a nasty cold for 3 weeks (Hazel's had a runny nose for 10 days... time to go to the Doctor). Yes, I am very busy caring for my grandparents, tending to the houseS (my parents, my grandparents, and my apartment) and trying to do some things for myself (exercise, friends, spending time with hubby). No, I am not a super mom and I'm trying to come to terms with that. However, Hazel adores me and she doesn't know that I'm not perfect... and when she looks at me with complete adoration and glee, I'm reminded that I don't care about the house, fatigue, or chores. I love being Hazel's mom.

Check back later (today?) for her 7-month pictures!


Mr. Kosker has a birthday!

God sent 6 inches of snow for Jake's birthday. I sent chainsaw chaps. I win! I also bought my future farmer his first John Deere TRACTOR! I am SO generous (ok, it's one inch big, but it counts!).

Y'all should have a fairly good idea about how much I adore my Mr. Kosker. He is simply awesome. For example, today my bread winner is baking a loaf of bread... with wheat grain that he ground himself this morning. Embrace your jealousy.

His fathering skills are exactly what I dreamed they'd be. Of course, he knows how much my heart melts when he and Hazel play together and so he lays it on pretty thick some days. My favorite times are bath time and first thing in the morning when Jake and Hazel have their alone time. I get to hear him singing to her (someone needs to teach this man the second line to Itsy Bitsy Spider) and her GIGGLES (she is so stingy with her giggles, but the few she gives are always to her dada!).

So, happy birthday my love. For the rest of you... enjoy these "birthday suit" themed pics!

It's unanimous, the girl is even more irresistible naked. This pic was taken after bath time, before lotion and massage time. Is it acceptable to be jealous of one's own baby?

Hazel's first time in a swimming pool! She is so brave. She soaks (har har) up every new experience- be it water, snow, flying, food, people... In case you're wondering if Jake dunked her (if so, you don't know Jake very well), YES HE DID and she didn't cry!


The art of becoming a mother.

I initially wrote this post about 6 months ago. My sister has begged me not to post this. And precisely because of that... here it is. WARNING: I am open and honest. Read at your own risk!

This is the story of Hazel's birth. Do not judge me for I will not judge you.

Since Hazelnut was 5 weeks early, I never made it to the prebirth class in which we watch The Miracle of Life. I also never saw that video in Health class or just for kicks on my own. I read at least 20 books during my pregnancy, but never made it to any of the chapters that talked about the art of giving birth. I thought about packing my hospital bag, but thought that packing it so early would make me a big dork.

So, when my water broke- or more truthfully GUSHED all over my floor- at exactly 5 weeks before the due date, I was NOT ready. I find that fact quite ironic because I really did read every pregnancy book that was given, lent, and available at the local bookstores. I am an EXPERT on pregnancy, I just don't know a THING about delivery. (edit: I had read "Ida May's Guide to Childbirth". I HIGHLY recommend this book to any expecting mother. It is inspiring to read positive birth stories as opposed to all the western medicine horror stories that are commonly shared.)

Let's go back to the water breaking. The books (I read these parts after I got home from the hospital) describe water breaking as a small trickle. They say that it's not something to worry about because it's rare that it breaks without warning and if it does, there's hardly any water. NOT THE CASE FOR ME! I had no warnings that day (in fact, I had felt so good that I had decided to increase my exercising so I'd be in shape for delivery. I had gone swimming for the first time in my pregnancy that afternoon!) and though the initial sensation was with just a tiny bit of water, by the time I was standing at my dresser preparing to change my clothing, I was a walking Old Faithful (if I had been standing on my head).

So, I yelled "Jake...I'm leaking" and he sprung into action, calling the hospital, calling our Doctor, racing around the house trying to figure out what to pack. I was limited to the linoleum floor, but was able to get the necessities packed. Off we go in the car, with a towel wedged in my pants and more towels on the seat :) My cool, calm, collected husband was excited and nervous and kept trying to make wrong turns on the way to the hospital (side note: he WORKS at this hospital). So, I guided him there.

I arrived at the hospital and was whisked into the l&d room and with concentration I thought that maybe I did feel some slight cramping. WOOHOO... I can handle this! EASY! My goal was to have a natural labor and delivery... that is without any modern interventions or medications. So, I rolled out my yoga mat (which my sister- the only person that I called to tell I was in labor- found HILARIOUS. Before anyone gets offended, I called my sister because 1. she's my sister; 2. her time zone made it evening, not the middle of the night like the rest of our families; 3. she lives in a tent in Alaska and I never imagined that she'd actually answer- she just happened to be sitting in her tent with an antenna plugged into her phone at that very minute!) and asked for a yoga ball to sit and lean on. I've spent 10 years practicing yoga off and on and 20 years studying the art of singing, so I know a lot of breathing techniques.

As the contractions began to intensify I focused on staying calm and entering a state of total relaxation each time the contractions subsided. I can honestly say that I never once felt the need for pain medication during contractions. The only times the contractions were unbearable occurred when I was laying on the bed for an exam. Lying down is definitely contrary to nature when you are in labor! Don't get me wrong, the contractions were intense, but they ebb and flow and there's a brief respite between them. I pictured them as ocean waves and that helped keep the intensity in perspective. However, once my contractions started, they were intense and plentiful. I never had long periods of rest between them. I found it most comfortable to sit on the toilet and ball or kneel/lean over the yoga ball for the entire evening.

Finally, around 6 am (water broke around 9:30 pm) my Doctor told me that I was almost ready to push and that he'd be back in 15 minutes. Exactly 7 minutes later I told Jake to get the Doctor PRONTO because I could not wait to push. It's amazing how your body really knows how to go about this crazy delivery process!

I should mention that all during this time I kept my eyes SHUT. I think it helped me stay calm and in my happy place to have my eyes closed. I peeked maybe once or twice, but otherwise I was in my own world. My Doctor came back to the room and teased me for being impatient. He talked us through a quick crash course on how to push, I could NOT pay attention, but kudos to him for trying.

THE PUSHING BEGINS... It was hard for me to hold my breath while pushing, a yogi breathes through pain. It was hard for me to keep my legs relaxed, it was hard for me to push while Jake counted to 10, it was hard for me stay cute, dainty, and quiet... That's when I became a creature from another galaxy. With my eyes closed, I "politely" told everyone to STOP telling me what to do and to STOP touching me! The Doctor told everyone that I was doing fine on my own and that they should just let me do things my own way. So the Nurse and CNA (a dear friend who just happened to be on duty! Thanks Kathy!) dropped my legs and Jake stopped counting. At some earlier point, I had Jake sit behind me on my bed so that he could help me sit up, massage my back, wipe my brow, and hold me. We had intended for him to catch the baby, but after it was all over, Jake was so happy with the arrangement. He really felt part of the birth and in tune with me.

So, with Jake supporting my weight and letting my hands squeeze his legs until they lost blood flow, I PUSHED. OH MY GOD (and I'm not using that word in vain). At one point I got mad at the Doctor because I just KNEW that if he would just let me go the the bathroom, that I would feel better... he still refused and informed me that I could just poop there if I needed to (pretty sure I didn't- in case you really wanted to know). Then I could feel the head and I became TERRIFIED because it was obvious to me that she/he was not going to fit! By now I was in such intense pain that I stopped paying attention to the contractions and rested and pushed when I felt like it. Ok, at this point I didn't feel like ever pushing because it was such an intense pain when I pushed, but I knew that it was the only way to end the pain... PUSH!!!!!!!

I believe it was just 15 minutes or was it 45? I truly don't know. However, the babe finally made it out and was promptly placed on my chest (as per my Birth Plan). Jake later told me that he was surprised at how I immediately lifted my bra and started to feed HER. I have dim memories of being too stunned by the intensity of delivery to really feel much emotion at that point in time. However, I knew that SHE was gorgeous.

EDIT: In the months following Hazel's birth, I couldn't say for sure whether I would be brave enough in the future to have another unmedicated birth. It took me a full 6 weeks to be able to walk comfortably and a full 6 months to say that yes, I will go unmedicated next time! For Hazel's birth, I was naive and by the time I knew about the pain, it was too late to do anything. However, Hazel was healthy, undrugged, and aware and I was able to listen to my body, feel my body's cues, and I don't have chronic back pain (a common side effect from epidurals!). I'm proud of myself for giving birth and fully in love with the little bean that grew inside me.


89 things to be happy about!

A brand new week and a brand new smile! I don't have much time to post today, but am trying to show my sis that she's not the only one that can go on a posting rampage.

Here are some of the things I'm smilin' about:
*Hubby is off for a few days!
*Gpa turns 89 today! Gma turns 8* tomorrow ;) (I'm not gonna post her age 'cause I'm sweet like that)
*Gpa is leaving the hospital in 2 hours (to go to transitional care for a few weeks to help his hip heal)
*Dad is feeling good (despite the heart healthy recipes I tried to feed him this weekend that tasted more like toxic vomit)!
*Gpa and Gma's new home is being delivered TODAY! Great news for them and STEP 1 in the plan for the Kosker's to buy their current home (get it? They move into a gorgeous new double wide close to my parents and designed to help them live independently. Then, my little Kosker trio buys their home and we all live happily (albeit poorly) ever after!)
*I am please as Pete (is that a phrase or did I make it up?) with my recent splurge in which I bought the most expensive baby monitor at Babies R Us (Thanks to my cousin Lisa who gave me a gift card... does this count as the Thank You?). We can go 2000 feet away from sleeping Hazel and still hear her breathing! A must have for these future farmers :)
*My little Hazelnut is a really good eater thus far, but is a SLOB! I've been trying different bibs, but think I just discovered the answer! This looks like a great design for a bib and at $12.50 (1/2 of which will be donated to Haiti this month), I feel good about spending a bit of our precious nest egg!
*Yesterday I won another blog giveaway! Yes, my sister was the host, but I won fair and square! What did I win? Well you'll have to go to her blog to find out!

Have a wonderful day and find one thing...or 89... things to be happy about.