Monday Review – I Dream of You

In my first 10 months of motherhood I have discovered many new companies and products that have been so helpful and awesome, so I have decided to start a weekly review post where I share one of my finds! These are not ads; I am not getting paid by anyone to share this information, they are simply my reviews on items I have found and want you to know about. They will not always be baby or kid related either, so these reviews are for everyone! Come back each Monday for a new item, and if you have found something awesome that makes life easier/better, please share it with me. I would love to post guest reviews so we can all learn and share together!

First up: I Dream of You, by JJ Heller

JJ Heller - I dream of you

It is no secret that JJ Heller is one of my favorite music artists. Her soft voice, melodic sound and beautiful writing draw you in and make your day better. So, when I learned that she was creating a lullaby cd, it was the first thing that went on our baby registry and one of my favorite things we received.

We started playing it while I was still pregnant, and had it playing in the delivery room as our son was born. What I did not realize at the time is that it is magic. But I know that now. Two weeks after our baby was born he was diagnosed with a congenital heart condition called Tetralogy of Fallot. Because of this condition, it was vital that we keep him as calm as possible until his surgery to repair the hole in his heart.

So, anytime he started getting too riled up, we turned on I Dream of You. And like magic, he calmed instantly. Every time. It worked before his surgery, it worked in the hospital when he started getting agitated with all the cords and wires, and it still works on car trips and when he wakes up in the night crying. It is amazing how quickly it calms him down, and I recommend it to anyone having a baby.

What I like about it: It is not annoying. So many lullaby songs are cheesy and boring. These songs are beautiful, written for both parents and baby. The songs provide encouragement on nights that seem to go on forever, and give hope to weary moms and dads. They remind you that this baby is a gift, and that everything is going to be ok. It is an album that I can listen to over and over – we’ve had it going for ten months so far and I am not tired of it yet.

Favorite tracks:

  • The Sun will Rise
  • Big World, Baby
  • I Get to Be the One

Cost: $8.99, or free to stream on some sites

Where you can get it:  iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, or her website

Summary: Get it. If you are having a baby, you will not regret it. If you have a baby in the hospital, definitely get it. I wish every NICU and PICU in the world could have a copy of it to play for the babies. It makes that much of a difference.


Grammar Tips: Apart vs A Part

In this age of the internet, texting shorthand, auto correct, and everyone determined to communicate as fast as possible, grammar seems archaic and boring. Yet at the same time it is the framework that allows for accurate communication and understanding. Take for instance the two words “apart” and “a part”. Did you know those have completely different meanings? Do you know the context in which each is meant to be used? Because I have discovered that many people seem to have no idea, or maybe just don’t proofread before they post.

For example, I cannot count the times I have seen this written:

“I am SO glad to be apart of this family!” or “It was so fun being apart of this event!”

Wait, what? So, are you really glad, or are you saying that sarcastically? Because “apart” means “separated from, distant, not connected”, while “a part” means “a piece or segment that combined makes up the whole; belonging to, connected”.

It is confusing, I know. I get it. So, here are two tips to help remember which word to use.

Tip #1: Think of them backwards. The one with no space is the one you use when something is separate. “The radio came apart when it was smashed with a hammer”, “Everything was great, apart from the math lesson”, etc. The one with the space is the one you use when you are indicating something that is connected. “Shakespeare is a part of literary history”, “It was so fun being part of this event”, etc. In many cases you can drop the “a” and just say “part”. So if you can drop the “a” and the sentence makes sense, use a space or just use “part”.

Tip #2: Know the difference between “from” and “of”. Almost every time it is “apart from” or “a part of”. If the sentence requires “of”, then use “part” or “a part”. If the sentence requires “from”, then use “apart”. For example, you would not say “I am so glad to be a part from this family”, but “I am so glad to be a part of this family” is correct. “I want to be apart of this group” is incorrect, but “I want to be part of this group” is correct.

Because English is complicated and ridiculous, there many be some exceptions to these tips, but they are accurate the vast majority of the time. Good luck!


Coffee, please.

Picture this: I am on my way to Western Pennsylvania with the whole family to go to some water park for our vacation, when suddenly the happy chatter of my five month old wakes me up. Out of a deep, dream-filled sleep. After already waking me up at 12:45 and 4:45 to nurse during the night.* I stumble out of bed, get the baby, and go downstairs where my wonderful saint of a husband is making coffee.

Aaahhhhhh. I get the beautiful steaming mug of happiness, lean over to smile at our beautiful son, and pour hot coffee all over my leg. Life. Is. Awesome. I manage to drink the rest of the coffee, and slowly the fog lifts and I feel human again.

It wasn’t always this way. In fact, during my sophomore year of college I stopped drinking caffeine and diet soda after discovering that aspartame was the trigger for my migraines. For the past 12 years my caffeine has been hot showers and ice water, with the occasional cup of decaf coffee or full strength tea (which still has way less caffeine than coffee) when I felt like enjoying a cup. I did not require coffee to live.

But I get it now. I relate in a new way to the shirt that says “All I need is a little bit of coffee and a whole lot of Jesus”. Yes. Amen. I need that shirt. Having one kid has turned me into a full-blown coffee drinker. Hot showers are still great, but there are days when coffee is just essential. By kid #3 or 4, I will probably have a coffee maker installed next to my bed.

Anybody else become a coffee drinker after having a baby, or is this just me??

coffee and jesus.jpg

*Henry had heart surgery a few weeks ago, and one of the side effects that the doctors forgot to tell me about is how babies who stay in the hospital forget how to sleep and are hungry all the time. It’s just so much fun! He was a great sleeper before the surgery, and we are hoping that returns soon….er than later.

You Pick Two

This blog post has been running circles in my brain for weeks just waiting to be written, but as you will see from below, there is good reason why it is only now coming to fruition.

When I published my last post I was 39 weeks pregnant. Now we have a 10 11 12 week old! Time flies and all that jazz, I suppose. This post is about what’s happened in the in-between weeks, and what I’ve learned about having a newborn.

Our son Henry finally arrived on March 5th, eleven days past his due date and after 36 hours of labor (hence the “finally”). His complete birth story is one for another time, but I will say that the moment they placed him in my arms was breathtaking and sacred; after so many months of waiting, this screaming, squirming tiny human was suddenly there. And in that moment, everything changed. Everything prior to that moment is “before” and in this new “after” nothing is the same as it once was.

After two delightful days in the hospital, we were sent home with a cart full of goodies and supplies, a newly filled carseat, and all the staff’s best wishes for a good life. Although our childbirth and breastfeeding classes had prepared us well for what those first few weeks at home would be like, I was still caught somewhat off guard by the intensity of the exhaustion and healing process. Regular household chores suddenly become behemoths, and getting up and ready for the day spends what little energy I have available. Practically all of the time is spent feeding the baby, and what little time remains in-between my body demands that I sleep.

One evening towards the end of March, Christian and I took the baby and went to Panera for dinner. It was while eating that I had The Revelation: this season of life with a newborn requires me to “Pick Two”, just like you do at Panera. After the required tasks of nurturing and feeding my child, there is a small margin in which to get other things accomplished.

Every day I can choose to:

  • Take a shower OR eat breakfast
  • Go on a walk OR take a nap
  • Load the dishwasher OR put laundry in to wash
  • Read a book OR write in my journal
  • Sweep the floor OR clean the toilet
  • Cook dinner OR fold a load of laundry
  • Visit the doctor OR go to the grocery story
  • Sleep OR write a blog post (you can tell which one won most often in this category)

Pick two, and that is the limit for the day. I quickly learned that my get-things-done, pack as much in a day as I can attitude had to take a hike, otherwise I would wind up frustrated and upset in trying to do too much. This season of intense change begs for a slow, simmering pace. One where priorities shift and beauty is found in recognizing my limitations.

March was a blur. I can’t really tell you anything that happened outside of our little townhouse, but I can tell you that inside our little home I learned to rest and spent lots of time cuddling our baby. I learned that tears are good, and sleep is better. April is slightly clearer, but only just so. The experts tell you that you need 6 weeks to recover after having a baby. I will tell you that I thought I felt better after 6 weeks. Then week 7 came and I felt even better. That upward trend continued until week 10 when my body felt back to normal and I felt completely healed from the birth.

Ever so slowly as the weeks progress my energy has allowed me to add a third or fourth or even fifth thing to my day. But as a routine begins to develop, as naps get longer and feeding times get shorter it is easy to begin to hurry again. To pack the day with a multitude of good things that ultimately wear me out. In this season I am learning that limits are a good gift, and that when I listen and slow down there is beauty and grace to be found. I am learning to extend more and more grace towards myself and others, to “pick two” and do them with excellence, to focus on what is best over what is good.

What season are you in right now? Where do you need to recognize limits and allow the pace to slow in order to find what is best? Where do you need to extend grace, either to yourself or others? May we slow down and see with fresh eyes the beauty that is waiting for us.