Wednesday, April 23, 2014

We're hanging in. Life is good.

Time marches on.

 Nora turned 9 weeks last Friday.

 I am averaging 3 showers a week so it's not all bad but this 2 babies in 18 months business should come with a warning label for the first weeks!

 My days and weeks still roller-coaster from blissful joy; art projects with Levi, park visits, playdates, and cooing conversations with Nora to the deepest anxiety and depression; snapping at Levi and sitting on the couch in my jammies watching 16 and pregnant, eating chocolate and wishing away the hours until Jeremy gets home so I can cry on his shoulder.

Thankfully for all involved, the dark times are becomming much less frequent and the joy in the managable times is increasing. I am completely biased but I think my babies are awesome. Both of them are growing and changing every day and its a total privilege to witness it.

To see Levi's sense of adventure and his boundless energy coming out and to hear his language just exploding is exhausting and fabulous in equal measure :) I am able to communicate with him and know that his 8am trantrum is because I didn't agree that m'n'm's were suitable for breakfast. I still have to deal with the attitude and opinions of a 20 month old, but when he melts down at least he tells me why. At the same time, he is becomming more and more of a help around the house. He is always eager to help with the laundry, unloading the basket into the washer and then from the washer to the dryer. He can also find me clean diapers and wipes for Nora if I am changing her. He enjoys being a helper - on his terms, and when he's not busy making a mess somewhere else, climbing on a table or playing with his trains.

And our sweet Nora girl is just changing minute by minute. She is cooing and talking non-stop when she is awake - even though that isn't usually for very long. She's taken to smiling like its going out of style, and is eager to show off her skills to anyone who will coo and smile back at her. She is on the verge of rolling, I swear, and I am just so, so excited to see all the firsts that are coming her way in the days, weeks and months ahead.

I am reminded after every playdate that I cannot survive without community. I am so very grateful for the friends and family who are walking so closely, graciously and generously alongside us in this season. This tenth week is the first time we have not had people bringing us meals. What a blessing that has been, and honestly, I am almost eager to be back in my kitchen on a more regular basis having been gone for so long!

It's also a gift that so many of our friends have little ones Levi's age so we have offers of playdates galore. I am becomming more adventurous about where we go and for how long as Nora becomes slightly more predictable but I am also continuing to have grace with myself that in this season I do not have to, a) say "Yes" to every invitation, or b) be busy all the time. Levi really enjoys having some days at home and so do I.

Jeremy's parents have been so sweet to stay with me when he has had to be gone for work overnight and they are just so helpful with the kids and in helping me stay sane as I go solo for a few days at a time. I am hoping in the weeks ahead I might feel equipped to truly do it solo while he is away, but until then I am so thankful that they have been so available. Not to mention that Levi especially enjoys having them here!

In conclusion, to update you on life with us, we are chugging along nicely all things considered.

Yes, there are many things from my daily 'to do' list left undone each day but I get to the important ones. Yes, there are classes I meant to sign up for but missed the deadline (again). And yes, I could be getting more sleep. But truth be told, in all the mess of our once pristine house and all the yelling of almost 2-year-old toddlerhood and all the sleep deprivation of newborn parenting I think about our journey to get here. I remember how blessed we are and how we have been gifted these two beautiful souls to parent. I take a deep breath and say a quiet prayer of thanks. Even in the darkest of moments I can know the peace of God's spirit within me and know deep within that life is good.

This picture is a fantastic slice of life captured. Grandma reading to Levi while he sits on the potty as we encourage his toilet training (in early stages) and Grandpa talking to Nora while she explores the playmat. It's our life :)



Monday, April 14, 2014

Dear Nora - Two Months Old

Nora Grace,

This is your two month update. I cannot believe it.

You are still an incredible sleeper little one, during the day you seem to have a long 2.5-3hr nap in the morning - this often means you fall asleep before we get to a playdate and wake up after we got home, I promise you did leave the house, even if you don't remember it! - you then have a feed and are awake for a little while before another long nap in the afternoon, and another later in the day.

You are a little less settled in the evenings and want to cluster feed. I can get dinner on the table but you often want to eat while we are eating :) It's only fair, I suppose. Most of the evening you are feeding or sucking on your pacifier and taking cat naps. Around 10.30 or 11pm you settle for the night in your bassinet and are frequently doing 4 hours but have managed 5 and 6 a few times too. You are in the bassinet a lot but often when you are struggling to settle I just snuggle you close and you quickly fall asleep.

We have figured out your nursing too and while we still use the nipple shield for a few minutes at the start of the feeding you are able to finish the feed without it. I love snuggling with you while you eat. It is a whole new ball game to care for an infant with a toddler running around but those moments of nursing you close to me and seeing your little hand gripping at my shirt is a time when we get to just be still and together.

In your awake time you are getting more interactive. You look around and take in your environment, you love the contrasting black and white stripes on your baby chair and study the hanging toys very carefully. You get excited when your hands hit the toys and make them jingle or your feet that never stop moving hit one and make it swing. I love to watch your face as you start to learn about the world around you.

Your crowing achievement in your second month has been to learn how to smile and its amazing. So adorable as it lights up your whole face. It's clear that you are proud of yourself when you figure it out too.

You are not afraid to share your opinion when you are in need of food or a clean nappy, not to mention if you happen to be holding you in a position you don't appreciate, but these loud bursts are short and for the most part you are my mellow girl. Your sweet spirit is beautiful to see and I am so glad to see it coming out more and more each day.

You are my sweet girl and I love you so much,

Mama x






Friday, April 11, 2014

Dear Levi - Twenty Months Old

Baby boy - You are twenty months old! Despite telling me over and over you are only eighteen months :)

You have settled into a great routine again this month. Consistently sleeping through the night, starting bedtime a little after 7pm and falling asleep by yourself (after stories and songs) by around 8pm. You sleep until 6.30 or 7am and then nap from around 1 to 3pm. It's nice to feel as though you are somewhat predictable again.

Your days are busy, busy, busy, regardless of what we are doing.

Your play has evolved too and its so much fun to watch you. You love your train set and play around and around pushing the carriages and especially pushing them in and out of the "nunnel" brings you such delight.

You imagination ha really started to come out too. You pinch your fingers to pick up the tiny basket ball drawn on the paper and throw it into the hoop drawn next to it. Or you can throw an imaginary ball across the room and catch it when it's thrown back to you! You also like to drive in your little car and go to "Darbucks" to get me a mocha or Daddy a latte at the drive up window (or backwards facing dining room chair). You have started to act out some of the things you see on your shows on TV too. You stand on a box to rescue your kitty stuffed animal  that you have put on a bookshelf like in Postman Pat, or xix everything as Bob the Builder. We have to reign you in a little when you really get going with your toy hammer!

You have adopted a few other cute habits too, eating your raspberries by sticking your finger in them - as taught by Grandpa is just one. You have stopped wanting to be rocked to sleep but now you ask to be laid down in your crib "in the bed" and then ask us to rub your back as we sing Bob the Builder or the theme to Postman Pat. It is hard to make those tunes sound soothing but you don't seem to mind.

You continue to grow up in the sweetest of ways. We sit at the table for dinner and you request, "Amen" for us to say grace. You also started taking your snack to the table and wanting to say grace for that too. We should be thankful for more in our days and I hope we continue to foster in you as you get older.

You are a sweet big brother most of the time but you have also been testing boundaries. I am looking forward to the day when Nora can fend for herself but for now we will continue to remind you to have gentle hands.

You are testing boundaries in other ways too sweet boy. Some of the time seeking attention when we are doing something with your sister but other times it is just you figuring out life. You climb on the chair in the hallway and play with light switches and the setting for the porch light - it drives your Daddy insane, and you also pull out the wooden security bars in the windows to be your "bats".

You love every type of sport right now. Bats and balls are without doubt the toys of the moment.

You love to jump off the couch and pile cushions gathered from all over the house to soften your landing and squeal with delight at every leap. It's a good thing the weather is getting brighter and we have been able to take you to the beach to dig (another fave past time) and to the park as well as just playing and running in the yard. Our house is not going to survive without the respite of some time outside.

This month you rode your first bike. Its a little Kinderbike that Daddy found for you and its a balance bike. You are adorable with your sweet helmet perched on your head as you teeter across the driveway.

As the weather is improving we have been outside more and your favourite adventure at the moment is to walk to the lake front by our house, to go to the beach and throw "wocks" in the "wawer". Your language is increasing day by day as you take in the world around you. You have been fascinated watching the men build the house across the street and your construction vocab is probably your largest, naming machinary and playing with your trucks as the "digger dumps de dirt in the dump druck".

You are really not a baby anymore, you are growing into a little boy and I love to see it happening before my eyes every day!

Love you xx

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The fog is lifting

I am writing this from the couch as the sun streams through the windows of my living room. Levi is playing beside me with his train set - a tunnel and crane which I ordered ages ago arrived today and to my delight he is having a fabulous time playing with them, and narrating everything, sometimes he is just too cute! We had been playing together but after a while I was cramping his style. Once I had shown him how the crane worked and helped him configure a track that included the tunnel my input was no longer needed beyond having me close to cheer when trains go through the tunnel and to be available for any track breaking emergencies was all he desired. So I am guilt free on the computer.

Nora is asleep in her swing (big surprise - this kid could sleep for England) but will be waking soon for a new nappy and a feed. I miss her when she sleeps but I certainly appreciate it!

It's Tuesday. Nora turned six week old on Friday and (so far) this week feels, dare i say it, like we are finally getting into our new stride. It's been a rough journey to get to this point; to be in a place where I can think about another day home with just me and the kids and not find tears streaming down my face, a day that includes a few minutes to simply breathe - let alone eat lunch or heaven forbid check email on the computer and *gasp* blog, both of which I did today!

I am sure it's helping that the sun has been shining here in Seattle the past few days and we have been able to take walks, go to the park, and be outside in the yard while the rays warm our skin and the fresh air fills our lungs. Life is good but it always seems easier to see and feel it when the days are bright!

The fog of life with two babies is lifting. I can do this.
I am realising my limits; Searching for grace to cover the gaps and welcoming God into those spaces. Well, more like pleading and begging him to be there. I am saying farewell to guilt.
I am seeing how small our lives have become and am taking (small) steps to re-introduce the important (and only the important) things and people back into our days. And I am seeing the fruit that comes with community unfold in a beautiful way. Yet again I see the hands and feet of Jesus at work through those we are blessed to call family and friends.

I have a "to do" list a mile long but have seen the need for taking 'me' time each day to do something that is good for my spirit; reading a book, blogging, working out, or making picture albums. These things were all on that list but were near the bottom as laundry and dishes kept trumping them. While the need to have clean dishes, clothes and diapers (we use cloth for Levi) is real and important, the need to take time for myself is what fuels the other stuff. "Happy wife happy life" might be a common saying, probably because it rhymes better than "happy mummy, happy life", but I think it's even more important as a mother to fight for time to do things that do not revolve just around your babies and allow you to keep a sense of self outside of that role. I know it makes me a better mum when I do just that.

There are still moments in my day when the task of parenting these two precious babies feels overwhelming but they are matched with others of laughter, joy, and a confidence in myself and the ability to do what God has set before me. I am so humbled and thankful for these beautiful little ones and the true gift that is is to be their mother.

Thank you Lord, the fog is lifting.


Monday, March 17, 2014

Really, Monday?

There is nothing like declaring a new start to set satan coming at you in a big way. Some people might call it Sod's law, or simply coincidence, but I call it like I see it. The work of the enemy; eager to rail road any steps I am taking towards a stronger and more vibrant relationship with my God.

My resolve was so strong. Be available for God. Spend time in His word daily - make the time! Let my actions speak louder than my words.

By 6pm the headache that had been lingering all day was in a full out rage. I'm not sure if it was a result of dehydration because I had been terrible at drinking water for a couple of days and nursing a ton, or if it had something to do with the wisdom tooth that has suddenly decided to start cutting but either way it was painful and freaking me out. The voice in my head was telling me it was the start of the brain tumor diagnosis which would swiftly end my life and leave my babies motherless.

As my headache worsened, Levi who had been a little drippy (teething, maybe?) through the afternoon became lethargic and almost fell asleep in his high chair at the dinner table having refused anything except his milk. His low grade fever confirmed he wasn't feeling 100%. We put him to bed early and while he slept through most of the night he was awake a few times just talking in his crib with a few mews of "hold you mummy, hold you daddy" thrown in there to perk my hearing and alertness before he would drift back to sleep.

He and Nora seemed to be tag-teaming through the night. He would wake up and just as I was settling back to sleep, she'd wake up and need attention. She only nursed a couple of times but she had the worst gas and copious amounts of poop keeping her from settling.
Add the intense throbbing and pressure that would not let me find a comfortable position and I got next to no sleep.

In the morning we had a playdate planned but as I was getting ready to go, I started to feel lightheaded and woozie - not safe to drive with my precious cargo. The older of whom was still ever so emotional. I was fighting to make it work but in the end I gave in and called to cancel. Sad. I was looking forward to having somewhere to go and I know Levi would have loved the new space and the company of other kiddos.

It ended up being a great morning in spite of it all.

My headache subsided and even the dizziness passed. Nora took a good long nap leaving Levi and I to play and even plant out a hydrangea that had been given to us which he loved of course, any excuse to dig and get muddy outside.

It was a simple, slow, low key day. We laughed, and snuggled and enjoyed each others company. Here we are cuddled up for an episode of Bob the builder while we wait for Daddy to get home.

It's now just after 9pm. I am heading up to take a shower after I pack the diaper bag for our early start tomorrow. And then I will spend my time with the Lord. It's not perfect but it's day one so take that Monday you don't have me beat yet!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Available?

It's been quite the weekend for me spiritually. The past few months have been an increasingly dry time in my faith journey. I have felt overwhelmed with life in a way that doesn't allow for thinking about anything beyond the immediate task at hand. I have let journalling and devotionals fall by the way side as I try my best to raise our son and carry/birth/raise our our daughter. Some relationships have become a burden more than a blessing and I have let them slide in a semi-intentional way; understanding that without effort they die but feeling empty of the energy I need to invest. I have felt this tension the most in my relationship with the Lord. In this season of life when I need him more than ever before, I am allowing the busyness of life to become a barrier between us.

Over the past few days I have very much felt God's voice and prompting to come back to Him, to seek His face and to trust Him. I certainly wasn't looking for Him, and in that truth I am so thankful that His love goes beyond my humanity. He knows me so completely that his timing was perfect.

Mar 16 at 7:52 PM
It's been quite the weekend for me spiritually. The past few months have been an increasingly dry time in my faith journey. I have felt overwhelmed with life in a way that doesn't allow for thinking about anything beyond the immediate task at hand. I have let journalling and devotionals fall by the way side as I try my best to raise our son and carry/birth/raise our our daughter. Some relationships have become a burden more than a blessing and I have let them slide in a semi-intentional way; understanding that without effort they die but feeling empty of the energy I need to invest. I have felt this tension the most in my relationship with the Lord. In this season of life when I need him more than ever before, I am allowing the busyness of life to become a barrier between us. 

Over the past few days I have very much felt God's voice and prompting to come back to Him, to seek His face and to trust Him. I certainly wasn't looking for Him, and in that truth I am so thankful that His love goes beyond my humanity. He knows me so completely that his timing was perfect.

I attended the women's tea at our church yesterday afternoon with a couple of friends, a plan that had been on the calendar for a while. Its an annual event that raises funds for the women's ministry. It's an opportunity to put on a pretty frock (if you haven't just had a baby and only fit in maternity jeans), nibble on tiny sandwiches and sip tea. You sit around beautifully decorated tables and listen to a speaker share their heart. This years speaker was Kimberlee Conway Ireton. A Seattle-based mother of four, writer and speaker. She spoke about the importance of making Ebeneezer's a part of our daily lives to recognise and remember all God has done in our lives. Her talk was inspired and inspiring. The Lord spoke to me through her words; simply and gently calling me to take time for him each and every day. Building Ebeneezer's will come in time, but his call was much smaller. He just asked me to come to him. I left the tea inspired; thankful that I had heard God's voice so clearly but fearful that I would fail to make it happen.

My head was swirling.

Fast forward to the middle of the night and I am up with Nora. She is nursing and I am using my cell phone to give us some light but not enough to wake my sweet, sleeping husband. I noticed a new email in my inbox. A daily devotional from 'My Daily Bread.' They come every day and for a long time they would be the first thing I would read in the morning but recently I have been deleting them as unread so i don't have to feel guilty that I am not making time to read them. I was about to delete this message too, and flip to check what was new on Facebook at 3am, but then God's gentle nudge changed my mind. I clicked on the email and read the words inside. 

Your words were found, and I ate them - Jeremiah 15:16

The devotional asked us to contemplate the truth that in the same way our bodies crave food, our spirits crave the word of the Lord. It's certainly not a new concept for me but as my tired body digested the words I heard it anew. I know life would be different if I spent more time reading my Bible. I woke up with a renewed desire and commitment to carve out time in my day to spend with God.

I woke up to Sunday. Not a bad day to find ones self with a renewed desire for connection with the Lord. Off to church we went - arriving only ten minutes late and we were even all dressed and fed! Pastor Scott gave the sermon on the topic of being available for God. It was a really challenging message for me that seemed to be the final piece of what God had been speaking to me this weekend. How are we available to God and how do our actions reflect our faith. What kind of examples are we setting for our children? 

I have been living in my own strength, with no extra to give back. I have been a poor example of faith to my babies and that reality is one I cannot let go. By spending more time with the Lord, seeking His voice and His will for my days I know He will give me what I need to live out the life He is calling me to with grace. As I draw closer to Him, I will become more available and in turn I hope and pray that my life will become a reflection of God's love. 

I am looking forward to turning this new leaf; to beginning a new season and seeing where it takes me.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Dear Nora - One Month Old

Precious girl,

Today marks your four week and one month birthday :) So much to celebrate!

You continue to be our champion sleeper and are managing a 4 or 5 hour stretch at night which I very much appreciate. In the day you are often asleep if you are not eating. Your brother is not exactly quiet when he is playing with his hammer or his cars so  you have sadly been more disturbed, we might have to start having you nap away from the action but I will be so sad to miss watching you so peaceful as you dream.

You are doing much better with your nursing now and managing to latch with the help of the shield. You have a large appetite especially considering how little you are! I treasure those quiet moments you snuggled, warn against me and your little fingers grasping my shirt. We don't get many moments when its just the two of us so I cherish each second.

You are such a sweet heart, and for the short times you are awake your bright eyes are always shining. You have started to coo and I can see your efforts to smile too. I cannot wait until you put it all together and your face is bright with a grin - besides the ones that come from gas - although those are a sweet, sweet glimpse of the delight that is coming.

I suppose its a part of being the second born that you need to make your voice really heard above the noise that's already happening but you have a loud and impressive cry when you have a need. You are such an easy going soul so your cries are only for nasty diapers that need to be changed or more often hunger.

You are not yet in any type of routine. You can go 3 or 4 hours between feeds if you are sleeping soundly but if you are awake you want to eat all the time. Thankfully you will take a pacifier which can settle you as well as nursing. However, evenings prove to be a tough time for you to settle any other way than nursing evey ten minutes! I will take it, but I hope that you settle into more of a routine soon.

You are just starting to outgrow the newborn size onesies and jammies you have been wearing. It makes me sad to pack away your clothes but I am also proud to see you growing so well.

Baby girl, you are goring so fast, I can't believe it but its so exciting to watch.

Cutie pie, I can't imagine life without you.

Hugs and so much love
Mama x

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