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.


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