Weekend Links/SQT

Well, happy weekend! I need to express that it’s been absurdly hot and humid and at this moment a really intense cloudburst is dumping sheets of rain, while the sky just a few houses over is bright and blue. Summer weather at its weirdest. However, 3 out of the 5 family members are napping (two of whom are Lucy! and Maeve!) so Lena is staring at the rain/trying to catch a dying fly on the window, so it’s a good time to do a really quick Quick Takes post.

-1-

You watch the Great British Bake Off (or Great British Baking Show for us Americans), right?! WHO KNEW that a show about amateur bakers could be so fascinating? But between the pastel baking stations, the British flag bunting adorning the white competition tent, and the little black lambs bleating in the scene transitions, it’s beautiful. Then, there are the contestants, whom you grow to know and root for (or against) as the season goes on,  the quirky hosts, and the wonderfully British judges who provide the most quotable food critiques imaginable. It’s just pure fun. Plus, of course, the “bakes” all look amazing. This article at The Kitchn is helpful to understand some of the baking terms that are just so foreign to us, though it doesn’t explain the obscure British  cultural references that we have to look up throughout watching (like “Tatty byes!“). Tom and I love to watch this at the end of stressful, busy days when drama/anything heavy is just too much.

-2-

I was inspired by Deirdre to actually address my rather persistent diastasis recti since the whole doing-nothing-about-it approach was proving futile. I bought the Mutu System this week on the day it was 45% off, which makes it cheaper than a pair of new running shoes or high-end yoga pants (so definitely worth it, for the ease of having it totally guided). I’m looking forward to actually starting it…probably next week? We’ll see. The nice thing is that I now have permanent access to the program and can start it when Tom’s schedule is a little lighter.

-3-

My parents saved my childhood dollhouse, and we’ve talked about sprucing it up in time to give it to the girls at Christmas. I may be slightly optimistic, but how fun and beautiful is this dollhouse remodel?!

-4-

One of the (ongoing) travails of my daily life is Maeve+sleeping. As in, there’s not much of it and it’s hard-won. Por ejemplo, last night, she woke at 9:30 for what I thought would be a typical “first wake” of the night from which she’d nurse quickly back to sleep (as she usually does). But this time, she did not. She did not want to nurse, at all, ever, no, no, no. Didn’t want to be rocked. Didn’t want to cry herself to sleep. I’m still not sure what it was she needed/wanted, other than to be UP and AWAKE and SOCIAL! So finally, when the crying herself to sleep was also a bust and keeping us from sleep too, she acquiesced to nursing in a rocking chair and passed out. At 12:30 AM. Yeah.

Now I’m thinking we’ll have to really buckle down and help her learn to fall asleep on her own, especially for naps, because I just won’t have another Lucy-type sleeper!! Hannah mentioned this site and I’m really finding it helpful since she takes all the baby sleep research and books and distills it into short, practical, helpful posts. So we’ve dug up the infant swing and trying to get her to fall asleep in it, since the other day she ended up finally falling asleep at my mom’s in the outdoor baby swing (granted it was 103º out and crazy humid) when nothing else had worked. So far, she has fallen asleep for two naps today in her swing with just minor struggle, but it’s a little battery-operated one so she wakes up as soon as it stops swinging. Ha, well, it’s a start.

-5-

I’ve been really into gazing at Carl Larsson’s paintings lately. He and his wife Karin, were both artists and raised 8 children together in this totally idyllic and beautiful Norwegian country cottage. I want all their textiles, art, furniture, etc!! Here are paintings of his lovely, cozy bedrooms.

-6-

And some photos from Tom’s phone, from the last few weeks months! (He often forgets to open his Amazon Prime Photo app, and thus I never see the treasure trove of snaps from his perspective).

Such as...this one from Mother's Day!

Such as…this one from Mother’s Day!

2016-06-05_192513638_86B33_iOS

Girls in Rompers

Me in a pic?! Wonder of wonders.

Me in a pic?! Wonder of wonders.

2016-06-18_210333360_584A4_iOS

Father-Daughter Selfie time at the winery

2016-06-18_210515031_7CB86_iOS

Tom took the girls to the hardware store and Lena freaked herself out when she almost knocked some screens over.Tears.

Tom took the girls to the hardware store and Lena freaked herself out when she almost knocked some screens over. Tears.

Big sis entertainment to the rescue!

Big sis entertainment to the rescue!

Lucy's baptism day celebration on the Nativity of John the Baptist, with the traditional pazookie + baptismal candle

Lucy’s baptism day celebration on the Nativity of John the Baptist, with the traditional pazookie + baptismal candle

Morning, sunshine!

Morning, sunshine!

-7-

That’s all I got. Go see Kelly for more Quick Takes!

 

Advertisements

At least we’re getting some good stories out of it!

I keep thinking how nice it would be to have a second or three to blog, because I want to talk about the books I’ve read recently, post about Maeve’s baptism and Easter and all that. BUT, I’ve got myself an 8 week old who is really starting to wake up to the world and needs a whole lot of soothing to get down for naps and sleep and gets ANGRY if I miss the window. [I had to go back and reread relevant parts of the baby sleep book and remind myself that at this age babies are just going to start fighting sleep and they can really only sustain themselves awake for two hours at the max. You’d think I would really have all this newborn stuff down by now, but nope.]

So instead, maybe I will just regale you with recent tales of life around here, such as the time where I unknowingly washed AND DRIED a peed-in diaper of Maeve’s, and was perplexed when the whole load came out covered in tiny white balls that clung to every surface. Then I found the culprit in the bottom of the dryer. Or how about the time when I thought it would be a good idea to resume potty training Lucy by putting her in undies and trying to have her sit on the potty randomly throughout the day (read: frantically set alarms and try to get her on there before an accident, while toting the poor newborn)? That was pretty dumb and now I’m once again waiting until … some unknown time in future when she’ll magically “be ready” as everyone keeps saying.

My favorite moment, though, has to be one last week that was the crowning glory on a string of particularly brutal days. The girls had just come in and were covered in a thick layer of sandbox sand. I was wearing a finally-sleeping Maeve in the Ergo. Lucy was in her undies and I had forgotten to have her sit on the potty in a while (probably because each potty-sit was completely fruitless). Lucy went into the bathroom to wash the sand off her hands while Lena bee-lined for the stairs. Lena tripped, and landed with the side of her face into the bottom stair. So of course, she started to scream, right into the baby’s face in my Ergo, who then answered back with screams of her own. About two seconds later, Lucy emerged from the bathroom and laughed nervously while looking very sheepishly at me. It soon became clear that her hand-washing had elicited the potty response, right as she stood on her stool in her undies and pants. So, holding a sobbing, injured toddler on my hip, with an angry baby in the Ergo, I led a wet toddler by the hand upstairs. Administered arnica to Lena (still screaming), cleaned up pee on the floor and got Lucy into dry clothes, and meanwhile tried not to let Maeve’s (still screaming) head dangle out the Ergo as I was bending over. It was all pretty hilarious really, and I somehow managed to realize that and laugh (a nervous, maniacal cackle, probs, but laughter nonetheless).

Three kids three and under is kicking my butt (if only that were considered valid exercise!). And yet, here I am living to tell (and mostly enjoy) the tales.

(But this pretty accurately sums up how I feel by about noon most days!)

Maeve Cecilia!

I’m just going to admit it now– Maeve will probably never have a physical baby book. A virtual one may be all she ever gets, and so I figured I better start getting on top of the whole recording milestones and memories.

Here we go!

Born:

February 21, 2016 at 40 weeks and 5 days (comfy in there, huh?) at 9:55 ish AM (no, we don’t know the exact time. More on that below).

Weight: 7 lbs. 14 oz

Length: 20 inches

IMG_0229

The whole birth story is very exciting and very short. I’ll do it full justice, soon. Like sometime when the killer combo of spring allergy+newborn night-waking exhaustion aren’t destroying me. Stay tuned!

But really, we are doing well and surviving these first several weeks with our sanity fairly well intact. This is only due to the fact that we’re riding on a gentle sea of very kind people’s prayers, meals delivered, and help given. It’s been a staggeringly generous outpouring of help, some from people who literally do not know us (thanks to a genius ministry at one of our parishes where people sign up to bring meals to new moms). I can’t even begin to describe my gratitude, but it’s profound.

IMG_0233

I made pretty good on my promise to stay in bed for a week. I made it about 4 full days, which was how long the girls stayed at my parents’, and when they came home I was feeling pretty strong and well enough to go downstairs for meals and stuff. The most crucial thing though, was having the older kids completely out of the house those first few days. It allowed both Tom and I to just sleep and then him to take care of just me, so I could really eat and drink and recover well. Plus the girls had a blast and lots of attention before coming home to the new babe…

IMG_0242

And the adjusting to a new sibling has been interesting, between the aggressive “hugs”/body slams from Lena, the licking of her head (again, Lena), the *mostly* gentle and sweet attention from Lucy, and all the lovely behavior regression and acting-out from both girls. But overall they’re both pretty obsessed with “Baby Maeve” and love her to (almost literal) pieces.

IMG_0253

As with every newborn, this stage whizzes by SO quickly, which makes me sad every time. I LOVE the newborn stage, despite the exhaustion and chaos. I love the curled up fists, the little limbs that flail wildly when you change their diapers, the grunts, whinnies, and snorts, the tiny little mouth searching desperately for food. So worth it all!

That’s all we’ve got time for today. I have a dinner that I actually have to make myself and a baby that’s bound to wake up the moment I turn the stove on. 🙂 Promise I’ll be back the next moment I have two hands again!

Love That Grows: How Kids Change Marriage

A Love that Grows

Like most almost-married women, I was hyper-focused on my wedding in the months and weeks leading up to the Big Day. The dress, the details of our nuptial Mass, the centerpieces, the photo shoot, all of it. And of course, more importantly, I was all about the man I was head-over-heels for and with whom I absolutely could not wait to begin life.  I had also read the best Catholic literature to prepare myself for the vocation, so in an intellectual way, I knew– married life is about merging two totally different individuals and learning to live as one, and then eventually giving of yourselves to the children you bring forth together. Bam. We were going to do this!

But, oh boy, were the ideas and the reality two very different things! We got pregnant right away, and so fairly quickly, we have seen all these truths play out in our marriage. The cranky babies, the (many) sleepless nights, the multiple little tasks that take up the days and weekends. It became our new reality. I would look at our beautiful wedding photos and think, “Wow, look at us! So unaware of how much life was about to change!”

Sometimes it seems like a bitter pill to swallow. What happened to the spontaneity of our dating and engaged days? The times when we could just decide in the morning to make a day trip, returning late at night? When we could just sleep in on the weekends to make up for all the late nights and busy days at work? Now, if we stay up too late, we sure pay for it the next day, and sleeping in is never an option with a baby and a toddler around. We have to plan our outings and adventures around nap and meal times, or risk the Over-tired and Hungry Toddler Monsters (and don’t even talk to me about road trips!). I look at our married friends without kids and am tempted to think they have it easier. I almost want to tell our engaged friends to have fun while they can, because marriage and kids change your lives so radically.

IMG_0155

Those may be true statements, but they aren’t the whole picture. Despite the hard work and the bone-tiredness that comes with parenting, I would argue that more is gained than is lost. Yes, my husband and I had fun in the time before kids, but the good times didn’t just stop when the babies came around. Every day, if we decide to see it, we have proof of our love running around the house. They’re funny and adorable and utterly unique. Because they’re human, they can also be exasperating and flummoxing and try our very souls. They have stretched us physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. They have made us laugh together, countless times, and caught us totally unawares with the beauty of their innocence.

For Want of Wonder

I know I loved my husband before we were married, and more so after we said our vows. But after pregnancies, childbirths, and then the day-to-day craziness of raising children together, I can definitely say I love him even more. He takes the kids on weekend mornings so I can catch a few more minutes of sleep. He works long hours, picks up extra jobs, so I can stay home and we can live in comfort. He gets down on the floor to play with our girls, reads book after book, and wants to know all the details of what they did during the day when he’s at work. I could go on and on. Our marriage has changed since children, and it will continue to do so, but I’m beginning to realize what a privilege it is to make your husband a father. These many sacrifices inherent in the early years of raising babies are paving the road of our marriage together. By making me a mother, he’s helping make me a much better person, as all my multitude of selfishness is being chipped at, day by day (and night by night).

IMG_2641

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 9.42.49 AM

I could never have imagined on our wedding day and the days that followed what our life together would become. But I do know that saying a whole-hearted, reckless, come-what-may “yes” to having children has been integral to the growth of our love. We have learned to trust each other more, and to lean on each other, hard, when times get rough. We have learned to ask for help and to accept the help lovingly offered. We have learned, and are still learning, to find more ways to die to ourselves so that our other half might have it just a little easier. And we’ve come to realize, in a way we never could have before kids, how precious and refreshing time alone together is. So maybe instead of feeling a twinge of envy at our childless and engaged friends I can tell them with total honesty not to be afraid of having kids; if you let it, it could be the best thing that happens to your marriage.

2016-05-08_131033620_07B91_iOS

Pregnancy Q&A’s

Whew. Well now that this is finally out there on the internets…I can finally talk about it!

For Want of Wonder

(I’d also like to give props to our mossy, moldy, uneven bricks for lending some artsy photo cred to this shot…)

This feels like the longest time to hold back the news from the internet, since we have known from the very, very beginning (unlike, ahem, with Magdalena), but man it’s hard to think of creative ways to announce your third pregnancy in three years.

And every single time I tried to take a selfie with the girls in it for something sisterly and sibling-ish, it just…never worked:

For Want of Wonder

Outtake 1

For Want of Wonder

…and 2…

For Want of Wonder

…and you get the idea.

It’s great to see all the congratulations from everyone, and I so appreciate all of the good wishes! Still, inquiring minds want to know, so I’m going to preemptively answer all the questions you may have (many of which I’ve already gotten in real life):

Was this planned? Are you surprised?

As planned as these things can be! And no. Not surprised in the least.

How far apart are Lena and the baby going to be?

19 months, pretty much exactly. (Lucy and Lena are 15 months apart).

Don’t you hope it’s a boy?

Yeah, sure, if just to use some of the awesome male names we’ve accrued over the years! And out of curiosity as to what our boys will look like. But if not, we know we at least make pretty dang cute little girls!

Are you finding out the sex?

Yep, we are. We are, thus far, just finder-outers. I keep saying, “When we have both girls and boy(s)…” but I think in reality I just really like knowing.  It helps my overly-logical personality connect to the baby as more of a person and less of a project. I like the sense of order and control (knowing we have the right color and type of clothing, blankets, etc), and narrowing down and trying out the names. And this time around, Lucy desperately wants to know, “What’s the baby named??” so we will most likely name him or her so that Lucy (and Lena) can really get used to this new little person who’ll be joining the family.

Are you ready?

Ha, well, let’s see. Physically, sort of.  (If it’s a boy, he doesn’t have a stitch of gender-appropriate clothing, and he will probably be swaddled in floral and heart-printed blankets. Also, we’re going to need a new place for the baby to sleep since Magdalena effectively broke our co-sleeper last year).

Mentally, are you ever? Lucy will be about to turn 3, and Lena will be just over 1.5, so I’m sure it will be crazy town for several months (or years). My potty-training efforts with Lucy are s l o w going, so I am resigning myself to the three-in-diapers fate for a while. And cloth at that, after the first month.

But, the girls are starting to sort of play together in less aggressive ways, and I’m confident that Lena will have amassed a vocabulary beyond her current 10 words by then, so perhaps her screaming quota will go way down? I’m also really hoping that Lucy will finally decide to drink milk from a sippy cup or regular cup so that we can get rid of her bottles (ironically, she’s the one with the paci obsession and drinking milk from a bottle, neither of which her younger sister does). I’m not even going to attempt to break her of the paci habit, since she really loves it to unwind/fall asleep, and she knows she is only allowed to use it in her room.

Really though, those things are kind of not huge deals so I figure we’ll take everything as it comes, and pray for a lot of grace.

 

Are you tired?

Very. Thankfully Lena started sleeping through the night (with forced night-weaning. Had to do it.) when I was about 8 weeks along and at the worst part of the 1st trimester, so that’s helped. I’m also the smallest I’ve been in any pregnancy so if nothing else that is testimony to the energy I burn chasing toddlers and eating on the fly. As usual, not really working out (though I keep resolving to!) and eating snacks every 2-3 hours, and trying hard to remember my prenatal vitamin more than once/week. So I’m aiming to be better at getting to bed at a decent time, and if someone can have a heart-to-heart with Lena about waking up after the sun’s risen and/or after 7:00 AM, that’d be great.

All things considered, we’re very blessed and excited. Also, tiny baby kicks just never get old!