Jonas Paul Eyewear + A Giveaway!

When Eli got his glasses at 14 months old, so much of me was afraid of how he'd look. In classic motherhood fashion, I didn't like his "beautiful blue eyes" covered up, and I didn't like the way they changed his look because he was so "perfect" already. But today, I almost don't recognize Eli without his glasses. They are so much apart of who he is and I LOVE the way he looks in his glasses. 

Over the past year since his strabismus surgery, we've had a lot of ups and downs with his vision. At his last appointment we found out his eyes were still not working together enough, so we're discussing patching and other types of vision therapy again, but right now we're just giving it a bit more time before making a decision. 
It's funny, because I know logically that his vision isn't the end of the world. No matter what, my baby boy is going to live a full and happy life, I know this is a small thing, a hurdle that we can, in fact, jump over together. But when you're a parent there's an element of wanting the easy path for your child. Of wanting them to have every opportunity, advancement and convenience that you can't help but mourn a little when you realize that won't be the case. 

And I think that's okay. It's okay to be sad for a moment, to let the feelings swim and settle in your soul for a bit. But then the time comes when it's time to let go. To remember you can't control your child's future, no matter how "perfect" they seem to be. To remember that really, this is their's to own and conquer. Your job as a parent is to teach them where to find their identity, to help them grow to be secure and confident in who they were made to be, and know that their value isn't found in their looks, performance or abilities. It's about teaching them resilience. To bounce back and charge on.  

And so I'm working on that. With each new update, each high and each low, I'm finding that I set the tone for Eli with how to respond. And I can choose to be upset. Or I can choose to be resilient. 
In the mean time, I'm so excited to say that we have found the most adorable pair of glasses for Eli - a pair that doesn't hide his eyes, but highlights them and makes him look even more adorable than he already is. (Self admitted #mombias here.) Eli is now a brand ambassador for Jonas Paul Eyewear (JPE), a company that makes the cutest children's glasses I have ever seen. I found JPE through another mom on Instagram. Her little boy is a little older than Eli, but the resemblance between the two of them is crazy! I was immediately obsessed with the glasses he was wearing so I reached out to her to find out where she got them. She pointed me to JPE and soon enough, they reached out to see if I would be willing to test them out with Eli and be a brand ambassador. 

I was so excited to get the free at-home try-on kit to test out all the glasses on Eli and he loved getting to try out different frames and pick the ones he liked best. Ultimately we went with the Paul in navy matte, which is Eli's favorite color, so he's completely obsessed because they're his, "favorrrrrite color!"

It's so funny, because when Eli first got glasses at 15 months, I can't tell you the number of comments I received about them. Most all of them were positive, talking about how adorable he was or just how cute it is to see just a little person wearing glasses. But eventually the comments slowed, we weren't stopped as often while out and about. But now, with his new JPE glasses, the comments are back full-force, all of them commenting about how much they love his glasses and how adorable he looks. It's so fun to hear so many people liking his glasses, and Eli loves telling them, "Thank you. They're my new blue glasses. They don't have a strap, see?" as he turns his head around. 

Originally we went with a different brand that was made of one piece of plastic and had a backstrap, which worked well for when Eli was really little, but it has been so nice to be able to upgrade to a more stylish pair of frames. At first, I was worried about them staying on without a backstrap, and while you can add one, I'm so happy to say they stay on perfectly without one! In addition, they are amazing at holding up to the rough toddler life. Eli loves to wrestle and play hard, and I've been so impressed by the durability. 

The other thing I love is that it's a company I want to get behind. I love the origin story of JPE. It was created by a mom and dad who have a son with vision impairments. They found a gap in the market for fashion-forward children's glasses, and created JPE to fill that void. In addition, JPE does a "Buy Sight, Give Sight" program, where for every pair of kids glasses purchased, they work to provide prescription glasses and corrective surgery to people in need. 

Pretty great, huh?
And JPE also makes non-prescription glasses and sunglasses. So even if your kiddo doesn't wear prescription glasses, you can still order awesome, stylish frames through them. 

So today, JPE and I are giving away one pair of prescription or non-prescription sunglasses (with 100 percent UV protection) for your little one - a $200 value! So ALL of you should enter, regardless if you have a child in glasses or not!

And in the meantime, if you want to order a pair of glasses from JPE they're giving all Oakland Avenue readers 10 percent off their order, just use the code "OaklandAvenue10," good through 5/12/16.


Enter to win in the rafflecopter widget below. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

And just in case you missed it, here are some other posts I've written on children in glasses:

Other Posts on Oakland Avenue:
Eli Gets Glasses
Kids In Glasses: Frequently Asked Questions
Tips and Tricks for Introducing Glasses To Your Toddler For The First Time (And Get Them To Keep Them On.)

My writing on other websites about glasses:
Little Four Eyes Blog: The Benefits of a Second Opinion
Twin Cities Moms Blog: How To Tell If Your Child Needs Glasses

To My Daughter, On Her First Birthday

I wrote this on Colette's first birthday, but never published it. I thought I'd do it now so I'd always remember. 
This is one of those letters that feels impossible to write. For how does one ever sum up something that changes your life forever? It's been an entire year with you, and the fact that you arrived on New Year's Eve feels fitting - the whole world celebrates another year of life on your day, my love. They gather, party, applaud and dance - as they should - and you and I, we will always pretend that secretly, they are celebrating you. 

When you arrived, it was snowing outside our hospital window. You took your sweet time at first, but when you were ready, you were ready, moving me from a 6 to a 10 in less than 10 minutes, and 20 minutes of pushing later, you were making your presence known in my arms to the entire hospital.

The doctor commented on your strong lungs and she had no idea yet just how strong they were. You put those lungs to the test from the first night and haven't stopped since. Even though they weren't supposed to, the nurses even suggested we give you a paci and they take you to the nursery for a bit on the second night, because you did not want to sleep when the rest of the world slept. 

You're a fighter and that's a good thing. You needed to be as we spent the first five months of your life living in four different places, and even out of hotels for weeks at a time. You were never given the structure, routine, the cush reality of knowing what to expect and when to expect it. You were constantly being moved around from place to place, but you were always with me and I hope that was enough. 
I did fail you so much this year dear one. The mistakes I made with you were many, which makes me thankful that your long-term memory has yet to kick in. We cried so much together, you and I. You for reasons I don't think I'll ever understand and me for knowing that I was helpless with you. That I was failing you as a mother, but could do nothing to fix it. 

We had a hard first year, there's no denying that, but now that you're older and I'm beginning to see you morph from a baby to a toddler, I know deep in my core that I wouldn't have changed a moment with you. Because you changed me. You blew the roof off any expectations and pride I had in my mothering and brought me to my knees. You made me weak, powerless, exposing my fears and insecurities as a mother - as a person - and forced me to the cross. 

It is a heavy weight on my heart to be the one entrusted to raise you into a woman. This year brought to light just how inadequate I am for the job. You deserve more than me, my love. But you and I, we're what we've got, so I will do my best to give you all of me, teach you what I know and learn from you along the way.

As I look at your knees, red from crawling and your four adorable front teeth (Seriously, they kill me.) I'm reminded of just how fast time will go. Every once in a while I see glimpses of our future, of the beautiful young woman you will become and the sassy teenage 'tude that comes with. But today I just want to live in the here and now. Today, I want to remember the little girl that dances with her arms in the air every time the music comes on, the one that tilts her head back and forth while babbling in a very intense conversation that no one understands but her. I want to remember the baby girl that plays with my necklaces and tries to brush my hair, the one that blows zerberts and dribbles apple sauce down her chin while giggling. 

And what I'm realizing is that often, you will be the teacher and I will be the student. Because just like this past year of my life, you will teach me to love unconditionally, to cover my days in prayer and to release any pride that I can do this on my own. 

Only 12 months old and God is already using you in big ways to change hearts. 

I have a feeling this is only a glimpse into your future. 

And so, when we are lost and confused, when we can't figure each other out - as we spent so much of this past year - I will look in your eyes and you will look at mine, and then we will turn our gaze together to the sky. 

I will forever be yours and you will forever be mine, and together we will forever be His.  

Happy birthday babygirl. 

The Adoption Process: One Week In

* This post was written last November, when we first signed on with our adoption agency and I was completely overwhelmed with all sorts of emotions I wasn't prepared for. 

As I type this, I'm one week into being a PAP - a pre-adoptive parent. I didn't realize there was a term for me until someone just whipped it out on me during a phone call.

We signed some papers last week, put down a significant sum of money and suddenly, the process has started and I have a new title.

It was exciting at first, but fairly soon reality started to set and now I'm finding myself up all night thinking and worrying (read: completely freaking out) about the decision we've made. I know we feel called to this, absolutely, hands down, no questions ask, I know this is what's next for our family. But here's the honest truth, the truth I'm wondering if other PAPs feel on the daily once they take that first significant step to say, "We're doing this, we're all in." - I'm terrified we're making a mistake. That we're going to mess up our family by moving forward on this. I know that's frank, and definitely not PC, but deep in my core, that's everything my stress, worry, anxiety and freak out sessions boil down to.

I mean, not to brag, but we have a pretty good thing going here as a family of four: mom, dad, one boy, one girl - isn't that supposed to be the American dream? As I talk to more and more people and read more and more books and articles, everyone and everything talks about how hard adoption is, how much work it is to go through the adoption process, how expensive and time intensive it is. They tell you that many adoptions are unethical and total scams, and many people are left with the question if their matched child was forced from their family or if they were truly an orphan. (Just the idea of us adopting children that were coerced from their family absolutely makes my stomach turn - and makes me hesitant to engage in an overseas adoption - but that's another post for another day.)

Plus, they say once you cross the finish line of bringing your new children home, that's really only the beginning. Adoptive children require so much special care and attention: extra time for bonding, grieving and connecting with you, and they bring in many unexpected mental, physical and emotional needs that no one can truly prepare you for. Supposedly the first year (and maybe the second or third) is complete-family-lock-down-and-survival-mode. And even when you get through all that, even then - they say you never know when something might erupt - an adoptee's scars of injustice might open and bleed again at any moment. And in a transracial, international adoption, I know we'll face life-long challenges dealing with identity, heritage, and cultural differences. Plus, we have two biological children, which according to the experts - presents a whole additional set of challenges to deal with.

Is that - all that stuff up there - something I'm prepared for? Can I really handle that? What affects will adoption have on my biological children? Is this something I as their mother should put them through? Can we survive all this as a family? Are we just setting ourselves up for hardship and failure?

WHAT ARE WE DOING AGAIN?

These fears, these questions, they all feel so overwhelming and terrifying. My momma-bear instinct feels pulled in two, half of me saying, "No, no no! I must protect my bios! Adoption is too hard, too risky, too many unknowns and we shouldn't put our bios through this."

But the other half of me says, "No! We have been called! I know we have two more babies out there somewhere, and we must protect them! How are they being treated right now? Who's singing them to sleep at night and making breakfast for them in the morning? Do they have anyone that loves them now right now? Let's hurry up and begin! I don't care how hard this will be! They have been my children since the beginning of time, I need them here, in my arms - I MUST FIND THEM!"

It's been a hard week feeling this tug and pull. I have a feeling I'll be living with it for quite a while. But every time I feel overwhelmed by all work there is to be done, I remind myself of why our family is choosing to move forward with adoption: Because this is our call, this is our marching order from God - to care for the orphans, to rescue the helpless. And for our family that means tangibly rescuing two orphans and raising them just as they were blood, just as though I carried them for nine months, giving them all the same rights, love and care our biological children receive.

We will carry through with the risks of adoption because we know that God makes families in all different ways - race, location, age - they don't matter when it comes to a family. And now as a pre-adoptive parent, I know that my family looks like two colors, two countries, two cultures, two histories - all of our joys, sorrows, pain, grief and happiness mashed together for all of time with love covering our differences. And when you know God's plan for your family is for you to find your two children in another land, all of your fears don't matter. It's not that they go away, it's just you do what any mother would do and you fight to bring them home and make your family whole.

The truth is, I won't be able to do all that stuff up there - not well at least. But God is sufficient. He will carry us. It will be hard, but it will be good. And all good things are worth fighting for.

And when I truly think about it I know: What's best for my bio kids is what's best for my family. And what's best for my adopted kids is what's best for my family. All of my kids (and my husband and I!) will be better because of adoption. 

Let's do this.

Here's to starting the process and making our family whole.

Why (& How) You Should Listen To Podcasts As A Mom + My Favorite Shows

As most of you know, back in January my sister-in-law and I launched a podcast, Risen Motherhood. Now while I could talk all day about it, where we've been and what our plans are for it (sometimes dangerously, thrillingly BIG), today I want to talk to you all about podcasts in general - and why you should listen to them.

It's funny, because as soon as we launched, I started hearing from people about how they had never listened to one before, or maybe they didn't know how to access them - and others even told us they didn't have time to listen to podcasts. That last one sorta makes me shake my head every time I hear it - a podcast isn't like reading a book. You don't need your hands for it, you don't have to sit still for it, heck you don't even have to give it your full attention! You have time, everyone has time!

So here's the simple shake down on how and why podcasts are perfect for you as a mom. 

What exactly is a podcast?
A podcast is a catch-all term for downloadable audio content. Basically, it's like a radio program without all the fluff, commercials, etc. You can tune in anytime that works for you. Most podcasters release their episodes on a regular basis, e.g. every Wednesday morning, twice a month on Sunday nights. 

There's a podcast out there for virtually every topic you can think of. I'm sure most of you have heard of, and probably listened to, Serial - which is the show that essentially put podcasts on the map - taking a medium that was fairly niche and turning it into a household term. Cooking, comedy, sports, fashion, parenting, you name it, you can find it. Even church sermons are now typically repackaged from the pulpit each week into a podcast. 

How do I listen to a podcast?
You can listen to a podcast through your computer or phone - basically anything that will play audio. While you can listen to podcasts directly through a show's specific website or searching on iTunes, the best and simplest way to do it is by downloading an app. You can then subscribe to the show and get updates when new episodes are available - and it's a really easy way to find new ones to listen to as well. Some popular apps are Podcasts, Stitcher and PocketCasts. But lately I've been using Overcast and I have to tell you - that is hands-down the best app I've ever used. Its interface is super clean, you can boost the sound, which is awesome for when you're washing dishes or trying to drown out the kid's playing in the next room, and even speed up the voice eliminating any long pauses or slow talkers during the show. I can literally listen to a podcast in half the time by using Overcast - which means I ca consume content twice as fast.
When do I listen to podcasts?
ALL THE TIME. Okay, well not all the time, but you can fit them into your life much easier than you think - especially as a mom. I typically tune into podcasts after dinner, when my husband is playing with the kids and/or putting them to bed. It's great for the kids to have one-on-one time with him and I like getting to decompress by listening to a show while cleaning up the kitchen with no "tiny needs" to meet. I also listen to them in the car when I'm alone, or on a longer trip when the kids are distracted in the backseat. Podcasts also make working out way less painful, I sometimes even like them more than music because my brain has to work more while listening, which means more distraction from the pain in my lungs. I also tune into podcasts in the morning, when just babygirl is up. Often she's up obscenely early, so podcasts are perfect for running in the background while we play with toys.

Why should I listen to a podcast?
What I love about podcasts is how much you can learn from them. Even if you don't give them 100 percent of your attention, it's amazing how many nuggets you'll pick up from a show. Especially as a mom, I find podcasts are a great way to feel less alone in my journey, and gain skills and knowledge on how to "do" motherhood. Everything from practical tips on breastfeeding to deeper topics like casting an eternal vision for your children can be found on podcasts. They're like going to mini-conferences - I often end listening to a show feeling refreshed, inspired and energized in my role as a mother. I've also found it a great way to stay educated on current events, and there are tons of interesting topics covered that just help pass some of those more mundane moments as a mother.

What podcasts should I listen to?
Here's a list of my current favorites:


Christian:
Motherhood:
Make You Think:
  • Serial - A unique style for a podcast, Serial tells one true story over the course of an entire season. It's like tuning into a T.V. show - and it's just as interesting. You'll be dying to hear the next show right after you finish the last.
  • TED Radio Hour - Storytelling based around past TED Talks - tons of fascinating ideas / inventions / connections.
  • This American Life - Themed episodes on every topic you can imagine. It's hard to describe, but just know you'll want to talk about what you heard with everyone you meet.
  • Freakonomics Radio - Everyday things that make you think.
Other: 
  • A Couple Cooks - Kitchen and healthy eating tips and storytelling from the world's cutest couple.  
  • The Lively Show - Focus on female entrepreneurs and living with intention. (Lots of your favorite big bloggers have probably been on this show!)
  • The Simple Show - Tips and storytelling on living simply and holistically.

A Monster Truck Third Birthday Party (And My Top Tip for Keeping Parties Simple and Festive)

This is a sponsored post written on behalf of The Women Bloggers in association with @KendalKingGroup and #SoapboxInfluence. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

While first birthday parties are most certainly for the parents, let there be no mistake, third birthday parties are for the three year old. This was the first year Eli really started to understand the concept of birthday parties - at least as far as to say he knew it meant: 1) presents 2) friends 3) favorite foods 4) it was all about him.

He had been requesting a monster-truck themed party for about three months prior to the party, so of course, I had to oblige. What made it difficult though was the fact that we were planning on having the party at my parent's house in Iowa since he wanted his cousins there, so anything I needed would likely need to be brought five hours away by car.


In recent years, outside of my kid's first birthdays, I've started to change how I decorate for parties to be much simpler. These days, I only decorate one main table. All the focus and attention lands in one spot, and I no longer worry about having every little corner decorated or the whole room having to incorporate the theme. This keeps things much easier on me, and I'm amazed by how festive the space still looks, even with consolidated party decor. 

Of course, the table I decorate is always the food table. To give the table height, I just nabbed six of these blow up swimming tires from Amazon, and waited to inflate them until I got to Iowa. Add in a couple 36" round balloons, and the "decor" was pretty much complete. 

To keep Eli's party food simple and super toddler friendly, I just went with Italian sub sandwiches, mac and cheese bites, potato chips, chocolate donut "tires," fruit kebobs (which I forgot to set out), and the most toddler-friendly food of all, Gerber's Lil' Beanies. I picked these up at my local Walmart and these bean-based snacks were the perfect, healthier alternative to chips for the kiddos. (They didn't know the difference!) I love that they contain protein, fiber and have no artificial colors. Plus, the adults liked them too! Even after the party I often find myself munching on them with the kiddos. 

We had a few babies there who were just learning how to self-feed, and the Lil' Beanies were perfect for them to get a little practice.
As some of you long-time readers know, my parents live in an old school that they've converted into their home. One of the rooms is a large ballroom-type space that has tons of large kid's toys in it (trampoline, ball pit, etc.) and I knew it'd be the perfect room to hold the party since it was already decked out in the toy department. And with Eli having seven cousins four and under, it was important there were a few things for them to do. 
I also had grand plans to create a race track for some monster trucks picked up as favors for the party, but I ran out of time before it started and ended up only being able to lay down a few pieces of tape. Thank goodness the kiddos are still young, they didn't care at all that it was so simple. They just loved having a start and finish line to race their trucks across. 
And of course, as with any party with kiddos, the decor became the biggest hit at the party. 

Overall, I'm so glad we kept it super simple for his birthday. By keeping the decorations consolidated to just one area, it also made clean-up a breeze which meant we had more time to enjoy family - and could get those kids down to naps faster. 
* 100 percent of the proceeds from ads and sponsorships on this blog are used to pay adoption fees,  bringing our two children home from Bulgaria.  Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog - and in turn, our adoption. 

What It's Really Like To Have A Baby With Colic

Over a year later and I still cringe when I think about it. I'm nervous to even start this draft, there's pain in my chest and my left hand is struggling to type as I hesitate with the words. People have asked me what it's like, to have a baby with colic.

I imagine it's the closest I'll ever come to being tortured. It's like having to stand in an unbearably bright, florescent-lit room while a Brittany Spears' song blares on repeat 24/7 for months on end. Or what it must be like to take a brick and relentlessly slam it over your head with the force of the Hulk 10,000 times a night.

Did you know that the U.S. Military reportedly uses recordings of newborn cries on their prisoners to create "psychological stress?" It's true.

In short, you don't really want to know.

It was always a hard thing. She was a dream during the day. She slept peacefully, her headband perfectly wrapped around her dark, curly hair, her toes curled in, legs casually relaxing in my arms. She barely woke to eat, and everyone told us what an amazing baby we had. She's so quiet! So perfect! So beautiful! We must be so happy!

And then 6:30 p.m. would roll around. I'd start getting nervous, the fear tingling down my spine as I made preparations, trying to have everything ready for when the 7 p.m. hurricane would hit.

The crying was unbearable. It was nothing like our first son's newborn cry. No. This was a horrific cry, with intervals of high-pitched screams, a beet-red face and a body contorted, stiff and angry. My husband and I tried everything. We wore deep tracks in the floorboards as we bounced and shushed her, walking circles around our main level at 2 a.m. Whoever was holding her often wore headphones while Pandora blared, or earplugs when we just couldn't take any additional noise. We held her, we rocked her, we bounced her, we left her lying in the crib alone when we just couldn't take it any more - going against everything in us as parents.

Most nights, we started with hope and a new game plan. A new type of magical-gas-potion, a new method of holding her, a new swaddle, a different carrier, a new diet for me hoping my milk was the problem - and after an hour of the same wail we'd heard every night before, we became defeated. All hope was lost and we went into survival mode. We'd usually make it together until about 10 p.m., and then the shifts started. I would try to sleep until about Midnight, then we'd switch, my husband going two floors down to the basement, and I'd bring her to our room, in hopes she would sleep next to me in bed. Whoever was "sleeping" was on toddler duty, going to comfort him when he woke because of the newborn's cries.

I remember telling my husband I hated our bedroom. That it was a like a black hole, an abyss, labyrinth, of miserable depression and anxiety. I told him that leaving it three months into the colic was one of the few bright sides of our cross-state move.

During her crying spells, our baby wouldn't breastfeed. Sometimes she'd go 10 hours without eating, me begging, nearly forcing her to try, she resisting with strength that seemed impossible for her tiny little body. I'd cry on and off most of the night, she lying next to me wailing while my arm often hung limp over her, trying to offer some comfort. Sometimes, I'd be so exhausted, I'd drift in and out of sleep, even with her crying next to me.

Some nights, she'd stop for a half hour in the middle of the night. I still can't explain why, but she'd lay in my arms, staring peacefully at the ceiling, alert but calm. I'd have given anything to know what was going on in her mind during those times and be able to replicate it.

We of course took her to the doctor right when all of this started. They told us it was likely just a terrible case of colic, but it would be worth trying out the reflux medications for a couple of weeks, just to rule it out.

We gave it to her three times a day, diligently, with a prayer, never really sure that it helped, but I suppose we just wanted to feel like we were doing something.

After about seven weeks of enduring her cries for about 10 hours a night, sometimes 12, she gave us a break and typically only went about six hours each night. Usually, by 1 a.m. she slept calmly, peacefully, me drowning in thankfulness and exhaustion. By five months, the crying stopped over the course of about two weeks. We noticed every minute that was shorter than before. Each night, on average, it got a little bit shorter, by about a half hour. And each night, we thanked God for the relief.

It was a time wrought with guilt, darkness and hopelessness. As a mom, you expect that you should be able to meet your child's needs. You expect for the cries to stop if you just give them the right thing - a diaper change, nap, nursing, snuggles. But with colic, you do those things, you do ALL OF THE THINGS and nothing. ever. changes. They just keep crying, keep making you feel worthless, helpless, like you're a terrible, awful mother that is completely incapable of caring for your baby.

Because the colic cry doesn't just sound like your child has a need that needs met. It sounds like pain, torture, suffering. You don't know what is going on inside their little bodies and you just want them to know, if you could, you'd take it all away, you'd endure it for them if you could.

But you can't. You can't tell them anything. And you know logically you love this child. That they are apart of you and so you'd do anything for them, but at the same time you can't help but just be angry. To be furious that it feels like the precious, sweet, snuggly, bonding newborn stage was just ripped away from you and your baby, and you will never get that time back. You hate these new feelings that have come over you, but you can't stop them. Maybe it's the exhaustion, maybe it's depression, but you just can't help but feel bitter that your experience of the baby has been soured.

And so, once the colic ends, your sight moves from figuring out how to survive it, to how to recover from it.

For a long time, I really didn't know what to think of my daughter. I loved her, but I was cautious of her. She was nothing like my first baby and I didn't know how to process it. I was almost fearful that if I did something wrong, I would provoke her somehow to return to that colicky baby. I treated her like glass, hesitant to believe she wouldn't break. Our relationship was damaged, haunted by my memories that were difficult to shake.

I suppose the only thing that has worked to help mend the pain of those days is just time. There was this moment, around when she turned a year old when I finally knew we'd moved to a better place. Today, she's still a bit of fire and ice, lion and lamb, but the fire can be put out, the lion tamed. It's like there's this understanding between us now, like since we've both been through the ringer in her 12 short months of life, we just get each other. I know now it's not me vs. her - and though at times it felt like it - it never was. We were both just adjusting, coming into our own, figuring out what life looks like. She for the first time entering the world and breathing air, and me as a mom to two under two, learning what it means to give even when your reservoirs are completely depleted.

She taught me what sacrifice looks like. To love someone that can't show you love back. To dig deep within yourself and pour out. To feel completely hopeless, but to keep carrying on, doing the next thing.

That is motherhood.

During my daughter's colic, the sacrifices of motherhood were a glaring, in-my-face reality. One that I can easily overlook now when I rest in the comforts of a (mostly) full nights sleep, needs that can be met by simple acts, and the beginnings of a child's vocabulary to voice their own desires.

I don't think I'll ever forget what it was like to have a baby with colic. But I'll also never forget what I learned from it. There are days now that are difficult, but all I have to do it reach not-so-far-back in my memory and pull up the colic files and it puts everything into perspective. I can do difficult now. I will survive. We will be better for it.

And so, colic, I tip my hat to you from the other side. It was real. And I'm glad you're over. And I pray I never see you again. But if I do, I'll come to you with the perspective of having battled you before, and knowing that me and my baby girl - well, we won.