Travel Often

“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” — Rosalia de Castro

Love Deeply, but Laugh Along the Way

"Happiness is only real when shared." - Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild

View Marriage as an Adventure

"Love is a flower which turns into fruit at marriage." ~Finnish Proverb

Fuel your body with GOOD (It's the only one you get)

He who has health has hope; and he who has hope has everything. - Arabian Proverb

Open your Soul to Motherhood

A Grand Adventure is About to Begin - Winnie the Pooh

A New Kind of Love is Born

Mothers hold their children's hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas from the Koester Clan!

Merry Christmas 2012!!

We hope your holiday season is Merry and Bright! God's blessings to all of you! It's been a crazy year with a lot of new experiences but as I look back, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Merry Christmas from the Koester Clan - 2012 (Jackson 8 Months)
Jackson opening his first gifts at Gpa and Gma Koester's
Something I can wear at the cabin from Aunt Kelly and Uncle Ben....hmmm, what could it be?
We are talking skull swim trunks here, folks. Amaze.

I'm ready to bite into another. This one from Grandma Judy

Did I mention I LOVE opening gifts?

Ohhhh, the soft and plush kind of pajamas! I love these.

The wrapping paper is kind of cool too...
Good eye. Beer??? Yes!
Me and Aunt Kelly
We're kind of like buddies!

Chillin with Uncle Ben

This one is a big dogger! Uncle Ben and Aunt Kelly have lots of cool stuff up their sleeves.
This is really for me? Mom, can I really open it?
Whoa! Cool!!!
Who's putting this together for me?

Dad is!! Varrrrroooom!
Christmas Morning
Just what I always wanted. My first laptop...gonna be writing just like mom!
It's a masterpiece!
Can I get a "oohhhhhh"?
Pretty awesome first Christmas!

Monday, December 17, 2012

What Does God Have to Do with Motherhood?

Where Does God Fit In?
It’s been awhile… Hasn’t it? Can I ask why nobody warned me that motherhood would be such a ball of vast emotions?
Jackson at 8 Months!
I can go from loving my life to crying in the shower in a matter of a couple hours, sometimes less. I even broke down at work. As in, tears were streaming down my face, snot splashing on the carpet, ugly cry… all in front of my boss. That cardinal rule of not crying in the office? Yeah, that flew out the window, along with my head. Oops.
Half of me is scared to admit this and write it for all to see because I’m sure I’ll get emails from people telling me I should go see a shrink. Motherhood really shouldn’t be this hard or complicated for me. I need to be having fun. It’s been eight months already…snap out of it any day now…. The stress is no good. Time is slipping away from me…. Milestones are passing me by and I’m never going to get them back. Jackson won’t ever be eight months old again.
I’m not knocking therapists. It’s just when I finally even get the option of working out, getting a massage or seeing a therapist. A therapist comes in third. I made it to the gym for the first time in three weeks. I finally used the gift card for an hour-long massage that I got after Jackson was born. Plus, is the grocery store right next to the therapist?
My time is more valuable than ever. I have to be prepared like a lioness about to pounce on her prey all the time. I need lists stuffed into my purse and coat pockets just to keep on top of things: grocery lists, dinner menus for the week, bills I need to pay, things I should try and get to over the weekend, some dreams I need to keep chasing after so I’m not forgotten. I never know what might pop up to throw my mind into a tornado and spit it out jumbled. Without my lists, my family would be lost, unhealthy, living paycheck to paycheck and eating out way too much, and I would be in an institution or on a lot of drugs.
My Google calendar is full of reminders so I don’t forget a thing. A thing. Like watering the plants on Sunday. Or making sure I check the trunk of my car just in case I accidentally opened it from my pocket again for the hundredth time.
Besides work meetings, that’s about all I get to be in charge of these days. I can’t control when Jackson will get sick. When Karl comes home from work. How many times Jackson will get up during the night. When something will change. If Jackson will get hurt or …or….or…
So I hold it in and pretend everything is fabulous, until someone asks me how it’s going and I burst into tears in front of a pregnant friend at a birthday party. Neat, huh? Way to go, Christie. Scare the dickens out of her why don’t ya.
Spastic much?
The other half of me KNOWS there are other moms out there going through the same thing. Because you’ve told me. THANK GOD. I know I’m kind of normal. Right? I mean, not everything is as it appears in Facebook pictures on my newsfeed or in Christmas cards or in my People magazine or in fancy new cars or big houses. Everyone has their own story, their own issues, their own troubles and hardships. Most of the time they are WORSE than my own.
Because of these brave souls, I’m able to take a step back and suck in a few breaths of air. I’m able to pick up my head that’s been rolling all over the floor and stick it back on. Sometimes backwards, but hey…it’s on and there. These moms let me laugh off my psychotic side and I’m back to loving myself for who I am. I keep on truckin.
The other super moms out there doing it all…well, I commend you for having it all figured out. For letting things roll off your back. For not getting too far ahead of yourself. But my God, how do you do it?
I don’t like comparing. I was always somewhat confident. Sure I have a bigger nose, shapeless eyebrows, smaller chest and a big ol’ booty, but who cares…I think I’m pretty fun to be around despite all my physical flaws. Then all of a sudden I become a mom and BAM. Compare city and everyone always has it better and I’m doing it all wrong. WTF is that? She gets to stay at home. She must be so happy. She has it all. She has a husband who makes tons of money. She gets to visit her family whenever she wants. She gets her husband at nights and on weekends. She has that and this…
Hello. I have an amazing son who is healthy. We have a roof over our head. Karl and I actually like to hang out and spend time together. The three of us get another day together. Isn’t that enough?
You would think so, especially with the horrible, unthinkable school shooting in Newtown.
We get another day.
We get another day.
Yes, that is enough. That should be enough.
Open your eyes, Christie.
Two minutes later and I’m going to town again with my thoughts and attacking my self-worth as a mom. That isn’t very nice of me. I think back on my life and I am SO thankful for the life I had growing up. That I even had a chance to live. My parents loved me beyond love. We sure had fun. Even when my heart was breaking and bad stuff happened, I grew into me. Someone who is ready to shine like the best of them.
I want to give that to Jackson. I want him to have it all and all of me. And for some reason in my warped mind I don’t think I can because I’m working all the time. But there MUST be a reason I am working. I am me. Christie. Not my mom. This is my story now.
When I thought I was ready for something to happen in my life, I really wasn’t. When I thought I could handle something, I couldn’t. But then all of a sudden someone would walk in my life and knock my socks off. An opportunity was handed to me. A seed was planted inside me and life blossomed. How and why do things happen when they do? I don't know.
Can I just hang on for a second and ENJOY where I am right this moment? Some really amazing things are happening right before my eyes and I'm always worried about tomorrow. What is the rush???
And then it hits me. The only person who knows when the timing is right is God. For some reason he’s gotten me through it all. He’s gotten me this far. The good. The awesome. The bad and the ugly. And I keep coming up stronger. Why should I doubt him now? And why must I keep avoiding him? Forgetting about him? Why must I always be in the driver’s seat? Move over God, here comes Christie! Beep-beep.
Is it because we haven’t officially met? Where would we meet? Over a cup of coffee? Maybe a glass of wine? Sometimes I talk to myself in my car... I wonder if he's listening? Laughing? Shaking his head? What would we talk about if he could answer back?
Then I kind of get nervous. How can I trust someone who I’ve never met guide me through this really important job called motherhood? To be my warrior when I can’t muster up the energy to fight for myself? Can I really lean on him? I mean, this is FOR real. I was fine with screwing up when it was just me. Even when it came to Karl because I could look in his eyes and see the love. I could hug him and feel the love.
Can I feel God? Well...actually sometimes I think I do.
In the dark hours of the night when it’s just me and Jackson and all is quiet, except for Jackson making his humming noises as he nurses, I feel my heart grow. I physically feel my heart stretch to my throat. I study the lids shielding Jackson's eyes, and long lashes and little nose and stroke his soft cheeks and can’t even believe for a second I am his mom. That I have been gifted the opportunity to feel all I am feeling. That he was inside me growing not so long ago, that out of a million little swimmers, it was him that was chosen to make it. Just for us. How is that even possible? How did I get so lucky???
Not sure.
I can’t help but believe there is a God and he really does know what he is doing after I experience these moments. And these moments keep coming. Not just when I'm nursing, but throughout the day. And I have a feeling they are going to continue (and I'm already addicted. I don't want to miss a single one of them). So then I ask myself.... If I’m capable of loving Jackson beyond a love I never knew I had in me, then God certainly loves me beyond the definition of love. Like a blow my mind kind of love.
That’s heavy stuff.
Maybe it’s OK not to have all the answers. Could I handle them? Probably not. I mean, what if I was to die before Jackson ever really knew me? Would I love him less because I didn’t physically exist anymore?  Hell no. Never. Would I know he’d grow into someone absolutely amazing? No doubt in my mind.
But how would I ever prove that to him? I wouldn't be able to. And right now I get the chance to prove over and over again how much I love him. This is MY chance. Right now. Right here. This life. That's all he wants and needs. Otherwise I'd hope Jackson would believe what I feel inside is REAL. Oh, man, I’d PLEAD for him to believe it. I already know our son is going to be amazing beyond amazing. I cringe at the thought of him not thinking that about himself. Maybe if I wasn't around, he’d see a picture or two of us together or read a few blog posts now and again. But me not being around would really mean he’d have to dig deep and trust that my love is bigger than he’ll ever know. Is that what God wishes for me? That I had an inkling of how much he loves matter what? 
I suspect God feels that about me. That I'm amazing, despite the crazy, the tough days, the madness. And I’m sure it pains him when I doubt myself or am hard on myself. What he sees  in me is love and amazing. When I struggle so much, all he really wants is for me to know he’s right there to catch me, to carry me. He clearly knows what I’m capable of and believes in ME. Maybe I need to try doing the same…

Body BACK After Baby - 7.5 Months

Body After Baby – Hitting My Pre-Pregnancy Weight at 7.5 Months

Height – 5’10
Weight – 153
I did it! Look at those muscles!

Well, I did it! I have no idea how because I’m not working out any more than usual (I swear), but I am really watching what I eat and I don’t drink alcohol like I did back in the day. AND there isn’t a whole lot of time to eat when I’m watching Jackson. I rarely sit. I don’t catch a lot of TV anymore. I don’t read like I used to. Both Jackson and I are moving a lot. He has me on my toes!

And just like that I jumped on the scale and I weigh less than where I was before I found out I was pregnant with Jackson. YAY!

All my clothes fit – even the super small pants I couldn’t even get over my thighs two months after Jackson was born. Holy wow. I can’t believe it.

My goal from here on out is to maintain and keep up the healthy lifestyle. I feel GOOD and I want to keep it that way. I’m trying to get one to two really good workouts in a week (there are fewer walking trips just because it’s cold and snowy now), one lifting session (this helps tone me up because I notice I’m softer in areas than I was before even if I now weigh less) and I’m focused on eating really healthy. Like I’ve said before, I know what foods are going to make me feel sluggish and tired (carbs and sugar), so I avoid and fuel my body with as healthy as I can get.

What has been helping me is making Jackson’s food. I’m constantly researching what healthy foods I can introduce him to and what the main vitamin is in each serving so he gets a variety of nutrients and stays healthy and builds up a great immune system. For example I pureed his parsnips the other night. They ended up looking like mashed potatoes and tasted way better. Karl even liked. I will be introducing that to our own weekly meals. It’s kind of fun to experiment with all these different fruits and vegetables.

Here’s to a HEALTHY, HAPPY 2013!!!

First Big Snowfall for Jackson - 7.5 months

Let it snow! Let it snow!
Me and the little man sledding on December 9

Last I heard, we were supposed to get 2-4 inches. We made it to 12 inches. Funny. It was a beautiful snow but a LOT. Jackson wasn't sure he liked the big flakes flying in his eyes, but for the most part, he LOVED staring out the window at dad shoveling and the kids sledding and marching through the snow.
It just kept snowing and snowing...

And snowing...
And snowing...
And snowing...
Jackson LOVES staring out the window, especially when it's snowing!

On to other news....
Just me sitting here all nice and tall

Jackson is officially crawling.
No more army crawl. Straight up crawling and fast, fast, fast. I noticed this two Fridays ago after we got home from work (the dusting of snow made the commute nice and long. Yuck). I also noticed Jackson started to push himself up onto his knees, but wasn't totally sure...until we went over to my brother's for dinner on Saturday night. Jackson crawled over to the stairs and climbed up two steps just like that. We couldn't believe it. And he's been doing a triangle stance every now and then, trying to get himself to stand. He's a crazy man.

Just me looking all cute again

Says “Bwah-Bwah”
Jackson has been making more sounds and more noises. The best is hearing him get up in the morning. He has a lot of fun turning on his mobile and watching it. He crawls all over the crib in excitement and raises and lowers his voice. My dad claims he said "da" today.

Pushes himself to stand when crawling over my knees
The other night I was playing with him on the floor. Sometimes he doesn’t like to go too far from me, so he climbs back onto my lap. Now, he crawls up my legs and pushes himself up so he stands. He is so strong!
Makes hilarious faces
I could stare at Jackson forever ALL the time. I’m so worried I’m going to miss something since he’s so full of life and energy. He is so funny when he’s playing. Jackson makes so many animated faces.
Body might not like blueberries
We were feeding him blueberries but he started spitting them up more and more and decorating our carpet. Plus, when he poops, it stains his butt!!! I’m not so sure his body is ready for blueberries. Going to cut back.
Weaning from bottle to sippy cup
I mentioned in a previous post that Jackson decided to stop taking the bottle while at daycare. I called the nurse who said that is quite common for babies his age (7.5 to 9 months), as long as he has wet diapers. He has VERY heavy diapers, especially at night. He’s starting to drink 3 ounces from the sippy cup, so we’re making progress. He definitely likes to nurse morning and night and has been getting up more often. Hmph. Mom is tired.
Climbs stairs
We were over at my brother Mike’s for dinner and let Jackson crawl around and he headed right for the stairs and climbed up two of them. We were like…wha???
Tried zucchini, parsnips and carrots
Still making his foods and so far Jackson has been willing to try all. I wish I could get my hands on peaches and nectarines and apricots and watermelon… All the fruits that are kind of out of season. I’m not sure how comfortable I am about cooking up fruit from other countries just because of the pesticides used over there. Most countries took all the pesticides that have been banned here to use on their crops. Soooo….
Loves puffs
I have never seen someone get so excited over little cereal pieces. As soon as I shake the container with the puffs in them, Jackson smiles and says, “Mmmmmmmmm”and kicks his little feet. Sometimes he even claps!
Clapping his handsSpeaking of clapping, he does this a lot. I love it. What a happy happy boy. 
Clapping his hands!
Sleeping is still hit or miss.
The month of November into December was really tough on me when it comes to sleep. Not a whole lot. And then finally...FINALLY... last night he slept the whole night through. THANK YOU LORD.
Gets crazy excited when Karl and I come home from work or when he sees either of us.
I love those smiles. We also love when we get him in the morning how he's peeking through the railings of his crib.
Peek a boo
I see you!
The wave.
Has started waving, but only when his hand is touching his chin. Hasn’t quite figured out how to extend arm and wave. It is the CUTEST EVER.
Mean Mary JackWhen I was little, I used to scrunch up my nose and pull in my face and make a heavy breathing noise. My parents called me Mean Mary Jean. And now Jackson is doing the exact same thing. Hilarious.
Love this little man!!!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Jackson is 7.5 Months

I feel like I've dropped the ball on this blog. I know, it's been what, maybe two weeks since I posted about Jackson, but still. I feel like my head is about to roll off. There is a LOT going on in our lives. A LOT. I know others have it way worse than we do, so I try to look at the positives and give thanks for all we have been blessed with, but sometimes things get HARD.

The worst: we have to find new care for Jackson. (Yes, I bawled and find myself freaking out a lot about it. I don't trust just anyone). Secondly, I always find myself comparing myself to other moms. I don't know how they do it. HOW? But that is for another post, which is much needed. I need a therapy session and some heavy workout sessions. I finally made it to the gym yesterday after three weeks. It's time to start thinking POSITIVE.
Me and my little man at 7.5 months in Roscoe, Illinois

But first, let's talk about Jackson.

We noticed his first moles/freckles a little after Jackson's 6 month birthday. Our pediatrician said that it's normal for the moles and freckles to start showing around this time. And knowing all the moles I have, I'm sure he'll have his share.

We are back to heavy teething. Jackson has his bottom two teeth but he is now back to biting my shoulder when I hold him, so something is up. He'll clench his fists out of nowhere and start to scream. And he's drooling excessively once again. And he didn't sleep much at all when we were at my parents. Now that we're back home, he's taking 2+ hour naps at a time. Thank you Jesus!

Jackson and Grandpa Gary

I feel like Jackson is on a nursing strike. More so a bottle strike than anything. He nurses great early morning and before bed (those comfort times). It's the times in-between I'm not sure about. He will nurse maybe 2 minutes tops throughout the day when I'm with him on weekends. How is he even getting enough? Jenna (our daycare) says he's been refusing the bottle too. Could be a teething issue or I thought maybe my hormones are going whack right now? Maybe my monthly visitor will come back soon? Not that I'm looking forward to that.  I hear that can change the taste of milk.


We have been feeding Jackson healthy solids three times a day and some of those organic puff cheerio looking snacks so he works on his pincher grabbing technique. A typical work week:

  1. I'll nurse him usually 3:00/4:00 a.m. (I really love when it's closer to 5:00!!! Usually once a week I get lucky and he sleeps all the way through the night.)
  2. He has a bottle (4-5 oz) and oatmeal with a fruit shortly after arriving to daycare.
  3. Lunch is another bottle (he's down to taking maybe 3 oz right now), 1/2 a Yo-Baby yogurt, a fruit and a veggie. Jenna will put the extra milk in his food so he's getting the 5 ounces he was before. We always give him the veggie first and sometimes two veggies.
  4. He'll have another bottle in the afternoon and this is where he's not totally interested in drinking it at all. We're almost to the point of giving him a snack at this time too. However, we realized we still had the 0-3 month flow nipple on his bottles. We just bought the 6+ month ones and hope that makes a difference. Way to go mom for catching that a few months too late... Oops.
  5. After I pick him up from work, I'll nurse him (which is a super quick nurse) and feed him dinner, which is usually chicken, a veggie and a fruit. Sometimes even more!!!
  6. I nurse him right before bed, which is usually 30 minutes to an hour after he eats dinner. He more times than not chugs down.

We've introduced a lot more homemade food: peas, green beans, plums, blueberries, asparagus, etc. He's eaten everything so far (knock on wood). Yes, still making it all in our hand blender or our food processor (and now Karl brought home the Ninja, which he is dying to try). Making food can become a project in itself. I am still hoping to try peaches/nectarines (out of season), parsnips, carrots, zucchini and yellow squash. I think after 9 or 10 months, I'll start feeding him everything we eat.

Jackson's eyes still are blue on the outside, but I feel like a paint can of brown has splashed in his eyes and the color is starting to take over. The blue is almost changing to a green too...
Jackson with Great Grandma Powalish over Thanksgiving

Jackson is army crawling everywhere and he is FAST. Whoa. He's going to be REALLY fast when he gets this whole crawling thing down. Here is him army crawling -

Jackson has a TON of energy. I thought maybe he had A.D.D since everyone who holds him asks if he ever stays still. The answer: no. He jumps constantly. He moves all the time. ALL THE TIME. If not moving, his legs are wiggling. In his sleep. In my arms. On the floor. ALWAYS. He has maybe cuddled with me twice. That's it. Otherwise he is ALWAYS MOVING. we know he got this from me.

I love how he head-butts into my legs when I sit with him on the floor and let him move around or how he gets all silly and throws his hands up and covers his eyes like we're embarrassing him.

He also LOVES to play peek-a-boo. He grabs a cloth and covers his eyes and rips it away. Karl and I both chime in and Jackson smiles and laughs. He is SUCH a happy baby.

One of his favorite things to do is look outside. He could do this forever. He loved doing this at my parent's house because he could watch the squirrels and birds since they live in the woods.

Looking out the window at Gpa and Gma Powalish's

He is sounding out words more too and loves when I talk to him slowly. He responds by laughing or smiling when I say "Ma-Ma" or "Da-Da".

His favorite place to go is under the coffee table in the living room and lift up the rug. We don't like him going under there because we're worried he'll whack his head. But, he loves army crawling over there for some reason.
Jackson and Great Grandpa Harry

He also loves when we clap our hands or stomp them on the ground. He has tried clapping his own hands together. Any way he can make sound, he's all about it.

We love this little man and watching him grow into somebody really cool.