Summer

After a quick, unexpected trip North, and some end of the year craziness, today was our first true day of summer break*.  And it was every bit as magical as I expected.

*this post was written earlier but sat for a while until I could get back to it.

I was eating dinner with a bunch of moms last night and someone asked the group which we prefer: the schedule and routine of the school year, or the relaxed laziness of summer.  Only two of us were solidly in the latter group.  Everyone else said they preferred the routine.  I was stunned that I was in the the minority, but after having another 12 hours to contemplate it, I still agree: the school year is something I endure in order to thrive in the summer.

Today the girls slept in till about 8.  I didn’t get as lucky because I have been waking up to run before N leaves for work, but the payoff being I have the rest of the day to devote to them with zero interruptions while I am doing it.

Sib woke up a quite a bit earlier but lazily rolled around in her bed until I was able to get to her.  I made oatmeal, one of my favorite breakfast meals because of the variety of ways it can be dressed up.  Today we had it with almond butter and honey, and a handful of chocolate chips to entice the girls.  And because in my mind, chocolate is always acceptable for breakfast. I accidentally grabbed only two bowls at first and then quickly added a third before MG caught my mistake of not factoring her in.

“What are we going to do next?” they asked as soon as they had put the last bite to lips, their bowls already forming a hard crust of leftover oats around the edges.  I instantly felt the doubt spring up in me for an anxious second.  For one thing, I did not have a solid plan for the day yet as I wanted to take a more laissez-faire approach on day one to get my bearings. Secondly, I did not want to be their source of entertainment.  I am determined to let them spend many hours of “boredom” this summer and try not to intervene.

It’s playtime right now while I do my morning chores, I responded and they marched off merrily, MG happy to have time to play with her toys and Bea happy for a play mate.  Easy as that.

I made quick work of my chores, every once in a while hearing some verbal skirmishes upstairs.  They just need some time to acclimate, I told myself, don’t intervene.

Thanks to her early morning wakeup, Sibby went down for a morning nap, with promise of an afternoon one as well.  I set the girls up on the deck, each with a glass pan full of dried rice, and enough miniature cats, water bowls, litter boxes, and balls of yarn between them to hopefully inspire some Montessori free play.  It kept them busy for a good hour and a half.  I could not believe my luck.

Lunch was crock pot roast beef, shredded and served cold, with a small dab of mayonnaise and a proportionately larger smear of mustard, presented on gluten free white bread. On the side, pretzels in the shape of pillows with a small pat of peanut butter inside, and a plug of peach applesauce. The girls ate fast, talking through the meal, over their excitement of our plans to go to the pool next.

MG has loved the pool since she was a baby, but the past three summers, we’ve had to bribe her to get her face wet and swimming lessons have been met with many tears of fear and frustration.  This year she turned the corner, even before we could get to the lessons (another parenting lesson to just wait until they are ready?).  She has been jumping in, going under, and even trying to swim on her own, much to her own pride (which we have happily been stroking). Today she told me the first thing she wanted to do at the pool was a head stand.

Going to the pool at the noon-2pm hour usually doesn’t yield a lot of friends for the girls to play with.  Most moms of young kids are home during these hours, napping under the cool AC.  But we were in luck today as a little girl about MG’s age was there and eager to practice headstands too.

While I watched them play, LB floating lazily between us, and me keeping Sibby from plunging head first into the water, my mind instantly began writing a hundred blog posts while I tried to ESP them to my phone, less than a dozen feet away, that may as well have been a hundred.  I also couldn’t stop stewing about the disparaging comment a mom made to me on our way in that had to do with raising girls (right in front of my own little tribe, no less).  I don’t get those comments often, but when I do, they stick with me for a little while, like a bloated mosquito bite.

I looked over to the “big pool” and watched two boys, feet dancing on the concrete, hands reaching out to smack each other’s chest, in an effort to butt each other into the deep end.  They reminded me of young rams, both showing off and claiming territory, horns clashing loudly and every once in a while, locking. I feared for their safety as they were close to a corner, close to a ladder, and close to other little kids.  I tried deftly with sweeping glances to see if another adult, perhaps closer, hopefully a mom, was also watching this display.  That’s when the mosquito of insecurity bit me again.  Like maybe I wasn’t meant to have boys because I am too careful.  Or maybe I have girls and that’s why I am so careful.  I don’t know, but it’s something that nags at me the rest of the time we are there.

In another part of the shallow end, a clearly high-school aged couple was engaged in making a Boomerang video.  He was crouching on the concrete, she was practicing her jumps in the water, each time making a different face or motion with her hands.  I was struck with the silliness that goes into making those.  But the end result never looks that silly.  When we’re watching them, we don’t really think about what it took to make. And I pondered some more about all I had to be careful for.

Thirty minutes after we arrived, adult swim was called.  I had to explain it to the girls and I knew exactly what they were thinking.  Those ten minutes to a kid are the longest ten minutes of the summer.  I was there for a quick bribe though, organic cheddar ducks and applesauce pouches.  As I handed out these particular treats, I thought, I could not be a more suburban mom if I tried.  But it’s everything I wanted and exactly what I pictured it would be as I was growing up.

I’ve arrived.  Not in any worldly sense, no the opposite, actually.  I’ve arrived at the intersection of my childhood dreams and factual reality.  And I couldn’t be happier about it.

Long live summer,

-smk

One year

Last week we celebrated Bea’s birthday, the safe arrival of my nephew (!), and MG’s kindergarten graduation all on the same day.  To conclude the celebratory high from the week, today is Sib’s birthday. One year old!

As if having one birthday for my girls last week wasn’t hard enough (on me), this week we get to have another one!  I’ve said it before, the first birthday is rough.  Knowing that this baby will be our last makes it even harder (emotionally).

But there have been so many good milestones this month, as well as the celebration cup overflowing. Much like the parenting descriptor for young children, it is the best of times, it is the worst of times.

One year ago today, at about 4:56pm EST (roughly one hour after she was born, as the first thirty or so minutes were filled with postpartum contractions while the remaining details of birth were wrapped up, to put it delicately), N and I kept looking at each other and saying, “what a good day” &  “what a red letter day”.  We could not stop affirming each other in how happy we were with our freshly grown family and the miracle of a healthy birth.

There is a certain high that comes over me after birth, when the anxiety, morning sickness, and discomfort sheds off of me like the discarded hospital gown.  That high carries me through the months of interrupted sleep, the woes of carrying around extra pounds, and the out-of-control feelings wrought by surging hormones.  And then we land at year one.

Somehow at this point, everything seems to have balanced itself out, tipping the scales towards the good side, and we are still so happy and so in love with our little Sib.

As far as newborn years seem to go, this year really was a pleasant one, and I wish I hadn’t paid attention to the consternation of the fear-mongering blogposts about third borns that wanted me to believe otherwise.  My only two complaints from it is somewhere around 4 months, she forgot how to sleep at night.

Thankfully, as of this month and a three day intensive Sleep Boot Camp, we have turned the corner! Now I lay her down at 7:30pm and she wakes up at 7:30am.  I still don’t feel well-rested (it will take me a while to recover from those interrupted 7 months), BUT I do now lay down without anxiety at night and that is a wonderful feeling. Sometime this month she also dropped her morning nap, so we are adjusting to that, but with summer arriving on its heels, a new schedule is warranted anyway.  One that will open up our mornings will be most appreciated.

And I think I have to take some credit for this bad sleep.  I didn’t brush up on my healthy sleep habits in this pregnancy, relying on my former knowledge and status of two well-sleeping children. PLUS the year of 2016 added to the mix, and I got us into some bad habits (like feeding her right before every nap).  Once we turned that around, a huge improvement was noticed.

My other complaint, which isn’t really a complaint, just a negative marker from this first year, was her sick bouts.  She didn’t get sick often, but when she did, it was INTENSE.  She still has some kind of vomiting issue that hasn’t been 100% resolved yet.  My ped thinks it’s some kind of immaturity that will get worked as she gets older.  It’s possibly related to food, maybe dairy or gluten.  But it doesn’t happen every time she has those foods, so a mystery to be solved another day.

There were two times we took her to the ER in the first year and the first being a very long stay.  Thankfully our girl made a full recovery both times and is a happy little thing now.

She is moving slowly but forcefully through her first year milestones.  Most noticeably this month, she’s been pulling up to a stand and can even balance holding on with just one hand. My gut stays it will be still some time until she is walking and she has not even attempted to climb the stairs.  Consequently, baby-proofing is going rather lazily, much like her new tricks, and I am a-ok with that.

This month has been the month of messes.  There is a kitchen drawer that holds all the plastic baby things: cups, bowls, and the like.  She will empty that drawer, move on to the drawer that has metal sheet pans and cake pans (which makes for a noisy dinner prep), then move on to the baby toy basket.  She’s also figured out how to open cabinets.  Not good for our game cabinet which feels like it has a 1,000 tiny pieces and takes 100 years to clean up properly.  As of yet, at least, she’s not a mouthy baby like Bea and doesn’t seem to put every little thing inside.

She loves to pull up on our coffee table, which is just the right height for her to see everything on it when properly standing, and narrow enough to access anything lying on it.  I had gotten in the habit of keeping our two tv remotes displayed on it for easy access.  She loves to throw them on the floor.  I’ve come to determine I can either leave them there for the remainder of the day where they will never be disturbed again, or I can pick them up each time, where they will be forcefully dropped promptly.  These are the battles I am fighting each day.

Messes also come in the form of meals.  Now that she is self-feeding, I find myself dutifully vacuuming the floor beneath her chair after every meal and snack.  I’ve never wished for a dog more.  She is slowly graduating away from pouches, and for that I’m most grateful.  But still a picky little one.  She is more apt to eat proteins: meats and eggs and beans.  She will not self-feed fruit, other than blueberries.  Veggies are a limited palette.  And she does not care for cheese in any form.  I was able to get her to start enjoying crackers this month so that is a win because they take a while to eat and she is quite demanding when hungry.

That being said, she is my medium-sized baby (despite her head start at birth), coming in at 20lbs to close out her first year.  Bea was 21 and MG 18, so she falls right in the middle.  As far as height is concerned, however, she is still losing the race on that one to the other two.

Also losing the race is her hair growth…after the initial brown shock of it, it slowed, changed to copper, then to an ashy blonde.  Sometimes it curls and sticks straight up, other times it lays flat.  I still don’t really know what it is going to look like as it is the same cornsilk blonde MG’s was at this age, and now, six years later, hers is a dishwater color.

Despite my complaints above, she has been an easy baby.  Teeth have been a non-issue other than the pools and pools of drool.  Spit-up only surfaced around month seven when she would eat solids and then immediately go to her belly.  I don’t think she is our happiest baby (Bea wins that award), but I think she is definitely our giggliest.  It is very easy to pull a belly laugh out of her by force (tickle), or just by looking at her funny.  She is expressive in her entire face.

On the other hand, her cry is still a piercing newborn part-scream, part-holler.  We commented on it when she was first born and she has not ditched it yet.  She doesn’t use this technique often, but when she does, we all come running.  #thirdchildwins

If I had to guess, I think weaning will be a non-issue.  We are already down to twice a day, not because she is disinterested, but mostly because she isn’t really interested if I don’t offer.   One thing I will say about the third is that they are nothing if not flexible.  She has been going with our easy flow since day one.

Well to send off this year, I made a video, part of my tradition of the first birthday.  It has been bittersweet to reminisce but honestly, I am  thankful that year is behind us and we can look back wistfully but never relive it.  Raising Sibby has been a joy and I pray God grants us many more years together to enjoy.

-smk

Four Years

I can’t believe my sweet little angel baby is four years old!

Four seems like a big threshold.  This year Bea will be entering preschool (a milestone she CAN’T wait for, thanks to Big Sis), and suddenly there will be another adult added to the influences in her life.

Four is the age where my girls seem to come into their own with knowing what they want for presents.  MG asked for (and received) a palace pets castle at four (something Bea plays with all the time now).  Bea is asking for very specific presents this year with a Minnie mouse airplane at the top of her list.  She has also chosen her cake, chocolate with a Minnie mouse plastic garnish.  Yes, this is the year of the mouse for my little girl, but seeing as how fast those tastes change once school comes along, I am happy to indulge for now.

Three has been fun.  Her expression has exploded this year.  On her third birthday, she was stringing just a few words together at a time and spent a long time thinking before she would speak.  Now, her words can’t quite catch up to her brain as she often repeats a filler word “so, so, so, so…” while she attempts to get her thoughts out.

She has relished her time spent in “Bea school” this year and has been an excellent student.  She has learned to cut expertly, glue well, trace and recognize letters, and her coloring skills have improved.  Every single day she asks if we can do Beaschool as soon as I put Sib down for a morning nap.  I’ve also enjoyed my solo time with her as baby girl has been quite the distraction as of late, getting into and making messes when she’s awake.  It’s been nice to have the one on one time with my middle.

Some of her quirks include: she does not like to get her hands sticky/messy.  She will beg to wash them as soon as they touch any kind of food matter that leaves a residue (salt, grease, sugar, you name it). She will go the distance to eat a Rice Krispie treat, or a slice of banana bread with a spoon.  At the YMCA last week, they were having the kids paint their hands to make handprints on a sign and she outright refused, preferring instead to color and even then was peeved about the marker leaking onto her fingers.

Speaking of the YMCA, the ladies had mentioned that she seemed like an old soul.  Like she has an unshakeable confidence about her.  She is very sure of what she wants/doesn’t want, and never wavers. I think this is a very accurate description of our Bea.  I think come high school, she will be a force to be reckoned with because she will possess two compatible, but lethal traits: beauty and confidence.

She still loves her animal babies, the creepy ones with the big eyes and pacifiers.  She spends untold amounts of time every day changing their outfits and seeing to their comfort.  (she has two because she lost her prized one: Baby Bear, earlier this year.  While he was missing we replaced him with Baby Squirrel, and much to our surprise, Baby Bear resurfaced) One thing I find interesting about her is that she latches onto a toy for a day, usually something small like a shopkins or a piece of jewelry, like a ring.  She will carry this around all day in her hand.  Although I was hesitant at first, she begged to take these possessions with her into child watch and Sunday School.  She will take care of and remain close fisted around this possession the entire time.  She definitely seems to have some peculiarities about organization and her things.

Other than Baby Bear, her favorite toys are playsets (Minnie mouse camper, shopkins, dog park), and her purple watch.  She also seems to enjoy carrying around paper.  A folded notecard and especially the paper that comes inside the new toys (usually the one with instructions or the plastic ones that shows pictures of the toy in play).  Once again, she will carry the chosen thing around in her tight fist all day and grows concerned if it becomes improperly unfolded.

Bea is my first child that enjoys going out and seeing the world.  She never minds being dropped off for Sunday school or MOPS, and every day asks “so where are we going today?” She is the foil to her older sister, the homebody.  Every time we run an errand, even if it is to Costco or the bank, she says, “that was fun”.  She’s an easy one to entertain and always has been.

As sad as it is for me to watch my girls grow up, each birthday brings the potential for lots of new milestones and most importantly memories.  And that is something I will always look forward to.

Happy four years, Bitty Bea!  We love you so much!

-smk

Eleven Months

Eleven months.  This is a hard one for me.  The first birthday looming in the near distance is a ticking bomb, nearly ready to explode with emotions.  Eleven months feels like we may as well be there, but not quite enough to enjoy the sweet reward of crossing the finish line.  It’s the 12th mile in the mini marathon, the eighth month in a nine month pregnancy.

At eleven months, this is what I know to be true of our girl:

-she seems more like her older sister every day. (I’m talking about MG).  Not only in looks do these two resemble each other, but also in personality and growth.  I was looking back in MG’s baby book and these two are just about neck and neck. Bea was ahead of them at this point, both in growth and development, but also in hair.

 

(Mg, Bea, & Sib, each at 11 mos)

-new tricks.  Tricks are my favorite because they are among the first signs that there is a real relationship between you and baby.  They understand you and they want your praise.  Some of her tricks include clapping when we say “yay” (and also when she’s really excited, like when I get her up in the morning…the cutest!), waving when we say “hi”  or “bye” (this one is probably my favorite because she has such a cute wave.  She is able to not just give a lazy forearm wave, but is able to rotate her hand back and forth vigorously on her wrist, which gives the impression of enthusiasm), and two new ones that are hit and miss but more hit as of late are raising both arms in the air when we say “so big”, and giving us very drooly, open mouth kisses when we ask for one.

-I spoke about it last time as well, but this month was full of anxiety.  Sleeping and eating were difficult (I will elaborate below), but also sickness was very prevalent as well.  One evening around 10pm, Sibby cried out and when I went to her, I found vomit in her bed.  I got her out and cleaned up, and then sat with her as it continued to flow, every 10-20 minutes for four straight hours.

Viruses are common this time of year and in young babies, but I wasn’t yet convinced this was a virus.  For one thing, this was the fourth time in 6 weeks that she had woken up at the same time of night and vomited in her bed, and then continued to vomit until her stomach was emptied.  (and while the vomiting didn’t last four hours the past times, it had gotten worse each time).  For another, she had no other symptoms: no fever, no diarrhea, and she always had eaten normally, if not better than normal on these days.  It gravely concerned me and I worried the range from food sensitivity/allergy, to something much more scary like a brain tumor.

I placed a call to the pediatrician’s office when going on hour two of the cycle. The doctor immediately launched into “this is just a virus” and explained how to keep her hydrated. Finally I interrupted her and explained this was the 4th time in 6 weeks and that got her attention.  She told me to go to the ER immediately.

Immediately? As in 2am? Yes.

Well I wasn’t convinced.  But after another hour of the same cycle, I finally began gathering my things to prepare to spend another night alone in the ER.  (*I would have called my parents to help with the other girls, but they were both fighting off the flu at this time)

We spent a miserable night there, with Sibby finally falling asleep in my arms, only to be woken up for x-rays, an ultrasound (to check for blockages), and to be catheterized for a urine sample.  So many negative feelings flooded back to me from our first experience with this and on top of that, I was beyond the point of exhaustion, having not slept at all that day, and not well at all, really, for the past few months.

Finally, around 6:30am, they released us with nothing conclusive and the directive to continue monitoring her at home.  Two days later, I was able to get her into the pediatrician’s office, and thanks to an unfortunate diaper blowout, they were able to take a stool sample which later confirmed she was battling Norovirus (unfortunately also confirmed by us that night as MG came down with it).

Somehow, and I mean this as a true miracle, it did not spread to the rest of us (!!!), but then both Sibby and MG came down with a different strain of something the following week that caused two days of fever, acheyness, and malaise.  Fun times.

-sleeping/feeding..somewhat of an improvement?  This month started with a lot of anxiety towards her eating and sleeping.  The dr had told us at her last checkup that she needed to consume more calories during the day (with the payoff being better sleep at night).  So I diligently tried all of my tricks to get more food in her (VERY reminiscent of MG’s 11 months).

Unfortunately, the only thing she will consistently eat are pouches.  I never wanted those to be her main food source as they are both processed and a very fine texture (not getting her used to “real food”), not to mention expensive.  But we found the key was to mix in these with table food, and a variety of foods she can self-feed (i.e. bits of turkey and cheese), and somehow we are able to stuff her full each mealtime.  She is completely over puffs, much to my dismay (an easy filler while I’m trying to get dinner on the table), but when she added in the self-feeding at the end of this month, it was a total game changer.  And has made meals a lot more enjoyable, for all of us.

Also rather unfortunately, all of this extra food did not seem to make her a better sleeper, but seemed to rather instead make her worse.  My pediatrician shamed me a little for nursing her every time she woke up and also before bed (rather she wants me to not nurse her within an hour of sleep so she won’t associate that with falling back asleep). While that is too extreme for me, I do agree with her that a huge problem is Sibby waking up at the end of sleep cycles (consistently every three hours), and wanting to nurse back to sleep.

So at the end of my rope, I decided to start baby bootcamp this past week and ever since, I’ve been getting woken up only once or twice a night to nurse, which feels very manageable at this stage of life. I don’t really want to put all the details on here because baby sleep is a very controversial thing and I don’t want to add to all of the noise on the internet, but we’ve found something that works for us that feels gentler than Ferberizing and shifts sleep/brain building above nursing through the night.  Ironically, I found we were doing the same thing for MG right around this time and while Bea was a wonderful sleeper, it gave me a little perspective that this is just another hump to get through and it really doesn’t matter how we solve this “problem” or when, she will turn out to be a happy, well-adjusted, sleeping child someday.

-not talking or walking.  The closest thing we have to talking is saying “dada” a lot, and for a lot of things.  She does have a sweet little voice.  Walking doesn’t seem like it is on the horizon, because she can pull herself up, but only to knees and she really doesn’t stand, even when we are holding her hands.  Her core is strong but her calfs are not.

Some people are blessed with babies that walk and talk by a year, but I don’t know where they get them.  Mine never do that.  They are content to do things on their own time and I am content to watch them.

Time already moves too fast for my liking, so the longer they want to stay little, the better, as far as I’m concerned.

-smk

Post-holiday blues

I’ve been in a little bit of a slump lately.  Being a self-described psychoanalyst, I have spent some time mulling it over, trying to root it out.

And I’ve “narrowed” it down to this list:

-post spring break/easter blues and the press to the end of the year madness:  Coming off of the holidays are always hard, but I never seem to remember that until the night before the routine starts back up.  After getting to spend so much time as a family unit, it is so hard to think about separating to go back to reality.

-sewing: usually one of my favorite pastimes that brings me a touch of joy in the afternoons,but lately I’ve had more “flops” than successes as I try to learn my new machine.  Unfortunately, the machine only comes in for the FINAL stages of construction, so an outfit may be near perfect and then ruined on the last draw.  Heartbreaking and discouraging.

-sleep: never enough, per usual, but always important to note how it throws so many other things off-balance

-emotions: my sister and BIL are just about to have their baby!!  I am SO excited, both for them, and also for our family as a whole.  We are about to grow again by another life and I get to experience being a hands on aunt.  I can’t wait!  At the same time, the timing of her pregnancy is eerily similar to Sibby’s (she’s due on the same day I was, one year later).  Watching them enter these final weeks, while also getting emotional about the upcoming first birthday for Sibby (always a hard one for me!), compounded with knowing that we have closed that chapter of our story, has stirred up a whole bunch of stuff.  It’s good for me to work through it though, and I’m honestly happy that feeling these small doses of sadness are bookended by immense JOY for them.

Thinking back to just about this time last year was when everything….well…exploded.  I was lamenting on Instagram last night how it feels so good to be on the other side of all of that madness, BUT, oddly enough the growing pains aren’t over quite yet (I mean, of course that sounds obvious, but doesn’t immediately come to mind when I’m feeling a little blue).  We are still connecting to our new life here and that will take a while to feel like home again.  Until then, there will be little tinges of sadness as I think about relationships, our church, and, oddly enough the stages of life we left behind.  I do so miss having all of my little ones home with me under one roof, all day everyday.  When I think back to living in Upland and Noblesville, those warm, fuzzy feelings will always be most prevalent.

I hope and I KNOW these moments of heart-squeezing sadness will turn into warm, fuzzy feelings too, eventually, but it feels like I have to spend a while here first, before I can move on to the next chapter.  It is nice to move forward confidently when you’re ready to no longer linger in the past.

-lack of time: I feel like I divvy myself out each morning but then everyone keeps coming back for seconds and before I have finished giving out seconds, multiple people/things are coming back for thirds and it seems like my firsts and seconds weren’t satisfactory enough because they just want thirds and fourths.  Even though I repeat the phrase ‘”I am doing my best” both aloud, and just mentally to myself, it seems like I am falling short in the attendance of at least one human in my life on a daily basis, or the housework, or to being social, or to myself.

This is mainly due to two things: 1) Sibby’s age (being so young and also mobile she requires so much attention, OF COURSE.  This will pass soon, but is a very involved stage for now.  Also, I KNOW I felt this way with the other two at this age,so that helps, somewhat.) 2) the school calendar .  Why have I still not adjusted to this yet?  I don’t know.  I’ve felt instead I’ve spent the whole year working against it.  Every single morning, I wake up, not knowing or remembering when Sibby will need to take a nap (and do I need to wake her up now to keep her on that schedule?). School pickup really messes up my afternoon think time because it falls right smack in the middle of rest time and really the afternoon.  Not having those forty minutes, for some reason, often throws off my whole plan for anything I want to get done by myself.

Oh well, no matter.  Summer is around the corner and hopefully I will have a new handle on things by August (which by then, Sibby will probably have dropped one of her naps, which means I will have to figure out something NEW).

That being said, I’ve been prone to daydreaming lately, as an escape to the above.  Coming up with a summer bucket list and a loose schedule for the days has been a nice diversion.  Being in a new city AND state is really exciting because it affords us what could feel like an extended stay-cation as we hunt some new things to do and try.

If you’ve made it this far through my lamentations, I appreciate you.  These posts aren’t the most fun to write, but I find them both helpful for processing my current feelings and also as a nice reflection when the tides have turned.  I also write 90% of this with the hope that one day my girls will find some comfort in their early days of motherhood or life changes.  And the other 10% hopes that perhaps you will too.

-smk

Spring Break

I’ve never needed a spring break like I’ve needed this one, well at least since my teaching years.

We desperately needed the ten days as a sister unit, with a few days off for N as well, bringing us some quality family time that has felt scarce in the time since our move.

I tried to find something fun/memorable for the girls and I to do everyday, and we made up for our pinched time at home by ordering takeout, eating out, or making very simple dinners (Costco rotisserie chicken and salad!)  The weather outdid itself and I am enthralled with spring here (in the past, it always felt as if it never got warm until about May, and there was always so much rain…)

Together we went to the zoo, the movies, a playground, Target to spend some money carefully stashed since Christmas, and had two play dates.  The end of the week brought lots of painting for our house: the kitchen cabinets, a large chalkboard for the dining room, the round table and chairs, and the kitchen open shelves.  Because our last house was project heavy, it feels as if we’ve been doing house projects for the last three years.  My creative mind is SPENT but I’m also eager to make this house feel like ours.  I keep reminding myself that if we press on, we will get to an end point someday, or at least the point where the projects are spread out enough that they are fun again.

We had briefly entertained the idea of going to the beach for a few days (because it is DRIVE-ABLE now!), but were ultimately glad we stayed home, both due to the relaxed time we needed together, the weather at home, and the way the city emptied out for this spring break, allowing us less traffic congestion and less waits at local hotspots.

There’s so much to do and see here, mostly because it is all NEW.  I feel little bit of excited anxiety wanting to consume it all now, but peace, too, knowing it will still be here for me as the girls enter into easier stages.

For now, thankful for rest and time when we have needed it most.  Good food, my family spending time together, a relaxed schedule, and that is as happy as I get.

-smk

Ten Months

Here we are; we’ve arrived at the ten month mark!

These monthly posts always sneak up on me and I always think “Not much as really changed since the last one”, but then I sit down to type and I am awed byt the changes that can happen in a month of a little one:

-new carseat.  We have sadly parted with the baby seat that brought home each of my girls (yes, it was expired by the time Sibby got to it, but we survived!)  I will miss the tinkle of the swinging bird hanging from it, a pavlovian reminder of the first few months of their lives.  I will not miss the weight of the thing and the burdensome amount of square space it took up in our lives.  It took me until Bea’s birth to purchase a snap ‘n go stroller for it and I will miss the ease of getting the baby in and out public spaces without it.

But she really is more of an arm baby now, and soon to be walker.  It was time.  She does enjoy sitting up more, I think, in her convertible car seat.  And one more baby item has floated peacefully away from us, like a piece of driftwood in a stream.

-eating.  This month eating has been varied and not predictable.  She has developed some strong opinions about food, but I’ve yet to be able to iron them out.  She still can’t handle much texture beyond a thick puree or a water soluble puff (she is back to liking these, PTL).  We are at an enjoyable stage where she can suck right from the pouch, forgoing the spoon, also PTL.  Nursing is still frequent during the day (and sadly, night), but has become painful again with the addition of teeth.

-speaking of teeth, she has 6 now that have popped through or almost popped through.  The top and bottom four are out, with eye teeth coming through on the bottom and probably soon the top.  I blame these for our wild nights of (sometimes) waking every two hours wanting to nurse, but really, who knows what is to blame?  The child is barely allowed a moment to self-soothe during the day because every time she awakes from a nap, I need to whisk her off somewhere.  At night, she is still sleeping in her/our closet and I’d rather feed her and be done in ten minutes rather than listen to her cry off and on for an hour or more.

It’s funny that it was called the four month sleep regression, but now it was lasted for six months!  She’s been a bad sleeper far longer than an angel one.

Far from a streak, but the last two nights she has slept two four hour stretches before crying out, so I am hoping the bit of sleep training I added in has curbed the worse-than-newborn every two hour phase.

-flexible movement.  She can go from belly to bottom or bottom to all fours very easily.  She is crawling 50% of the time now, with the other half of the time, preferring her belly (perhaps our new hardwood floors have a little to do with this).  She’s also getting practice with her fine motor skills, picking up puffs (or little bits off the floor), and bringing them to her open mouth.  I hope the crawling does not soon melt away her fluffy thighs and squishy arms.

She’s been doing this a while, but I still find it cute: finding and then rearranging her paci in her mouth.  It just seems so grown-up.

-No longer easily taking naps in our arms, we decided to put her in the church nursery the past two Sundays.  She has taken well to it.  This isn’t her first nursery experience, as she’s been going to child watch at the gym since about 4 months old, but still feels significant.  So far, she’s been my easiest with separation anxiety symptoms, but of course we’re not completely out of the woods yet.

Mercifully, with Sibby I don’t usually get sad about the vestiges of babyhood slipping away. Oddly, I think this is a true sign that she i our last; I find myself often more excited about the future than reminiscent of the past.  But, every once in a while, most especially when I think about how fast this year with her has gone, it cuts me quick.  This year was an unusual one and I do believe it stole some baby moments from me (and some from MG, who was separated from her baby sister for about 4 weeks).  That I do begrudge it.

But I will not told it against you, forever, just a small thing that sometimes comes to mind as I’m drifting to sleep each night.

(and then when I am awoken two hours later, I am wistful no more).

-smk

Sacrifice

If I had the ability to order my perfect day, it would involve line items like waking up at 7:30am (completely well-rested), a 20 minute siesta around the 2 o’clock slump, a scalding bath before bed, and dedicated time to write and sew.

Truthfully, as I contentedly raise little humans, I am glad to get just one of those things worked into any day.  But the past few weeks, as our kitchen project has us living out of suitcases like gypsies, I haven’t seen any of those things, much less had to time to dream of them.

Somehow, this week has still been restful.  A forced period where you can’t do much home maintenance, even if you wanted to (it’s hard to cook when you don’t have a sink, without a dishwasher, it feels futile to eat on anything but paper plates, and there’s no use in tending to carpet that is going to be ripped up in a week).  So many things have been chopped from my plate this week, and as long as I can ignore the chaos it is creating for a little bit, I can find my respite.

The only time of day i find myself ravenously hungry is about half an hour after all the girls fall asleep.  It doesn’t matter if I ate dinner half an hour ago, or at all, I will crawl the walls trying to find something to satiate my hunger and slake the thirst that assails me then too.

During the day, I never really feel a pang of hunger, though sometimes recognize an odd feeling of dizziness or nausea and know that it’s probably time to eat, but come about 8-8:30pm, you will find me in the kitchen, decompressing over a bowl of cereal (the perfect bedtime snack because it speaks to both the hunger AND the thirst.)

It is Lenten season.  A time of reflection and preparation we did not observe in our homes growing up, but something I was introduced to in college. (and I think it has since broadened much more outside of the Catholic tradition).  It’s a hard one to explain to the girls. “Instead of getting something everyday, (like Advent), you have to give something up!”

N and I typically “give up” the same thing, to keep company with one another and hold each other accountable.  It always brings up interesting discussions about discipline (we both approach it very differently), temptation (once again, very different), and creates a warm feeling of what we have to look forward to when our period of fasting is over.

I try not to talk about it too much, publicly, because in many ways, doesn’t this defeat the purpose of a Biblical fast?  But for the sake of penning the experience, I can tell you that this year, as well as most other years (I tend to skip the years that I am pregnant, as I feel pretty self-righteous about what I am already sacrificing), we are fasting from sugar.

Lodged right after the saccharine holidays of Halloween, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day, we are ready for Lent to slow down our ramped up consumption of the unnecessary filler that has become all to common place in our home, due to the above.  Because sugar is so addictive, it is really hard for us.  Embarrassingly so. And my body reacts as if it is going through withdrawal, with headaches, and night sweats, and scheming.

But if you can hold out long enough, you will turn the corner eventually, and the offender will lose its dominance in your life.  That’s the goal, anyway.  Going without sugar changes your palette and even your tolerance for it.  I am now enjoying foods that once would have tasted bland, but now are satisfying in other ways because they are fatty (like an avocado), or naturally sweet (bananas, carrots, almonds). And to the contrary, sweet foods that I could have easily passed over in the past (a store bought cookie), suddenly make me weak in the knees.

I have a fondness for church message boards, the kind you see with the illuminated backgrounds and black, blocky letters (always capitalized).  I always read them. Down here in the Bible belt, they are all the more common too.  The punny ones make the smile, the eyeroll inducing ones send me snitching back to N.  The Bible verses make me think, and the obviously flawed doctrinal ones make me cringe.

I appreciate a church that can keep up with a weekly rotation of it.  They will not grow weary in their diligence, and my driving entertainment value is thankful for their efforts.

There is one I have passed often this week.  It doesn’t have a verse or sinners in the hands of an angry God mini-sermon, just a punchy “Sacrifice, Sacrifice, Sacrifice”.

That’s it?  I thought as glanced over, hastily eyeing it on my way to school pickup.  Sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice.  I AM, I thought as I first read it as a command.  I am sacrificing so much.  YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW MUCH I AM SACRIFICING RIGHT NOW.

I drove away, disappointed, thinking perhaps a word of encouragement would have helped me feel better about ALL THE SACRIFICES I AM MAKING RIGHT NOW.

But the next time I felt a little slighted by the girls, it suddenly welled up in my brain.  Sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice.  Like a drummer pounding out a beat. The next time I lost (several hours of) sleep, sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice, a quiet rhythm in the lonely dark.  The cookies, the novel I can’t quite finish, the me time.  It’s all on the line and often gets slashed, usually in order to give importance to something else.

So is the call to the mother, and may we be more sanctified because of it.  Easter is coming!

-smk

Nine Months

Nine months with our little Sib and this is what the last month has looked like:

-eating puffs: one of my favorite milestones because it gives me a chance to eat my dinner, too, and keeps her entertained at the table for much longer.  Victory!

-rocking on all fours and army crawling: I know this was mentioned last month but she can army crawl ANYWHERE now, and very quickly, as well as getting up on all fours as if she’s going to crawl.  She has also been able to get up onto the first step and a few other wiley places (my favorite one being my lap as I type this).  The last few days, she’s been teasing us by getting up into a crawling position and rocking back and forth, before plopping back onto her belly and looking at us lackadaisically as we urge her on. Last night she took her first  awkward, wobbly, but “crawling steps”, though!

-a tuft of hair that refuses to lay down.  (one day she woke up and it was just there).  Bea’s curls started like this, and at this month too (although she had quite a bit more at this point), so I’m hoping that is what we have to look forward to (and not just wild hair)

-first tooth, well make that teeth!  Three have popped through, with one on the way.  The top and bottom two, at that.  It hasn’t been until these last two or three days where they have been giving her fits.  She’s run a slight fever, been really cranky, congested, and true to form, not sleeping well at all.`

-yeah, sleep has been pretty non-existent (well, at night only.  Good naps still, THANKFULLY).  Third child, last child.  We’ll get through it.

-saying Dada a lot but I don’t think it means anything right now, just a way to add to the ever ongoing conversation around her

-growing out of more baby gear: the bumpo, exersaucer, and johnny jump up have all been packed away or sold.  She now uses the grocery cart seat rather than staying in her infant carrier the whole time.  She likes to sit and look at books or toys for a little bit but before you know it, she is on her belly scooting around and looking for trouble.

She loves her big sisters.  MG is still my right-hand man and can get her out of the car seat, feed her, rock her, she steps in to do just about anything to help without my asking.  Just this month, Bea has started to show more interest in her and isn’t as deterred by her cries (both a positive AND a negative).  Still so grateful for these three girls I get to call mine and feel more certain than ever that this is the end of growing our family and the beginning of truly enjoying it as is.

 

-smk

 

Updates

One of my favorite podcasts, that I highly recommend to any mom of littles, is Glorious in the Mundane by Christy Nockels.  Each one is a little balm to my soul in the midst of my often packed-too-much-in-to-another one days.  If a day goes smoothly enough, and I’m able to carve a little creative time into my afternoon, I often enjoy doing my projects while she proclaims truth over me in her soothing, Tennessee drawl.  Trust me on this, and mine a little gold from her archived episodes if you haven’t listened already.

I think I say this in some form, nearly every post as of late, but I’ve felt really overwhelmed with all the day-to-day lately (details explained below).  The lesson that has been impressed on me very loudly lately, for maybe the first time in all of my mothering, is it’s good to wake up and feel like you can’t make it without Jesus’s help.

I can’t remember a time where I’ve ever had to rely on Him so much, not mentally but physically. And faithfully, of course, He always shows up.   Life has a way of helping me, oh so often, not to become prideful.  I just wanted to make sure and say this in case my girls are reading this someday in the same stage of life I am now.  It’s okay (and sometimes maybe even for the betterment of your children) if you feel like you don’t have it all together. Christy’s latest podcast is about this and I have a feeling this sentiment is going to be woven into a theme for me throughout this year.  That and Time.  No mom guilt here, I just want to make sure I’m giving my girls the best of my time so I am putting in place some safeguards to make sure that happens.  Time will be my friend, not my enemy in 2017.

If the days goes smoothly enough and Sibby takes a morning nap at the right time when we don’t have errands to run or dinner to prep, or what not, Bea and I sit down to do “school”.  We like Kumon books, as well as other Amazon recommended workbooks that guide us through following directions and fine motor skills.  I thought I didn’t enjoy “homeschooling” but I was wrong.  This time it has been fun (I think I am utilizing more resources this time and better able to block out time for it, as when MG was in three-school, Bea was a year older than Sibby is now…ie not napping in the mornings and into everything).

Bea enjoys the time and attention I’m able to give her during these moments, precious little does it feel for all of us.  She has not mastered her letters or sounds but it thrills my heart that she is learning to follow directions, a skill that seemed lagging in her as of yet.  She is a willing and eager student so long as I don’t push her too much.  (Hindsight with MG also showed me that the concepts will come, waiting until she’s ready is mutually beneficial.)

Today I reached back into an old pocket of my brain and taught her, line-by-line, how to draw a simple cat.  I didn’t tell her what we were drawing first, as I didn’t want her to have any pre-conceived notions, but instead modeled what I wanted her to draw, a line at a time.  Before the final mark, she had accurately guessed what we were working on.  It was then she took ownership of her drawing, adding in the eyes, dot nose, and stick-line mouth as she saw fit.  Dotted noses and small heads are very characteristic of three year old drawings and I counted it a win that I had saved her from the latter, while her chosen dotted nose actually worked pretty well this time.

Sadly, but really not too sadly, Sibby seems to have outgrown her johnny jump-up and exersaucer.  I counted on those two things for the better part of three months to keep her contained and happy during dinner, sewing time, or meal prep.  Now she just fusses and cries in them, angry at her freedom being taken away.  It feels good to be able to peaceably part with them, though.  Another reminder of moving forward into the exciting future and leaving behind the relics of babyhood for the next family to enjoy.

She is up on all fours, rocking, before falling to her belly to drag herself the rest of the way to her final destination.  It always amazes me, around this milestone in particular, how babies have an innate sense to just “do the next thing” without any apparent lessons or help from us.  They seem to be born with some kind of wind-up clock that ticks and rings to remind them to start practicing the next feat at just the right time.  And then I can’t help but wonder, is this a gift we’ve been given our entire lives?  Certainly now, any skill we master seems to be chosen by our own volition and carefully mastered under precise lessons, but…it does beg the question, when do we really stop growing?

We are undergoing a small kitchen renovation (apparently we did NOT lose the itch, even after our last house).  We’ve removed a quarter wall to open it up and increase the use of our island (peninsula?).  N and his dad built open shelves for us to make up for the cabinets we lost in the process.  We’ll add new countertops, paint the remaining cabinets, and add some new appliances.  Before the process is over, we’ll also add new flooring on the main level and stairs, as well as say goodbye to the old carpet (apparently my kids can’t handle ivory carpet in the main living spaces as it has already been marked a number of times from nail polish, permanent marker, Sibby’s spit up, and food stains).  Construction is chaos but it’s a change I welcome, knowing and hoping the end result is worth it.  I’ll post some before, durings, and afters when it’s done (one more month?)!

Until then,

a very tired, but happy

-smk

1 2 3 48