Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The inevitable wall hitting

It has happened. I figured it would. And frankly, it happened about 5 weeks later than I assumed it would. But I did not escape it as I had begun to hope I would. I hit the wall. More accurately, I slammed, head first, into the wall. Driving home from dinner tonight, it hit me. I have 2 children. 2 children who are wonderful and delightful and precious, yet still manage to feel like 22 children most days. As Ross said in the parking lot of St. Angelo's, "The salad days are over." Yes, sir, they most certainly are.

I feel like on any given day, I could flip a coin for a blog topic. One side would be the peaches and roses and McEntyre's cupcake version. The other would be the what the hail holy heck have I gotten myself into version. Guess which one won today??

Really, I couldn't have asked for an easier transition to two kids. I had THE perfect delivery. I was at Cathedral Bible Study exactly a week after Thomas was born. I have not called the doctor once with any delivery/post partum related issues. I can't complain. I shouldn't complain. But as I mulled over whether or not to vent/complain/melt down to Ross tonight, I decided I get to have a few moments of shock. I told him, "it would be like Bill doubling or tripling (or gazillionizing) your workload. It's just catching up to me." And catching up it is.

Lack of sleep is catching up. Disciplining a toddler is catching up. Trying to make this a home my husband actually wants to come home to is catching up. A whole new human soul entering a family isn't small potatoes and I think it's okay to acknowledge that. Especially a soul who needs his very own personal washing machine and dryer. Good heavens the laundry!

We are making it fine, truly. We are out almost every day with one commitment or activity or another. Mary Kate simply could not love this boy child more. And we are just now making our own meals (hence the pizza dinner out!).  But one day Mary Kate is going to have a baby and I hope she reads back through here and thinks, "oh my gosh, my mom, the mom who made a 5 course meal every night and had fresh baked cookies on the table after school and hand-smocked my Easter dresses- she struggled too!!" (Please tell me you read the sarcasm in that!)

After I had Mary Kate, Father Tim so sweetly told me that he could be a saint any day with a full night's sleep. So I'll attribute all the million minutes of un-saintly behavior and thoughts to Thomas's early morning parties. I know the wall will break down soon as we get out of this crazy/blessed/challenging newborn time. Until then, I'll savor the feel of Thomas's round little head fitting right into my cheek and the sound of Mary Kate singing her Bible songs. I'll treasure the comfort of laying my head on Ross's chest, trying to absorb his cheery outlook and strength. And when I run into this wall again, as I know I will, I'll take a deep breath and know it's just a season.

There are worse reasons to be tired!

my precious loves

Sunday, October 14, 2012

7 quick takes, Sunday edition this time

pretend that says Sunday
--- 1 ---
This morning's gospel reading was from Mark chapter 10. "Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for those who have wealthto enter the kingdom of God!"  The disciples were amazed at his words.  So Jesus again said to them in reply, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!  It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God."

I wondered how Father Frank, preaching to a very affluent parish, was going to address this.  I was happy to hear him challenge us to what "abundance" we have in our lives that keeps us from Jesus. In this story, Jesus tells a man to go, sell what he has, and follow Him. He was referring to this man's actual earthly possessions. For some people, I guess God does ask. I think of Katie, of Kisses from Katie, who did leave everything she had for Jesus. But for many of us, there are other barriers to growing closer to him, that don't include physical money. For me, I know I spend precious time when kids aren't crying or eating or pooping on the internet. Not in scripture, or reflection or quiet time. The world wide web certainly is my "wealth" right now and it is keeping me from more precious time spent with God.
--- 2 ---
On a similarly profound note, I went shopping for skinny jeans 4.5 weeks post partum. I am clearly donating all my brain cells to my milk supply. Stooopid.
--- 3 ---
I took Mary Kate to a birthday party yesterday without little Thomas. It was our first outing just the two of us and I cherished it. We will definitely be dividing some on the weekends. I forgot how much fun that kid can be when I'm not trying to entertain her with a baby nuzzled against me. She's such an amazing little girl.
--- 4 ---
I am putting together a short devotional for our MOPS meeting Wednesday. I was looking through Always There: Reflections for Moms on God's Presence and was struck by a reference to Gary Thomas's Sacred Marriage. He asks the question, "What if God designed marriage to make us holy instead of happy?"  He showed examples throughout the Bible of strong marriages and says "Happy, though some may have been in certain moments, holy is what saw them through." I have thought of this often in the last few days and while I consider myself very happy at this time in life, I know "happy" is a feeling that is fleeting. Holy, if I put in the right effort, is something I can be every day.
--- 5 ---
Tonight our little family of 4 sat on the patio of our favorite St. Angelo's. Ross and I had a Killian's Red, MK colored and ate pizza, while Thomas slept. It was gorgeous outside. We talked about our hopes for school for MK, where or if we should move, and how we both felt pretty content lately- and what a gift that is. I looked at him and boldly said, "I feel like we've got this. I feel the opposite of overwhelmed." I know it takes one tantrum and one gassy baby to send that the other direction but it was a nice night as a family and I treasured it.
--- 6 ---
All that said, the transition to 2 hasn't been seamless. While sooo much easier than the transition to 1 big ole fussy girl baby 2 years ago, the logistics involved in just getting in the car are still kicking my rear. You need to be much more organized than I am to get 1 adult and 2 children anywhere even remotely in one piece. This doesn't bode well for the season o' traveling that begins later this month. I will channel my inner Ann Voskamp though and simply be grateful that my biggest problems these days are trying to figure out how to make a size 5 diaper fit on a size 1 baby because mama forgot to restock the diaper bag. again.
--- 7 ---
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

One Month with baby Thomas

In an attempt to give Mr. Thomas the same blog love as I did Mary Kate, I wanted to record some details of our first month with this precious boy. I could sum it up in one sentence. I am in love.

He is a dream, y'all. He is like every other baby in that he cries when he wants to eat, loves to be held, wakes up a few times a night, and poops every 2.1 minutes. But he also is an awesome eater, is starting to smile, and stares so sweetly into your eyes. There isn't a person in this house who isn't gaga over this boy.

We went to the doc today and Thomas is 9 lbs, 7oz, (up from 8.6 just last week!) and 20 1/4 inches long. This puts him in the 38% for weight but 8% in height. It makes me giggle, this little short, round person I have. Obviously we are not the least bit concerned about this stuff right not but it still makes me laugh.

Life is exhausting, I won't lie. He is up a few times a night, 2 on a good night, 3 on a bad one. Thankfully, he mostly eats and then goes back to sleep. I have started a bad habit of letting him come into bed with me after the last feeding (usually 4 or 5 am). But I love that just a little bit of snuggle time next to mom sends him back to sleep until 7 or 8, usually giving me some alone time with MK first thing in the morning. I think if I let him cry just a little bit, he'd go back to sleep at night but we tried that one night and Mary Kate woke up and cried for over an hour. I am afraid that when we start sleep training T, we're going to need to re-train Mary Kate. Oh how I miss sleep.

But life is exhilarating too. The more Thomas wakes up to the world, the more I see his gorgeous blue eyes, the more deeply I fall in love with this boy. Some of my favorite parts of my day with Thomas Perry:

  • nursing him when he looks up into my eyes, with a little hand on my neck.
  • getting MK out of bed and the first thing she asks is to "kiss kiss!" her brother
  • hearing MK give me a play by play of any of his needs. "Thomas hungry." "Thomas ready to eat." "Poor Thomas, Thomas crying." "It's okay buddy, It's okay." "Don't cry buddy." "I kiss Thomas tootsies."
  • watching an already beautiful bond between Thomas and his big sister.
  • having him fuss in his bouncy seat only to put him in my arms and have him fall asleep in seconds. I love that I comfort him so.
  • Watching Ross with his son. He adores him. He jumps at the chance to feed him, change him, hold him- anything.
  • remembering where we were with Mary Kate at this point and thinking about how adjusting to Thomas has been so much easier than it was with my girl.
  • praying over him in the middle of the night. It feels like no one else in the world is awake and it's just us. I pray for his health and happiness, his present and his future. I pray that he knows how greatly he is loved, by us, but more importantly, by Jesus. I pray that he loves us and Jesus right back.
  • the feeling of accomplishment I have when both kids are fed, dressed and in the car (screaming or not), ready for our day. I truly feel like this deserves a medal :)
I know there is more but Ross has been sick so we're a man down in this house and that is taking the fatigue to a whole new level. This little person is the best addition to our family, more than we could have ever dreamed. In June, when we faced the risk of losing this little guy, countless people pulled together. Our moms dropped their lives and moved into our home to care for us. Our sisters took care of MK whenever we needed. Our friends took her on play dates. We had our house cleaned and had meals delivered by generous people. All of this so I could stay on my back and keep this baby baking. My best friend's grandmother prayed and prayed from her basement apartment in New York, as did the elderly women on my own grandmother's handicap pew at Blessed Sacrament Church. A village of love, with their prayers and service, enabled us to bring this perfect boy into the world. He is healthy and beautiful and I feel such a debt of gratitude that I've had the last month with this angel baby.

To our little boy, you are a treasure. You are the perfect addition to this family and we wouldn't be the same without you. We truly thank God for you!

clearly enthralled as we wait on the doctor at his one month appointment

blurry but sweet

happy as can be on dad's chest

my favorite little guy in the world!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Ups and downs

Tonight I was crawling into bed for my 8:30-12:30 nightly sleep fest. Ross was saying goodnight and gave me a hug. I held on a little longer than usual. When he asked why, I told him it was because I liked him all day today. We laughed but today we didn't argue or, as we say, throw little digs the other's way. This is no small feat when in the trenches of newborn no-sleep land.

I try to write positively about Ross and our marriage on this blog. One, because those things Are true. But two, because this is not the space to air any marital grievances. However, anyone who has been in a room with us for 15 minutes or more will see the flaws-more in ourselves as individuals than our marriage, but still. We are two strong willed people with strong, but very different personalities, and strong opinions that aren't often kept to ourselves. It makes for admittedly too much bickering sometimes. The upside is that nt much gets swept under the rug with us :)

All that said, I wanted to repost something I read tonight that I love and will take to heart. From Hallie At The Moxie Wife:

When life gets messy, I’m generally more encouraged by catching glimpses of loveliness than I am by sharing war stories. That’s just me. One way this manifests in my life is in the content I produce for this blog. It’s more sunshine and roses around here than not. And that’s how I like it. But sometimes after having written about the lighter side of marriage someone will leave a comment saying something to the effect of, “I wish it were like that for me and my husband.”

Oh, sweet sister, I feel you.

I’ve always felt called to keep the most intimate details of my marriage (good and bad) private, but anyone who’s ever been married for a while knows that you don’t get to your 11th anniversary without hitting a few bumps in the road. Dan and I have spent our fair share of time navigating love’s stormy seas and I’ve hated every last minute of it. There’s just something so isolating and lonely about being out of sync with your partner in love and life.
Over time, though, — thanks to the wise advice of trusted friends, gentle promptings from God, and more experience than I might have preferred — I’ve picked up a few tricks for making it through those times of hardship. I thought I’d share them with you in case one or two of them might help a fellow gal in the midst of trial…

  1. Reminisce – Sometimes when Dan and I are struggling, it helps me to remember a time when we were really in sync. I like to think about happy memories and look forward to a better day. I always have to be careful not to give in to despair, though. Sometimes it feels like we’ll never discover that couple again, but that’s just silly. Without fail, that lovesick couple returns and their love is even stronger for having weathered the latest storm together.
  2. Take the Long View – I try to remind myself that this struggle won’t last forever. Every marriage is comprised of a series of peaks and valleys. I find solace in the knowledge that this too shall pass.
  3. Pour Love into Him - Some marital problems come about as a result of outside pressure that one spouse is facing. It’s tempting to volunteer unsolicited advice and correction — especially if you find your husband taking some of his angst out on you. While we should never let ourselves become doormats, a little extra mercy goes a long way during times like these. After the storm has passed you two can sit down and talk it all out. For now, just show him that you love him, believe in him, and are there for him even when he is at his worst.
  4. Stay Humble - If it does feels like your husband is short changing you in the love department it can be easy to fall into a victim mentality and convince yourself that you’re the better spouse. Believe me, I know. No one throws a pity party with as much panache as I do. In most cases, though, it’s just not true. We all have ups and downs and each spouse is called at different times to do the heavy lifting. Think back to a time when you were struggling and your husband carried you. Be grateful that he was there for you during your time of need and remind yourself that we all experience periods of weakness.
  5. Find a Pressure Release Valve – Find someone – be it a spiritual guide, friend, or family member – in whom you can confide. Just one (or maybe two). As tempting as it is to share your heart with every friendly face that crosses your path, only bad things can come from exposing the intimate struggles of your marriage to the world at large. Going through hard times without a compassionate ear and wise guidance isn’t smart, either, though. If you are not able to release a little of the pressure you’re feeling in the company of a trusted friend, it will end up being directed at your husband which probably isn’t what your marriage needs right now.
  6. Take Care of Yourself – Marital struggles can be incredibly stressful. Be sure to take time to pamper yourself a bit. Buy yourself something you’ve been coveting, take a long hot bath, nap, have drinks with your girlfriends, and/or go outside, exercise, and breathe in the fresh air. If you’re not getting the support from your husband that you need right now, make sure that you take care of you.
  7. Pray – When your marriage is on the rocks, it’s easy to become resentful – especially if you feel like you’re an innocent victim. As hard as it may be, be sure to pray for your husband and marriage each and every day. When a person prays for someone who has offended him/her, it guards against resentment because it’s almost impossible to hate someone you’re praying for. And of course, whether or not you’re struggling with resentment, your prayers will go far in helping to heal your union.
  8. Do it for God – Ultimately, every act of wifely love is not just a gesture of kindness toward our husbands, it’s an act of service for God. He is the one who gave us our husbands and tasked us with caring for them. On those days when choosing to love your husband feels nearly impossible, set your eyes firmly on Him who gifted you with your marriage and love your husband for His sake.

I know that for those of you down in the trenches, you might read these words and think, “It’s just not that easy,” and you’d be right. It’s not as easy as following a little list of tips and waking up to find that everything is rosy. These crosses of marriage are hard, and painful, and they make you stretch yourself in ways that you might just as soon have not. The above suggestions won’t take that cross away. For me, they’ve simply helped to make carrying it a little less painful and a little more infused with hope. So, I share them in the hope that they might do the same for you. But even if they don’t, just remember: for every cross there is a resurrection and yours is coming, my sweet friend, whoever you may be.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Lots of thoughts, most unrelated, most barely coherant

We are a few days shy of Master Ninness's one month birthday and are happy to report that we're all still alive and well. A few thoughts, admittedly to get the mushy husband post off the home screen...

  • As I sat to write, both kids woke up from their naps. MK is yelling "mommy, mommy" despite the benadryl I drugged administered before nap. Crapola.
  • One of my host families told me that going from 1-2 kids didn't generate twice the work, it generated 20x the work. Um. Yep.
  • Our dryer broke last week, upping the work load to 30x it's previous level. It's fixed now but there are 4,245 articles of clothing to be washed and dryed, almost all requiring pre-treating and almost all the result of some newborn bodily function.
  • I am not the girl who gives 100%. Sometimes I do, and when it's absolutely necessary, I do. But mostly, I do what it takes to get by. Not proud, but just a humble admission. I am not a details girl and don't get bothered by a to-do list. But this new season, whoa. Even me, in my "I'd rather spend the time watching re-runs of the cancelled Real housewives of D.C." mode, is getting annoyed. I am in a constant place of playing catch up and things never seem to be finished. The to-do list that I previously didn't care about, or the one that got completed because of the one kid thing, is now my achilles heel. It drives me crazy that the work never seems to be finished. But since we don't think we're finished having babies, I assume I'll always feel behind. I'll just choose to get used to that feeling rather than, you know, attempt to complete the danged list.
  • I have read some things that I loved lately. I love Simcha and all she writes but this part made me feel oh so much better. "Don't underestimate how much being tired affects you. Being chronically tired month after month, even year after year--and maybe feeling like your husband doesn't fully understand just how tired you are--it has a cumulative effect on your spirit. You don't even know how tired you are after a while. But it makes you stupid, and sad, and discouraged."  Emphasis on the last line please.
  • While feeling like mean mommy the other day and hoping MK doesn't feel totally rejected (especially when she spends 1/3 of her life in the corner these days), I read something from one of my favorite blogs, Memories on Clover Lane. She wrote it in a different context but this line touched my heart. "I also think it's important for them to learn that babies are life changers and require gentle, tender loving care from their mommies who need to be with them in order to do that. Life as we know it should stop a little and honor this brand new life that we have been so blessed with."  I like the little push it gave me to be okay with hunkering down and being a little less rushed, a little less 'on the go' and to be okay with MK having a lot little more Ipad time.
  • While we're on the topic of encouragement, I got the non-cyber type last week at a prayer group that my friend Natalie has started. It lasts one hour, has way cheap childcare, and is simply for the purposes of getting together and praying for each other as women. It. was. phenomenal. In the middle of a crazy hectic week last week, it brought me back down to earth, gave my soul a life and made me take the deep breath I desperately needed in that second week of newborn life. One of the girls in my break-off group suggested Philippians 4:8. "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."  I have reflected on these words a thousand times since then. It helps me divert my thoughts from how many consecutive MINUTES I slept last night to thinking about the sweetness in my arms during the HOURS I was awake. It helps me not think about things of the past and focus on the gifts of the present. It helps me remember that God gave me these blessings and intends for me to see them as such (even if I mostly see the back of the head of the older blessing since she's in the corner alll day.)
  • Last week my dear friend Chrissie dropped by on her tour de Georgia from Charlottesville. We were talking and she mentioned something her pastor said. "You can love all the right things but in the wrong order."  We talked about this in many contexts but it made an impression on me. I'd also add the idea that you can do all the right things but in the wrong order. For me, it boils down to making sure I love God first (and act on that love in scripture study, prayer time, etc), husband second (and act on that love in ways that don't include crying about how tired I am), children next and so on. Let's be real and know that most days, I have that list backwards and in some seasons, caring for your kids simply takes up every last stinking drop of energy/love/affection left in your body. But I like the reminder and hope it kicks my butt into putting the right order.
  • Today some sweet friends put together a sitter share. For the price of two combos at Chick-fil-A, I dropped MK off with a sitter she knows, friends she loves and I bolted. I listened to my own music and drove in peace. I then at lunch with a precious friend, again, in peace. I hate to spend money on sitters during the week because I do feel like this mommy gig is my job. But this mommy gig is also kicking my arse these days so a break was as refreshing as the sweet tea for lunch.
  • Speaking of sweet tea, how am I the only person to not know you can purchase this in the DECAF version?? Joni might be the most talented nursery designer I've ever seen and one of the trendiest mommies I know, but introducing me to decaf sweet tea,? Nobel prize please. Also, there goes the .2 oz of water I was drinking a day. My body won't know what to do without the 742 oz of aspertame it gets from the diet coke, caffeine free diet coke, and crystal light tea. Yes, I'm a foul excuse for a milk producer and human being.
  • Okay, so I shouldn't drink so much caffeine/aspertame because of the whole nursing thing but I'm going to risk jinxing myself and say that my son is a tank and mommy has super milk. I braved the pediatrician with both kids and MK's ipad/appendage this week and was blown away to see an increase from 6lb 14oz to 8lbs 6oz in two weeks. I don't think I'd survive if I were up all hours and the kid weren't gaining. From MK, I know how hard the nursing deal can be and I'm so thankful that this isn't one of our current challenges. Stay tuned for next week when the mammary gods have me writing about how awful nursing has become.
  • My husband, who is almost as frugal as I am, told me to offer my sister an insane amount of money to come organize little Tom's bedroom. He was serious. And this should show, as my friend Christina would say, how "cray cray" our house is right now.
  • We are in our final week of being blessed by meals from my MOPS group. While I only know how to generate 3.4 meals (.4 being hot dogs), I will now make sure I bring some sort of sustenance to each new mom in my group. I had no idea how much this act, easy for some, herculean for others like me, can bless a tired mom. It makes those witching hours not so witching and is one less thing to tackle on the to-do list that never gets touched. I am serious, I never got how much this blesses a family and am so, so thankful, especially since I'd rather change poopy diapers all day than plan and execute a meal.
  • I abhor the after baby body. If I were focusing on my Philippians verse above, I'd be all zen about how the extra skin around my tummy housed that precious boy but I'm not feeling zen. And I'm going to stop there because complaining about this is too self-indulgent and, quite honestly, bitchy. Even for the queen of self-indulgence.
  • I'm not doing a lot of facebook status posting because I'm always tempted at 4 am and I promised myself that I wouldn't post anything during the middle of the night. As mama used to say, "nothing good happens (or posts) after midnight." That said, today I had to post about a precious little sight. After a less dreadful night with Thomas, I got both kids up, hoping to give Ross a little extra shut-eye. When I came out of changing T, I saw him on the sofa, asking MK to hold her baby Emmie. He proceeded to hold Emmie, rocking her and talking sweetly to her. Watching my daughter and her father melts me into a puddle.
  • Today I asked Ross if my pre-baby spandex pants were "too much" from the backside view. He answered honestly. He left for work. I cried. Then I called him and cried.  He realized he fell into the "does my butt look big" trap that every man knows. He apologized. I apologized for being a hormonal freakshow. He assured me all was forgotten. I wrapped a jacket around the inappropriate yoga pants and continued on my day.
  • Okay, off to tackle a few items on the to-do list while both kids have blissfully found their way back to sleep...
love this little guy and his receding hairline