Sunday, August 14, 2016

Dear Levi - 4 years old

Dear Levi,
I'm watching the Olympics in bed, exhausted from all the fun at your birthday party this afternoon, and I am remembering being in the hospital with you as a newborn infant watching it - How is that 4 years ago?!

You continue to be so full of enthusiasm for life, a ball of energy that doesn't stop from morning until night unless you can be persuaded to sit and watch a show on the TV. You love life and your passion is so contagious.

You have big emotions and are still trying to figure out how to process them in that little 4 year old body of yours. You and Nora are the best of friends but she is the one that can push your buttons like no other. You try so hard to be patient but sometimes your 4 gets the better of you.

You have recently discovered the Cars movies and it's your new favourite thing. You know all the names and have played pretend non stop with the cars we gave you for your birthday.

We have also entered the Lego years. You are just starting to be able to put together the little pieces and are even following the instructions with some help. I love to watch you build and create.  You are so creative Mr.Man, you come up with all kinds of great inventions.

You are so social and love your friends well. Until recently, you had such a hard time sharing even with your closest buddies, but something clicked, and you have grown up SO much in that area now. You are enjoying playdates for the friends that you see and not just the toys you can play with. It's special to see you choosing friends and asking specifically to get together with certain friends now.

You are still very athletic, you love bats and balls, you love to run and play at the playground - you just figured out the monkey bars and you are so proud of yourself! You are a keen bike rider and even though you only have 12 inch wheels, you peddle fast enough to keep up with your older friends on their bigger bikes. Its humorous to see your little legs going so fast but you just love it.

You are starting to ask lots of questions about the world; about planets and the solar system, about where you live and how its different than other places and you have really enjoyed reading books this summer set across the globe. You were taken by one called Rain school, set in Chad, Africa where the kids had to first re build their washed away school house. It's so far from the life you know but you are eager to know about the world and I hope and pray that God will use that curiosity in some really cool way in the future.

You can now get undressed and dressed by yourself but shoes give you trouble and you like to wear your underwear backwards so you can see the pictures on the back. So independent, but you still have to be encouraged to use these new skills.

You make us laugh all the time with your jokes and ideas. You have recently discovered mooning and have used it on some pretty hilarious occasions. It's hard to discourage something so funny, but I know we will live to regret it :)

You got another baby sister this year, and you love on her so much, sometimes a little too much, but you are always so eager to hold her and take care of her. She saves her biggest smiles for you and is very forgiving for the too big kisses you sometimes plant on her. You even give her your lovey when she is sad which shows how deeply you love her..

Most nights you are still ending up in our bedroom. After you wake up to pee you need to feel safe and like to snuggle, even if you end up in the cot bed next to ours after you are asleep - you just like to be with other people. We are working on it, but we understand your desire to be with us, and honestly, we like waking up to your face.

So my precious boy, this is a note to you so remember how fantastic you were as a new 4 year old.

I love you so very much and even though you are growing up so fast and I would like it to slow down, I want to see what the coming year will hold for you,

Love you
Mama x

Friday, July 15, 2016

Dear Hazel - Two months old

Hazel Marie, Hazey girl, or Levi's nickname for you, Haze,

You have been here for two whole months, that's crazy! Where are the days going?!

You are such a sweetheart and your smiles and chatter are so precious to wake up to and make the early starts something to (almost) look forward to :)

Your hair is still looking pretty red and your eyes have stayed steel blue. You are a beauty.

You spend most of the day sleeping and eating, but you are so awake during your alert time. You are starting to enjoy being on the playmat and kick your legs with excitement and you smile and chatter to the baby you see smiling back in the mirror.

You are holding your head up with great skill now, and when we carry you, you are busy looking around and taking in the world around you.

You sleep well at night time only getting up once usually and I am truly grateful, we might even have to put up your crib soon so you can have a safe space to lay during the day. You have a much harder time sleeping during the day for any length of time at home, but you manage ok in your car seat. Your siblings cannot walk by you without kissing you or hugging you, even if you are trying to sleep! You are very gracious with them usually giving them smiles for a while before you get fed up.

You are a constant drooler and have your hands in your mouth all the time, sucking on your fingers, I think once you find your thumb there will be no stopping you.

Your little tummy is still having a hard time with some of the things I am eating and you can toot like a grown man which makes us all laugh. All apart from you, you are uncomfortable but after you have relieved yourself you always smile.

You have started to grip things with your fingers and I love seeing your hand wrapped around my finger. You like to hold tightly and have me pull you to sit up. You are very proud of this new skill and it often ends in big smiles.

You are now fitting 3 months clothes but I don't think you will be for much longer. You are a long little lady and I think we will be moving up a size soon for much of your wardrobe,

You are liking the carriers and the sling which is great so I have hands for taking care of the others at the same time as you. I  like to feel you breathing as you sleep snuggled close to me, and looking down to see the top of your head, feeling the softness of your hair on my skin. It my fave too and I am so blessed you like it.

You are easy going and laid back. You are fascinated by your siblings but not afraid to make it known when you have had enough of their kisses and attention. I am excited to see how your relationships grow and form as you grow up together.

We love you so much baby girl, please stay little for a little while longer :)

Mama x

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Dear Hazel - One month old

Dear Hazel,

Happy one month of life baby girl. What a delight you are. You have such a sweet and gentle spirit and we just can't imagine not having you in our family.

You have been working hard to smile and you are so very, very close! It's so fun to see you figuring out how your face can move. And I am desperate to see you smiling!

You have the biggest most beautiful eyes and they are still a deep steel blue. You watch everything. You are starting to track so well with your eyes and I know you are taking in your world. I'm sure you are seeing me at my best and my worst but I hope you know how much I love you, and that you will bear with me until I figure this mum-of-three-little-ones thing out. I want the best for you, and for your siblings and it's hard to know how to best do that but I am committed to doing my best and I hope that even in your earliest memories, you will know my heart.

You are so very loved, not just by me and your Dad but your brother and sister just adore you. You certainly endure their non-stop hugs and kisses and snuggles and you graciously fall back asleep after they have woken you for the third time in 20 minutes because they just couldn't walk by you without a kiss! We are working on setting you up a safe space to sleep with a working video monitor so you can get better rest but as of today, you don't seem too bothered by it.

You have such an easy going personality. You get mad when you are hungry but have figured out nursing quickly and are a champ. You sleep for 3 and 4 hour stretches at night, sometimes as long as 5 and you are the snuggly-ist little bug when you sleep. I am pretty sure that you are going to be a tummy sleeper because you already end up on your side every time you sleep. I also think that you are going to be a thumb sucker. You do take a pacifier sometimes but are just as content sucking your hand.

You seem totally confused by bathtime. Your little feet kick in the water but you still seem to be forming an opinion about whether you are enjoying it or not! I love to snuggle you in your towel and see your hair get so fuzzy when its dried!

Your hair is still strawberry blonde but unlike your siblings, it is still straight. You don't seem to be losing much of it yet, but time will tell I guess.

You have some tummy issues and my diet seems to have a huge impact on you. I am still trying to work out exactly what bothers you but so far I think too much dairy, dark chocolate and leafy greens are things you are not a fan of. (I'm sacrificially cutting back or cutting out these things from my life but on broken sleep, the chocolate is especially hard) Your little face screws up as you wriggle and jiggle and girl, you have the most incredibly loud toots I have ever heard from a baby!! Eventually you poop and life is good again but I feel so sad that you are so uncomfortable. You are such a content little lady most the time that these instances of pain and discomfort is heartbreaking.

You still spend most of your days sleeping. I love this stage of your life but I am also eager for you to be awake more so I can get to know you better!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Melting. Ugh.

It was close to 90 degrees in Seattle today. We have had a few random days of crazy hot weather like this through the spring and honestly, it makes me nervous for the summer. I love being able to be outside; beach days and spray parks, play parks and picnic dinners, but I like to those things in 70ish degree heat. As the temperatures creep up and up, my kids and I all start to wilt. This manifests in them being horrible to one another, lots of crying ad whining, me losing my temper too much and all of us just being generally in a bad mood. We end up having mandatory movie afternoons to keep everyone still and indoors. Indoors where there is no air conditioning because, well, "this is Seattle and we only have a few of those crazy hot days a year and it doesn't warrant air conditioning." This felt like a valid reason for the first few years I lived here but in more recent years, has NOT been true in the slightest and I lost count of the hours spent mall walking and doing grocery shopping just to take advantage of the cool air. Thankfully, we now have multiple friends who do have a/c in their homes and are generous to share but that doesn't help us at night time. Our single room air conditioning unit just doesn't cut it when we and the kids (at least start off) sleeping in different rooms. We may be making an investment fairly soon.

Our sweet baby girl, 4 weeks old today, was seriously unhappy today. We started out running errands together, just her and I and she was the perfect shopping companion, sleeping soundly in her car seat and then in the Moby wrap while we navigated Target and Costco. However, on our return to the house, she was super unsettled and wanted to nurse all afternoon/evening. She struggled to settle to sleep for a nap at all this afternoon and became more and more frantic as the day wore on. I became more and more defeated.

There is nothing sadder than holding your screaming infant, not knowing exactly what is wrong and not being able to fix it. She kept looking up at me with her huge blue eyes, glassy from crying, pleading with me to do something to make her feel better, but clearly I wasn't doing what she needed. I just snuggled her, and my mum snuggled her to give me a break. We changed diapers and I nursed her when she indicated that might help, and we rocked her and let her kick on the floor. I truly think she was just hot and overheated and was just thirsty or possible had a headache or something.

She finally passed out on me around 8pm after many laps around the kitchen and as I type is asleep on my chest and letting me drink a (small) glass of wine, because let's be honest, its that kind of night. She is finally sleeping hard and I am not moving her.

This is Levi's last week of pre school. I cannot believe the year has gone by so fast. He has had a blast, and grown so much since the fall. I am so proud of him. Even though he can be a stinker sometimes, his heart is good. I am eager for a summer schedule to start for us. I anticipate slower, more relaxed mornings to give me time to figure out some new routines for us. I would really like to teach the older kids to be more independent in getting themselves up and dressed and ready in the mornings, and I think that having time at that time of day will allow for that without frustration.
Perhaps by the time Levi starts school again in the fall we will have figured out how to get all of us up and ready?! We will certainly hope and pray that is the case. 

The one positive about the heat is that the kids want to be out in the pool a lot meaning they are in few clothes, swimsuits or just plain naked for a lot of the day and so it has cut down the number of fights I have had to have with Nora to change her diaper. She is happy to sit on the potty and pee for the cost of just 2 mini m'n'm's a time and I am super excited for her to really embrace potty training this summer!

[Sidenote - when I arrived at Costco this morning, 20 minutes after they opened, the lady who bought the last $400.00 air conditioning unit was on her way out of the store. Apparently, we are not the only family who struggle in this heat. I am just so very thankful I am no longer pregnant because I honestly think it would have made me cry to be so uncomfortable and so hot and the same time. Blessing to all of my pregnant friends who survived the past couple of days. ]

Friday, May 27, 2016

2 weeks (and a few days!)

If I thought finding time to blog with two littles was a challenge, with three I am anticipating it will be really tough but at the same time I desperately want to record this season of life. I already see God's hand threading themes of grace in my heart and I trust that even in this totally overwhelming moment of life I am learning and growing in ways I may not fully see for a long time.

Our sweet baby girl was born via scheduled c section as planned and we have been falling in love with her more and more every day of the last 2 weeks. It's already hard to remember a time without her.

L & N have been doing a fabulous job adjusting, but certainly have been needing more mummy time than before and acting out in other ways to get attention when they are not feeling seen, or are feeling insecure or one of the other million other things their little hearts must be feeling. I am trying to have patience and extend more grace to them even through the sleep deprivation and sore nipples of the first weeks of new babying. I am so grateful for family and friends supporting us in practical ways and praying for all of us in this time of transition.

My parents have been here since a few days before Hazel was born and are here another few weeks before they abandon me and leave me to parent my own children ALL. BY. MYSELF (!) They have been beyond helpful and my easy recovery from surgery is certainly in huge part thanks to them and the gift they gave me to be able to really rest and take it easy for these first couple of weeks by taking care of the kids and also taking on the preschool run for Levi, Nora's music class as well as keeping the house running; cooking, shopping, laundry etc. I am not sure what I would have done without them but I don't expect I would have had the sweet times I have had to get to know our precious new baby (without guilt) because I would have been stressing about making sure there were clean clothes and food in the fridge. I am forever thankful.

Not to mention,

I find myself in tears thinking about the days when they leave. L will be done with preschool for the year so I won't have to figure out getting all of us up and out of the house on time until the fall but it could also mean long days and weeks of no schedule to get us doing anything out of the house. I know I need to get playdates on the calendar, regular ones when possible. I'm also trying to figure out the finances to see if we can get some help a couple of times a week, a baby sitter to help out and give me a break or take the older kids out, or even just a mother's helper to be able to come with me to the beach or the park with the kids so I can feel more confident about being out and about with all three kiddos. It just feels like too much.

So in this time, early days with three, I am eager to live in the moment. Embrace the newness and beauty of our precious Hazel, dig deep into myself to find the energy to parent L&N well and wisely and compassionately as they transition and not wish away the craziness. Soon Hazel will be sleeping more and be in more of a routine - routine is how I function and has worked well for the first two so I hope we will see it do the same for Miss H - The older kids will also get older, and life will eventually fall into a new normal. Until then each of our kiddos will come upon new milestones, conquer more feats of daring, overcome challenges and learn new things about themselves and the world. I refuse to miss those things. I will not let fear or anxiety about how I am coping steal the space to notice and be present in those moments.

So for tonight, as I see my big boy really needing some focused, individual mummy attention I am eager to take an opportunity to have an ice cream date or something with him over the long weekend. I'm going to cherish nursing my baby to sleep knowing she will be the last, and I as I plan to paint Nora's nails because since I had mine done she has been so eager to talk all about it, I breathe in and breathe out.

This is how I will survive.

Breathing in and out. Letting go of my ideas of what life should look like, and embracing what is. letting go of my comparison and being fully who I am as a wife and a mother and standing in a giant pool of grace as I do.

Repeating over and over, "I am enough"

Because I am. In Christ. I am enough to parent these three precious babes. Thank the Lord!

Two weeks (and a few days) in and many, many more to go!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

On the eve of three

I just settled Levi to sleep for the last time before baby sister #2 arrives in our lives. It was a bitter sweet moment as I realised just how big he is. No longer my baby at all.

I can't get up in his loft bed to read books with my giant belly so I sat on the floor and he sat with me in what's left of my lap. He pulled over a blanket, "Mummy, I brought this over for us to share". Melt my heart sweet boy, when did you become so grown up?!

The story you selected is a favourite of yours, it's a tad gross, but quite funny at the same time. It's about a little mole who gets pooped on when he sticks his head out of his mole hill, and then his search to find out who did it. At the end you turned to me with a very serious look on your face and said, "You know what Mummy? If someone ever pooped on your head, I would help you find out who it was." Nice to feel you are already protecting your mother, I'll take it :)

Then your little face just lit up as we talked a little more about the details of the days ahead. You are just so excited to meet your baby sister. I know you will make a great big brother again this time around. I am sure we will have some bumps in the road, but you have a good heart and a caring nature and I think being the age you are will give you the opportunity to really shine in your big brother role.

Jeremy put Nora to bed tonight. I think she only threw one or two (serious) tantrums during that process. She has been having a really hard time with life in the past few days. So much emotion, so many tantrums and tears, so much of a struggle to just hear "no" or not have things go the way she thinks they should. I am not sure if the timing is just coincidence or it's her little way of processing the changes she knows are coming but really are too much for her little self to comprehend. She is challenging my patience and yet, breaking my heart at the same time. I want her to know she is loved and safe and that none of that is going to change. The next few days with me and Jeremy being gone will likely be hardest on her sweet spirit, but with all her grandparents around I hope she can have lots of fun too.

I keep looking around the house as if I am never returning, trying to drink in exactly how everything looks because it does truly feel like when we come home everything will be different.

Jeremy keeps asking me what we still need to cross off the list to be ready for tomorrow. I want to stick my head in the sand and pretend it's not happening because the reality is scary. The reality of my surgery, and even more the reality of having a third little one to care for when I only have two arms!

There are piles of half finished tasks all over the house where I have tried and failed to get a project done and the layers of dust and such in our house are something I never anticipated I would let evolve but over time cleaning has fallen to the back of my mind and certainly my priorities and I fear my house will never be clean the way I like it ever again.

I can feel my anxiety build and am hopeful that I can get a good nights rest so that I can sleep off some of it. Also because I cant eat or drink after midnight and I know I am going to be so very uncomfortable complying with that rule.

I don't know when this became my life. When did we go from not knowing if we would ever have biological babies, to being pregnant with our third? This pregnancy felt like it lasted forever and also went by in a heartbeat. I cannot believe we are 39 weeks tomorrow. The end of the road, the final gig of the farewell pregnancy tour, seriously, this is my life?!

It is appropriate that it's mother's day today in the U.S. I have had time to contemplate the gift and blessing that my children are to me, and be reminded that this life is something generously bestowed on me. I do not take this responsibility lightly. I know that my tired heart sometimes needs to be encouraged to be more thankful for even the more trying aspects of motherhood, because it IS such a beautiful and precious gift.

Tonight I go to sleep for the last time as a mother to two. Tomorrow is the start of a new season for our family. I am excited and terrified in equal measure but so thankful to my husband, and family as well as a strong community of friends who we have to support us, help us, and especially believe in us, as we adjust.

Ok baby girl, just a few more hours and we're coming for you!!

Thursday, April 28, 2016


Still waiting for baby.

At 37.5 weeks I am so ready to be done; I'm uncomfortable and so tired and feeling pretty guilty about my lack of energy with and for my other kids. And yet, I have one more week until my parents arrive and a huge part of me wants to wait until they are here too - that's pretty much the only reason that makes me happy to wait at this point.

A few nights ago we had a false alarm, a "did my waters just break?" moment. We had to go into the hospital and get checked out. The drive to the hospital at 10pm, having called in a dear friend to sit with our sleeping kids until Jeremy's parents could get to our house, was a wake up call. It highlighted for me all the things I still needed to get done. Jeremy on the other hand was all ready to just get this birth thing done. I think he was a bit disappointed when it turned out to be nothing.

As it was, they don't know what the mini gush of fluid was but it wasn't amniotic fluid so it is all good and after a couple of hours they sent us home. I feel like I am still recovering from the huge adrenaline rush and panic of thinking the baby might be coming and I wasn't ready! I did a Target run yesterday and picked up most of my last minute odds and ends. I still need to actually put most of the things into my hospital bag but I have them to throw in now!

Last night my small group prayed for me and if nothing else I am beyond thankful that I was able to spend that sweet time with these precious women in preparation for baby girl. Having a safe place to share my hopes and fears with friends who know and love me was such a needed balm in this home stretch of pregnancy. Sometimes it is easier to think about this baby as something to do, or figure out, rather than someone new to love and get to know. I am feeling so much more joyful anticipation this morning as baby kicks and wiggles, who are you little one?!

Today, Levi doesn't have preschool so our mornings are often lazy and filled with snacking and snuggling while we watch TV and read books. And this week that plan is a slam dunk. I'm certainly not winning any mothering awards today but I am completely at peace with that fact. The next week and a half are about survival :) We might get out of jammies at some point. No promises.

I can't help thinking we might not make it until the scheduled due date, I have no reason to feel this way, and certainly it could just be my own desire to just not be lugging this giant belly around any more, but I guess only time will tell.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Counting down

We are 18 days away from meeting our daughter - assuming she doesn't decide to show up before that. I wouldn't be surprised, and honestly I am uncomfortable enough that I don't even think I would mind that much!

Of course in other ways it would be really nice to experience the positive aspects of scheduling a c-section; knowing where you need to be when, who will be taking care of your other kiddos to name the most important ones. But also being able to plan ahead and make sure you have checked all your boxes before the baby comes. Our only other "planned" c-section experience was thwarted when Nora decided she needed to come early.

I have a few things I very much need to get done before baby. Mostly to do with sorting, organizing and washing clothes and infant stuff; bottles, bibs, blankets etc. I am kind of living under the assumption that I will just make time to get that stuff done at some point...maybe after my parents get to town. That would be cutting it a little bit close, but if it was the only thing left to do it might work, right?

[Note to self- find baby bath and set it out to wash it, and also find bassinet co-sleeper to do the same]

I feel unprepared, but I honestly don't have time to be that concerned. I realised tonight as Jeremy left to take a red eye to Texas for his final work trip before the baby, that I haven't packed a hospital bag. I am not even sure what I need to get for said bag anymore. We are having the baby at the same hospital where we delivered the others but when we had them we were a three minute walk from our house, now it's more like a 20 minute drive. Not that that is a vast distance but it's far enough that forgetting something would be really annoying and inconvenient.

I will pack my bag first thing.

Actually, now I am worrying about it I might have to stay up and pack it tonight just in case.

I really hope this baby stays put for the next 24 hours.

It is crazy that Jeremy is having to travel as much as he is right now, it seems as fast as my belly is growing, he is adding trips to his itinerary! Still this is it, or at least, after tomorrow night it will be. Poor guy. One of us needs to be getting some sleep around here and its certainly not likely to be me anytime soon.

Not to mention the weather, what the heck, Seattle?! It's been close to 90 degrees some days this week. Keeping my kids hydrated and sunscreened is a crazy amount of work, not to mention remembering that I also need to do the same for myself. I love summer, in the summer but this spring heatwave is ridiculous when I am this huge and exhausted.

Sweet baby girl, you still have no name and we are not set up at home quite yet to bring you home, but know we are so, so excited to meet you! Your brother is fascinated with watching and feeling you moving in my tummy, he is going to love on you so much when you arrive. And your sister is very eager to " 'old " you and push you in the baby swing. She loves to swing and I think its adorable that she wants to see you share her joy and experience the activity she loves the most. You are coming into a crazy home full of noise and mess, but more importantly full of love and we are so looking forward to seeing how you will fit in.

It's hard to find time to blog these days but I also don't want to forget them. This is likely one of the craziest of seasons of our lives and I want to be able to look back and celebrate surviving it!!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Are we nearly there yet?!

I am 33 weeks pregnant (I think...geesh it's hard to keep track this time around) and boy I am UN comfortable.

I am carrying this sweet girlie "normally" as opposed to breech which is how I carried my others for the majority of their belly time. I didn't know how lucky I was. Seriously. I am new to this kicking in my rib cage thing, and the heart burn. Don't get me started on the heartburn.

I shouldn't complain, for most of the day I am actually feeling pretty good. The sunshine creeping in to our days here in the PNW is helping for sure. I do get an energy low late afternoon, starting at 3 or 4pm I start to drag. Standing up to make dinner can be a challenge :) Plus it's the time of day when Levi and Nora are getting tired and hungry so they are getting hyper and just bugging each other (and by extension, me). The combination of the pregnant tireds and playing referee is a lot to take and I have resorted to making 4pm our regular TV time. Now the weather is better we are getting out a lot more in the early afternoon which helps them to sleep more soundly, but doesn't help them cope with that 4-5pm hour. so sitting snuggled on the couch to a slow going show is how we all need them to spend that time, and I feel less guilt because we have been out getting fresh air before that.

I am eager to meet this baby girl. Eager to get past the anticipation and dive head in to adjusting to reality. My parents are coming to stay to help out in those early weeks so I am also excited for the next few weeks to go by because they will be coming.

I am just ready to bite into our next chapter of life.

I am dizzy with the thought of drawing a line under the season of family building and settling firmly into life as a party of five.

I am beyond blessed with my lot. Overwhelmed with the goodness of the God I love and the way he has designed my life to be more than I could ever have anticipated. Exactly what I wanted, even though it has its crazy, stressful and painful moments and days, I see how its all being used to draw me closer to Him, and make me more like Him. I am being stretched and refined. Searching for joy along the way and finding it in the most surprising places.

The irony that life is just starting to feel "manageable" and "predictable" only weeks before we add another baby is not lost on me, but I am trying to embrace the beauty of that feeling;  the undeniable experience of answered prayers and living in such an amazing faith community. I know we are about to enter crazy town once again but I have hope that we will find a way to thrive.

I am entering this new season ready to admit when I am struggling and ask for help as soon as the feelings of anxiety and wanting to hide creep in. I am preparing my heart to be strong in the truth of who God says I am, and ready to shut down the lies before they take hold. There are a million details that I want to get in place before the baby arrives, but I have released them, trusting that what really needs to be done will be done and the rest will just fall into place in time. I am seeking out peace now, so I can draw from the well after baby gets here. (Baby who still has no name - that's a detail I would really love to be resolved soon, its probably the hardest detail to give up worrying about right now!)

So here we are. Counting down. Getting less comfortable by the day but trying to keep a good attitude. But seriously, baby girl, watching you rolling around in my belly is the most wonderful part of my days too. You are an unexpected dream come true and we haven't even met you yet. I cannot wait until you are in my arms, but please stay in there until you are fully baked and ready to greet us healthy and strong.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

More than muffins?

This afternoon, the kids and I baked pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. I have literally been wanting to do this since about September and not found the energy or motivation. I confess, I do not enjoy baking and cooking with my kids. I love to bake and cook, and I love the idea of including them but in all honesty it really stresses me out to actually have their "help". I feel like I need to be ten steps ahead of my kiddos always, but having them in the kitchen around things that are sharp, hot or messy means that just intensifies!

The flip side is that they LOVE to help and are so excited by what we make. They are growing up and I want to embrace the opportunity to share my love of the kitchen with them.

This felt like much more than making muffins.

I am still under the cloud of (self diagnosed) postpartum depression left from Nora. Some days are easier than others in that department, but once I admitted to myself that this had been a problem for a long time and that I faced the fact I was depressed and that it seemed to be surrounding caring for my kids since my daughter's birth, I can give myself more grace. I felt lazy. I felt like a dead beat mum, going through the motions with a smile on my face - sometimes - but feeling nothing but overwhelmed at every step. Even today, I am overwhelmed and anxious more than I am not. Small tasks with the kids can cause me to become frozen in fear, and weighed down by the darkness in my head. At which point I turn on a TV show for them and just feel guilty about my parenting ability.

Baking the muffins is one example of something I wanted to do, really wanted to do because I enjoy creating in the kitchen and wanted to try again with my kids, but I just couldn't muster the energy to do it.

And fitting it in to today of all days, three days into a four day stretch of solo parenting while J travels for work and I am so exhausted felt like even more of a win.

Physically I am spent. Carrying the worry and "on the clock 24/7" feeling is crazy. Not to mention the kids are not sleeping great at night and I don't have anyone to share that load with so I am getting so little sleep. The baby likes to party at night too so even she has been keeping me up!
During this solo week, I also had a dentist appointment for Levi to navigate  - that went great, he was a rock star. On the way out, I told him how proud of him I was and he said, "I think I am getting the hang of this" ha ha - And this morning, I had Nora's 2 year well child visit. -She screamed the entire time. I hate that she gets so very upset about doctor visits but I can't seem to calm her. - at least they are both over now but they take a toll on me emotionally for sure. You never want to see your kids anxious and my own anxiety issues just go crazy when I am carrying some for them too.

With all of that going on, and another long night ahead, not to mention another day and another bedtime before J gets home, it's even more exciting to me that the muffins were made.

I still lose my temper more than I want to. I get overwhelmed by the toddler emotions and the preschooler disobedience. I feel like I am failing. Losing control. Failing to discipline effectively. Failing to be kind. Raising my voice too much. Not communicating well. The list of parenting shortcomings is anything but short. Still, my kids went to bed clean, well fed, prayed over and told they were loved.

We all snuggled in my bed after their bath, and read books before snuggling down under the covers where they both fell asleep in my arms. Levi fell asleep first. his breathing becoming softer, and Nora followed a few minutes after, her head falling gently from my arm to the pillow beneath as she let sleep embrace her.

I am one blessed mother.

I fail every day  but every day I vow to not let it beat me, because every day I have success too. I bake muffins with both my kids; letting them break eggs into the bowl, measure and pour in ingredients, and even mix.  Their delight at helping and excitement to eat what they made was balm to my over tired heart. I did that. I was the mum that bakes with her kids.

I do have days when we read books more than we watch TV, and days when I feel as though I have loved my kids well through my words, actions and reactions more than I have fallen short.

Motherhood is hard and beautiful. Rewarding and exhausting. SO. WORTH. THE. EFFORT.

Today's success was about so much more than baking muffins, but it was also, certainly about baking those muffins. We will be having them for a special breakfast treat in the morning and I am already looking forward to the conversations I know it will spark as they remember how we made them together.

Hang in their mama's of little ones. Notice the goodness in the craziness and know we are all on this journey together. I hope you have a community supporting you that is as fabulous as the one I have been blessed with, and I encourage you to ask for help when you need it. Letting people know our needs is the way that we let people in and start to build relationships and community. It also open opportunities for us to serve others, even in our weakness and be God's hands and feet to one another.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Dear Nora - Two years old

Dear Nora,

This weekend we celebrated two years of you being in our family. How time flies when you are having fun and not sleeping very much...

Happy Birthday to you little love bug - if I said that aloud, you would have corrected me that you are "big girl" not love bug. You really embrace the fact that you are growing up and love to be a big girl, in fact that can be great motivation for all manner of things during the day. I am thankful that it spurs your obedience but a little sad every time you tell me because you will always be my baby.

You are such a mix of personality little lady. You are still such a home body, asking to go home after just a few minutes out at events or with friends and even though you can be persuaded to rally and end up having fun, your safe place is in our house. You are still very uncertain about being left with anyone that's not us or your Grandparents or Auntie. The last time I tried to leave you at MOPS or for nursery at church you made it very clear you did not appreciate it. We are hoping and praying this insecurity or separation anxiety will begin to fade more as you are older and have more words but I guess time will tell. You seem to be slowly gaining confidence and as we spend more and more consistent time with certain friends; small group and church especially so I am hoping that as you make you own little friends it will help.

In unfamiliar surroundings and with unfamiliar people you are very shy and can give a nice glare to anyone who tries to make nice, but at home or with friends you are a firecracker with a crazy sense of humor and can be such a goofball. You are not afraid to play with older kids and if your brother is doing something then you want to be in on the action too. You have discovered the delights of dressing up and are very often found with all your necklaces and bracelets, rings and now even hair clips on at the same time (even with your jammies) you like to say you are a "pincess" and you certainly are our little princess.

You are finding your voice and saying more and more every day. In the last couple of months its like your language has just exploded and I love to hear your sweet voice chirping away, narrating your day and loudly claiming your rightful ownership of toys if Levi tries to swoop in and take something of yours.You ask lots of questions about the world and I just love to hear your take on how the world works.

You are still a huge fan of you pacifiers and prefer to have multiples in your hands at once, but Bug paci is still your favourite. We are talking very seriously about strategy to break this habit for you but your Daddy and I are softies and don't want to break your heart, so you've likely got a few more weeks before we do anything major about it even though your second birthday had always been the cut off we talked about.

You love your baby dolls and stuffed animals, baby Stella and your other baby dolls all lovingly called "baby" are often pushed around by you in your little stroller or the little shopping cart as you go about your errands in the living room. You pick them up and snuggle them in a blanket, change diapers and even tuck them into their crib. You are a delight to watch as you take such good, tender care of them. What a sweet mama you are!

You have learned the art of negotiation -  probably from your brother - but you are ever eager to respond to a "no" for a request for a snack from your Dad or I with "peez. A tiny one", This is said with a scrunched up face and you squeezing your fingers together to show how teeny you mean. Hard to say no to. Especially hard for Daddy!

You are full of determination and when you don't get your way you certainly let us know you don't agree with our decision. You throw some pretty epic tantrums; loud and impressive. You are not easily distracted but you are quick to forgive once you calm down.

You have such a compassionate heart and it's so beautiful to watch you, If a baby is crying in the store you are very concerned until you see them being comforted. When Levi, or another child wants a toy you are playing with you are quick to tell them you are all done with it and hand it over so you can  calm their distress. You won;'t take a snack or a treat without asking for one for your brother or asking for enough for everyone in the room. You are happy when others are happy.

You are a huge fan of m'n'm's and I will use them to my advantage - especially to get you into your car seat which has certainly become a battle of wills at this moment in time. You are a stinker and know exactly what you  are doing when you are driving me crazy climbing all over the car and demanding "I do it" even though you are doing anything but that.
I know one day your determination will be such a strength but geesh, it's kind of exhausting at the moment and its certainly a great thing that you are so cute, and offer us the cuteness in equal measure to the drama and emotion :)

You love music and love to dance and I am so glad you and I got to take a music class together the past couple of months. It makes my heart so happy to hear your darling voice singing the songs and to watch you delighting in throwing the scarves up and down and playing the instruments in the class. You get your music genes from your Daddy.

You are bright as a button, counting up to the mid teens with ease and you know all your colours already. You can spot the letter "o" but the rest of the alphabet is only a song you sing while washing your hands. Which you do frequently and are very insistent you can do by yourself - just like brushing your teeth, putting on your shoes and well, pretty much everything else. You are so independent and remarkably capable. You are constantly surprising me with how well you do the things you insist on doing without help.

You are excited to be a big sister and often ask about my belly, wanting the baby to "come out, hold her" I think you'll be a great big sister.

Happy birthday my darling girl, I cannot wait to see what the next year will hold; potty training and big girl beds for starters. I look forward to knowing you more and more as you grow up athough I cannot imagine loving you any more.
I am so proud of the little lady you are already becoming, I love to snuggle you and treasure the time right after you wake up from naps and just want to cuddle up with me, red cheeks and pacifier firmly in mouth. You are me sunshine and my delight. I love you so much.

Mama x

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Word of the year 2016 - Notice

Each year I try to choose a word that will focus my goals and my mind through the year. Some years it has turned out to be more integral than others but I have always found it has helped as I have made big decisions or gone through big transitions during the year.

This year's word is NOTICE.

Last year was full of challenges and it left me dry; spiritually, emotionally, relationally.  I feel as though I was beyond becoming self focussed, that's usually my response in overwhelming times, but I feel like I moved beyond that to just caring for my kids and husband in the most basic of ways. If I got through the day with both kids fed and changed and had something on the table for dinner it was a good day. And if I got there without crying or totally losing my temper then it was even better.
What was the point of it all? What was God's plan? What was my life worth day to day? I felt lost, like I was being carried along on a wave.

This year, I am hoping that some of the big life changes we went through will start to feel more like normal life. We will finally get around to some of the things which have been hanging around our necks on a heavy to do list, and that I can find my direction again.

I am hoping that this year I can focus on the things I have, and am; to celebrate the good and challenge myself not to settle for the bad.

To do this I need to be aware. I need to notice.

I need to take a second, a breath, to notice when I make a good parenting decision as well as when I make a bad one. To notice when my kiddos are needing my attention and I'm distracted by something less important. To notice when my spirit is running dry and to make time to do something to be filled up. To notice when God is revealing a sin issue I need to address, and to notice when he is loving me in those moments too. I want to notice the goodness in my life - because there is so much of it - and I want my heart to be thankful in the measure I am blessed.

So watch out 2016 - because I'm going to be watching you!


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