Saturday, May 23, 2015

Keeping things International

We closed on our new house a week ago. Since then the days have been a whirlwind of having the duct work cleaned, having a washer and dryer delivered and installed, picking paint colors, cleaning carpets and packing. Yes, packing. Because in the midst of everything, we had planned and booked a trip to visit family in England. We don't make things easy on ourselves sometimes, but we were not going to cancel our trip and after living with Jeremy's parents for so long, waiting another week or two didn't seem like a big deal. We will move all of our things in the weekend after we get home.

But for now we are home with my parents and can report we successfully survived the flight over here. (There were lots of empty seats, which worked out in our favor. Levi took up most of the three-person row we were in, and Nora filled a close by two-person row so they were snuggled under blankets and slept most of the time, thankfully it was a night flight. On the way home it might be a little more work because its during the day and they will not need to sleep, but I hope that we can keep them occupied enough)

Anyway, thanks to the M25 traffic, both kids got a good nap in as we drove home and so were rested by UK dinner time just as J and I were ready for bed! We gave them a bath and tried to settle them but they both just napped because that's what time it was in their bodies and then woke up ready to go. They would not be convinced and after they communicated that they were hungry and ready for "dinner"(again) I found myself making beans on toast for everyone, and then giving out bedtime milk (again). We ended up just staying up and playing until 3am when we decided it was time to try again and after some persuasion ,we all slept in one big bed until 10.30am.

So even though jet-lag is alive and well and I have no idea how things will turn out as the night progresses, at least this time I will have some Eurovision song contest fun to watch while I pretend to have energy enough to play with the kids into the early hours if they do decide to party.

We headed out to a great park to see the ducks and play on the playground this afternoon so hopefully that will help them to sleep, who knows. We will be riding the wave of the jetlag for a while I am sure but I hope it eases so we can enjoy our time here.

Ok, I am fading fast. Off to search out some real Cadbury's chocolate and call it a night before anyone wakes up :)

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Chrissie and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

It's just after 8pm, both kids have been sleeping for a while and Jeremy is working late so I am really appreciating the peace at the house right now.

It's been a day.

I contemplated calling Jeremy today and telling him I was done being home with the kids and was going to pick up some job applications. I was feeling beaten down by the constant defiance of my 2.5 year old and the cranky, tantrum throwing of my non-verbal, frustrated one year old. Boy, oh boy it was a doozy. Even before 8am things were not going well, so I knew it would be a long day.

I am still trying to find my rhythm with having two babies, its been over a year and the constant struggle of meeting the sometimes very different but equally pressing needs of two very precious babies is still anxiety inducing. I am exhausted with the juggling act, even more so on days when it feels like I dropped every ball.

There are moments when I look at my babies and my heart just bursts with gratitude (usually when they are sleeping) but most of the waking moments are too busy for many thoughts at all beyond, "Which one of them is that smell coming from this time?" I allow myself to get absorbed too frequently, and for too long on Facebook, or Instagram or anything that takes me away from the heaviness of feeling like I am not enough. And I eat a lot of chocolate. Neither are good or productive ways to change my situation but in the moment that offer some balm.

I feel like I am failing. I want my kids to feel loved, feel known, feel protected, and sometimes I just get so frustrated that I can't do it all. In the middle of all the frustration I try to grab a moment and call out to God, "Help me!" It is usually out of those moments where I am completely out of my own resources that the most beautiful parenting moments come. Thank you, Lord!

This afternoon, after the baby melted down and fought her nap for about 45 minutes before FINALLY going to sleep, and after the non-napping toddler had his meltdown and then snuggled on the couch with Grandma and Thomas the train for a while, he and i went outside to enjoy the beautiful weather. Yesterdays rain had left lots of water in buckets over in Levi's digging spot and soon the whole place became a mud pit. He stripped down and splashed and jumped to his hearts delight. After her nap, baby girl came and joined in the mud fun. It was so much fun (until I had to hose them off so that they could come inside and we could really shower them off and then bathe them!) I delighted in the simplicity of the moment. The squeals of laughter, the warm sun, being fully present; together.

After the mud we came inside. Nora spent the rest of the time before dinner sporting her "ba pa" (backpack), her new sun hat and one shoe. She was insistent that she only wanted one shoe. I loved knowing her in those ways, seeing her crazy, quirky opinions being very loudly and clearly stated despite her lack of words. Levi donned a construction helmet as a baseball helmet and became Kyle Seager from the Seattle Mariners hitting home runs and running round the house cheering himself on. He is such a goof ball at times and again, I felt as though I truly saw him tonight.

We are a simple meal and then I put the babies to bed. Read stories, snuggled them and watched them fall sweetly asleep. (Early too, so all that playing out in the mud was a win-win!)

It's not all moonlight and roses. Far from it. And with all the traveling and changes as we move into a new house it will take a while to get into routine and find our new normal but I am going to be trying hard to remember to take time and enjoy the simple moments, knowing they will be passing by so fast.

Even when days are hard, there will be a smile, or a laugh that can turn a tough day into a slightly better one.

Hang in there, mamas. We got this. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

So much to say, so little time...

I have opened Blogger about a dozen times in the past couple of weeks with the intention of sharing a little bit of what's happening in our lives. It's been a great time of change and learning for our family in so many ways but because of all the changing and learning I can't seem to get started with getting anything down on "paper" and then the five minute window I had is gone and I am no closer to finishing a blog :)

The biggest news is that we made an offer on a house and it was ACCEPTED. It only took 9 months :) It is slightly outside the area that we had initially looked in but the competition and the sellers market had meant we had lost out on other houses so we broadened our search area and this house is just across the border from where we had been looking! Its walking distance to a few sets of good friends and even though the schools are not rated quite as highly, we feel confident that this is the place God has for our family.

While we are very excited that this has happened, a part of me is so scared to be alone with the kiddos during the day again. We have fallen into a great routine here with Jeremy's parents, they are retired and around in the day time so the kids have lots of attention. This also means I can put one down for nap while someone else settles the other one, or even just keeps the other one busy. I need to pray hard about how to restructure our days to get things done when I am the only pair of eyes and hands again, or Levi will start watching a lot more TV:)

I am eager to make our home.

It's going to be like Christmas to unpack our storage unit and rediscover all the things we have been without. I am also anticipating we will be getting rid of a lot of things we have lived without and do not want to welcome back into our lives.

I want to sign off before one of the babies wakes up from nap, so this actually gets posted.

In short, Yay for a faithful God who brought us through and brought us to this wonderful house, and for all the friends and family who have loved and prayed for us along the way. We look forward to a wonderful summer in our new place as we entertain you :)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Looking the part, doing the job.

Somedays I worry I am missing the sweetness of this season with my kiddos because, well, because life with a 2.5 year old and a 13 month old is insanity. These are my precious babes, teeny little sponges in the form of people that I am with 24/7 and life is happening even when I am too sleep deprived to take it all in.

Nora has somehow picked up her animal sounds, and "gaaaahs" for a lion, "aaaaaaah's" for a sheep, "oooooh's" for a cow, "ooof-ooof's" for a dog and "eeoow's" for a kitty cat, not to mention the cutest little fish kisses ever for anything that is in water. I love it, I'm just not entirely sure how it happened.

And Levi greeted Jeremy with, "Hey Bud!" The other night when he came in to tell him goodnight. Seriously, kid?!

Today at almost 2pm, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Geesh. Apparently it was the first time today because I have obvious bed head and lack of make up which goes to enhance the full set of baggage under my eyes. Ordinarily this wouldn't been something to worry about except for the fact that this morning I went out to the library and the grocery store. I am also wearing sweatpants which have their own special snot? drool? patterns around knee height.

I am a stay at home mummy to two little ones and today I really looked the part!

In the lead up to Easter as we focus on the resurrection of Jesus, I am so very thankful for a Saviour who lives and who is with me; walking through the hard days and the good days, knowing me fully and loving me anyway. Challenging me to be all I was created to be and to walk bravely into that calling.

Day to day I am reminded to surrender my visions and plans to His greater ones, and find freedom in the truth that I am not asked to do it all. This season of life is crazy, but it's crazy beautiful too. When the days pass in a blur of sleep deprivation, toddler tantrums and diaper changes I am thankful to be encouraged by knowing I am right where I am supposed to be, and instead of wishing this time away, I am embrace that few minutes of making sure my baby is clean and dry,peek-a-booing toes back into her jeans and kissing her cute little nose as she stands, "all done". I can take a breath in the midst of a not-listening, not-choosing-obedience moment with my son and choose kindness, patience and understanding over anger (most of the time, I mean, I'm no saint).

I LOVE my job.

I am so grateful for this season and for the opportunity to be with my littles. Even on the tough days - maybe not in the midst of them, but still...

Please Lord, help me to stay present and connected to you so that I know what you are asking of me each day, and please give me a heart of joy as I walk the path you set before me.

[We went to the Skagit Valley tulip festival this weekend. It was a fun family adventure and a break from house hunting - this was the closest thing I got to a picture of both kids...both so busy, busy!!]





Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Home is where my loves are...

We put in an offer. We didn't get the house.

The last week, especially the past 24 hours, have been stressful and anxiety-filled and hopeful and in the end just disappointing and frustrating. When I heard our (above list price offer) was not accepted and that someone had offered even more money with even more appealing pieces to their offer it's hard not to take it very personally, but at the same time my reaction told me a lot about this house. I am so sad to have to start the looking process up again, I am exhausted by it. And yet, I am not really mourning this particular house, in fact I am suddenly feeling relief about certain things which I had talked myself into being ok with to make the offer. [Enjoy the pink granite kitchen counters and the significant taxes for those views, new owners] I have nothing but peace about us not getting this house and for that I am thankful, and for the prayers and support of so many of our friends and family in the process, I am even more thankful.

As I ate dinner with the kids tonight, Nora managing to get quinoa and yogurt everywhere as she excitedly fed herself, and Levi jabbering away a mile a minute and telling me about his day - every minute of which I had spent with him of course, so it was not new information, I had an overwhelming sense of contentment. In the moments of life happening, I felt at peace.

Later, as the kids were taking their bath and squealing with delight as they popped the bubbles I was blowing or covering themselves in soap suds I couldn't help but smile. This is our life and our home is whereever it happens.

When Jeremy walks through the door after work to whoops and cheers, even some from me if it's been a particularly long afternoon, I am home too.

Yes, we are tired of some of the details of this living arrangement and ready for our own space, but we are also already home.

This time last week we didn't even know that this particular house existed. Who knows what tomorrow might bring? The market is picking up, along with the competition, so who knows how many houses we will have to offer on before we get one, but I trust that until then we can find our home in the midst of life together if we just open our eyes.

Our forever house is out there somewhere, and we might have to search for a while longer to find it and then fight tooth and nail to actually get it but one day, some day, we will be nomads no longer.

I might take the next 24 hours to feel a bit sorry for myself; take it easy, order a pizza at 3am to the address of the house we didn't get to thank the owners who didn't accept our offer (just kidding) and consume more chocolate than is healthy for me but after that I will put my game face back on and get back on the househunting train.

Choo choo.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Spring already!

Spring arrived already. And up until it sprang we had had some beautiful weather, but since then the rains have returned.

What a gloomy day, I have chili bubbling in the crock pot because this morning it just felt right! We made it out of the house to the song and story time at the local library which was a nice reason to get out of the house but we still got soaked getting to and from the car! The kids love the children's librarian and she does such a good job! (This activity is one of our favourite new discoveries of living here in Newcastle)

Levi has been on a mission to drive us crazy the past couple of days, just being so disobedient, defiant and seeming not to care about any discipline we try to offer. He is in a season of not really needing to nap every day, and when he does nap, he ends up going to bed later, sometimes not falling asleep until close to 9pm! But he still gets up at 6 or 6.30am and then is just so difficult. If he doesn't nap, he's crashed before 7pm but afternoons are miserable. It means that day to day I'm not sure if naps will happen and his little body is struggling with the adjustment. I just wish (again) that we were in a space where we could figure out a good and consistent quiet time routine for him so he had some down time even when he wasn't napping but the set up means he would be disturbing Nora and that doesn't seem fair, and also means he is starting to have his hour of medically okay-ed screen time most days because it keeps him still and quiet :)

Nora is sleeping much better on the whole. She is 90% weaned now, praise God for the simplicity of that process. She still nurses once usually around 9 or 10 pm but other than that she's taking milk in bottles. (Can we please talk about the fact it might be less expensive for our family to buy a cow than keep our kids supplied with organic milk, we are now getting through close to 4 gallons a week!) She started only take a few ounces at a time which had me worried and shoveling yogurt and cheese into her at every opportunity to keep her dairy up, but in the past couple of days shes taking close to 8oz at a time for each of her 4 feeds! She is also eating like champ so I think she is realising that there is no middle of the night snacking any more! It has and will mean a few more rough nights for us as a family as she shows her discontentment with just being offered a pacifier at night but she's getting used to the idea and complaining less. Of course the day after we started weaning she came down with a cold and now I think shes cutting some more teeth so poor kid has been through the ringer but she's still managing smiles.

I am sure Nora's weaning and night time unsettled-ness is part of the reason Levi has been overtired as he gets disturbed by her when she is loud and awake. And the sleep disruption is certainly not helping Jeremy and I be the nicest to each other either :)

Not that we have anything big on our plates or anything like trying to buy a house, oh, wait...yes, we do.
On that front we finally found a house we love. Its fantastic. Checks most of our boxes and would be great, but for that reason it's a very popular listing and there are already a bunch of pre-inspections happening so we know we are only one of many people wanting to make this place home. They are reviewing all the offers at the same time on Wednesday afternoon and in a market of cash buyers, developers and houses going for $150,000 above asking price we are not holding our breath. We are praying and trusting that God has a place for us, but facing the reality that it is not likely to be this place, even though we would love, love, love it if our offer was chosen.

Life goes on, busy and crazy in a very normal way. Happy Spring to one and all! I am certainly eager to see the ways in which this spring holds new life for me and our family.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Let the weaning commence!

I was very fortunate to have been able to breastfeed both my babies. I didn't have an easy time of it either time for different reasons but I am glad I persevered. When Levi was ten months old I got pregnant with Nora and the medication I had to start taking meant I had to stop nursing cold turkey. Levi was a dream about this sudden change of life, I began giving him four, 8oz bottles a day and he would drink the whole lot down every time without a second look. [Side note : He also started sleeping through the night at this point too, so I saw his night time wakings were hunger related] I think my supply must have dropped more than I realised and he was hungry and eager to eat those yummy calories :)

When Nora turned ten months, I made sure I was 100% NOT pregnant and again at eleven and twelve months (and for the foreseeable future) She is far more attached to nursing than Levi ever was. She isn't all business about it like he was but happy to take her time, latch on and off and generally just enjoys having it there when it takes her fancy.

I haven't put her on a feeding schedule, but still just feed on demand as she asks for it or as I need to use it to settle her or calm her down. You see what I said there, I use it for more than just "feeding" and there in lies the problem now she is a year old and I want my body back!

I am ready to be done nursing. I am ready to feel a sense of freedom and that I can be away from her without causing her distress. However, my sweet opinionated little lady doesn't always appreciate being offered a bottle and she certainly doesn't have the capacity to drink as much as Levi did in one go - at least, I don't think she does?!

I decided to try and start feeding at set times a day and then pick a feed to replace with a bottle of milk (thankfully she likes cow's milk). Maybe do that for a few days/ a week and then pick another feed to phase out. Ending hopefully with her drinking at least 16oz of milk a day (plus water). Slow and steady wins the race and all that. However, I have a girls weekend away booked for April and I will be going so we do  have a deadline :)

I was so nervous but day one - which is today, has gone great. I gave her a bottle for her second feed, after she woke up from her morning nap and she took the 4 oz I prepared (it was an amount her doc recommended starting with) and I think if there had been 6 she might have finished that too so tomorrow I will increase it. Then she ate a snack bar, lunch a little later and then nursed before going down for her second nap. I feel peace that we might actually be able to do this.

Night time will actually be the toughest, because she is nursing for comfort and I am nursing to keep her quiet so she doesn't wake up Levi while we are all in the same room. I am praying we can find something that works. Maybe as I increase her bottles/milk and decrease nursing she will start sleeping better too? I can but hope and pray.

I just feel a pang of sadness that this nursing season is ending. Even though its my idea and my desire. I am not sure what the future holds for our family in terms of adding another baby at any time (not any time soon, but any time ever) This might be it. This might be some of the final times I am connecting with my daughter in this way. In the craziness of life with two little ones, I have enjoyed those times of one on one time with just my baby. I think we will have to start snuggling and reading books more often to replace that time.

So here we are, day one half under my belt. It wasn't terrible but my girl knows how to mix it up. I am sure tomorrow will be a whole different experience so I hope she is still happy to take the bottle.

I am also hoping that gradually reducing her feeds will help me not t get too uncomfortable :)

Any tips (for any aspects of this process) from mamas who have been there and done that much appreciated.


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