Wednesday, April 23, 2014

We're hanging in. Life is good.

Time marches on.

 Nora turned 9 weeks last Friday.

 I am averaging 3 showers a week so it's not all bad but this 2 babies in 18 months business should come with a warning label for the first weeks!

 My days and weeks still roller-coaster from blissful joy; art projects with Levi, park visits, playdates, and cooing conversations with Nora to the deepest anxiety and depression; snapping at Levi and sitting on the couch in my jammies watching 16 and pregnant, eating chocolate and wishing away the hours until Jeremy gets home so I can cry on his shoulder.

Thankfully for all involved, the dark times are becomming much less frequent and the joy in the managable times is increasing. I am completely biased but I think my babies are awesome. Both of them are growing and changing every day and its a total privilege to witness it.

To see Levi's sense of adventure and his boundless energy coming out and to hear his language just exploding is exhausting and fabulous in equal measure :) I am able to communicate with him and know that his 8am trantrum is because I didn't agree that m'n'm's were suitable for breakfast. I still have to deal with the attitude and opinions of a 20 month old, but when he melts down at least he tells me why. At the same time, he is becomming more and more of a help around the house. He is always eager to help with the laundry, unloading the basket into the washer and then from the washer to the dryer. He can also find me clean diapers and wipes for Nora if I am changing her. He enjoys being a helper - on his terms, and when he's not busy making a mess somewhere else, climbing on a table or playing with his trains.

And our sweet Nora girl is just changing minute by minute. She is cooing and talking non-stop when she is awake - even though that isn't usually for very long. She's taken to smiling like its going out of style, and is eager to show off her skills to anyone who will coo and smile back at her. She is on the verge of rolling, I swear, and I am just so, so excited to see all the firsts that are coming her way in the days, weeks and months ahead.

I am reminded after every playdate that I cannot survive without community. I am so very grateful for the friends and family who are walking so closely, graciously and generously alongside us in this season. This tenth week is the first time we have not had people bringing us meals. What a blessing that has been, and honestly, I am almost eager to be back in my kitchen on a more regular basis having been gone for so long!

It's also a gift that so many of our friends have little ones Levi's age so we have offers of playdates galore. I am becomming more adventurous about where we go and for how long as Nora becomes slightly more predictable but I am also continuing to have grace with myself that in this season I do not have to, a) say "Yes" to every invitation, or b) be busy all the time. Levi really enjoys having some days at home and so do I.

Jeremy's parents have been so sweet to stay with me when he has had to be gone for work overnight and they are just so helpful with the kids and in helping me stay sane as I go solo for a few days at a time. I am hoping in the weeks ahead I might feel equipped to truly do it solo while he is away, but until then I am so thankful that they have been so available. Not to mention that Levi especially enjoys having them here!

In conclusion, to update you on life with us, we are chugging along nicely all things considered.

Yes, there are many things from my daily 'to do' list left undone each day but I get to the important ones. Yes, there are classes I meant to sign up for but missed the deadline (again). And yes, I could be getting more sleep. But truth be told, in all the mess of our once pristine house and all the yelling of almost 2-year-old toddlerhood and all the sleep deprivation of newborn parenting I think about our journey to get here. I remember how blessed we are and how we have been gifted these two beautiful souls to parent. I take a deep breath and say a quiet prayer of thanks. Even in the darkest of moments I can know the peace of God's spirit within me and know deep within that life is good.

This picture is a fantastic slice of life captured. Grandma reading to Levi while he sits on the potty as we encourage his toilet training (in early stages) and Grandpa talking to Nora while she explores the playmat. It's our life :)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Dear Nora - Two Months Old

Nora Grace,

This is your two month update. I cannot believe it.

You are still an incredible sleeper little one, during the day you seem to have a long 2.5-3hr nap in the morning - this often means you fall asleep before we get to a playdate and wake up after we got home, I promise you did leave the house, even if you don't remember it! - you then have a feed and are awake for a little while before another long nap in the afternoon, and another later in the day.

You are a little less settled in the evenings and want to cluster feed. I can get dinner on the table but you often want to eat while we are eating :) It's only fair, I suppose. Most of the evening you are feeding or sucking on your pacifier and taking cat naps. Around 10.30 or 11pm you settle for the night in your bassinet and are frequently doing 4 hours but have managed 5 and 6 a few times too. You are in the bassinet a lot but often when you are struggling to settle I just snuggle you close and you quickly fall asleep.

We have figured out your nursing too and while we still use the nipple shield for a few minutes at the start of the feeding you are able to finish the feed without it. I love snuggling with you while you eat. It is a whole new ball game to care for an infant with a toddler running around but those moments of nursing you close to me and seeing your little hand gripping at my shirt is a time when we get to just be still and together.

In your awake time you are getting more interactive. You look around and take in your environment, you love the contrasting black and white stripes on your baby chair and study the hanging toys very carefully. You get excited when your hands hit the toys and make them jingle or your feet that never stop moving hit one and make it swing. I love to watch your face as you start to learn about the world around you.

Your crowing achievement in your second month has been to learn how to smile and its amazing. So adorable as it lights up your whole face. It's clear that you are proud of yourself when you figure it out too.

You are not afraid to share your opinion when you are in need of food or a clean nappy, not to mention if you happen to be holding you in a position you don't appreciate, but these loud bursts are short and for the most part you are my mellow girl. Your sweet spirit is beautiful to see and I am so glad to see it coming out more and more each day.

You are my sweet girl and I love you so much,

Mama x

Friday, April 11, 2014

Dear Levi - Twenty Months Old

Baby boy - You are twenty months old! Despite telling me over and over you are only eighteen months :)

You have settled into a great routine again this month. Consistently sleeping through the night, starting bedtime a little after 7pm and falling asleep by yourself (after stories and songs) by around 8pm. You sleep until 6.30 or 7am and then nap from around 1 to 3pm. It's nice to feel as though you are somewhat predictable again.

Your days are busy, busy, busy, regardless of what we are doing.

Your play has evolved too and its so much fun to watch you. You love your train set and play around and around pushing the carriages and especially pushing them in and out of the "nunnel" brings you such delight.

You imagination ha really started to come out too. You pinch your fingers to pick up the tiny basket ball drawn on the paper and throw it into the hoop drawn next to it. Or you can throw an imaginary ball across the room and catch it when it's thrown back to you! You also like to drive in your little car and go to "Darbucks" to get me a mocha or Daddy a latte at the drive up window (or backwards facing dining room chair). You have started to act out some of the things you see on your shows on TV too. You stand on a box to rescue your kitty stuffed animal  that you have put on a bookshelf like in Postman Pat, or xix everything as Bob the Builder. We have to reign you in a little when you really get going with your toy hammer!

You have adopted a few other cute habits too, eating your raspberries by sticking your finger in them - as taught by Grandpa is just one. You have stopped wanting to be rocked to sleep but now you ask to be laid down in your crib "in the bed" and then ask us to rub your back as we sing Bob the Builder or the theme to Postman Pat. It is hard to make those tunes sound soothing but you don't seem to mind.

You continue to grow up in the sweetest of ways. We sit at the table for dinner and you request, "Amen" for us to say grace. You also started taking your snack to the table and wanting to say grace for that too. We should be thankful for more in our days and I hope we continue to foster in you as you get older.

You are a sweet big brother most of the time but you have also been testing boundaries. I am looking forward to the day when Nora can fend for herself but for now we will continue to remind you to have gentle hands.

You are testing boundaries in other ways too sweet boy. Some of the time seeking attention when we are doing something with your sister but other times it is just you figuring out life. You climb on the chair in the hallway and play with light switches and the setting for the porch light - it drives your Daddy insane, and you also pull out the wooden security bars in the windows to be your "bats".

You love every type of sport right now. Bats and balls are without doubt the toys of the moment.

You love to jump off the couch and pile cushions gathered from all over the house to soften your landing and squeal with delight at every leap. It's a good thing the weather is getting brighter and we have been able to take you to the beach to dig (another fave past time) and to the park as well as just playing and running in the yard. Our house is not going to survive without the respite of some time outside.

This month you rode your first bike. Its a little Kinderbike that Daddy found for you and its a balance bike. You are adorable with your sweet helmet perched on your head as you teeter across the driveway.

As the weather is improving we have been outside more and your favourite adventure at the moment is to walk to the lake front by our house, to go to the beach and throw "wocks" in the "wawer". Your language is increasing day by day as you take in the world around you. You have been fascinated watching the men build the house across the street and your construction vocab is probably your largest, naming machinary and playing with your trucks as the "digger dumps de dirt in the dump druck".

You are really not a baby anymore, you are growing into a little boy and I love to see it happening before my eyes every day!

Love you xx

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The fog is lifting

I am writing this from the couch as the sun streams through the windows of my living room. Levi is playing beside me with his train set - a tunnel and crane which I ordered ages ago arrived today and to my delight he is having a fabulous time playing with them, and narrating everything, sometimes he is just too cute! We had been playing together but after a while I was cramping his style. Once I had shown him how the crane worked and helped him configure a track that included the tunnel my input was no longer needed beyond having me close to cheer when trains go through the tunnel and to be available for any track breaking emergencies was all he desired. So I am guilt free on the computer.

Nora is asleep in her swing (big surprise - this kid could sleep for England) but will be waking soon for a new nappy and a feed. I miss her when she sleeps but I certainly appreciate it!

It's Tuesday. Nora turned six week old on Friday and (so far) this week feels, dare i say it, like we are finally getting into our new stride. It's been a rough journey to get to this point; to be in a place where I can think about another day home with just me and the kids and not find tears streaming down my face, a day that includes a few minutes to simply breathe - let alone eat lunch or heaven forbid check email on the computer and *gasp* blog, both of which I did today!

I am sure it's helping that the sun has been shining here in Seattle the past few days and we have been able to take walks, go to the park, and be outside in the yard while the rays warm our skin and the fresh air fills our lungs. Life is good but it always seems easier to see and feel it when the days are bright!

The fog of life with two babies is lifting. I can do this.
I am realising my limits; Searching for grace to cover the gaps and welcoming God into those spaces. Well, more like pleading and begging him to be there. I am saying farewell to guilt.
I am seeing how small our lives have become and am taking (small) steps to re-introduce the important (and only the important) things and people back into our days. And I am seeing the fruit that comes with community unfold in a beautiful way. Yet again I see the hands and feet of Jesus at work through those we are blessed to call family and friends.

I have a "to do" list a mile long but have seen the need for taking 'me' time each day to do something that is good for my spirit; reading a book, blogging, working out, or making picture albums. These things were all on that list but were near the bottom as laundry and dishes kept trumping them. While the need to have clean dishes, clothes and diapers (we use cloth for Levi) is real and important, the need to take time for myself is what fuels the other stuff. "Happy wife happy life" might be a common saying, probably because it rhymes better than "happy mummy, happy life", but I think it's even more important as a mother to fight for time to do things that do not revolve just around your babies and allow you to keep a sense of self outside of that role. I know it makes me a better mum when I do just that.

There are still moments in my day when the task of parenting these two precious babies feels overwhelming but they are matched with others of laughter, joy, and a confidence in myself and the ability to do what God has set before me. I am so humbled and thankful for these beautiful little ones and the true gift that is is to be their mother.

Thank you Lord, the fog is lifting.


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