Thursday, July 10, 2014

caroline: 9 months, henry: 34 months

 For the first time since Caroline was born, I can actually say we are doing great.
Something changed when they started napping at the same time every day.
I was able to breath at least once a day.

At nine months, she's also sleeping much better at night.
Sleep makes all the difference in the world.

I feel so much more confident about going out with both of them lately.
I'm guessing that's mostly because Henry has become a great listener, so easy to reason with and very much eager to please.
He's almost three, after all.
I can't believe I just said that out loud.

Caroline is still a bit sassy.
She still demands a lot of attention and I know that's hard for Henry.
However, he gets "Henry-Mommy Time" during her morning nap and "Henry-Mommy-Daddy" time after she goes to bed.
He still gets really excited when she wakes up.
He is always the first to hear her. 
He begs to go into her room, crawls into her crib, and says, "Want to play with me, sister?"

Nine months seems to be a magical age for me.
It was the same way with Henry.
This time around, I feel that it's God's way of saying, 'Enjoy this breather and rest up.  It's about to get crazy again...'
I can't believe she'll be one in just three more months.
Soon she'll really be crawling...and into everything...then walking, (or worse, running!)

Then there's talking. 
I can't wait to hear her talk but I am so not ready to hear her tell me "no" all the time.
Henry has finally exited the stage where I am constantly running after him and physically intervening and I am less than excited to enter that stage again.
Now, when I say, "Stay right next to me while we are walking in the parking lot" I know that he will, and it's amazing!

But this time around, I also know what comes out on the other end of all of those firsts, and all of the physical work babies and one year olds require.
I see Henry play make believe and board games, sing songs and hold his own in a real conversation, and I am very excited for what is to come with Caroline.

Here's a look back and a quick re-cap of the last 3 months:




_ _ _

Caroline: 7 months, Henry: 32 months


Their faces say it all.
Potty training was a very smooth and easy process for Henry.
We tried the "3 Day Potty Training" method and it worked great.

Sleep training is still a work in progress.
She's not a fan.



MLB opening day, (that's a holiday in our house).



Since we couldn't get to Cleveland, we went to the Indianapolis Indians' opening game.



Fireworks after the game:




Auntie Leesha visited this month and met Caroline for the first time!



Henry melted our hearts this year by running into our room on Easter morning and shouting "It's Easter, guys! Jesus is ALIVE!"
He repeated this to every person he saw that day (and the week that followed).


Caroline with Aunt Sarah:


The annual (adults included) easter egg hunt:


Until we got the sleep thing under control, we were just getting lots of cat naps...



Seriously, though, not sleeping isn't funny.

_ _ _

Caroline: 8 months, Henry: 33 months


This was such a breath of fresh air for me.
A much needed breath of fresh air.
I can't believe it took 8 months.



Henry, looking like such a big boy as he eats his apple.


REALLY starting to look like siblings.
Check out those facial expressions in the "outtake" shots.
They have the same mouth!




Caroline's favorite thing: walking.





_ _ _

Caroline: 9 months, Henry: 34 months


Spoiler alert:
Don't be too excited for us.
The 10 month chalkboard should probably say SLEEP REGRESSION!
But it was sure nice while it lasted and I'll save that story for the 10 month post.



This little girl is getting BUSY!




At some point, while I wasn't paying attention in the past couple months, she went through a growth spurt and got really tall.
At her 9 month check up, she weighed 20 lbs, 4 oz. and was 28.5 inches long.


These two together...I can't even handle the chunky, blue-eyed cuteness.
Teddy and Caroline, just get married already!


I love when they play together.


"Mommy, we're on a boat in the Never-Sea!"
(Our bathroom is mostly done, by the way).


_ _ _

Okay, You Two...
I love you so much.
I'm totally starting to see how amazing this whole sibling thing can be.
Don't get me wrong, you still have your moments.



But overall, it's been really fun lately.

xo,
Mommy

_ _ _


The older these two get, the less we take cute videos because... well, our hands are busy.
This is a hodgepodge of random moments, Caroline being Caroline (I don't even think she knows why she's fussing half the time), and a glimpse of her long attention span at 7 months as she tries to eat cheerios. 

It ends with a clip of me sneaking around a corner to capture Henry playing peek-a-boo with Caroline.
It's sweet because he doesn't know I'm there until he sees me.
Yep, he's in his underwear and has put my nursing cover over Caroline's head.
He gives her the sweetest hug, then he sees me and says a little poem that his grammy taught him.
I love how patient she is and how she squeals and giggles when he finally pulls the nursing cover off of her head.
She'll put up with just about anything he does.



Monday, April 14, 2014

2.5 years and 6 months

The past six months have been challenging for me.
Not what I expected.
In some ways, better.
In other ways, worse.

The challenge is bringing about maturity in me, and that is good.
Strength, perseverance through trials, a filtering out of what is important and what is not.
I am learning to die to myself.
It is actually a really powerful and positive change to endure, although our society would lead us to believe that we should never.
Good as it may be in the eyes of the Lord, there is certainly a mourning process that is happening inside of my selfish soul.

Some people manage two children with ease.
The transition from one to two is hardly noticeable and they still seem to find time for all of those "extra" things.
That just hasn't been my story.

I have fought the change so hard.
I have gone to bed every night saying, "tomorrow, I will find time to {fill in the blank}."

I have spent a lot of time feeling like a failure.
Like, 'Why can't I find just a little bit of time to do some of the things that I used to do?'
Or, 'Why can she do it, but I just can't?' 

I want to finish Caroline's nursery.
I want to sew her some leggings.
I want to paint Henry's train table.
I want to edit the pictures I took three months ago.
I want to write 1,000 different blog posts.
But, if I died tomorrow, would any of those things matter?

When I resigned from teaching, Henry was about ten months old.
He took two LONG naps every day.
I used one for quiet time, crafting, blogging, etc. and the other for cleaning up and prepping dinner.
Or sometimes I napped during one of them.
Staying home was a pretty sweet gig.

Now, when Caroline is napping, Henry is awake (and at 2.5 years old, he requires a lot of attention).
 When Henry is napping, Caroline is almost always awake. 
I've tried and I will keep trying to align their schedules but so far, it isn't working most days, and that is the only time I get to talk to her anyway, without the jealous stares and relentless competition for attention by her older brother.

Christian is working longer hours too.
He is more passionate than I've ever seen him and absolutely loves what he is doing, so I am happy for him, but I would be lying if I said that it hasn't been hard.
He used to be home by 4:30. 
Anymore, I'm happy if he's home before both kids are in bed.

I'm thankful for everything that feels hard right now because ultimately, it's exactly what I want.
To be the mommy of these two children, to be elbow deep in the (sometimes terrifying) responsibility of loving and raising them, to be growing in my faith, challenged to do less of the "worldly" unimportant things and more of what really matters, taking it all in slowly and not in some hurried frenzy.

I heard something a while back that has just haunted me (in a good way).
"Are you the adult you want your child to become?"
Ummm...

So, I'm choosing to find time for scripture every day.
I'm choosing to play with my kids.
To delete apps that tempt to stare at my phone instead of staring into their eyes.
I'm choosing not to fill our schedules which allows me to be more present and less frenzied when we do have an occasional play date or family event.
I'm choosing to spend quality time with my husband in the evenings.
I'm choosing to sleep when I can (which is rarely).
And that means choosing to say no to almost all of my "hobbies".

My small group is reading the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and I'm trying to live eucharisteo.
If you who haven't read it, that is to live a life of thankfulness for the gifts God has given, because where there is thankfulness, there is joy.
And you can always find thankfulness if you choose to look for it.

Actually, my journey with eucharisteo started before I even heard of this book, back in November, when somebody challenged me to pray only prayers of thankfulness that whole month.
Talk about a challenge.
That was the peak of Caroline's crying.
It was so hard but totally changed me.

I try to find thankfulness in the hard moments.
Like when I am nursing the fussy baby who has kept me from sleeping for more than a few hours at a time for more than 6 months now, and the toddler finds a package of glue dots.
He has no idea what they are and unrolls the entire package to get a better look at them.
Now hundreds of tiny, clear, sticky dots cover the floor.
He doesn't even realize he is making a mess.
What takes him mere seconds will take me an hour to clean up.
I feel defeated.

"Thank you, Lord, for these two lives.
Thank you that you have entrusted me to take care of them. 
Me.
Thank you that we have shelter and food to feed them.
Thank you that we spend our days here at home, not in the hospital with sick children as so many families do.
Thank you for Henry's spirit, for his curiosity, his love of learning."

It helps.
It keeps my perspective in check.
It doesn't mean I don't feel frustrated, lose my temper and sometimes cry.

A couple weeks after the glue dot incident, I was eating pancakes with Henry when he said, "I'm gonna go play!" and crawled down from his stool.
Caroline was napping and I stayed at my seat to finish my breakfast.
 I enjoyed a few moments of quiet.
Then, I realized it was quiet.
That's never good.

"Henry?" I called.
"Where are you?"
"I in here!" he said from my room.
That's weird.
He doesn't usually play in there.

I walked in to see the scene of a great comedy playing out on the floor of my bedroom, only it wasn't at all funny since it was happening to me.
Henry had found the craft box that I had "hidden", apparently not too well, under my bed.
He had dumped an entire jar of gold glitter and was holding a bottle of white paint, and for reasons I will never understand, shaking it out all over the floor on top of the glitter.
He froze in fear the second he saw me.
This time, he knew it was wrong but it was like he didn't realize it until that moment.
I told him he was going to help clean it up.
He gave me a cheerful, "Okay!"



That lasted about 45 seconds.
He scrubbed a couple paint spots then said, "All done!"

"No, we have to clean it up all the way."
He started to run.
I caught him, quietly took his hand and helped him scrub.
He fought me.
I became very frustrated.
I was squeezing his hand tighter and tighter and my frustration turned to straight anger.
I knew it wasn't right.

"Mommy needs a break." I told Henry.
"Okay," he said, sucking his thumb.
I closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths in hopes of gaining some self control so that I didn't accidentally hurt my not-so-innocent child.

Henry knows eyes closed usually means prayer.
He started coaching me.
"Dear God..." He prompted.
"Thank you for Henry..." He continued.
Apparently, my prayers of thankfulness are rubbing off on him and I couldn't help but laugh out loud.
Although I admit that seconds later, when he started fighting me again, I was angry again.

The fact of the matter is that I was angry because he shouldn't have done it and I didn't want to have to clean it up, and that's fair, but I was losing my temper because I didn't have time for it that morning.
My friend Alicia's flight would land in just over an hour and I was still in my pajamas.

That's the thing about my agenda.
I always feel really angry when it doesn't work out.
If I believe that I can make time to sew, craft, blog, whatever, and then it doesn't happen because of glitter on the floor and messed up nap schedules, I feel that I am missing out on something I was entitled to.

I'm trying hard to change my mindset.
To choose what matters in the scope of eternity over what matters in the moment.
I have written my "Farewell" blog post in my head a hundred times since I got pregnant with Caroline (and felt sick nearly every day for nine months).
Maybe that was God's way of making me slow down.
It's hard for me to choose the important things when the fun things are out there tempting me.
As long as this blog exists, I am going to desire to write here, so I have wrestled with the idea of just ending it forever.
But then, I don't plan to throw away my sewing machine or my craft supplies (although I am going to hide them better).

I haven't written the "Farewell" post because I also know that just because I don't have time right now, doesn't mean I never will.
Someday, I will have plenty of time to write and this blog will be here waiting for me.
When that day comes, I don't doubt that I will wish I had a baby in my arms.

Until then, I will blog and sew and craft sparingly, on the surprise days, like today.
The kids went to Grammy and Grampy's house so that I could take the cat to the vet, and by some miracle, Caroline was able to take breastmilk from a sippy cup and not have a total meltdown, so I was blessed with a few spare hours.
But this day is the exception, not the rule.
The rule is that if I want to really live my best life, I usually won't have time for those things, and I shouldn't expect to.
At least not right now, not in this season.

I would re-write Joshua 24:15 to look like this:
"As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
We will play together.
We will love others.
And we will sleep when we can."

And we aren't even doing those things very well, (throw in a bathroom project and sleep goes right out the window), so we certainly don't have space for much else.

On these surprise days, I will continue to fill out the book I'm making Caroline, as an act of love for her, and I will dump some photos from the past few months of our lives, and make a little video that we can treasure later.
Or not.
But today, I chose this.
So here it is.

*Editor's note: I almost finished this post that day, but not quite.
Caroline needed me.
 Then almost two more weeks passed.
It's April and I'm just now blogging about Christmas.
This post covers months 3-6 but Caroline will be seven months old in just two days.
Can't. Catch. Up.
Sigh.
_ _ _

Caroline 4 months, Henry 29 months:




We got really aggressive with trying to kick Henry's face picking habit this month.
He had bandaids on his face constantly and slept with mittens duct taped to his pajamas, (thumb holes cut out).
Sounds a little crazy but after months of trying other things, we were desperate.
He also had a sticker chart although that didn't really seem to motivate him.

Little Miss Caroline stopped sleeping well this month.
The typical, dreaded 4 month sleep regression.
It was a doozy.



Caroline celebrated her first Christmas at 4 months old.

 

But this time, baby's first Christmas was heavily overshadowed by the magic of a two year old experiencing Christmas (and understanding it for the first time).
We celebrated advent as a family this year, telling bible stories, lighting candles every night before dinner and doing several activities leading up to the big day.
Henry totally seemed to get it and it was beyond special.
We worked so hard to keep the focus on Jesus and not on Santa or presents and it totally paid off.
That morning, when we opened presents at home, he was so content with the few little things that he got in his stocking.
A $1.50 bottle of bubble bath brought him so much joy that he insisted we stop opening presents and go take a bath.



Caroline really started to look like her daddy this month.





Henry has always looked like Christian as a toddler and older, but they looked different as babies.
At first, people said Caroline looked like me, but when I saw Christian's baby pictures again, I could not believe how much she looks like him.

Recently, we showed Henry this picture (Christian as a toddler) and asked, "who's this?"



"That's me, Henry!"

Then, we showed him this picture, (Christian as a baby).
"Who's this?"



"That's Taroline!"

Then, we showed him this picture, (me as a baby).
"Who's this?"



Henry paused.
"I don't know. I don't remember him's name."

Talk about feeling like the family outcast.
I'll just take my brown eyes over here and cry in the corner.
(Kind of) kidding.
I adore my blue eyed family and now I know how my blue eyed, blond haired mom must have felt with me.


_ _ _

Caroline: 5 months, Henry: 30 months:


Ever wonder how I get these pictures?

Very carefully, with a fast shutter speed, and always, ALWAYS with a spotter.




Sometimes he is able to get all the way out of the shot, but not at the risk of someone getting hurt.

I can always photoshop him out of there.
These lives are too precious and things can go from cute to dangerous real fast.
(In this picture, I'm dropping the camera too because Henry has decided to hurl Caroline off the bench).



Brotherly love.
Yikes.




Snow, snow, snow, snow.
Then, more snow.
I felt like I was trapped in my house all month.

So, we played in the snow when it was warm enough.








And we played inside when it was too cold to go out, which was most of the time.
Dress up & elaborate train tracks, 



books, 



forts, 



treasure hunts,



blocks,



coloring,



(this is what happens if you put washable crayons in your mouth),



and bubble baths.



Oh, and movies.
We watched wayyyy too many movies this winter.



I said this on Instagram, but I'll say it again...
Is it weird that Henry's reaction to watching Finding Nemo for the first time was, "Let's make some fish sticks, guys!"?

His imagination amazes me.
He was "cooking" for me and he said, "I need a hat."
I was confused but I got him a baseball cap.
"Not that hat," he told me.
I didn't understand.
Next thing I know, he has a bag on his head, and I realize very clearly that he meant a chef's hat because the bag really did a great job of looking like one (and I don't even know how he got that idea or where he's even seen a chef's hat...probably from a movie).



Amazed.
On so many levels.

_ _ _

Caroline: 6 months, Henry: 31 months





 Grabby hands,


bottle strikes and nursing strikes both,


tongue out all the time.


And then there's this guy...



He had more time outs this month than all the other time outs in his life combined, (which is still probably not that many), but come on!
He loves Caroline but he'll do anything to get my attention, including making her cry.

In the past few months, I've deleted apps off my phone (facebook, pinterest, etc.), given up completely on "hobbies" of my own, and made a VERY conscious effort to give him my full attention, especially while Caroline is napping.
This month, though, it just seemed like no amount of attention filled him up enough.
I still have to take small breaks (to nurse the baby, throw in a load of laundry, prep dinner or just go to the bathroom for goodness sake) and he won't tolerate it. 
So frustrating.
Some days I feel like all I do is teach, correct, re-direct, ignore when appropriate and give him time outs or time ins.
After I make him sit out, (which I try to make a last resort for the most serious offenses), he usually comes back with a better attitude and apologizes without prompting so they seem effective.

He is testing, testing, testing me.
I work hard to make sure I "win" (through patience, grace, and not giving in to unacceptable behaviors) but he knows how to push my buttons.
It's exhausting (I'm exhausted anyway) and I definitely lose my patience sometimes.
I keep reminding myself that the hard work up front will pay off in the long run, but it's...well, hard.

Of course, he has lots of redeeming qualities.
Here are several recent "Henry-isms":

He's really into wanting to control the conversation.
"Can you say, 'Sure!'?"
"Can you say, 'Good job Henry!'?"
"Can you say, 'That looks perfect!'"

"Okay, Mommy, when we get home, I'll play with Caroline and you can vacuum for a minute."

"It's not a big deal." (He'll say this after he does something wrong, but also at appropriate times, like if you bump into him on accident).

(While driving past the hospital) "One day... Caroline was born...and Henry held her...on the couch." 

Henry: "It hurts!" 
Me: "Where?"
H: "My foot!"
(I grab his left foot).
"No, right here...on my right foot!"
(I'm just stunned that he knows right and left)

To a woman in the grocery store: "Do you remember my name?"
Woman: "No, what's your name?"
Henry: "I'm a boy..."
Woman: "I know you are. What's your name?"
Henry: "It starts with an H..."

_ _ _

Henry, Henry, Henry...

What can I even say?
You make my life better.
Fuller.
More rewarding.
More fun.
Sometimes more challenging.
But always worth it.

I love you,
Mommy



Caroline,

Let's get a few things straight... night is for sleeping, bottles are for drinking, medicine is not poison.
Don't believe me, do you?
I'll keep trying.
Until then, I'll snuggle you in the wee hours of the night, and I'll stay home from weddings and other adult events, and I'll never regret these moments I'm spending with you because you'll only be this little this once.
It helps that you're irresistibly cute and cuddly.
Yep, just typing about it makes me want to run into your room, scoop you up from your crib and snuggle you right now.
My love for you is overwhelming.
I've learned so much about God's love for me through you.

Thanks for your part in that,
Mommy

_ _ _

This video has lots of crazy clips from these 3 months in our lives.
My favorite, by far, is when Caroline is terrified of the wind up Elmo.
Does that make me a bad mom?
Maybe.
But it's not just because she's scared.
It's because she screams like a teenage girl when most babies would just cry.

Second favorite is when Henry is grumpy and won't sing "Happy Birthday" to his Grampy but sings "Bob the Builder" instead.