Thursday, March 29, 2012

Breathing Deeply.

When I was in labor with Lydia, I took breaths so deeply that I imagined I was drawing in breath all the way down to my belly button, before releasing it as slowly as possible to manage the pain of each contraction. Long breath in, long breath out.

On the mornings I train, I puff a breath with every lunge, squat, bicep curl, and plank. Ohh, it hurts, but oh, the breathing keeps me going until the set is finally over. Curl, puff. Lunge, puff. In, out, in, out.

In the middle of the night, after I feed Lydia, I hold her close and draw in deep breaths. Her nuzzling and squirming slow and I breath deeply and intentionally until her heartbeat matches mine, and she calms into sleep. Deep breath in, deep breath out, in the quiet of the night.

Driving down the road, with the kids talking and the baby crying and the kids' music blaring on the radio, I grit my teeth and attempt to relax my shoulders and take some good breaths. Our destination is close, the crying will end, the big kids will be okay, the singing caterpillar bursting through my speakers (and appeasing the children) will soon be turned off. Just a few more minutes. Breathe in, breathe out.

At the end of the day, when the toys are picked up, the dishwasher is humming, and I turn out the last light, I heave a heavy sigh. A moment of peace, at last. A gentle inhale, a big sigh.

I just keep breathing. In and out, and in and out. In the chaos ... in and out, in and out. In the quiet ... in and out, in and out.

Because all too soon I will take a breath and these moments will be gone.

So I will breathe through them, and savor them, and yes, sometimes endure them.

Deep breaths. Deep, cleansing breaths.

Have a lovely day.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Two Months: A Letter.

*Written March 25th.

My Dearest Lydia Jane,

Today you are TWO MONTHS OLD! This month flew by. I feel like I just signed the "Love, Mama" on your One Month letter and here we are writing the letter for Month Number Two. I just can't believe it. Cliche as it sounds, time is flying.

What a fun month this has been! Firstly, you are smiling. It's wonderful.

You are smiling more easily every day and your smiles are typically accompanied by coos, which is all kinds of awesome. We now have little chats where you coo very intentionally and I respond with, "Why yes, certainly, of course" and the like. I know that all too soon those coos will be words and I'm soaking up these sweet moments.

One big thing that happened this month is that Dadda turned THIRTY! Wow! We tried to take a family picture to commemorate this monumental day. Naturally, the camera had a tricky time keeping up with moving children. We had a good laugh!

(Note: The "Hustler" logo on my husband's shirt is that of a tractor company. He got it for free when he bought our riding lawn mower. He's worn it absentmindedly until we pointed it out to him. It was pretty funny!)

You are still a sweet, snuggly baby. You eat every three hours during the day and wake up once at night. You've given yourself a bedtime and prefer to be in bed at 8:00, with your last feeding falling around 7:30 or so. You wake up at 2:00am to eat and then sleep until 6:00 or so. It's a nice little routine and I'm glad you've found such an agreeable bedtime--it's when your siblings go to bed, so we appreciate it!

You prefer to be swaddled when you sleep and you are typically swaddled in the afghan your G-Ma crocheted for you (you can catch a glimpse of it behind your head in this picture).

You're hilarious. We love your "poop face". :)

You like to stick your fingers through the holes in the afghan when you sleep, which is something your older sister does with her blanket. It's so sweet. It makes for one huge swaddle, but we get it nice and tight and you like it!

You've always been a big spitter-upper, but we realized that you were spitting up a LOT over the past few weeks. Miss Erin suggested that I feed you on one side per feeding rather than trying to feed you from both sides. I was worried you wouldn't get enough to eat, since we've always done both sides per feeding, but wow! It worked like a charm! You eat on one side for about ten minutes now and that's it. And you still go three hours between feedings. The only change has been less spit-up and less fussiness. High-five to Miss Erin for suggesting it!

You weigh 10.67 pounds (37th percentile) and are 23.58 inches long (93rd percentile). You are a long little lady! You wear 0-3 month clothing and some 3-6 months, thanks to your long body! You still take a pacifier but are beginning to prefer your hand and your fingers more. We'll see if you give up the paci. For now, you'll take it when you're really tired. You love to lay on your play mat (especially with your friend Delia), lay on our bed and watch the ceiling fan, and smile at your sister. You are kicking more now, too. It's so fun to see you grow more each day.

We love you, Lydia Jane. Thank you for shining in our lives. What a fun month this has been.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Where the Wind Comes Sweeping Down the Plains...

At least once a week, the wind knocks out our Internet. Yeehaw! We are currently knocked out, which means I can't upload the pictures for Lydia's two month (sob) letter. And as much fun as it would be to write a long post using my phone (blah!), I will instead upload some random pictures (that will no doubt be blurry) I have stored on my phone, and write some nonsense. God bless 3G.

Hey look! I cleaned our van!

I also tried "pho" for the first time. I'm fairly certain there was intestine floating in my bowl. Fu-un. Ha ha. The broth was good.

Look! Nude espadrilles!

Yum, frozen chocolate peanut butter dipped bananas rolled in pretzels. Bazinga!

After eight months, the chickens finally became privy to the fact that we leave their food bag open.

Yummy baby girl. Also displaying my love affair with braids.

The End.

Have a lovely day.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone while I wait for AT&T.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Getting There.

They say that it takes a full year for one's body to recover from pregnancy and childbirth, even if you attain pre-pregnancy weight before that year is up. If this is the case, then my body has yet to fully recover since having Cub, since I never celebrated my oldests' first birthdays without being pregnant (phew). After my first two pregnancies, my goal was simple: Reach pre-pregnancy weight sooner than later. Easypeasy. Well, not really easy, but the goal was a simple one.

Halloween 2011: Pregnant Humpty and her Wall.

During my pregnancy with Lydia, I could tell my body was different. Even though I was working out, my body was worn out. It was the hardest pregnancy physically and I understand why. My core muscles are tired of being stretched, my posture is struggling thanks to pregnancies that occurred close together (that were all followed by breast-feeding, which involves being hunched over), and really, I just feel ... a little used up. The experience of pregnancy is a blessed one, no doubt, but there is a physical toll that is taken as well.

I knew my physical goals this time around needed to be different. I knew I needed to begin restoring the weak muscles in my body and to build strength. Oy!

Due date, January 23, 2012. Lydia was born two days later.

The day before my post-pregnancy appointment, I called my dear friend to inquire about personal training. She happily agreed and I started the very next week. Every Tuesday and Thursday, I wake up at 4:40am, pump a bottle, stumble around getting dressed, and drive half-asleep to train. Lots of weights, pilates, and the like. The fit is a perfect one because my friend is not only in amazing physical shape and is quite driven, but she is also a Mom (of FOUR little ones!). She understands the toll pregnancy can take on your body. She is an encouragement but is also sympathetic when I wobble on the Bosu ball or struggle to finish my set of push-ups. Essentially, she kicks my rear without kicking me when I'm down. :)

It might sound crazy to get up so early, especially when Lydia still wakes up at night to eat, but, as I've heard it said before, it's easier to add chaos to chaos than it is to add chaos to calm. Would I want to wake up early to train when Lydia starts sleeping through the night? Heck no! It's easier for me to do it now when I'm already used to running on punctuated sleep, so it will be a habit when she does start sleeping all night (and evenings can be unpredictable with my husband's work). Next week will complete my first month of training. It's hard, and great. I love that I can feel myself getting stronger. I love feeling little improvements each time we meet--maybe lifting a little more weight or having better balance (my core is trying!). I love that I'm not worried so much about the scale. If it takes me a month or a year to get to a weight I'm pleased with, then that's fine. What matters is that I'm consistently working on getting stronger. The results will come as they may.

And, I'm breastfeeding, which means I need to keep my calories up. Hallelujah popcorn and M&Ms, ha ha! I snack easily. :)

First attempted photo op with all three kids, March 22, 2012, three days shy of Lydia's two month birthday.

Even though it sometimes feels like it just might take all the king's horses and all the king's men ... Humpty WILL get put back together again. :) So, here's to the beautiful chaos of motherhood and taking the time to do something for yourself, that will really reward everyone in the long run.

Have a lovely weekend.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Backseat Driver.

Driving in the car. Pouring rain.

Cub: Mama, why are we going this way?

Me: Because it's faster.

Cub: Why is it faster?

Me: Because we don't have to stop as much.

Cub: Why don't we have to stop as much?

Me: Because there aren't as many stop signs.

Cub: But there's a stop sign.

Me: Yes, there are still stop signs, just not as many.

Cub: And there's another stop sign.

Me: Yes, two stop signs. Two. As opposed to, you know, eleventy billion.

Cub: Two stop signs?

Me: Yes.

Cub: So it's faster?

Me: Yes.

Cub: But why is it faster?

Me: Because there aren't as many (dang it, don't say stop signs!) ... cars.

Cub: Not as many cars?

Me: Not as many cars.

Cub: So there's just our car?

Me: Well, no, there are other--

Cub:--because I see another car!


Cub: Why are there other cars?

Me: Let's turn on the radio.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Going Through The House: Kiddo Bathroom.

I detoured from decorating the formal dining room yet again to make a quick stop in the kids' bathroom. I promise, someday I will decorate the formal dining room. Someday. Someday when my brain is able to focus on a singular goal and take the appropriate means to achieve it.

Possibly when Lydia is eighteen.

Where was I? Oh yes, the kids' bathroom. It's a simple bathroom, with tan walls, white cabinets, and a seafoam shabby sheek-ish shower curtain. Do you like that gross misspelling? That gross misspelling of "chic"? For some reason, "chic-ish" looks like it should be pronounced as "chick-ish", whereas the pronunciation of the phonetical spelling of "chic" is mostly undeniable. Sheek.



(My apologies for sub-par picture taking. I had a camera in one hand, a baby in the other, and two toddlers attached to each leg. Awesome workout. And, it's not even a "before" picture. It exists only to show you the only color in the bathroom. The only shabby sheek-ish color.)

Anyway. It's safe to say the bathroom was lacking in personality. Since this bathroom does belong to the kids, I wanted them to contribute in personalizing it a bit. With Pinterest inspiration, I used masking tape to create a sun on a blank canvas. I then put paintbrushes in little hands and my cuties went to work, covering the entire canvas with happy yellow paint.

When the paint was dry, I removed the masking tape, and Voila!

Seriously. How fun and easy is that? The kids are so proud, so proud, of their sun. I am, too. I then coated some letters in white spray paint and stapled some teal and brown patterned fabric (to coordinate with the shabby-sheekish shower curtain) inside empty frames.

*I used fabric instead of scrapbook paper for durability, given this bathroom's frequent occurrence of steam treatments during croup season. Boo, croup.

I chose to create our little collage above the bathroom mirror, since there is some extra space up there and I thought it might help to heighten the room. Plus, its message is the first thing the kids see in the morning.


I had been racking my brain for a while, trying to think of what words and decor to use before I started this project, and the inspiration struck during a midnight feeding with Lydia (the time when most inspiration strikes). What a happy way to start the day, referencing Isaiah 60:1--"Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you!"

The kids love to see the sun they painted, greeting them every morning. And the encouraging words are pertinent to all of us when we start the day. Mornings can be cranky and let's face it, Mama isn't always shining, either! I'm totally happy with how it turned out. Love.

Have a lovely day.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Better Than Pickles and Ice Cream.

I realize it's normal to have cravings whilst pregnant, but, I have to say, I have been experiencing a rather hardcore post-pregnancy craving this time around:

Popcorn and M&Ms.

I can't get enough of it.

It replaces a meal at least once a day for me. The salty popped kernels mixed with the sweet crunchy-shelled chocolate ... heaven. Every night it's the same: If I haven't already eaten a bowl of the delectable concoction, I wait until the big kids are in bed. I pop a 100-calorie pack, dump it in a wooden bowl, let it cool a bit, sprinkle some M&Ms on top, and snuggle with Lydia while I catch up on my recorded shows, savoring every sweet and salty handful. YUM.

I highly recommend it.

My husband recently surprised me with some salt and lime popcorn and oh, it was amazing.

I guess it's safe to say I still have some crazy hormones going on, but this is one craving that I hope will never go away. I'm justifying it with the fact that Lydia is breastfeeding and I need the extra calories ... eh ... right? :)


Have a lovely day.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sweet Weekend.

The girls and I headed to Arkansas to visit my parents for the weekend, after I realized I had not left our town since I was 36 weeks pregnant, which was, oh, almost three months ago? IT WAS TIME TO BREAK FREE.

It was really fun for Naomi to be the oldest sibling for a few days. She was the center of attention and loved every minute of it. Her Pepere made her favorite food (EGGS) and she got to mix birdseed with her Memere. And, they all enjoyed lots of time outside together in the beautiful sunshine. It was so sweet and so fun!

(I love this picture--so typical of trying to get a group shot with two little ones!)

And I got some extra sweet time with the littlest sister, too.

A lovely girls' weekend, indeed.

Have a lovely day!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Boo-Hoo Moo Moo.

It turns out our Itty Bitty Liddy Bug has a sensitivity to dairy. If you've read my blog for a while, you'll remember that Naomi had a hardcore dairy allergy that consequently limited my diet drastically, because, let's face it, milk is in EVERYTHING. Thankfully, Lydia's sensitivity seems to only show itself when I consume large amounts of dairy, like a cup of milk or a bowl of ice cream (meaning she gets gassy and fussy). Small amounts of cheese or milk mixed into food do not seem to bother her (phew!). So, the food I usually eat is still safe, except I've nixed ice cream and have replaced our milk with almond milk and coconut milk. She does not have a sensitivity to soy, which is a huge blessing ... I don't think I could live without my salted caramel soy mochas! And, I love coconut milk ice cream, but our local grocery store does not carry it, which is probably just as well, since I'm still shedding some post-pregnancy pounds. ;) The soy mochas are dessert enough!

And here's something interesting: Since I am no longer drinking milk, the kids have also joined me in consuming non-dairy milks and the mild cases of excema that they both carry have faded considerably. I know that excema can be caused by a dairy allergy, but since my kids are still eating cheese and such, I wouldn't say an allergy is the case with them, but I would say that perhaps too much dairy exacerbates their excema and the absence of it has probably helped to clear it up. They have a topical steroid that helps to clear it, but I'd much rather hand them a cup of almond milk to drink, if it works!

So, I'm waving goodbye to dairy milk for now. Even though her gassy episodes are nothing like her older sister's issues as a baby, I'm still glad I can make a change that puts her stomach at ease and brings her back to her chilled out, laid-back self. Perhaps when she is older and she weans, I will treat myself to a huge bowl of peanut butter cup ice cream from Braum's. Yum. For now ... maybe I'll freeze some chocolate almond milk. ;)

Have a lovely weekend, friends.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Going Through The House: The Kids' Wing.

On my way to decorating the formal dining room, I got a little sidetracked and took a detour through the kids' hallway. Because, what can I say. I just love these guys.

We lovingly (and jokingly) refer to this hallway as the "kids' wing", even though it is, obviously, just a hallway. But, aside from the laundry room and a closet, this corridor is the kids' domain, housing their bedrooms and bathroom, and I wanted to add a few personal touches to emphasize that.

The first project was an idea I saw while I was Pinterest-ing during a middle-of-the-night feeding with le bebe. I came across a contributor who put the outfit her baby wore home from the hospital in a shadow box. Love it! Instead of using the kids' take-home outfits, I used the outfits they wore when they were dedicated. I dug into their hope chest and went to work!

This is the bonnet and shawl that my Memere made for my Mom when she was dedicated as an infant, so it's extra-special that Naomi got to wear it, too.

Loved his little vest!

If you come into our house through the laundry room, these are the first things you see, and I love that we get to look at them every day. And yes, there is a space on the wall for Lydia's, too!

Further down the hall, I took a cue from my genius friend to display the kids' masterpieces. I found a celadon green curtain we were no longer using, and, after stripping its backing, I cut it to size and stapled it to a bulletin board and then pinned some of the kiddos' works of art to it. The kids love it! Their artwork is out there for all to see. Totally fun. And, my refrigerator isn't quite as cluttered ... :)

And, lastly, a photo collage of the inhabitants of this hallway. They grow so quickly. Love them.

There you have it--a peek into the much-adored "kids' wing", ha ha! And now, onto the formal dining room.

Um, after I finish the kids' bathroom first ... :)

Have a lovely day!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Friday Funny.

Have y'all seen that Disneyworld commercial? The one that shows a lot of happy families having fun in the sunshine with One Republic's Good Life playing in the background? That chorus is just so catchy, I recently made it my ringtone.

You can probably see where this is going.

Picture it: Thursday morning. Cub is crying because he got in trouble for not being nice to Naomi. Naomi is crying because Cub was not nice to her. Lydia is crying because I'm putting her in her car seat. And all while we're trying to hurry out the door. Chaos, crying, rush, Mama frantically trying to contain the crowd.

And my phone rings.

Oh, this has gotta be the good life,
This has gotta be the good life,
This could really be a good life, a good life...

The peppy chorus was barely discernible above the little moment of chaos that was playing out in our entryway.

I stifled a smile. And then burst out laughing.

Hooray for moments of hilarity in the midst of a morning rush.

Have a lovely weekend, friends.