Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Looking back

It's been a year.


The most beautiful chapter was the arrival of sweet Nora Grace who charmed us all from her Valentines day entrance. Getting to know her has been a delight. She is funny and sweet and snuggly and just the most precious little thing. Seeing her melt my husband's heart with every "dada" and watching his love for her grow over time has been amazing. Seeing the way Levi has adapted to being a big brother and how they love each other has made my heart just explode, over and over. It has certainly not been smooth sailing every moment, some sibling over-loving and continued sleep troubles have made her arrival a stretch for our family too, but we wouldn't change her or her presence in our family for anything.

We sold our home in August, very quickly, and have been looking without fruit since then for a new house. We are staying with Jeremy's parents about a half hours drive from our friends and community. It has been a really taxing time on us as a couple, a family and beyond. We have felt, and still do that we are disconnected from our life in so many ways. We are hopeful and prayerful that the new year will indeed hold the new house of our dreams!! We look forward to settling back to normal life but we will miss the company of Grandma and Grandpa so very, very much. I think we will all have withdrawls!

Our marriage has been on a roller coaster this year too with extreme highs and then very low, lows too. The arrival of a new baby, the stress of the pre-moving remodel, the move, the adjusting to living away from our life and community, the weekends spent house searching instead of connecting as a family has taken it's toll. We are committed to one another and to making repairs where needed but as we look ahead to the new year we are thankful for the gift of marriage and the companionship we have in one another in all the adventures, enjoyable and not so much.

Levi has entered toddlerhood in all it's opinionated glory. He is a delight to us and keeps us laughing but he knows how to throw an epic tantrum and has developed very selective hearing too. I know it's par for the course but he can be exhausting some days, and then he says something funny and parenting seems doable again. He is growing up so fast; mastering Duplo blocks and immersing himself in a world of imaginative play that is so much fun! He adjusted well to the temporary housing at the Grandparents and we hope that our new house when we find it will quickly become a safe place for him too.

My school journey went on hiatus as life with two kiddos proved too much with the addition of addition (and subtraction). I am still grieving the loss a little but I am certain that in the future when I can devote more time to studying the classes will be almost enjoyable and I won't regret this decision in the slightest.

As I said, its been a year. It's with thankful hearts we look back on the last twelve months and with hopeful anticipation we look forward. We do not know what the new year will bring with it, but we know that God will be there for all the ups and downs and we are thankful in advance for the blessing of relationship with Him and the way he jouneys this life at our side.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmastime 2014

This has been such a fun Christmas. Levi was way more into what was happening than I anticipated. He was very into making cookies for Santa and setting them out with carrots for the reindeer and juice - the juice was at his request and when I only poured him a little bit of juice in the glass he said, "Mummy, Santa is big he needs more juice." I obliged. It was so cute.

This morning, the kids were up around 6.30am nothing out of the ordinary but today we had to keep Levi from running upstairs and seeing all the presents without us!

We had set things up so Levi's eyes just lit up when he saw everything. It took almost all day to open presents. Not because there were so many - we did have quite a pile but it was mainly because it took the kids so long and then Levi wanted to play with everything along the way. His little mouth was open wide with wonder as each package revealed its contents. He was so happy with everything we got him, mummy points for sure!

It was an especially sweet day because it was Miss Nora's first Christmas. I can't believe it is, feels like she's always been here. She was so sweet; walking around with her little stroller walker and hugging her baby doll. Not to mention the way she inhaled her Christmas dinner...she's such a great little eater.

I hope that however you celebrated today, you will know the peace, hope, and love that arrived with the birth of Christ.

Here are a few snaps from today...

Friday, December 19, 2014

When you sleep dear babies...

I feel very grateful to have had more time to blog in the past few days than in the past month or two. It's good for me. It helps me process and gain perspective. This is Jeremy's last day of work before the Christmas break and I am so looking forward to family time as well as the opportunity to sneak off for some me time and finally getting to finish some projects that have been simmering on the back burner for way too long, not to mention getting my hair cut so I can stop this Rapunzel impression!

I have to be careful that I don't over schedule the time we have and end up more tired and flustered than usual but I also don't want to have it pass by without having done anything. Tonight, while we begin wrapping presents, we are going to work on a list of things we want to do as a family as well as a few things each of us wants to do individually so we have at least something to aim for and a way to manage expectations during this Christmas break.

I am starting to see the light in regards to the kids taking longer naps. It is just so amazing what I can get done if they sleep well.

During Nora's morning nap (she woke after 30 mins but quickly went back after a few mins of rocking and slept almost another hour) I felt as though I accomplished SO much!

I sorted and put on laundry, I made mince pies, I wrote the final Christmas cards, I finished putting together some Christmas presents from the kids that we'd been working on, I caught up on email and I even had something to eat and got dressed and put on makeup...seriously, what did I do with all my time before I had kids?! I certainly was never this efficient. It feels so good!!

I mentioned wrapping presents. This is slightly daunting to me. I do most of our shopping for the holidays and I do a good job of shopping for friends and family in the UK and getting things packed up and sent out to arrive before Christmas but that kind of feels like it steals my momentum for the rest of the season! I have boxes of packages, numerous bags all full of lovely gifts which need to be wrapped and given out or put under the tree. I'm even helping Santa wrap his presents this year so I have a lot still to do. I am going to enlist Jeremy's help but I don't want him digging around int here and discovering his presents so it will have to be closely monitored helping!

In the good old days, we would make mulled wine, put on Christmas music and wrap presents in front of the fire. This year we will do it as quietly as humanly possible so as not to wake the kids and just aim to finish as fast as we can! We will save the drinking for once we are done :)

Not being in our own space this year has been tough on this Christmas loving gal. I have tried to keep some traditions and of course, with the children being so young we are still figuring out what those are anyway, but it's still not the same. I am eager to make Christmas a magical day for the children, and for us as we celebrate this wonderful holiday with Nora for the first time!

Having some quiet time during that day while they nap has more simply meant time for me to think. To plan, to dream, to pray, to read. Not lots of each, but some and more than I have managed in a long time. It makes me a better person, and in turn a better mummy and a better wife. 

I just hope they nap well on Christmas day so we can all accomplish a good nap too :)

Only 6 more sleeps...eeek!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

sibling struggles and sleep woes

Some days, like today, I am able to tell within the first ten minutes of being awake that it's going to be a doozy. I swear, some days Levi wakes up determined to kick/push/sit on/ snatch toys away from and generally be mean to Nora. It is interspersed with sweet acts of kindness and even some genuine repentance but his impulse control is out of whack and he just can't seem to help himself.

On days such as this I hear that booming voice in my head confirming what an awful parent I am that I have no control over my toddler and honestly, in some ways I feel like that voice is right. I feel at a loss some times about how to parent, how to discipline, which method to follow and struggling to be consistent while I am trying to figure out what works is exhausting. Not to mention in the moment, I am comforting a sad baby girl and in the few minutes that often takes, Levi has forgotten the whole incident and is asking for a snack. I would relish the luxury to have a couple of hours with Jeremy and some parenting books or better some parents we trust to bounce ideas around, but in the moment I feel very alone and like I am failing miserably.

Add to the chaos a baby girl who is offended by the very idea of sleeping anywhere but in your arms and it only adds to the dooziness!! I am not against rocking babies to sleep, I did it for the first year and a half with Levi and it was a sweet bonding time so I am truly not against it if it worked but she doesn't transfer the way he used to after succumbing to sleep and so she pops right back up out of what seemed to be a dead sleep only now the edge is off her tiredness and she's far from wanting to go back. Today after a long while of trying to settle her, which included a poopy diaper change to only add to the problem, I decided enough was enough. Levi was sleeping and I had things I wanted to accomplish so I set her gently in the pack and play; clean diaper, full tummy, pacifier in mouth. She didn't appreciate my effort. She stood and yelled and screamed like I was pinching her. I went back every few minutes to remind her I loved her, that she could do this, and to lay her down but it didn't matter. She was not going to sleep. She was determined to stand and scream until she was rescued. After some time of this, she woke Levi, who was in the other room with a closed door and a noise maker on, and he was sobbing "Mummy, can you help her please?" Poor kid.  Poor baby. Poor me!

I got her up and she lasted another few hours before I tried to rock her again at which time she feel right to sleep and stayed that way when I put her in her crib. It was a short 30 minute nap, which I am sure she was not ready to wake up from but shes not learned to re-settle herself so she was up. Not terrible because it was almost time for dinner but still. I thought naps were supposed to leave you feeling refreshed?!

The weight of her not sleeping and the reality that our own space might be necessary for any real progress to be made is heavy on me. I want to be helping her but today I wasn't helping anyone. She is just the loudest baby I have ever met so we might have to put her in the garden if we anticipate more such antics and don't want her to wake Levi up! Just kidding - of course I would never put her in the garden but you get the idea. Even in our space, we have a situation that will need thought and attention and I feel empty of any time or energy to do any thinking about any sort of strategy!

This morning, Levi, Nora and I went to the library and to visit some reindeer that have moved in down the road for the holiday season. It was such a sweet time. A break from the crazy and the heavy. Time alone with the kiddos to just be and play and watch them experience the world. It was amazing. And its moments like that that can make the rest of it manageable. It encourages me that I can have happy times with the children and that we can laugh together. I know these early years with little ones can feel like the trenches some days and I certainly understand that but I am eager on days such as today to seek out the joy. Albeit fleeting sometimes. To hold on to the hope of changing negative behaviours when it seems all I do is correct over and over to no avail. I'm eager to be present today in all the challenges. I refuse to be overwhelmed, I know the enemy would love that. It's hard work but it's the best job ever, and it's possible when and only when I am not in it alone. Jeremy is by my side, but God is carrying us both. Our family is in his hands. In Him we can overcome and with His love, patience and grace it is possible that we can shape the little ones he has entrusted to us into people that reflect him to the world. Please Jesus! What a reminder this advent season as I find myself whispering so many times a day, "Come, Lord Jesus!"

I'm tired. I am worn out and sleep deprived. But I am choosing to find joy and hold on tight to it!!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Dear Nora - Ten months old (one day late!)

Dear Nora,

Baby girl, as I write this you are snuggled to sleep on your Grandpa's chest. He has become an expert at getting you to sleep and you just love him to pieces. He discovered your love for rocking and he has used it to his advantage in lulling you to sleep. You LOVE to rock, you crawl over to the little rocking chair and hold the arms with one hand on each and rock at it, telling us clearly that you would like someone to sit you on it. Once seated, you sit back and a big smile comes across you face as you let the motion soothe you. It's precious.

You also love the rocking horse for the same reason I think. You hold on tightly and rock back and forwards, laughing and smiling. Even when it goes a bit fast for mummy's liking you squeal and enjoy!

Playing has been a huge new milestone for you over the past month. You have mastered the game pf peekaboo, lifting things in front of your face and moving them, over and over as you laugh. It's pretty cute. You have also started to play chase with anyone who will come after you. You crawl away and every few seconds, stop and look behind you and laugh as a way to entice the follower to keep chasing. You love it and are pretty quick on your hands and knees too!!

Your Daddy has just loved seeing how much you love to horse around, just like your brother. I often see him running past holding you as you both chase Levi or get chased by him your little arms and legs kicking and flailing with excitement. Or I hear the squeals when Daddy is helping you "boom" on the bed and join in Levi's favourite past time of throwing himself on piles of pillows. You are just so happy to be included in the fun.

You certainly have a personality big enough that you are still growing into it. With each passing month we see a little more but I am just falling in love over and over with this sweet little, feisty, funny girl who is emerging.

Your second tooth made an appearance and is now catching up to the first, giving you two white peaks in your front bottom gum.

You have been through the ringer this month with a nasty cold and pretty sever congestion. We had a visit the doctor and even urgent care to get you checked out and make sure there wasn't an ear infection or something else going on because you were so sad and frantic for a couple of nights. I think you were just experiencing sinus pain and couple with teething too you were a mess. Poor you. You are on the mend now but still chewing and drooling so the teething thing might be around for a while yet. You have a strong aversion to the saline nasal drops and the snot sucker and anyone listening would think we were killing you or something because your screams were epic, but your recovery is also impressive and you seem very forgiving too :)

You have recently developed a desire to hold matching objects in each hand and can often be seen gripping two coasters, or the play salt and pepper shakers. We have wondered of you are figuring out your balance as you possibly start to think about walking? Who knows, but it is sweet to see!

You are becomming slightly less of a challenge to change and diaper with this newly discovered love of the double fisting toy old. You still roll away a lot but you manage to be distracted a slightly larger percentage of the time now which I am so happy about!

Your napping has improved this month too which I am so so happy about. You are consistently taking a morning nap around 9 for about an hour or so and then later in the afternoon are taking a longer almost 2 hour nap around 12.30 or 1. It's so good for you and seem genuinely rested after you wake up. Sadly, our living situation means you are often woken by an over enthusiastic and loud big brother but you are a pretty good sport about it. Night time is still tough. You are still in bed with us most of the night and up a few times nursing. With your cold to its been tough to get good sleep but I am so hopeful that the saying "sleep begets sleep" will hold true and as you get more consistent sleep in the day it will help you sleep better at night.

We cannot believe that we are about to celebrate your first Christmas, it feels as though you have been around long enough that this can't be your first, but I clearly remember by huge belly this time last year! It is magical to see the wonder in your eyes as you look at the twinkle lights and the decorations everywhere. I am not sure how much you will get the flurry of Christmas day activities but I am sure you will love time with friends and family. You are warming up to new faces much more quickly these days but you save the best snuggles for me and I'm ok with that!

Love you so much, Happy ten months baby girl,

Mama x

Monday, December 8, 2014

'tis the season to be sick!

Holy smokes, this post is brought to you surrounded by scrunched kleenex. i have a nasty cold, congestion the whole nine yards and Nora has it even worse. I am actually concerned she may have an ear infection. Have to see how tonight goes but we might be heading to the doctor in the morning. Ugh.

Thankfully, Levi is feeling better after his third cold in as many weeks. The middle cold included his very own trip to the doctor for a sinus infection. He bounced back after a short course of antibiotics only to come down a couple of days later with the same cold as little N and I. Poor kid, he's been through the ringer. However, now he is better and full of energy and needing entertainment and exercise. That would be very tricky with Nora and I being under the weather if we were not still living with Jeremy's parents who have been a couple of life savers!!

I am hoping I get more sleep tonight than last night. It's been a rough go. Jeremy has been traveling a lot the past month and left Sunday morning for a four day training in Florida. The days are ful of support but at night its me solo with the kids and its exhausting.

I'm excited that the kids might start to feel better soon so we can finally get out to do some fun things during this fun holiday!! Being home most of the past month we have had to get creative about keeping people busy.

Levi and Grandma made cookies. The kids have spent many  hours riding the rocking horse, we have read a huge percentage of the local library and watched our share of Thomas the tank engine and Caillou (Levi's current faves) Its so tough when you are in confinement. I am sure the kids have eaten more sugar in the past few weeks than the months that preceded them.

Here are a couple of picture from our recent adventures. I love this time of year...apart from the colds!! Keep washing those hands, people. It's a minefield of germs out there.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Dear Nora - 9 months old (A few days late)

Sweet Nora Girl,

Typing these to you has begun to prove way more difficult since your recent obsession with the lap top now means your fingers are eager to type along with me!!

Wasn't I just typing your letter for 8 months? Boy how the days are flying by! You have filled this month with new adventures and continued to fill our lives with love and laughter. You finally cut your bottom tooth which you were working so hard on for a week or so. You love to give us big gummy grins and now its so cute to see that little white tip peeking through.I anticipate it will not be long before there are more white tips joining it, with all the drooling you are doing.

You have mastered pulling yourself up to standing on the furniture and are starting to cruise around now. Your favourite game is to pull everything off the coffee table and drop it on the floor.

You also love to dance. When you hear music your little knees start bobbing and your hands start to clap.

You have become quite skilled at climbing the stairs thanks to your Grandpa's encouragement and he even had you going backwards down them the other day! It will still be a while before we let you do either way by yourself but its fun to see you so proud of yourself.

You started swimming lessons this month and have loved it. Bathtime is still the best time of the day for you so extra, extended time in the water is a real treat. You let the instructor take you and float on your back, kicking your legs and getting water in your face without a second thought. You are a little fish like your daddy and so brave!

You love to feed yourself and your favourite thing to much is pear slices and roasted sweet potato and you are also a big fan of goat cheese. However, there is not much you won't try and over all you are a great little eater. According to the doctor at your 9 month well visit you should now be eating three meals and two snacks along with your nursing through the day/night. I feel as a second child I have often missed meal times for you to this point, but now we are on a mission to get you fed! I know you are eager to eat so I want to be better at setting a schedule for you like we had for your brother. Get ready girlie, this will mean getting your naps on some kind of predictable schedule too. Just remember that we love you.

Your sense of humor is coming out more and more as you play games; pulling blankets over your face and pulling them down again, clapping toys together, chasing your brother around to name a few. You laugh and make sure we are all watching and then give us that gummy smile we all love so much.

You are in the 93rd percentile for height and 63rd for weight and you have been wearing 12 month clothes for a few weeks already. You are so tall. Just like me. I hope we can keep up with those legs of yours and I promise never to force you into ill-fitting tights. I hated those!

You are quick to let us know your opinion and not quiet about sharing how you feel. You shout and yell when you have finished eating and want out of the high chair. I sense that patience may be something we have to foster in you, sweet one. I also hope you will pick up a few signs so that telling us you are "all done" or want "more" don't have to be do dramatic :)

I love you so much and am so enjoying watching you learn and grow, you are amazing and such a gift.

I love you, Bubba-goo

Mama x

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Yuck and laughing

When you are a mummy, being sick changes. No more snuggling in bed all day drinking tea and watching crappy tv while you doze in and out and rest your way back to health. No, when you are sick and a mummy life carries on as normal every for the fact you are more aware of your proximity to the bathroom.

This afternoon, I started to feel a little off. Nothing major, just a little chilly but I chalked it up to the fact that Seattle had had a sudden drop in temps the past few days so it's just been colder. However, as the afternoon rolled on the chills became more uncomfortable and my stomach felt off too. Oh no, I thought, this could be bad...

As I took a pretty fast decline to yucky Ville our living situation and my in laws once again proved to be a saving grace.

At around 5 pm, I just had to lie down and close my eyes. Just for 5 minutes (it turned into 25) but I knew I could stand up for one more minute and I knew is need get make it th Hough bedtime with hit it. my in laws feed the kids dinner which at that moment I couldn't stand to be near, and got them bathed and ready for bed. HUGE gift.

As I felt the grossness descendingand gathering stream and before I rested, I switched over the diaper load to the dryer, hung the diaper shells to dry overnight, put in a second load that I made a mental note to throw in the dryer later (just in case I'm not up to full steam by tomorrow, everyone will have diapers, clothes and pajamas for tomorrow) then I sorted out jammies, nighttime diapers and milk for the kiddos so I could then collapse in the couch without moving for a while. [Sidenote: I'm pretty sure that's just how mum's cope with sickness, we get everyone else sorted and then let ourselves actually feel sick!]

Nora was having a tough time settling because she's teething and she just wants to chew on me all.night.long. However, with Jeremy gone Levi had been more emotional and needy the past few days and with me being absent from some of the bed time routine I knew he may need me to settle him so I said I'd be in once Nora was sleeping. He was fine with reading stories with grandpa until then but he was waiting for me and I knew it.

So at almost 830 pm, way past bedtime, I finally managed to settle her and take over.

Levi rolled over and in the smallest voice said, "Here's a Lovey for you mummy, he night make you "seel" better". He gave me his prized possession, and my heart melted a little. He continued by saying, "I'll just have kitty for myself, he's so soft. Mummy "seel" him. Kitty doesn't have a penis, he just has a tail"

Um, what?!!

Cue me trying not to move us out of this sleepy moment by laughing loudly but making the bed shake by suppressing it! Holy smokes!

I just love this boy and his curiosity for the world. Even though I feel like junk, I'm so thankful to have family who can help and so very thankful that I have kiddos that love me enough to power through with me on my rough days, forgive me my failures and make me laugh, hysterically all the time.

Hoping these yucky feelings are short-lived and that I keep any germs to myself.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Monday, Monday

It's been a while since I posted. Not much has happened, and yet so much has at the same time.

We found a house, put in an offer, ended up going back and forth and ultimately just didn't feel a peace to move forward. The house had a lot of the things we wanted but not everything and something was holding us back from signing on the dotted line.

The house had been on the market for months, and it just day there again shirt we had kind of walked away but not really. Having it on the back burner was exhausting and stressful, I needed to move on, draw the line and open my mind to something new. So I put out a fleece for God; that the house would go pending or be taken off the market before the weekend. If it was still there we would bite the bullet and say, yes.

The next day it went pending.

So we are back at square one. No prospects. Heading into a new season of the year, the holidays are just around the corner and the year is flying by. I confess, as much as I'm thankful that God answered, I'm also finding it hard not to be disappointed that we seem so far from our end point again. I trust that God had a different place in mind and that once we find it we will know why but it's a choice every day to find that trust and choose to move out of my pity party, and on to the possibilities that lay ahead.

The day to day has started to find it's own rhythm too. We are adjusting to life here on the east side :) We commute to some activities and some playdates close to where we used to live and hope to again soon, but it's about 40 minutes in the car and with naps to coordinate it doesn't really make sense for us to do it more than a couple of days a week so we pick our outings wisely.

We are embracing activities in our new community; story/song times at the local library, swim lessons at a local pool, the neighborhood playgrounds with new local friends, to name a few.

It's less than ideal. I see the children feeling unsettled, and all of us sleeping in one room is certainly not a situation which results in good sleep consistently for anyone, but we are making the most of it.

Kids are amazing. Resilient. Even in the temporary nature of this situation they are growing and changing every day. Nora's cutting teeth, learning to clap, standing by herself and finding her voice. Levi is growing in his understanding of the world, testing boundaries, building towers, loving all things trucks, and never walking when he can run.

Life goes on as we wait. Good is good all the time.

Monday, October 20, 2014

One child left behind

I am typing this from our hotel room in Half Moon Bay, California. Jeremy has a conference for work and Nora and I tagged along to enjoy some California sunshine. We left Levi with Jeremy's parents. We actually brought Levi to the same conference when he was only a few months old and it was in Florida, it was his first plane ride too.

When we were planning this trip I hadn't given too much thought to the part where I would wave goodbye to my boy and then not see him for three days! I was a mess in the car as we drove to the airport.

This morning, waking up and caring for Nora as I get ready for the day, I am missing him terribly. Its hard to enjoy the peace when it just feels too quiet. Nora is taking her first nap, and usually this is the time I finish getting ready myself and then have some delightful minutes with Levi, just him and I. We play trains or read books or color and its just a beautiful time to give him some one on one attention. Instead, today I am sitting, blogging, and missing him!

I know he will be having a great time with his grandparents. They have some really fun things planned and I am sure he will hardly know we are missing, but still.

The hotel here is so pretty. Its set up on the top of the cliffs looking out over the water. It has a beautiful patio area with cairns and outdoor couches to sit and sip on a cocktail as you look out at the ocean. Its amazing. Shame Jeremy has to be at the pesky conference, but I am glad we had most of the afternoon yesterday to enjoy it together before he had anything to attend.

It is always nice to have a break from the normal routine. And this is no different, especially as we have some big decisions to make regarding our house and a possible purchase soon. It feels like a positive thing to come away and have time and space to think. I hope we will return with a decision.

Life in a new house will mean finding a new normal, new routines, a new way of being as a family and especially for me of being with the kids alone again during the day. I have so appreciated Jeremy's parents help and extra hands during the day. Settling Nora for a nap, or taking one of the kids to an activity without having to so much prearranging is such a gift. I know we will find our way again, but it will be an adjustment for all of us. I confess I am slightly intimidated to solo parent into he day again. Before Nora was so much younger and did so much less, I suppose the same can be said for Levi too. They have both grown so much in the past few months.

Fitting everything that I need to into the day is a challenge and a giant balancing act but I am hopeful with some intentional planning I CAN figure it out without too many growing pains :) I just read a really interesting article by Bible Study Fellowship about introducing the concept of quiet times to you r kids, and the suggestion was that you took time in the day to do a quiet time, read your Bible, and so it in a way that encourages you kids to be quiet too and respect that its an important part of your day. For some reason the idea of doing my quiet time with my kids around was totally new to me. I think it could be a great piece to fit into our daily routine. First thing in the morning might not work but I can think of a few time slots that it really could be great. Plus. I know my days would go more smoothly with an injection of Jesus!

I feel as though this post is a little scrambled. I don't often have long periods of quiet to think and clearly there are many things on my mind, all mixing together. The most overriding one though is that I miss my biggest baby. I think I am going to sign off and call him :)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Dear Nora - 8 months old (10/14)

Dear Nora,

This is a couple of days, late please forgive me. Life is a little crazy right now. We are still living with your Grandma and Grandpa while we look for a house. I am sorry that you haven't had your own room or your own space to learn to sleep and nap better because I think it would make you a bit happier during the day.

You have become a terrible napper. You can go whole days with just a few cat naps and then still not sleep great at night. Most often you take a nap of some description - between 20 minutes and an hour and a half, most commonly the shorter - in the morning around 9am and another one around 1pm. After that you fight it a bunch, and sometimes are just beside yourself by dinner time, unable to keep your eyes open to eat and taking an inappropriate nap at 5pm. Even then you go down pretty easily at night but then you are up a bunch and spend most of it in our bed just so we can get some sleep! I am beyond ready for you to figure that out but I am here to hold you and rock you and give you your pacifier until that day.

We don't have our baby gates here, but boy we need them! You are an expert crawler, getting where you want to be in a matter of seconds. You love to pull yourself to standing and then sit back down, over and over. You are getting braver, standing without holding on the furniture and when you have hands to hold you have started taking steps. It's so cute because you are so tiny!! Not content with that you have also mastered the stairs. You went into the hallway and your Grandpa said, "maybe in a month or two you can figure out how to do the" to which you responded by climbing up the whole flight without looking back.

You love to play with paper of any description and bat it around waving it wildly and laughing. Your favourite thing is the bath, you crawl into the bathroom as soon as you hear the water running and pull up to standing at the side of the bath, banging your hands on the edge in excitement. You and Levi take a bath together most nights and hands down it is your favourite time of each day. You splash and squeal and are not put off by water in your eyes or on your face, you just smile and smile.

Just in the past few days you have found your voice and started to really string sounds together, "ba ba" and "bub bub". Its so cute!! I am eager to hear that "ma ma" :) Even without words, you certainly make your opinion known; yelling loudly when you want to eat if you are sitting in the highchair, or screaming to let us know you are frustrated you can't get to something you want, or that your brother has taken a toy you were playing with and you'd like it back. You share your opinion freely and loudly throughout the day. You certainly are not as laid back as. We had imagined even your first few sleepy month soft life,  but I am glad that you let us know what you need.

You are such a goof ball too, making the funniest faces, scrunching up your face and snorting air our of your nose, or opening your gummy mouth (still no teeth to speak of) super wide and laughing. I love to see you start to find things so funny. I think you are going to have a fabulous sense of humor.

You are eating like a champ and you love your food. You pretty much eat all the pureed fruits and veggies offered even though its easy to see you have a sweet tooth, and now love to chomp on pieces of toast or scrambled eggs at breakfast time and hold slices of pear or banana and chew them. You are a master at getting the little puffs and yogurt drops in your mouth too.

You like to play the fake cough game, where you cough to get someone's attention and then if they cough back you reply, over and over.

You love music and often bounce along to your music toys or a cd. You have pretty good rhythm for a baby, little one. You just love to stand at your musical activity table or the little piano and make it make the music so you can dance!

Bubba Goo, your sweet kisses and the way you try to gnaw on my nose, melt my heart. I love you so much!

Happy 8 months, even though it's a little late I don't love you any less (pictures to be added shortly!)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Being all here with one foot in the future

It's October already. In fact it's the middle of October. This year is flying. It will be Halloween, and Thanksgiving and even Christmas before we know it! Life with a baby and a toddler is crazy and unpredictable. Days have moments of delight and frustration in equal measure and I am trying to take time to take a deep breath and savor each day.

We are still living with my in-laws as we search for a new house. Its been a couple of months already and we are tired but trying to stay patient. We trust there is a home out there for us, at a price we are willing and able to afford so we remain prayerful about the whole situation.

Living about a 30 minute drive from where we used to has been challenging. I think it has been that way for me especially. I had established a wonderful community and filled our days with play-dates and fun activities but here I don't know anyone and I don't know the places to go or the things to do.  I had become pretty sad about the things I was missing and mourning the people we were not able to see on a regular basis at the moment.

Then one day last week I had a moment. A reminder from the Lord that this is the place we are at and it's not a mistake. Jeremiah 29:4 talks about planting gardens where you are, not waiting for the future to live. It's a verse that has guided me to be present in my circumstances on more than one occasion and again it worked to change my attitude.

I started engaging the other moms at the local park - we see the same families there every time we go and while I had chit-chatted I had kept my distance not really wanting to invest any time in new friendships. I opened up and as I did I found that they were really nice as a bonus were a fantastic resource for kid-friendly activities. I also spent some time googling and found a great farm/pumpkin patch that we went and explored last Wednesday and LOVED, it was a beautiful day and the kids had a blast. I have also found a few more things I want to try out in the coming weeks.

I found local swim lessons for Levi which would be for the month of November - I will wait to book these until we know for sure that we will be here, but it seems highly likely! Suddenly I am feeling as though there is not enough time to explore everything we want to before we get busy with a new house!

Levi turned 26 months yesterday and is certainly finding his toddler voice - it says "no" a lot - but most of the time he is a funny, inquisitive little man. He loves playing hide and seek and is even starting to understand how to play which is nice :) His imaginative play is remarkable and I truly cherish hearing his little voice play voices of his stuffed animals and to be let into his world in this way. He makes us laugh all the time and is generally a very happy little guy. He still takes a 1.5 - 2 hour nap in the afternoon and goes down around 8.30pm for the night. When he is awake he is full on energy. He still loves to be outside and could happily play at the park all day.

We are living as best we can in this time of transition. Jeremy and I have (finally) found our stride after a few rocky weeks and the kids are doing great all things considered. So for today we are embracing the beautiful things that we get to experience here. Watching the children and their grandparents is so special and Levi especially is having the time of his life with his best buddy, Grandpa and Nora is getting so comfortable with them its really sweet to see. She is such a mummy's girl and at night no one else will do - and she will loudly and dramatically let you know this is her opinion. This has felt very waring and I am ready to move through this time so I can leave the house in the evening without worry or guilt for the craziness I have left behind.

With all the happy things and all challenges, life overall is good. Very good. And while our future is exciting, for today we find peace and choose to see blessings where we are.

[Here are the kids at the pumpkin patch. So sweet!]

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

My plans, their needs, and God's grace

I just formally dropped my class. After just 48 hours of trying to balance being a student on top of a wife, a mom to 2 little ones and being displaced as we house hunt it was easy to see something had to give and it was a toss up between the class and my sanity because I wasn't prepared to let it be any of the other things.

I am not a quitter by nature. When things get tough I usually buckle down and persevere so it's hard to give myself s break when it comes to this decision but I feel such a sense of relief and peace since it was made that I trust it's the right thing.

Levi is 2, busy and raring to go always but needing my attention to keep a sense of normal in his unstable living situation. All the talk of impending change that he is exposed to impacts him and he enjoys routine which takes energy. He is pushing boundaries as every good 2 year old does and needs intentional one on one time as well as consistent discipline and consequences to his actions. It's exhausting to parent a toddler well but I enjoy my time with him so very much as I hear his little mind process the world. I don't want to miss it.

Nora at 7 months is moving and crawling and pulling up on furniture already. She is growing like a weed, needing to eat all the time. She is adjusting to sleeping in her crib after having co slept for most of her life to this point. With all of us sleeping on one room we have not been able to let her figure it out in the crib when she wakes up because she is LOUD when she is mad and we don't want her to wake Levi. She needs consistency. She needs to feel safe and it will take time and routine for her too. Talking about her feisty-ness, she is a mama's girl. During the day she can spend time with other people, take bottles and even settle to naps for her Grandpa or her Grandad , but in the evening she wants me. This made homework in the evening impossible, and really that is the only time that I would have consistently. 

The past two nights with poor Daddy trying to get Nora back to sleep while she yells at him and screams like shes dying have not been fun. I am not saying this is a healthy pattern, but its one that will take thought and time to change. Not easy to stay calm and make such plans with assignments for school due and the pressure that comes with that weighing on me.

There are story times at the library, swim lessons, MOPS, playdates, Levi potty training and asking constantly if I can play trains with him, plus Nora starting to pull herself up and take little steps as you hold her hands. They are both growing and changing so fast and there is so much I want to do with them. I don't want to miss it.

Plus, time with Jeremy is scarce as it is and spending precious time and energy solving linear equations felt ridiculous when my hubby was sitting next to me on the couch after I hadn't seen him all day but I still couldn't just catch up and hang out.

Last night I was in tears carrying the weight of all I had on my list. I felt like I couldn't do the things I wanted to do because I had to do school work which I felt obliged to do. Don't get me wrong, I want to finish school. I would love to get my AA and even a higher degree someday but its never been something I have particularly felt God point me towards. I believe he blessed my decision and used it for good, but as I poured out my heart last night I felt him say that I had the freedom to drop the class and come back to school things later, maybe much later. I hate leaving things unfinished but I had such a peace that this was the right and the best thing for our family.

Jeremy left for a work trip this morning and we snuck out kidfree this morning for coffee while his parents did breakfast duty at home. We talked more and decided I would pull out of the class today so I can be present for the kids and all the life things we have going on.

So I did it. I dropped the class and then I spent the morning playing with the kids. It was so much fun. I think the weight of this class has been looming over me for much longer than I realised. I suddenly felt free to make plans. To be excited abut pumpkin patches and making photo books from our vacation and decorating a new house (someday, if we ever find one) and to think about cooking delicious meals in my favourite season of the year - instead of having a heart to do these things but a sense of stress to how to fit them in or sorrow as I resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn't have time for them.

As I type this I am feeling more and more joy and peace. Sometimes it's truly about realising own limitations and recognising what we can and can't do. I can called to be a wife and mother and I am embracing the freedom to do those tasks well!!

 I'm off to pin on pinterest for a dream playroom now while the babies are napping!!

[But seriously, who wouldn't want to hang out with these goobers if they had a choice?!]

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Vacation memories

A wise friend once told me that once you have children you no longer take vacations, you take "trips" instead. Having lowered expectations for time to relax is always good when traveling with little ones and this trip was no exception. That said, being on this "trip" with Jeremy's parents and sister has meant that there are certainly more hands to wrangle kids which in turn has meant there is more down time, but I still never felt off duty. Especially since Nora was sick and Levi chose this week to really being the emotional tantrums/meltdowns we had anticipated with his turning 2, those things combined meant lots of time with a baby stuck to me, and/or taking a red-faced, tear-stained toddler off to one side to try and find a solution to a perceived world-ending event.

Still, a good time was certainly had by all over all. Sunriver, Oregon is a beautiful place and we have had bright sunshone every day. The mornings have been cooler but its soon warmed up to the mid 80's by afternoon. We have spent most afternoons at the aquatic center and both my kids are such water babies they have been very content to play, slide and generally just be in the pools. We have also made time for family-friendly hikes, bike riding, walks and visiting with local family.

The kids bedtimes have been their long usual selves, and the cold and tantrums have only served to make the process more of an event, so we haven't had the long relaxing family evenings playing cars we once had but I am hopeful that by next family vacation they might be back on the table.

Tomorrow we head back home. The long drive is once again intimidating in spite of how well the kids did on the way down, I am not sure how things will go and it leaves me with a heavy, anxious feeling in my stomach.

But tonight as I sit here in the beautiful house we have called home for the past week, I recognise how much of a respite this time has been and how many memories we have created. So thankful to have shared these days with family and appreciating how loved my kids are.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Dear Nora - Seven Months Old

Baby girl,

I'm writing this letter to you on my phone, one handed, while you snore away on my chest. You are full of cold and feeling so sick. It's your first real cold and you are clearly confused by what's happening in your body.

This had been another big month for you, sweetheart. You just get steadier and steadier sitting up by yourself and really enjoy time to play on the floor. You are now frustrated being held too much, you want down so you can move!

You are still figuring out the technicalities of crawling but with your mix of rolling, army crawling and the worm get you where you want to go with ease and unexpected speed sometimes. You have also mastered sitting up from crawling positionand it's so cute to set you do it with such a big smile across your face. 

I wonder if all this moving will mean you will soon lose all your adorable fat rolls? I think your chubby thighs and dumped knees are the cutest things and I'll be sad to see them go.

You are now eating solids at breakfast and dinner time. You are pretty keen on your orange veggies; sweet potatoes, carrots etc but take some persuading for the green variety and you will eat any fruit our sweet tasting food offered to you. You love to eat teething crackers and are very skilled with your hands to get them in your mouth. And boy, you make such a mess but it makes you so happy. 

Like every baby before you, you hate to have your hands and face washed and you yell and scream as we try to clean you. We discovered if the wash cloth is warm you have a less intense reaction but you are still not a fan. 

You are such a flirt and have developed an open mouth grin that you give out followed by tipping your head to one side or laying it on the shoulder of whoever is holding you, before you look up again and flash another smile. You have moments of stranger anxiety when a smile from someone you don't know can make you dissolve into tears but we are still not sure why certain people cause you to react that way.

You continue to be our sweetheart. Cooing and chatting as you play, so sweet. 

Your sleep had some rocky days this month but usually you take a good hour and a half to two for nap in the morning around 9 and then two shorter naps before bedtime around 7.30 pm. You are fine to nap in your crib as long as you have quiet because you are a light sleeper, but at night after your first wake up, usually around 11 pm, you often end up in our bed where you stay. I know that you would sleep better in your own space but while we are all in one room at grandma and grandpa's while we look for a house, I think we will wait to do any adjustments to your routine. Hopefully you will be in your very own room really soon. 

You are loving the swings at the park and even go down the slide with support. It's fun to see you start to enjoy things like that.

You are growing and changing so fast, every day you do something new it's hard to keep up. You are watching your brother all the time and eager to be doing want he is doing. I'm sure it inspires you :)

Don't grow up too fast sweet girl,
We love you so much,
Mama x

Friday, September 12, 2014

Brought to you from Sunriver, OR.

I miss having time to blog on a more regular basis. I have so many half-written posts in my draft folder it's ridiculous. I have a thought or an experience that I would love the time to explore and unpack but I just don't have the time very often.

Today, however, I am sitting on the couch of our rental house here in Sunriver, Oregon. Sun streaming through the windows, kids BOTH SLEEPING! and hubby out on a run so I am eating lunch, and blogging. This is my kind of vacation! A vacation from other people needing me, even if it's just for 30 minutes!

We are here for a week with Jeremy's family and so far its been great. The kids were champs on the long car trip, and we have enjoyed exploring so far. This afternoon we have plans to check out the new swim/water park.

The mornings are cold! It drops to in the 30's overnight but then its been getting into the 80's by afternoon. We have a hot tub at the rental house so that's been fun with a glass of wine in the evening after the kids are asleep.

We haven't taken a vacation in a while and with all the moving and house hunting busyness and stress it feels so good to be away. Of course, when we booked this vacation we didn't know we would be living with J's parents already but they are so great and love to see the kids explore new things so they don't seem tired of us yet :)

It's amazing how being in a new place can be so rejuvenating. The kids adjustment to living at my in-laws has been good but long and this time away feel fresh and new. I am enjoying the time to gather my thoughts on a more regular basis through the day and not just go from one thing to the next, to the next. With more hands eager to play with the kids it's easier to do. I am hopeful that this week can reset me a little bit.

I've been feeling like I have been running on fumes for a while now. Needing something; a break, time, peace, whatever, but never able to find it. At the end of the day I feel empty but without time to refill before the next day begins - in truth with Nora still up to nurse a couple of times a night, my days just run into one another anyway.

My prayer life mostly consists of "Help me make it through today Lord, and help me to be grateful for all you have blessed me with" because honestly, I forget to see the beauty some days. I get lost in the overwhelming "to do" list, not to mention laundry, diaper changes, snotty noses, nursing and maybe brushing my teeth if I'm lucky. My devotional life has never felt more desolate. The minutes I sneak for reading a verse or two feel life such an effort for no sense of connection or renewing. I miss Jesus. I miss really feeling like I am doing life alongside him, instead of just with him watching over me.

I am hopeful that this week I can make time.

Because life is about to get all kinds of crazy as I start back at school this quarter. I am only taking one class and it's mostly online but it is a math class so it will need significant attention if I am to pass it. Lord have mercy!

But, seriously, Lord have mercy. I want to see the blessings all around me. I want to serve, I want to love well and invest in relationships; my marriage and my kids as well as friends and family. I feel as though I have been living under a dark, heavy cloud. A fear that wouldn't leave. Depression? Possibly, or something heading that way. I'm praying that I can shift my thinking, turn my "I have too much to do" in to " I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength" Trusting for the wisdom to know what He is asking of me day to day and the discernment to see how it can all fit in.

And so ends a whole blog, written in one sitting. Thank you Lord!

Monday, September 8, 2014

In His Time; patience in the waiting

Life is busy and stressful at the moment, but I am starting school again this fall (only one class, and its mostly online) so I am savouring the days when all is done at 9pm and I can collapse into bed because soon I am going to have to find another burst of energy to crack open the math text books and get going with homework. If I am honest, I have no idea how I am going to fit everything in but I only have 3 classes left before my Associates degree is finished and I will not stop now!! It will be a season of insanity but I'm thinking of it one day at a time - and one class at a time. If it almost kills me/our family then I might take a quarter off before the next class. [I keep reminding my self that slowly and surely wins the race - or gets the degree while raising the babies, in this case]

We have a family vacation planned next week for a week and I have a birthday to celebrate so I am trying not to let the shadow of "holy crap whats about to happen to our lives" consume my thoughts until after that.

For now, being at my in-laws with the extra pairs of hands means the kids' nap time is less stressful and more fruitful. I means I get to shower and eat lunch every day. It means that my kids are getting tons of attention and love so that my guilt about my inability to be with them both all the time is lessened. It will also mean that when school starts I might be able to do homework during the day and that I will have people on hand to watch the kids during my exams without having to disrupt them too much. For all of these things, and so many more I am so grateful and can say with complete certainty that God's timing is perfect. These early months of parenting two babies has been so much harder than I anticipated, so the extra support at this stage of life seems like it came at exactly the right time.

The long summer days which are still clinging on here in Seattle have given us so many opportunities for park dates and for Levi to spend endless hours exploring Grandma and Grandpa's back yard; playing on the tree swings, dig in the dirt pile, kick soccer balls, pull the wagon, have adventures in the bushes or hit baseballs from the tee. The slight chill that indicates fall is coming has started to appear in the morning but during the day it has continued to be hot and sunny.

I know soon the skies will grey and the rains will come, soup will start to be found bubbling on the stove top, pumpkins will be appearing everywhere and sweaters will be (pulled out of storage!) and worn to keep warm. Perhaps in there somewhere we can report to have found a house and successfully purchased it...I am hoping and praying that is the case but we trust that God''s perfect timing will allow us to know patience as we wait and give us peace as we search [and favor as we put in an offer!! :) ]

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Carrying the changes

We have been living with J's parents for a week and a half. Our house went on the market yesterday and we are eagerly awaiting some offers so we can sell up and try to find our new home. A place that we hope to call home for many, many years to come - because I tell you, I'm not moving again anytime soon!

Levi and Nora have adjusted ok to the move. Levi displayed some anxiety as we were packing up the house and talking about moving to Grandma and Grandpa's house, but once we arrived he has been fine. Sleeping through the night in his own bed all night. Consistently. Prayers answered!! It may have something to do with the fact we are all sleeping in together in one room but I don't think he is even waking up, so I guess time will tell. I am sure that there will be some adjustment when we (some day) move into our new home but I hope it will be short lived. Nora is young enough that she is very flexible in her environment, but she is such a mama's girl that lots of people around wanting to hold her and play with her - let alone having the gall to try and put her to sleep - has been tough. She is much more sensitive than Levi and I am trying to figure out the most loving way to ease the transition for her. I see her separation anxiety too and with her still refusing a bottle we are joined at the hip much more than I would like. I am eager to be kind and yet, I am sure sure how to wean her from me just a little bit!!

My parents arrived for a visit the day we moved out so they have been staying with us at my in-laws (yes, we don't do things by half over here). We spent some days out of town which was a nice break for J and I from all the moving shenanigans and fun to show my folks some of the beautiful sights just over the mountains here in WA. The kids were hot in the crazy temps but we made use of the hotel pool and took frequent breaks in the a/c too so we all came out unscathed :)

We arrived home to Jeremy having to leave for a two day trip this week and more traveling in the weeks to come. Not that conducive to buying a house but hopefully by the time we are actually going to look at places his schedule will settle down some.

It feels heavy to try and carry the load of a mama in these seasons. I am struggling to find places for all of our stuff in a way that is not inconvenient to our beyond gracious hosts, trying to keep up with dishes and cleaning and laundry to keep the house in somewhat of an orderly state and keep my sanity (I forgot to mention the washing machine stopped working a few days ago so I have been trying to fit in laundrette runs to - so thankful that my parents just took a huge load of our dirties while the kiddos are sleeping to help out.

I'm aware that Lvi especially is in a state of adjustment and while he is doing a great job, he is also only 2 so I am trying to make life easy for him, discipline as necessary but also hold him in the midst of emotional outbursts that are simply a little guy trying to make sense of his changing world.

I haven't really had time to process the changes myself at all. I am so sad to be saying goodbye to a home that held so many firsts but at the moment I am too busy keeping up with the kids and learning what there is to do in our new but temporary neighborhood. I am not sure how long we will be here but with Nora's recently developed hatred of her car seat and my own fear of highway driving we won't be taking many trips to the west side so I want to make sure there are things to keep us busy here. I already know I will miss having a grocery store, and other shops at the bottom of the street...I guess unless we buy a house that has that too?! I enjoy learning about new places so I look forward to this piece of the puzzle even though it requires effort.

This post feels scattered, the half emptied suitcase all around me are screaming for my attention in these precious kid nap moments. [An epic addition to my daily schedule is that both kids want to take their midday naps at the same time and on a good day I get close to 2 hours of peace...a good day might happen once every week and the other days the overlapping naps mean I get 30 minutes, but I will take what I get and am working hard to get them more on the same schedule]

This is just a season. One that will pass quickly I'm sure. I want to embrace this special time with family and especially for the babies to have extra time with all their grandparents and to see all of us together sharing life. I am embracing the extra pairs of hands and hopeful that it can mean Jeremy and I can carve out some time for us. We need it.

I miss blogging. I miss this space and this community. I wanted to write. Even if it's not deep and meaningful. I long for time to think and process and share. I so badly want to find God's face in all of it, somedays it happens, others not, but I don't want to forget this time. This busy, crazy, beautiful season full of all the unknowns and endless potential. God is good all the time.

We are saying goodbye to one season, looking forward to the next and being present in the meantime all in a single breath.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Dear Nora - 6 months old

Dear Nora,

Sweet Nonnie girl, today we celebrate your half birthday. 6 whole months! In some ways it feels as though you have always been here but in others it feels like you just arrived and we are still getting to know you.

You have made it clear over and over that you are your own person. You like to be held, especially by me, and when you are tired or hungry you really let it be known that your preference is for mamas arms. It can be exhausting to feel as though I can't do anything without you, but I remind myself that this is such a short season of time and soon you will grow up and not need or want me in the same way, and then those cuddles seem even sweeter.

You are so so close to crawling it's not going to be long before things really change around here! You are so strong and lift yourself up onto your arms. You push up and then drop onto your belly and have your arms and legs waving frantically. You can turn yourself around on your tummy and you have just started to scoot backwards, I know crawling is not far away so I am appreciating every second of your less busy mobility.

You love, love, love your jumper and can finally use it without a blanket under your feet. You squeal and yell as you jump and you look at all the toys and lights. You can spin yourself around to make sure you can see everything that's going along.

You have fallen into more if a routine this past month, taking a good nap starting between 9 and 10am for about an hour and a half and then another one around 12.30 or 1pm for another hour or so and then you often get another half hour or 45 minute nap around 5pm and then go to bed between 7.30 and 8pm. You still wake once to eat at night but otherwise you sleep really well.

Your teeth are starting to come in and they have been bothering you a bunch and the drool has been tremendous! I hope they really cut soon so you can get some relief, but the one finger chewing is cute to see.

You startle easily and take some time to settle after such an assault! Even a smile or kind word in your direction can set you off if its unexpected. However, this doesn't stop you from being quite the dare devil and laughing hysterically when Daddy plays airplane with you or tickles you hard.

Food has been one of the biggest changes. You have eaten rice cereal, bananas, avocado, sweet potato and zucchini but your favourite is pears. You eat about 1Tbsp twice a day. You are starting to hold the mesh holder and are getting more skilled at getting it into your mouth, tonight I put some cold Honeydew melon which went over well, you also really enjoy your rice crackers and can get them and keep them in your mouth with ease. You are growing like a weed too and are in 6-9 month clothes, some of which are getting snug already!

I am loving your sweet personality as it is emerging and look forward to the months ahead.

You are my little snugglebug and I love you so very much,

Mama x

Monday, August 11, 2014

Dear Levi - 2 Years Old

Dear Levi,

I blinked and here we are celebrating your second birthday!! You are a joy and a delight sweet boy, you charm everyone you meet with your white blond hair, big brown eyes and cheeky grin.

Over the past year you have gone from being my baby boy to my best buddy. You talk all the time which your Daddy says you get from me, and I cant disagree. I love the simple times of chatting with you about the day or while we drive somewhere and you narrate what you see from the window and verbally process what you think we might be going to do and how the day may go. At night before bed you also love to talk all about your day. It's so special to hear the things that you remember and the events that you enjoyed - or didn't. You are your own little person and I am full to the brim with love and joy as your personality continues to develop.

You are a music lover, you and Rock and Roll Elmo, can often be found singing and dancing together. Sometimes you let Elmo have the drums or microphone, but most of the time you keep those for yourself to use. I love when you delicately play the xylophone and sing "Twinkle twinkle little star" and I really love to hear you make up songs. The other day you sang, "Riding in Grandma and Grandpa's car, brum, brum, brum" and then said, "mummy I made a song about riding in Grandma and Grandpa's car!" You were so proud of yourself! You also sing renditions of "All the single ladies" as well as "Bless the Lord O my Soul" with accompanying dance moves and clapping. You certainly enjoy a wide range of music, ha ha!

You make us laugh every day as you learn new words and phrases and try to slip them into everyday conversations. The other day at dinner you slid down the highchair and got stuck and cried out "Help! Anyone! Help!" We were all in stitches.

You are a big fan of the library and we go there often to get new books. You soon have new favourites and can recite them from memory after only a few reads.  You often ask us, "talk about this page" when you want to look in more detail at the pictures. It warms my heart when you snuggle up on my lap or at night time to listen to stories or sing songs.

You are very adventurous and would run around at the park or outside pretty much anywhere for as long as you are allowed.  You love to run and climb and recently have spent many hours swinging on the swings that Grandpa built in his backyard for you. It has been fun to watch you master certain play equipment over the past year. You are determined. You now have no fear about climbing to the top of the big slide and coming down, and you fly up the climbing wall too. You have the monkey bars in your sights but you are still a little short!

You love trucks and hammers and construction sites and have been in your element as we have renovated our bathrooms over the past few months. Grandpa let you bang nails with real hammers and you were really good at it!

You have become a big brother this year and you have certainly embraced the role. You have moments of loving a little too much but you have recently discovered that Nora is a constant and eager audience for everything you do and you do like to entertain the crowd!

You are a light in out lives little man, I'm beyond thankful that God saw fit to bring you into our family. We love you so much. Happy Second Birthday.

Love, Mama x

Here are a couple of pictures of you from your birthday party last weekend.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Boxes, boxes everywhere

Life with two babies is busy, even on the slowest of days but never ones to shy away from insanity we decided that we wanted to add moving house to our 'to do' list. This was never meant to be our forever house, we wanted to be here 3-5 years and its been 5 so it's in the plan but its no less work.

We want a place where we have a bigger backyard for the kids to play and one that can be seen from inside, Our current side yard is small and its not safe for Levi to play out alone because I can't see him. I have fantasies of a covered deck off our kitchen and a fenced backyard so he can play out on the nice days and even when its wet. In the PNW we have lots of overcast and damp days so usable outside space for those days could make a huge difference to our life :)

The dreams of a different layout which would make home an easier more workable space for us as  family, keep me motivated but packing up the house is no joke with the little ones around. The market in Seattle is great for buyers and property is flying off the shelves. This makes us hopeful that we can sell in a pretty short amount of time but the pressure to find something to buy in that time is too much so we decided to move into my in-laws so we can take our time while we look. And after this process, we are definitely looking for a forever property - I never want to move again!

We have enlisted the help of friends and family which has been making the packing process go faster but Levi has been having a tough time with all the changes and been SUPER emotional (yes, it needed the capital letters) so the days have felt very long. I am trying to give him extra grace because his world is changing and of course its unsettling but I am feeling totally at the end of myself by the time Jeremy gets home. It also means that nothing much gets done in the packing and moving department until after the kids are in bed. Still slowly but surely we are getting more in boxes ad less in cupbaords. I realized at breakfast today I had packed the toaster. Rookie mistake.\

Excited for the next week to be over, to be packed up and out of here. Ready for the new chapter to begin, for my kids to feel settled again and for an evening with my husband to be more than packing boxes.

When 'm feeling discouraged I start to redesign the kids rooms in my mind or search for new storage for our desired playroom online...silly I know but a ten minute distraction can be really motivating.

See you on the flip side - did I mention that we are throwing Levi a second birthday this weekend and that my parents fly in for a visit on Friday? I know, crazy. But life would be boring otherwise, right?!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Bad back. Good life.

In the early hours of Monday morning when I was nursing Nora is a slightly strange position I tweaked my back; a pinched nerve or something that made my back spasm and my arm and hard get pins and needles. I managed to rouse J without waking up Levi who was between us, and he was able to get me into a position to feed Nora before she was too desperate and noisy -  she is sooo easy going! However, the following hours were painful and it was clear I was not going to be able to lift the kids so taking care of them on my own was not possible. My fabulous in-laws were able to come and save the day by hanging out with the kids and I until J got home from work so that I could rest and didn't have to lift the babies. It meant I had a slower day than usual and I had time to take a step back and ponder life.

And I realised how far we have come. How far I have come.

The insanity of two babies in 18 months is still a daily reality for our family but the fog has well and truly lifted. The good days far outweigh the rough ones now. I take the kids by myself to the playground, the spray park and to playdates with barely a second thought. I feel confident in my ability to meet the needs of both of my children and trust that my instincts will give me what I need to be a good mum.

I am incredibly blessed to have such a strong community of friends who continue to rally around me and hold Nora or watch Levi while we are together so I don't feel so frazzled. I am learning again and again that it's ok to ask for help and to accept it when it's offered. I see when I am lacking and how beautifully and graciously these women step in, often without a word, just when my anxiety is rising. [Thank you from the bottom of my heart if you are reading this and you know I am talking about you]

I want to remember so many of the details of life night now; I want to stop the clock and just bottle it;

How Levi's favourite foods right now are cucumber and pickled beets and he can't get enough of them.

How Nora grabs at my shirt with one hand and strokes my back with the other as she nurses.

How Levi always declares, "Mummy's pretty" if I put on a dress. Including my night dress.

How Nora was obsessed with swiping at and grabbing our name tag stickers in church but how shocked and disgusted she was when they got stuck to her hands!

How Levi mixed up some of the things we had been talking about through the day to say with confidence, "Salt and Pepper make purple" (Colour mixing and pairs that go together)

Those are just to name a few.

I live a beautiful and messy life. My kids are beautiful and my house is messy - see what I did there?! ha ha! Seriously, I am learning. I am a work in progress.

As our Pastor talked about on Sunday, I need to fight against the resistance in my life to get from the place I am to get to the place I want to be. I have a renewed sense of purpose. A goal to reach. Multiple goals actually; a husband to love and make time for, 2 babies to love and care for daily, relationships to invest in and 20lbs to lose. But busyness and fear are the things allowing me to resist the changes I need to make these the priorities I desire them to be.

Seeing this with new eyes gives me hope for change. Hope that these days are just the continuation of the beauty of life unfolding.

I feel so blessed. Life is good.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Dear Nora - Five Months Old

Dear Nora

Sissy Poo,
Noo noo
Missy Moo,
Missy May,
Spitty Cent, (yes, I am particularly proud of this one)
Toots Mcghee,

This month has been such a busy one for you,. It has been a joy to see you growing up; mastering new skills and changing before our very eyes.

The biggest change this month is your rolling. You are so quick now to flip yourself from your back to your belly that changing your bum is much more of a challenge! You enjoy being on your belly for the most part, lifting your head so well and looking around pushing up on your arms and looking like you could crawl any second - I hope you save that milestone for a while longer though. You are not such a pro at rolling back though so at night you are waking yourself up because you have flipped over but don't want to sleep on you front. When you cry out, Daddy and I take turns flipping you back and replacing your pacifier. Speaking of, your pink elephant pacifier (Ela Phantagne) is a trusted companion still. You pull on her legs and squeeze them to comfort yourself when you are sleepy.

Just a few days ago your top front tooth cut. It's still too far up to see anything but at least it makes the drooling make sense! You have been so drooly and drippy! I guess we know why now.

You have grown so much that you are too big for your bassinet and we have moved you into the pack and play at the foot of our bed. I cannot wait to decorate a room and make a space for you of your very own but we are hoping to move soon and want to wait until we are in our new house to do that. You will get a real crib at that point, I promise, but I will certainly miss having you so close. You are such a snuggle bug and I confess after your first feed at night I still usually keep you in bed with us. I have especially dne this recently with your wee hours of the night constant feeding//chewing :) Again, your tooth appearing makes more sense of this too.

Your laugh is so stinkin' cute,  I can hardly handle it. You giggle the most when Daddy is blowing raspberries on your belly and your giggles often turn to gurgles which is too much. You always grab hold of our hair when we blow on your belly and you think that's pretty funny too!

You are a pro at grabbing for your toys and can successfully get your pacifier in your mouth with minimal effort now. Your other toys take a bashing as you swipe at them and your little feet kick, kick, kick as you get excited.

You have really found your voice this month, cooing and chatting and getting louder and louder. You can certainly demand attention and you like to save your loudest squeals for when we are out to dinner somewhere. Perhaps you are just wanting to join in with all the hubbub. Whatever the reason, I sure love to hear you.

You are so eager to watch Levi playing and are so quick to forgive his efforts to over love you. You are his biggest fan, and he thinks you are fab too. First thing in the morning when he comes into our room, his first question is always about where you are. I know you want to be playing with him and getting into everything just like he does. I pray that you will be the best of friends in the years ahead.

You make us laugh with how far you strain your neck to catch a glimpse of the TV if its on. Levi watches a show or two as he is waking up after nap and I have to put you somewhere that you cannot see the screen or block you. You are determined and get frustrated when we turn you away from facing it! I like that you have some spice about you, baby girl. You know what you want and what you like and are good at letting us know :)

Love you so much my sweet snuggly girl, looking forward to all that's ahead.

Mama x

Friday, July 11, 2014

Dear Levi - Twenty three months old

Holy smokes Kiddo, you are one month away from your second birthday. Crazy.

You are such a ball of energy Mr.Man. You continue to struggle to sleep whole nights in your big boy bed, but have started to more routinely come into our room around 5.30am just needing some extra snuggles to get you to sleep for another hour and a half or so. Once you are awake you will abruptly shove your Dad and in the sleepiest voice ever say, "Milk please Daddy" Indicating your desire for your morning cup of milk. (You still have 4 big cups of milk each day - not sure if/when we should we will be having to cut that back, it certainly doesn't seem to affect your appetite). I'm not sure how this became Daddy's job but I don't mind :) Then you sit propped up on the pillow and drink while you wake up. You usually have the greatest bedhead and you are simply delicious at this time of day. As Daddy gets ready for work you and I often read some books in bed and have a slow start to the day.

However once you are up you are up. Full steam ahead.

You love, love, love the park and being outside. You are brave and love to climb on playground equipment. You enjoying running with a ball across the fields and kicking balls into any soccer goals you come across.

Your language continue to develop at a pace that astounds us. You are now more consistency referring to yourself as "I" rather than "Levi." It makes me a little sad. You are also trying to figure out tenses in speech. Yesterday we had this conversation,

"Look at that mummy, I catched it"
"Good job Bud, You caught it! Do you want me to throw it so you can catch it again"
"No, I want to caught it again"

Ha ha! You are certainly good at sharing your opinions and requests.

Your role play has just gone crazy too. You get your card and your wallet and head off in your car to the store. When I asked you the other day what you were going to get you said, "peanuts and crackerjacks" Your love of baseball influences every area of life :)

You are constantly making us cups of tea and coffee in your stacking cups and have started using the rings of you sorter as lids. But you often knock the cups over "by accident" and loudly declare, "Oh no, the coffee spilled EVERYWHERE!"

More and more we are reminded that you are aware of the conversations we are having. Last night at dinner we were talking about how and when we might want to start helping you learn to read and learn letters when you piped up, "L.E.V.I" We asked what does that spell? And you say proudly, "Levi!" and then start singing the alphabet song. You are a sponge. Every time we write your name we say the letters out loud and recently we bought you a set of train cars that are the letters of your name so you have heard it and can parrot it but then to go into the alphabet song shows that you understand that letters are in the alphabet. Of course, you don't really understand the letters you are singing but I hope/fear it won't be long!

As you experience the  world your understanding can sometimes be so funny. I will never forget the disappointment on your face after I told your daddy I was just going to "jump" in the shower. You poked around the shower door and said, "Hi mummy" and then when you realised I was not jumping at all and you were very vocal about how sad this made you. You certainly love to jump. We went to the local gymnastics gymnasium for their free gym time the other day and you just had the best time climbing and jumping on everything. I think we will be back!! Your bed is another plave you love to jump - with an audience specially!

You continue to love recycle trucks, and construction trucks of every kind. You love sports and balls and running.

Below is a picture of you in the sand pit from earlier this week with the dump truck. You were happily playing and digging and pushing it for ages. Until you had to share it with another little boy. Sharing is certainly not easy for you and you can be handsy when you get frustrated, angry or protective over a toy. Its a tough lesson to learn, but we continue to guide and discipline you as you work through this stage. Poor Nora can sometimes bear the brunt of this behaviour but most of the time you are just wanting to hug and kiss her, roll with her (often ending on her) and have her watch you when you are doing something special. She is your biggest fan and forgives quickly.

I could say so much more, I know there is a lot of stories I am already forgetting. You are growing and changing so much. As much as you are enjoying the word "no" (that 'no no' bird likes to hang out around you a lot these days) you are the cutest and sweetest and snuggliest little guy too. You drive me nuts, you melt my heart and you make me cry with laughter. I wouldn't change you for the world my little man.

Love you,
Mama xx


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