Life, Sleep, and the Lack Thereof! (Catching Up!)

This is about the 7th nap failure in the past 3 days, so I’m sitting here typing on my phone while rocking the baby, who’s “nursing” in her sleep, the only way , evidently, that she will sleep these days.

But today is Sunday, and Tom is grading papers in his workshop while Lucy builds nests on the driveway (piles of leaves, branches, berries, acorns, etc) and Lena naps. On a weekday, I would have to take the crying baby, who’s woken up the second I lay her in her crib, and make sure that the toddlers aren’t getting into any mischief. I’m fairly desperate to have this baby sleep, hoping to catch her up on a really bad sleep deficit, so  I’m taking advantage of the second parent being around and letting her nap in my arms.

(Yeah, sleep regressions are terrible but I’ve come to expect them with each child and try to take the long view that she’ll soon be a normal, sleeping, older baby. And frankly when compared to the rest of the horrifying political/social/etc. events going on in the outside world, I’ll take it).

At any rate, Maeve is growing like a weed, crawling on actual hands-and-knees, and pulling up to stand, often one-handed, any chance she can. SLOW DOWN, baby, slowwww down. She has two bottom teeth and there are two more about to pop on either side [and the baby sleep experts try to tell me that teething doesn’t affect sleep….rolling eyes emoji forever]. She’s pretty fat, wearing 9-month and a lot of 12-month clothes,  waves, and of course says “Da-Da” all the livelong day. But, to be clear, only Mama will do, all the livelong day (and night).

As for the rest of us, the past six weeks have been full to bursting. Tom’s school load and schedule are the worst in September and most of October so he’s been pulling crazy long days. And then doing stuff like this on his “days off”:

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His parents came out to visit for a fun-filled and week at the beginning of the month; it was their first visit since Lucy was 2 months, and the first time the older two had seen them since Christmas 2014. Tom and his Dad did a TON of house/fixer-upper projects, not least of which is that really, really lovely light fixture in our dining room. Love it so much. Also got a new, functioning, front doorknob and a handrail going up the stairs!

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I failed epically at getting good pictures with the grandparents! But they loved walking to the park with Grandma and Grandpa!

And in the midst of the busy-ness and to-dos, we’ve been trying move onward and upwards from survival mode to thriving, to maximize our efficiency, winnow out time-sinks and bad habits and anything that isn’t enriching our lives, really. We’ve reorganized all the closets in the house, made the nursery into an actual nursery for Maeve, gotten rid of a lot of toys and baby clothes, and even my entire dresser (I can fit my wardrobe in the closet either hanging from hangers or in two sets of these shelves bolted into my closet, with a bit of overflow in my nightstand drawers).  I’ve been trying to figure out better rhythms for our days at home, what kinds of activities will both keep Lucy busy and yet not destroy our house if I need to leave her alone to try to get Maeve to sleep for the billionth time.

What I’ve been realizing increasingly over the past few weeks is that this task of mothering and running the household takes immense self-discipline on my part (yes, sheer genius, I know!). I’m the arbiter of the daily schedule, my mood sets the tone for our day, for better or for worse. If I give in to laziness or dawdling or multiple distractions, the kids act out. The baby’s nap gets ruined (ok, she also ruins it all on her own lots of the time too). The house still has massive piles of clutter and dirty floors. Every day is a struggle to determine the right balance between making our house a clean, happy place, and not stressing if the kids’ needs literally leave no time for me to shower, let alone clean the bathroom. Between industry and rest, between working on habit formation and just enjoying the littleness of the children.

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There are little things I can do to make very quotidian tasks easier and even somewhat enjoyable: pre-sort the laundry (and teach the toddlers to separate their darks and lights), insist on all the toys or previous activity to be completely put away before moving on, bake with the older girls just for fun. And then little things that make me happy and also make more sense economically and health-wise; I’ve finally started making our yogurt, since we plow through it each week, and it’s beyond easy and foolproof.  I spent a good deal of time researching ways to improve my sourdough bread baking so that I could make our bread again, without getting frustrated. Yes, they take a little more forethought in my already busy life, but they’re things I’ve decided are worth it, and worth prioritizing over others, (such as dusting more often) because for me, the process is rejuvenating and enjoyable AND the results are delicious and give something tangible for my family to enjoy.

We are all looking forward to enjoying as much of this amazing fall weather as we can, spending tons of time outdoors without getting eaten alive or sweating to death. It’s a glorious season, and it’s really amazing to have these sweet, innocent children who just enjoy things so freely, with no concept of how utterly crazy things are in the world right now. They’re the perfect antidote, really, and they teach me a lot about living in the present moment. Sleeplessness and all, we’re a lucky bunch!

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First and Second Halloween!

We’re late to the Halloween photo posting game. Just keeping up with our usual standards here!

This was Lucy’s second Halloween, but really her first “real” one, wherein we took her out to trick-or-treat. We live in a real neighborhood now, so it made sense. And of course, it was Magdalena’s first, and she had no choice but to come along for the ride.

Lucy actually wore a little Scottish Lass costume that I wore circa 1990. I’ll need to dig up some pictures of myself wearing it, but here’s Luce, ready to go:

The bonniest wee lass in all the (Scot)Land

The bonniest wee lass in all the (Scot)Land

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Magdalena was a ladybug, which Lucy was last year when she was 6.5 months (Lena is quite large, we know).

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“What is this Halloween you speak of?”

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Cheesin’ big, and ready to go

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So confused.

Lucy going to the houses for candy (all 6 of them) was hysterical. She, obviously, had no idea what was going on. We would walk her up to the front doors, and instruct her to say “Trick or Treat!” and “Happy Halloween!”. She would stare blankly at the people giving out candy, and stand perfectly still while they proffered their big bowl of sweets. We had to put all her candy in her bag for her, and she didn’t say “Happy -Een!” until House 4.

After we got home, she was most excited to see her little purse with a few pieces of candy in it. Mind you, she has no earthly idea that said candy is edible. She thinks they’re little toys, which she shakes (M&Ms and Skittles) or squeezes (chocolate bars). She greatly enjoys carrying the purse around the house, taking candy in and out, and continues on in her blessed ignorance.

Happy Halloween!

Five Favorites: Italian Travel Edition

Linking up with Hallie at moxiewife.com!

I know it’s been about a month since we returned from Rome, buuuut I wanted to share my top five for living/traveling in Rome. I figured I’d know what to pack, having previously lived in Europe for four months of my life. However, that stint happened to be in the mountains of Austria. In the dead of winter. So, I had to rethink my suitcase contents for this trip. Oh, and pack for a 2 going on 3 month old baby. Here are a few things I thought were essential to making the trip as comfortable as we could, without a Target in sight.

1. Good Shoes.

This is a no-brainer for anyone who has done any amount of traveling in Europe! The streets are old, cobbled, and NOT kind on the feet. And, when you enter a world where walking is the main mode of transportation, it’s worthwhile to invest in quality footwear. It’s always such a chore to find those for me, since I have midget feet. We struck it lucky at the Clarks outlet in Leesburg a few days before we left, and I wore these almost daily, everywhere. They were light as a feather, fit well, supportive, and none of the straps rubbed. Also, I seriously despise comfort shoes that look like comfort shoes, so these were great in that they actually looked pretty cute.

2. Sunhat.

The Roman sun is no joke. I have always thought that somehow, the sky in Rome looks bigger. It’s also bluer and just seems to stretch on in infinite, cloudless glory, which means that you get pretty hammered with the UV rays during the day. A cute hat, which also covers the face is such a relief. I also used mine to shade Lucy sometimes when she was in the sling and her own little sunhat didn’t do the trick. This one is from Tarjhay.

IMG_0552Tom had one too and will kill me for putting this up, but it saved his face from the burn:

2013-07-03 11.11.54 In a tragic turn of events, we discovered upon our return that both precious hats were missing. Just gone. We knew we hadn’t left a single scrap of our personal belongings in the apartment, so we can only surmise that we dropped them out of the stroller after our last outing. 😦

3. Badger products!

I’d known for a while that commercial sunscreens are pretty icky, chemical-laden products, but this article helped me understand why and gave suggestions on alternatives, especially for the baby. We bought the Badger Baby Daily sunscreen as well as the bug spray, and both were wonderful. As a bonus, they both actually smelled nice, not chemical-ly.

4. Baby Carrier

While my super-generous parents gifted us with a sweet, brand-new travel stroller, we still found ourselves wearing Lucy quite a bit. She really prefers being held/smothered against a human, regardless of the heat and humidity, and in some cases it was easier (e.g. tons of stairs all over the city, bus, metro, etc). She bummed around in her sling a lot, and my oh my, did that give the Italians something to stare at. Babies are a rare sight in Italy, but babies worn by their young fathers are even rarer. We got hilarious looks from passersby and plenty of unsolicited child-rearing advice in rapid, unintelligible Italian, sometimes roughly translated into gems like, “Head! Up!” (upon seeing sleeping Lucy’s head slanting to one side in the sling). 2013-07-09 12.47.53

5. Peanut Butter

…or whatever form your comfort/necessary-to-survival food takes. I learned this the hard way, and ended up paying the equivalent of $6 for a mini jar of Skippy’s at Castroni’s. Dumb. Tom also had to eat some interesting and equally expensive breakfast cereals. Basically, if you can’t live without it and it’s thoroughly American, you better bring it with you.