Monday, October 20, 2014

One child left behind

I am typing this from our hotel room in Half Moon Bay, California. Jeremy has a conference for work and Nora and I tagged along to enjoy some California sunshine. We left Levi with Jeremy's parents. We actually brought Levi to the same conference when he was only a few months old and it was in Florida, it was his first plane ride too.

When we were planning this trip I hadn't given too much thought to the part where I would wave goodbye to my boy and then not see him for three days! I was a mess in the car as we drove to the airport.

This morning, waking up and caring for Nora as I get ready for the day, I am missing him terribly. Its hard to enjoy the peace when it just feels too quiet. Nora is taking her first nap, and usually this is the time I finish getting ready myself and then have some delightful minutes with Levi, just him and I. We play trains or read books or color and its just a beautiful time to give him some one on one attention. Instead, today I am sitting, blogging, and missing him!

I know he will be having a great time with his grandparents. They have some really fun things planned and I am sure he will hardly know we are missing, but still.

The hotel here is so pretty. Its set up on the top of the cliffs looking out over the water. It has a beautiful patio area with cairns and outdoor couches to sit and sip on a cocktail as you look out at the ocean. Its amazing. Shame Jeremy has to be at the pesky conference, but I am glad we had most of the afternoon yesterday to enjoy it together before he had anything to attend.

It is always nice to have a break from the normal routine. And this is no different, especially as we have some big decisions to make regarding our house and a possible purchase soon. It feels like a positive thing to come away and have time and space to think. I hope we will return with a decision.

Life in a new house will mean finding a new normal, new routines, a new way of being as a family and especially for me of being with the kids alone again during the day. I have so appreciated Jeremy's parents help and extra hands during the day. Settling Nora for a nap, or taking one of the kids to an activity without having to so much prearranging is such a gift. I know we will find our way again, but it will be an adjustment for all of us. I confess I am slightly intimidated to solo parent into he day again. Before Nora was so much younger and did so much less, I suppose the same can be said for Levi too. They have both grown so much in the past few months.

Fitting everything that I need to into the day is a challenge and a giant balancing act but I am hopeful with some intentional planning I CAN figure it out without too many growing pains :) I just read a really interesting article by Bible Study Fellowship about introducing the concept of quiet times to you r kids, and the suggestion was that you took time in the day to do a quiet time, read your Bible, and so it in a way that encourages you kids to be quiet too and respect that its an important part of your day. For some reason the idea of doing my quiet time with my kids around was totally new to me. I think it could be a great piece to fit into our daily routine. First thing in the morning might not work but I can think of a few time slots that it really could be great. Plus. I know my days would go more smoothly with an injection of Jesus!

I feel as though this post is a little scrambled. I don't often have long periods of quiet to think and clearly there are many things on my mind, all mixing together. The most overriding one though is that I miss my biggest baby. I think I am going to sign off and call him :)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Dear Nora - 8 months old (10/14)

Dear Nora,

This is a couple of days, late please forgive me. Life is a little crazy right now. We are still living with your Grandma and Grandpa while we look for a house. I am sorry that you haven't had your own room or your own space to learn to sleep and nap better because I think it would make you a bit happier during the day.

You have become a terrible napper. You can go whole days with just a few cat naps and then still not sleep great at night. Most often you take a nap of some description - between 20 minutes and an hour and a half, most commonly the shorter - in the morning around 9am and another one around 1pm. After that you fight it a bunch, and sometimes are just beside yourself by dinner time, unable to keep your eyes open to eat and taking an inappropriate nap at 5pm. Even then you go down pretty easily at night but then you are up a bunch and spend most of it in our bed just so we can get some sleep! I am beyond ready for you to figure that out but I am here to hold you and rock you and give you your pacifier until that day.

We don't have our baby gates here, but boy we need them! You are an expert crawler, getting where you want to be in a matter of seconds. You love to pull yourself to standing and then sit back down, over and over. You are getting braver, standing without holding on the furniture and when you have hands to hold you have started taking steps. It's so cute because you are so tiny!! Not content with that you have also mastered the stairs. You went into the hallway and your Grandpa said, "maybe in a month or two you can figure out how to do the" to which you responded by climbing up the whole flight without looking back.

You love to play with paper of any description and bat it around waving it wildly and laughing. Your favourite thing is the bath, you crawl into the bathroom as soon as you hear the water running and pull up to standing at the side of the bath, banging your hands on the edge in excitement. You and Levi take a bath together most nights and hands down it is your favourite time of each day. You splash and squeal and are not put off by water in your eyes or on your face, you just smile and smile.

Just in the past few days you have found your voice and started to really string sounds together, "ba ba" and "bub bub". Its so cute!! I am eager to hear that "ma ma" :) Even without words, you certainly make your opinion known; yelling loudly when you want to eat if you are sitting in the highchair, or screaming to let us know you are frustrated you can't get to something you want, or that your brother has taken a toy you were playing with and you'd like it back. You share your opinion freely and loudly throughout the day. You certainly are not as laid back as. We had imagined even your first few sleepy month soft life,  but I am glad that you let us know what you need.

You are such a goof ball too, making the funniest faces, scrunching up your face and snorting air our of your nose, or opening your gummy mouth (still no teeth to speak of) super wide and laughing. I love to see you start to find things so funny. I think you are going to have a fabulous sense of humor.

You are eating like a champ and you love your food. You pretty much eat all the pureed fruits and veggies offered even though its easy to see you have a sweet tooth, and now love to chomp on pieces of toast or scrambled eggs at breakfast time and hold slices of pear or banana and chew them. You are a master at getting the little puffs and yogurt drops in your mouth too.

You like to play the fake cough game, where you cough to get someone's attention and then if they cough back you reply, over and over.

You love music and often bounce along to your music toys or a cd. You have pretty good rhythm for a baby, little one. You just love to stand at your musical activity table or the little piano and make it make the music so you can dance!

Bubba Goo, your sweet kisses and the way you try to gnaw on my nose, melt my heart. I love you so much!

Happy 8 months, even though it's a little late I don't love you any less (pictures to be added shortly!)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Being all here with one foot in the future

It's October already. In fact it's the middle of October. This year is flying. It will be Halloween, and Thanksgiving and even Christmas before we know it! Life with a baby and a toddler is crazy and unpredictable. Days have moments of delight and frustration in equal measure and I am trying to take time to take a deep breath and savor each day.

We are still living with my in-laws as we search for a new house. Its been a couple of months already and we are tired but trying to stay patient. We trust there is a home out there for us, at a price we are willing and able to afford so we remain prayerful about the whole situation.

Living about a 30 minute drive from where we used to has been challenging. I think it has been that way for me especially. I had established a wonderful community and filled our days with play-dates and fun activities but here I don't know anyone and I don't know the places to go or the things to do.  I had become pretty sad about the things I was missing and mourning the people we were not able to see on a regular basis at the moment.

Then one day last week I had a moment. A reminder from the Lord that this is the place we are at and it's not a mistake. Jeremiah 29:4 talks about planting gardens where you are, not waiting for the future to live. It's a verse that has guided me to be present in my circumstances on more than one occasion and again it worked to change my attitude.

I started engaging the other moms at the local park - we see the same families there every time we go and while I had chit-chatted I had kept my distance not really wanting to invest any time in new friendships. I opened up and as I did I found that they were really nice as a bonus were a fantastic resource for kid-friendly activities. I also spent some time googling and found a great farm/pumpkin patch that we went and explored last Wednesday and LOVED, it was a beautiful day and the kids had a blast. I have also found a few more things I want to try out in the coming weeks.

I found local swim lessons for Levi which would be for the month of November - I will wait to book these until we know for sure that we will be here, but it seems highly likely! Suddenly I am feeling as though there is not enough time to explore everything we want to before we get busy with a new house!

Levi turned 26 months yesterday and is certainly finding his toddler voice - it says "no" a lot - but most of the time he is a funny, inquisitive little man. He loves playing hide and seek and is even starting to understand how to play which is nice :) His imaginative play is remarkable and I truly cherish hearing his little voice play voices of his stuffed animals and to be let into his world in this way. He makes us laugh all the time and is generally a very happy little guy. He still takes a 1.5 - 2 hour nap in the afternoon and goes down around 8.30pm for the night. When he is awake he is full on energy. He still loves to be outside and could happily play at the park all day.

We are living as best we can in this time of transition. Jeremy and I have (finally) found our stride after a few rocky weeks and the kids are doing great all things considered. So for today we are embracing the beautiful things that we get to experience here. Watching the children and their grandparents is so special and Levi especially is having the time of his life with his best buddy, Grandpa and Nora is getting so comfortable with them its really sweet to see. She is such a mummy's girl and at night no one else will do - and she will loudly and dramatically let you know this is her opinion. This has felt very waring and I am ready to move through this time so I can leave the house in the evening without worry or guilt for the craziness I have left behind.

With all the happy things and all challenges, life overall is good. Very good. And while our future is exciting, for today we find peace and choose to see blessings where we are.

[Here are the kids at the pumpkin patch. So sweet!]

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!


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