Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Monday, February 27, 2012
The Super Striped Shirt: This is one of three shirts I alternate wearing. It gets washed occasionally, so don't worry. If we go out, I switch out the sweats for jeggings and throw on a black cardi and some jewelry ... and when we go to church I change completely ... but once we're home, back to the uniform. Comfy wins. However, I do like to at least wear mascara and do my hair every day, even if it's just a ponytail. I can still feel girly even when looking shlummy, right?
The Super Schedule: The meal calendar by which life exists. If this thing is filled out and organized, I am noticeably less-stressed. Meals have the potential to be the craziest times of day (inevitably the baby is crying/eating/pooping when the big kids are hungry and ready for food), so if I have a plan, I feel empowered, even if the plan doesn't work out--at least it was there in the first place. And feeling empowered is AWESOME. Also, have you tried Back to Nature macaroni and cheese? It's my kids' new favorite. Yum!
The Super Pre-Packaged Sandwich: Okay, okay, let's go ahead and forget for a minute that I always preach against packaged stuff and say that things should be made fresh and you should always use wheat bread blah blah blah. With my eldest child being three and my youngest two being under two, I am not above having someone else make my children's PB&J at this point. Besides, I serve them with fruit, so that helps, right? ;) Caleb refers to them as the "circle sandwich" and it therefore wins tons of cool points. High-five, Uncrustables.
The Super Crocker: Refer back to the Super Schedule--notice how almost EVERY meal is a crock-pot meal. I know what you're thinking. Crock-pot meals are crusty and dry and bland. Let me also inform you that crock-pot meals are EASY. And easy wins! But, seriously, most of the meals we've made have been quite tasty and I love that dinner is ready by the time dinner time rolls around. Fantastic. Plus, there are healthy options out there, too. Here is a yummy crock-pot carnitas dish. I serve it with sour cream and avocado on a warm corn tortilla. Mmmm.
The Super Crack: The 82% gives me the extra dose of caffeine I need to make it through the afternoon. Or sometimes the morning. Or sometimes ... both.
The Super Sling: Without it, errands would not be possible. Can you see her in there? Little papoose. Note also the Super Starbucks, Mama's Super Treat!
Our super life is crazy, but not out of control.
Challenging, but not impossible.
Unpredictable, but always fun.
Exhausting, but equally rewarding.
I wouldn't have it any other way.
Have a lovely day!
Saturday, February 25, 2012
Dear Lydia Jane,
Today you are one month old.
I know, right? Time has FLOWN.
This has been quite a month. You have been patient as we've learned to juggle three kids and I have to say, you are, for the most part, quite a content baby. Since you were two days old, you've eaten every three hours during the day and every three to four hours at night, like clockwork. During the day, you follow a pretty consistent feed/wake/sleep pattern, staying awake for roughly one hour at a time before falling asleep. Like your big brother, you're a routine baby, and, again like your brother, you created one from the very beginning. You eat around 6:30/7:00 in the morning, then every three hours, except in the evening, when you eat around 6:00 and then 8:00 (your last feeding of the day). You usually wake up twice to eat, but you've recently given us nights of only waking up once--we'll take that, too! :) You're a good eater and you've whittled your length of feedings down from 20 minutes per side to 8-10 minutes per side. You are also an expert spitter-upper and it isn't entirely unusual for me to discover dried spit-up on the back of my shirt at the end of the day!
You have the most adorable serious face.
You wrinkle your forehead and look very much like you are thinking very hard, trying to focus on the task at hand (which is typically pooping). You know who else had quite a serious face as a baby?
(Caleb, one month)
Yeah, your brother. I know we aren't supposed to compare kids, but I will go ahead and say it's pretty crazy how much you and your big brother favor each other already. We'll see if that continues. For now, it's been a big blessing because I can kind of predict what you will want based on what worked for your brother. I know that will change, but I definitely appreciate it for now during these early weeks!
Your cries now fall into three very distinct categories: A long, lulling wail when you are tired (your quietest cry), a punctuated, grunting cry when you are hungry, and a loud scream when you have gas (your loudest cry).
Every day you and I get in some snuggle time when your big sister and big brother take their naps. We usually fall asleep, too, and it's one of the highlights of my day! I love hearing your little grunts and groans. Such sweet little baby noises. You weighed nine pounds 1 ounce at your one month appointment. You're long and lean with a big head. In fact, we had to take you to a follow-up appointment recently to make sure you're head wasn't too big. Don't worry--it isn't! :) You have dark blue eyes for now, and a great head of blonde hair. I wash it every day and it only takes one kiss to turn it greasy, which is too bad, since you we kiss you a LOT! You've just started making eye contact and turning your head when you hear my voice. You haven't smiled yet, but when I smile at you, I can see your eyes relax as though you want to smile. So, while a smile has yet to grace your lips, I can see one in your eyes.
Your favorite things are your paci, your floor gym, the sling (especially helpful during evening fussy times when we're getting the big kids in bed) and to be swaddled when you sleep. You do not love your car seat, although we have found that singing silly songs while we're strapping you in does help. Oh, the joy of watching your parents humiliate themselves! You are beginning to outgrow your newborn clothes and transition into 0-3 month clothing. Bring on the cute outfits!
Your older siblings are learning to adjust to having a baby sister in their lives! Caleb isn't sure why you won't stop crying sometimes when he asks you to :), but other than that, he likes to talk to you and talk about you. He is quite proud to be the older brother to TWO little sisters! Naomi is your little Mama. It is precious to see her pat your tummy, kiss your head, "help" me burp you, and to hear her talk to you. She likes to sit next to me while I'm feeding you and she's a big helper during diaper changes. We know that you are "her" baby and I can't wait to see your relationship with your sister continue to grow as you get older. Her exuberant, glowing face when she looks at you will have you smiling in no time!
We love you, baby girl. Welcome to our lives. We're so glad you're here.
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Since adding Lydia to our little family, the Cub and the Mouse have grown closer, something wonderful that I was not expecting. Watching siblings turn into friends is about as sweet as it gets.
: My (not so) big kids on a lazy morning. Love. :
Have a lovely day.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
My forehead is getting a break from the ashes this year since I won't be able to make it to an Ash Wednesday service, but I have to say that I'm really ready for Lent this year. Do you ever feel like you're ready for a pause? I know I am--a chance to refocus and recharge before Easter morning. I'm giving up Facebook again this year and I'm ready for it. It will be hard during the middle-of-the-night feedings when I'm mindlessly thumbing through apps on my phone, but I know the break will be a good one--to focus on my life here!
This Lent is going to be a little different for me. I fully intended on memorizing a passage of Scripture, since that is the Lenten discipline I always choose to practice. I've mentioned before how much the Bible Study in which I am participating, Walking With God In the Desert, has meant to me and how this time in my life feels, at times, very much like a desert. I figured the passage I should memorize would somehow come out of the study. Monday had been a particularly hard day and I was really looking forward to the study on Tuesday.
I settled in my seat to watch the video for our study. I had Lydia asleep in one arm and a cup of coffee in my other hand, a very obvious example of my life right now. This particular video discussed paths in the desert--how the word "path" is used several times in Scripture and what the actual desert paths looked like--tiny trails amongst jagged rocks of all sizes. At times the trails were not even discernible because of the rocks. The guide gestured to the rocks, explaining what a tangible example they were of the trials we face. The smaller softball sized stones are like our day-to-day trials--the kids, a fight with our spouse, etc. The bigger stones might represent unemployment or a severed relationship. And the boulders, the huge, towering stones, might represent something life-altering, like the death of a loved one. I saw those small stones and could totally relate--I imagine myself tripping over those small stones all day sometimes, trying to juggle everything that requires my attention.
The guide paused from discussing the rocks to mention the importance of honey to the Israelites, how sweet it tasted and what a tangible example of God's goodness it was.
He then referenced Psalm 81, which discusses the Israelites' struggle as God led them through the desert, a time when, even though they felt lost, God knew their every step. He then quoted verse 16: "But I would feed you with the finest wheat, and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you."
Honey from the rock.
God's goodness within the trial.
We hear all the time about the lessons God teaches us in our troubles. But the tangible, stark example of a rock and honey hit me in a totally new way. Probably because the idea of it seems so absurd--honey from a rock?
Sounds a little impossible.
And I realized that the discipline I need to practice this Lent was not memorization, but meditation. To claim this verse and believe it when I stumble over the small stones. Because even though I know that God has ordained these days for me and that I can trust Him, I do not always practice what I know. All it takes is one bad day for my attitude to plummet. Even after several good days, I so easily feel like giving up when I suddenly trip over a stone, whether that stone is an inconsolable baby, a burnt meal, or a less-than-compliant toddler. And on the days when it's stone after stone after stone, it's even worse. I have no desire to see God's goodness. I'm just ticked off.
I need this Lenten time. I want to look back on these days and see what God was teaching me--these days when I feel like I'm wandering, but I know the path is laid out.
I want to taste the honey from the rocks.
Have a lovely day.
Monday, February 20, 2012
Last week I started to feel a little nutty, with being cooped up thanks to cold weather, colds, and a newborn. As I glanced around my house one day, I decided it was time to give our breakfast nook some attention. I really like our breakfast nook. Its two walls encompass two large windows, which keep the room sunny and cheery. However. It is also completely void of any decor or personality, so I took it upon myself to remedy that. Of course, this meant a necessary trip to Hobby Lobby, which also meant I would need to take all three kids with me. I had yet to frequent a public place with all three ducklings in tow, and it was time.
(Three little blonde heads. Love.)
The trip was a quick one and once we were home and the kids were fed and entertained, I went to work. It was a little tricky, since my husband wasn't home and I'm not awesome with power tools (or ladders, eek), but, one thing to know about me is that I am not a patient person, and when I have a project on my mind, it has to be completed immediately. The nuttiness required a solution.
This is a picture of the breakfast nook the day we moved in last April (yeah, yeah, it takes me a long time to decorate my house, I know):
(After we moved our table in, I removed the grape-patterned scalloped valances, which came with the house.)
And, this is the breakfast nook "after":
The curtains are a brown and blue paisley on burlap--a very busy print to hide kid stains and a very durable fabric to survive sticky fingers. But, they're sheer enough to keep the room sunny. I heart them.
I thought about raising the curtain rods, but decided instead to do a collage above the window to accentuate the high ceiling, using a compilation of letters, wall decals, and framed scrapbook paper. And, of course, a sign explaining my approach to coffee: "I like my cream and sugar with a touch of coffee". Sad, but true. ;) I want this room to be casual and comfortable and so far, it fits the bill.
Every time I walk in the kitchen, I get giddy. The room we love now has some love.
Next project: The formal dining room. Stay tuned.
Have a lovely day!
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Big boy wants a snack, baby needs to eat.
(Baby meal trumps big boy snack.)
Baby is eating, big girl starts crying because her fingers are smashed in a drawer.
(Injury trumps baby meal.)
Cub yells from the bathroom that he needs help.
(Bowel movement trumps injury.)
Big boy then wants help drying his hands when baby girl begins to cry.
(Continuing baby meal trumps help with hand drying.)
Burping baby when big girl walks in with a screwdriver.
(Preventing injury trumps burping.)
Baby girl spits up while big boy again asks for a snack.
(Cleaning spit-up trumps snack.)
Big girl throws a fit while I reach for a snack for the big boy.
(Snack-age trumps fit throwing. She'll live.)
So baby is fed and big boy has a snack and big girl stops crying and everyone is playing or sleeping but we all know that at any moment, the peace could crumble.
(Mama snatching a piece of dark chocolate and hiding in a corner TRUMPS THEM ALL.)
And this, friends, is how we learn to take turns.
Have a lovely day.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Monday, February 13, 2012
You may remember my post a year ago regarding mom jewelry and how it used to kind of scare me to death. Then I realized that I could have jewelry that I like that is simply representative of my kids, not necessarily caricatures of my kids dangling precariously from my neck and my wrist.
Behold: Three rose gold stackable rings--two with white stones to represent my two girls and one with black stones to represent my big boy.
Worn on my left hand because I'm still terrified of cutting Lydia's little thigh with the solitaire of my wedding ring. :)
Yay. I love their sparkliness. But mostly I love the loves they represent.
Have a lovely day.
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
The day I came home from the hospital, I had an ugly-cry meltdown in the kitchen after about two hours of being there. It was that surging feeling of being overwhelmed--overwhelmed with the thought of taking care of three kids three and under, overwhelmed with stuff that needed to be done around the house, overwhelmed with hormones, overwhelmed with unpacking my hospital bag, overwhelmed with putting one foot in front of the other ... overwhelmed with feeling overwhelmed.
My parents were here and I had no reason to feel overwhelmed. But oh, I did.
That night, we laid Lydia in her pack 'n play and went to bed. Within a matter of minutes I was kneeling next to the pack 'n play, my forehead pressed against the netted side, with tears falling off my cheeks. My husband assured me Lydia was fine, and I needed to go to bed. "NO," I sobbed, "What if she stops breathing?"
These past few weeks have been one big exercise. An exercise in humility, asking for the help I know I need. An exercise in patience--with myself and with my kids. An exercise in rest, since this recovery has been the hardest (back ache, gas cramps, uterine cramping, etc.). It's also been an exercise of faith. With every need, there has been an answer. Meals provided. Babysitters provided (the kids have amazing grandparents and aunts and uncles and psuedo aunts and uncles). Help provided. God's mercies are truly new every morning. And He is patiently loving me as I learn to rely on Him through each day. To believe He is truly guiding my steps, that He truly cares about my tiny corner of the world, as I slowly, but surely, am empowered every day.
I am in a Bible Study entitled, "Walking With God Through the Desert". For as blessed and as beautiful as adding sweet Lydia has been to our family, this time still feels, in a way, like a desert. Unchartered territory that God has gloriously ordained and will faithfully guide me through, with his perfect provision. I don't believe it is random that God has me in this study after the birth of my third. It is perfectly fitting, an ever-present reminder that I am not in this alone.
And oh, the sweet moments are delightfully sweet. Lydia is a precious baby. She nurses well and sleeps well. The kids love her and are becoming more understanding of the time she requires, although they do conveniently want to be held when I am holding her! In the midst of feeling like I am simply enduring some days, there are moments within them that I cherish. I really do. This chaos is a sweet one and though I am challenged right now in a way I have never been challenged before, I am also being blessed like never before. God has called me to this journey, for such a time as this. And has faithfully placed people in my life to help me.
For as many frazzled moments that I have, where my hair is caked in spit-up and the sweatpants I've been wearing for three days straight begin to smell, there are also good days. Days where we make it to the end and I didn't cry once. And those days are increasing. But, you know, even if I have a week straight of spit-up-caked-in-my-hair days, that's okay, too. I'm learning to be easy on myself. If my sweatpants disintegrate from too much wear, so be it. We will make it to the other side, smudged mascara and all.
Thank you, Jesus, for my family. And for refining me through it all.
Have a lovely day.
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
I guess I never really explained how we made the middle name transition from "Bourgette" to "Jane" for Lydia! The day before my due date, the middle name discussion came up again and I could tell my husband wasn't totally on board with "Bourgette". We went through a list of family names (AGAIN) and came up short (AGAIN), until I meekly offered "Jane". My sister-in-law's middle name is Jane (Laura Jane) and my niece's middle name is Jane (Nadia Jane). So, it's a family name ... and it also happens to be the middle name of my best friend's littlest one, Delia Jane. My husband liked it immediately and I did, too, but I wanted to check with my friend to make sure that if we used it, she wouldn't think I was being a name creeper or anything.
She assured me I wasn't.
Now that Lydia is here, I adore her name. It fits well with the other kids' names, too: Caleb Scott and Naomi Kate...and Lydia Jane. Love it.
There you have it.
Have a lovely day!
Monday, February 6, 2012
Do you have a cleaning "system" or are you one of those people who stays naturally organized?
My friends would laugh at the thought of me being considered as a naturally organized person, although Motherhood has definitely challenged that area of my life and I have become more so with each child, out of necessity!
Let me first say that toys strewn everywhere is not a sign of a mess. It's a sign that younger kids live here. We pick up our toys when we leave the house or before we sleep (nap time and bed time), if we get around to it (always before bedtime). So, toys can't count as the house being "dirty". Food crusted on an old casserole dish count, but not toys.
I do not have a cleaning system. My take on it is simply priority. Or, a better word: SURVIVAL. Everyone has to be fed. That means that grocery shopping has to happen every Monday, for us. I make a menu Sunday night (for all three meals, every day) and make my shopping list according to where things are in the store. I write out our menu and adhere it to the fridge. I also keep three notepads on our fridge (Grocery Store, Target, To-Do) where I can quickly write down what we need when it comes to my mind. I have to prep the food ahead of time (be it cutting up fruit and storing it in containers for snacks, or making meatballs and such ahead of time for dinners), so Monday afternoons are dedicated to food prep (simple or complex). I know, all of that seems very involved, but being prepared gives me freedom for the rest of the week. So, that takes care of the food part of survival.
Secondly, everyone has to have something to wear. My best way to tackle laundry is to do a load every day. As soon as I get up, I throw a load in the washing machine. Somewhere in the middle of the day, I move it to the dryer. Then it gets folded and put away. I cannot, for the life of me, survive with a Laundry Day. It just piles up too quickly around here! My anxiety reaches new heights when the hamper is overflowing and then I just stand there and do nothing. Keeping it under control is key, for me. And, let's be honest--if it says "Dry Clean Only", it gets tossed to the top shelf of the closet! No time, right now, for that. There: Everyone can survive, fully-clothed.
Then beyond that, it's seeing things that need to be done and doing them as I can. I try to make the beds as soon as we get up. I try to put food in the same place in the pantry every time so it will stay under control. I try to keep dishes out of the sink and keep the dishwasher running. I try, I try. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I do not. But constantly thinking ahead has proven to be the best means for me to keep my sanity!
A great way to accomplish a lot is to practice the "60 Second Rule". I set a timer for one minute and clean as much as I can. It's amazing how much can get done in just a minute! If I walk through the laundry room and notice it is unusually cluttered, I give myself 60 seconds to quickly put things away and wipe down the countertops and appliances. If the kitchen seems overtaken by mail and sippy cups and plastic helicopters and purses and bags and food and pieces of string and bits of half-eaten cereal bars, I give myself 60 seconds to put everything in its proper place (and the trash can). Sixty seconds. Imagine what you can do in five whole minutes! :)
Okay, and let me share a little tidbit that has really helped me to survive the day-to-dayness of stay-at-home Motherhood. There are days where I look around and think, "I was busy ALL DAY ... and have nothing to show for it." I look at my to-do list and all I've crossed off is "laundry". But I know I did more than that! So, one thing I've added to my to-do list are things I have already done. If I read a book to the kids, I write it down on the list and immediately cross it off. If I change five diapers, I write it down and cross it off. If I prep breakfast, feed the kids, clean the dishes, clean the kids, and clean the countertops, I write it down and cross it off. I don't do this every day, but sometimes I just need to be reminded that I AM busy all day, even if the house is still a wreck by the time the kids go to bed. Caring for little ones is a task in and of itself--the most important task of all--and it deserves proper recognition! By the end of the day, that to-do list is one huge scribble and I smile at all of the things I accomplished.
And, on that note, let me end by saying, most of us make the decision to be a stay-at-home parent because we want to raise our kids ... not to be housekeepers. Therefore, we shouldn't be hard on ourselves when our homes do not glisten the way we wish they would. If at the end of the day the kids have been loved, fed, taught, and nurtured, then our day was a successful one. The house needs attention and it will get it, just don't feel too bogged down by it.
Have a lovely day.
Friday, February 3, 2012
How are the chickadees doing?
They are laying. Oh yes, they are laying. This picture was taken after I gave a dozen eggs to a friend. We have a surplus! When the weather is good, we get 4-5 eggs a day. Now that it's colder, we get two or three. It's great.
Our poor banty (our rooster) got attacked by a hawk the other day. Our neighbor saw it and texted my husband. He survived, although he is missing a few feathers! Hawks are a big threat as of now, so we keep the chickens cooped a lot of the day and let them run around for an hour or so (there have been a lot of coyotes around lately, too). Their coop has an open pen on the bottom so they can still scratch and eat bugs while safely locked in. They've been a fun addition to the family and hopefully the winter won't be too harsh for them. They do have a heat lamp, so that helps!
Have a lovely day!
Thursday, February 2, 2012
I've had a few people ask me if I regretted taking medication the day of Lydia's birth, after planning and preparing to go medication-free.
It's a fair question. I wrote the birth story post the night of her birth and I've had a week to reflect on the experience.
I think it's always hard when things don't go the way you plan. It's okay to have an idea in your mind of how you want things to happen, and even though you realize it might not go that way, I think it can still be hard to accept that things didn't turn out the way you had hoped. Obviously, a healthy baby was the end goal of Lydia's day and that goal was achieved. Honestly, in my case, I have no regrets. I wouldn't change anything.
I gave birth in a hospital because I trust my doctor's care. When the presence of meconium was discovered, I felt that it was as big of a deal as the doctor was saying, though some might disagree. One specific friend comes to mind who came too dangerously close to losing her baby because of meconium and since then I've never taken the issue of it lightly. When that came into play, I was open to whatever my doctor instructed, even, ugh, pitocin.
Out of my eight hours of labor, seven were without an epidural, and five of those hours included pitocin. I wouldn't change anything about it. I wouldn't have gotten the epidural sooner. Despite the pain, I actually, in some indescribable way, enjoyed labor. I was able to take a deep breath as soon as the contraction began, to inhale and close my eyes and completely relax myself bit by bit, to make sure my hands were unclenched, my toes were uncurled, my face was limp, as the contraction built and built. All of my focus was on complete relaxation and breathing (a high-five to yoga), to the point that when the contraction was over, I was almost asleep. It was amazing. I literally fell asleep between contractions because I was so relaxed. It was the most blissful comatose state. For as painful as each contraction was, the rest time in between was just as restful. I was in awe of the experience and loved it.
As the pitocin increased, my rest times decreased, to the point where relaxing between contractions and tolerating excruciating back labor was becoming pretty futile. From what I understand, transition, the period of dilation between 8-10, is the most difficult part of labor, and my doula explained that what I was feeling at a 6 is what I would have been feeling at an 8 if I wasn't on pitocin. When I received my epidural at a 7, I was at peace with the decision. The epidural was short lived, as I quickly progressed and began pushing within the hour. I still felt the pressure to push and felt that I was still in control. Because I only had the epidural for a short amount of time, I recovered well and was able to get up and move around soon after Lydia was born.
Her birth was wonderful. When it came time for me to push, my mom and my mom-in-law happened to be in the room with my doula and my husband and I. As the nurses set everything up, I asked my doctor if they could stay (totally a last-minute decision on my part and much to their surprise!) and she said they could. So, they were able to be there for the birth of what we think will be our last baby. This is something that I would not have necessarily been open to with my other babies, but this time the timing was just right and I wanted them to stay. I think it's easy to forget in the midst of the hustle and bustle of birth that the experience itself is truly a miracle, and hearing my two moms gasp and cry as Lydia was born helped to give the moment the poignancy it warranted. It was amazing.
So here I am, the mother of three. THREE. Wow. The song I chose to listen to while I was in labor was "Jesus, Draw Me Ever Nearer" as performed by Keith and Kristyn Getty. This song is special to me because it is the same song that saw my Dad through chemotherapy when he had cancer three years ago. The lyrics are simple and powerful. I find myself, now that Lydia is here, singing them to her as her lullaby, in the quiet hours of the night.
Jesus draw me ever nearer
As I labour through the storm.
You have called me to this passage,
And I'll follow, though I'm worn.
May this journey bring a blessing,
May I rise on wings of faith;
And at the end of my heart's testing,
With Your likeness let me wake.
Jesus guide me through the tempest,
Keep my spirit staid and sure.
When the midnight meets the morning,
Let me love You even more.
Let the treasures of the trial
Form within me as I go-
And at the end of this long passage,
Let me leave them at your throne.
May this journey bring a blessing,
May I rise on wings of faith;
And at the end of my heart's testing,
With Your likeness let me wake.
I can't tell you how much peace these words bring to an exhausted Mom who is slightly terrified at how in the world she is going to effectively parent and love the three precious kids God has blessed her with. The road ahead feels positively daunting and these words bring enormous peace, a constant reminder that life is for His glory, not for the glory of my own, and that I want only to be more like Him when the journey is through.
Have a lovely day, friends.