Wednesday, September 24, 2014

My plans, their needs, and God's grace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Vacation memories

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Dear Nora - Seven Months Old

Baby girl,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 12, 2014

Brought to you from Sunriver, OR.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am hopeful that this week I can make time.

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

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

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

Monday, September 8, 2014

In His Time; patience in the waiting

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Carrying the changes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Dear Nora - 6 months old

Dear Nora,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mama x


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