on mothering

Most days I go to bed feeling a little bit guilty about something: being impatient with Leo, spending too much time working and not enough playing with the kids, still not getting the kitchen floor mopped, not getting us outside, eating too many cookies, etc.  I often feel like I’m not doing anything well, not the way I want.  I’m not giving my best to work, to kids, to Dave, to the house, to friends, to anything.  It’s all slipshod.

I equate messiness, especially in mothering, as failure.

Good mothering is craft projects, snuggled up reading time, not lecturing, not yelling, nutritious meals and snacks, always rejoicing in time with my kids, using a Michelle Duggar-quiet voice instead of getting angry.

Those things are good.  I want to those things, too.

But what if good mothering is messy?  What if it’s not just all the perfect, tied-up things, but also all the little things that make us feel guilty?  What if ending my day feeling overtired, overextended, overwhelmed, overused, is not an indication of failure, but an indication of success?

In my head, I think this is right, that good mothering, even just good living, is not everything in balance and done well.  Good mothering, good living,  is the struggle.  In the struggle I hopefully grow.  I hopefully change.  I hopefully lean more on God and less on myself.

In my heart, I sometimes still think good mothering and good living is having everything neat and tidy.  But I’m working on changing this, pushing aside perfection and white-knuckling the struggle, grabbing the challenge and failure and embracing it as success.

Leo (4) and Kate (2)

I last posted about Molly at 6 (more like 7) months.  So here’s an update on our big kids, too!

Screenshot_2016-01-29-15-07-21_1.jpg

Leo is 4.5 now.  He’s in that strange middle place between toddler and big kid, where you can have a great conversation with him one minute and trust him with a big job and the next minute he’s throwing a fit on the floor, kicking his heels.  He started the year in preschool but quickly moved up to preK when we realized that was a much better fit for him.  He’s loving it and so are we!  He really likes the different “centers” with role play, but also is learning how to write letters and brings home lots of fun crafts and worksheets.  He’s also learned some attitude and eye rolls at school (yay…).  His current favorite show is Octonauts and he wants to be an ambulance driver when he grows up.  He is a master builder and comes up with really impressive train track layouts, often utilizing stacks of book to create cool bridges and ramps.  He loves to read, do puzzles, play with trains and cars, collects any and all stuffed animals, loves to flip upside down on the couch, and ask tons of questions.  His favorite food is fish (so he says) – I think because one of his favorite games right now is “bear cave” where he’s a giant bear.  That being said, we are having fish tonight to help satisfy his cravings!

Katie is just over 2 and has been talking up a storm since Christmas (we credit her cousins, especially 3 year old Astrid, for prompting her to talk).  She’s saying new words and phrases every day.  She adores Leo and also knows best how to annoy and tease him.  We’re getting closer to being ready to potty train – she knows now when she’s gone to the bathroom, although I don’t know how aware she is before it happens yet.  Still – progress!  She loves cats, books, rainbows, music (she is singing the majority of the time), jumping, doing sommersaults, and doing whatever Leo is doing.  She’s fearless and busy and determined and a little bit sneaky.  She loves crackers and cheese and fruit and getting to play in Leo’s room while he’s at school.  She still takes a nap and sleeps a solid 12-13 hours every night and barely ever wakes up.  Her mantras right now are “and me!” and “I know I know!” and she loves standing on the stepladder in the kitchen so she can see what’s happening on the counters.

Both love Molly and are so sweet with her.  That being said, they’re competitive with each other, so it’s probably only a matter of time until Molly is part of that mix, too!

Favorite books: Richard Scarry for both of them, also Trains and Tractors lift the flap books for Katie, Busy Bear books

Favorite toys: plasma cars and play kitchen, Cutie the Beauty Bunny and Katie’s Brown Kitty (Leo) and Pink Kitty, baby stroller, and little suitcase (Katie)

Favorite “treats”: m&ms (Leo), marshmallows (Katie).  Non-food wise they both love getting to play a Kindle game with Dave.

molly june: 6 months+

IMG_20160119_132945

Molly turned 6 months on December 28, so I guess she’s closer to 7 months now than 6.  A few things about our littlest girl:

  • She’s still working on crawling but definitely scooting around – sometimes on her belly, sometimes on hands and knees (she hasn’t figured out how to alternate her arms/legs yet, so it’s often a jump forward with both knees).  She rolls and spins and can go forwards and backwards.  She’s recently mastered an inchworm move to get forward.
  • She loves to chat and she can’t smile without also kicking her legs and waving her arms aggressively.  Seriously, every smile is full body.
  • She still has the most beautiful blue eyes.
  • We call her “little goat” because everrrrrything goes in her mouth.
  • She’s eating baby food now and so far she’s had sweet potatoes, carrots, avocado, peas, green beans, prunes, pumpkin, and apples.  She’s not a fan of avocado but does pretty well with the rest.  She also likes puffs, but needs help with them – she can pick them up but hasn’t figured out how to release them into her mouth yet!
  • She is very social, loves face time with people, and gets sad if she is left alone or if she sees you leave a room.  She definitely wants to be part of the action.
  • She’s sitting up fairly well on her own.  She definitely still topples over, but she can hang out sitting up for a few seconds or more.
  • Sucks her thumb for comfort but takes a pacifier to go to sleep.
  • Loves: her toes, chewing on things, grabbing hair (Katie and I can attest to this), watching Leo and Katie, peekaboo, jumping, being held and talked to, splashing in the bath, her stuffed lamb, sleeping on her belly or side
  • Dislikes: being alone, getting her face and hands wiped
  • Schedule: takes two naps a day (8-10am, 1-3pm).  Goes down around 7pm and up at 6am and is really inconsistent at night – still up every 3-4 hours, most nights.  She’s often up in between that, too, needing to be resettled.  It’s rare that she does a chunk longer than 2 hours without needing something – pacifier, rolled over, nursing, etc.  Nurses every 3 hours or so during the day.
  • Nicknames: Junie, Junebug (“Ju-buh!” as Katie always says it), Molly Junie, Juniper Berry, Mollygirl
  • She goes to the doctor again at the beginning of February but I’d bet she’s 16 pounds or more.  While she’s not overly chunky she’s by far our chubbiest baby (and we loooove it).  She’s got delicious thigh rolls, hanging cheeks, and a soft little chin.  She also seems very long, as she’s already in a lot of 9 month clothing (and size 3 diapers).

The past 6 (7) months have gone SO fast!  Molly has been such a sweet and happy addition to our family with her big grins and belly laughs and chatter.  We love watching her grow and can’t wait to find out more about her and who she is!

Screenshot_2016-01-20-16-07-12_1

Also, two baby items that I didn’t have before but LOVE this time around:

  • NoseFrida snot sucker.  This gets snot out so easily and most of the time Molly doesn’t even seem bothered by it.  It’s easy to clean, too.  You can also move it around better to get different angles.  When Molly had a cold at Christmas it was both horrifying and weirdly satisfying to see all the snot I sucked out.  Highly highly highly recommend.  (Thanks, Kelly!)
  • Silicone teething necklace.  This definitely isn’t a “need” but I bought this with Christmas money and really love it.  I wear it everyday and I don’t think it looks like I’m wearing a baby toy.  Molly loves to grab it and chew on it.  It’s also washable (which reminds me to do that tonight).

reading

I’ve read two books so far this year and both, I think, are worth mentioning.  They’re also vastly different from each other.

First up, The Cellist of Sarajevo, by Steven Galloway.  My mom got this for me for Christmas and, per the usual, knocked it out of the park.  It’s so good.  It looks at the conflict of Sarajevo from the civilians’ perspective, but also explores grief, fear, responsibility, and choices within that.  I can’t explain it well but it was beautiful and raw and really, really well done.  I put it on par with All the Light We Cannot See, which I read last year and immediately wanted to read again.  I definitely think it’s one to read and is on my list of favorites.

Second is Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan.  I had seen this on other blogs or instagram or somewhere, but it wasn’t until I picked it up that I realized it’s written by the same women who run Go Fug Yourself, a fun fashion blog I used to read.  They took the storyline of William and Kate and modified it, added characters, events, tweaked things, etc., but it was a super fun read.  It’s really light and easy, but I thought the writing was solid – dialogue (which is hard to nail) was well done and funny and characters were well-developed, believable, and not one-dimensional.  If you need a fun book to pick you up, I think this one is definitely worth it.

What have you been reading lately?  I’m always looking for recommendations!

january 13

I’m not one to make resolutions, but I thought for 2016 I might try to blog a little more.  Considering I only blogged about 3 times (correction: it was 5) in 2015, this isn’t really that lofty of a goal, but we’re also 13 days in and I’m just now writing for the first time.  We’ll see how this pans out, I guess.  My friend and I joke that some (most?) days we feel like cardboard cutouts, locked in the routine of kids and babies and house stuff and work, tired and emotionally drained.  That sounds pretty dire and depressing and I don’t mean it like that.  It’s just that given a whole free day to myself, I’d be hard pressed to know what exactly I would want to do, what would really make me feel excited.  I know things I used to like – reading, running, going for walks, writing, puzzles, being with friends – but I don’t know for sure if those are things that would still fit (friends would, I’m pretty sure).  Basically, I’ve spent so much time and energy growing these babies that I’ve lost a little bit of a sense of who I am in the process.  I know I’ve changed a lot from who I was before I was a mom, and now three kids in and four years later, I haven’t had a chance in the whirlwind to keep up with myself.  Again, this all sounds kind of dramatic and emotional and I really don’t feel that twisted up about it.  I’m very happy with our family and life.  I think it’s natural and probably a lot of people feel this way, whether through motherhood or just an intense season of life that rocks you and then on the other side you think, whoa, who am I again, now?  I’m just recognizing I’m not sure what exactly I’ll write about, when I do write, but that words might be the truest way to get to know myself again, a little bit.

So anyway, there’s an angsty start to my return (probably shouldn’t call it that yet) to blogging, to get you all excited and cheery!

It’s a Wednesday morning here, 7am.  Leo and Katie are still sleeping (shocking, at least for Leo), Molly is rolling and scooting around the floor (she’s thisclose to crawling, guys), I’m on my third cup of mostly-decaf coffee, Dave is hanging out with two guy friends downstairs (a regular Wednesday morning occurrence), and I’ve got peppermint and lavender in the essential oil diffuser Dave gave me for Christmas.  Molly woke up at 4:30am this morning to nurse (she’s up every 3 hours at night still) and I stayed up after that, thinking I would try to get a run in.  But then I fell asleep on the couch, so maybe later on that one.  To be honest, this is only the second week where I’m even attempting to run, as running went out the window for a couple months because I mostly did not have the energy, but also struggled to find the right time.  I’m still not sure where to fit it in, but I’ve gotten over myself in thinking that it needs to be a certain amount of time or distance in order to be worth it.  15 minutes?  1.5 miles?  Sounds good.  At least I did it!

Leo is up now and it’s time to start breakfast and get him ready for school and our day is off!

stopping by

We’re 6 weeks in to 3 kids, family of 5 (5!?! It’s my first time saying that.) and so far it’s going better than I expected. Not that I expected doom and gloom, but I thought things would be sticky, kids (especially Katie) having a hard time, sleep deprivation, the constant struggle of not having enough hands. And there’s some of that, to be sure, but for the most part it’s gone shockingly well.

image

Leo and Kate have become the best of friends. This is new, probably in the last 2 months, and is more due to Kate growing up than Molly arriving, I think. Seriously, the two play SO WELL. They have their moments of angst (generally marked by Kate’s teradactyl shriek), but more often than not they’re running together, laughing hysterically (both make the other laugh harder than Dave or I ever have), mimicking each other, and living it up. It makes me incredibly happy to see them as friends and to watch their relationship grow and strengthen right before me.

image

Leo turns 4 this month and is a master builder with train tracks, blocks, legos, etc. Seriously, the kid impresses me daily with his creativity and intricate structures. He loves stuffed animals and has a tendency to hoard all the things (my sister Jill, who I shared a room with growing up, will assure you that Leo got this trait from me). He is funny and bright and very curious (ALL THE QUESTIONS). He constantly worries that we will run out of something/there won’t be enough, and has a tendency to fuss when things aren’t right. He had his first bee sting this past weekend (bottom of the foot). His current loves are trains, especially steam engines, fruit snacks, any of Dave’s “special drinks”, and building anything.

image

Kate is finally talking this month!  Prior to this she only said mama, dada, and uhoh. Now she says knee, nose, boo boo, brother, crackers, yeah yeah, baa baa (sheep), and yeti. She is spirited and opinionated and if you thought Leo was busy, you haven’t seen Katie. She is go go go all day, with lots of ideas and a plan. She likes to organize and keep things tidy, is furious if you tell her no (she’ll either scream, throw a fit, or pinch you), is barely phased by injury, and thinks she can do everything Leo does. She walks off couches and laughs, wants to climb and walk on every ledge, and will spend long amounts of time sorting. She likes to dress up, thinks Leo is the funniest, loves trains and motorcycles, gives very aggressive but sweet hugs and kisses unprompted, and will melt your heart with her curls and mischievous smile. Also, she seems to have finally passed her stranger danger phase, partly due to growing up, partly thanks to my mom being here for two weeks before and after Molly’s birth.

image

Molly remains our mellow, happy, easy to please sweetheart, although I think I bragged too much about that at my 6 week postpartum check up because last night was not her finest (I’m writing this on my phone while holding her because apparently I’m not allowed to put her down).  She’s keeping me humble. In general Molly is sleeping a 7 hour stretch at night which is just THE BEST (also thanks to the noise machine and swaddle).  She’s starting to coo more frequently, tracks faces, loves the mirror on her playmat, gives beautiful crooked smiles, and poops like a boss (seriously her diapers both astound, horrify, and also make me strangely proud).

image

I can’t promise a return to blogging but I do hope to stop in here every so often, if only to chronicle the growth of the kids for our own keeping!

molly june

IMAG1772

Introducing Molly June, born at 10:42pm on June 28th, 7 pounds 1 ounce, 19 inches long.

And while I’m here: her birth story!

My due date was June 22 and my mom wanted to come to help us out after Molly was born.  Given that my parents live about 11 hours away, we tried to guess when would be a good time for her to come based on my progress at doctor appointments.  I was also strep B positive, which meant that ideally I would receive 4 hours of antibiotics prior to the birth (if I didn’t get 4 hours worth then I would need to stay in the hospital 48 hours rather than 24 – not what we wanted).  My mom arrived at our house on June 21.  We were thrilled to have her and hopeful we would have a baby soon.  Monday (my due date) came and went.  Mom took on plenty of projects around the house – cleaning things I don’t normally get to (like scrubbing my radiators, wiping down baseboards, etc.) and sewing a bunch of curtains for me for various rooms.

Early Friday morning I was having contractions.  They weren’t painful but given how fast Kate’s labor went once it took off, we thought we should go to the hospital.  We arrived and got set up with antibiotics.  Four hours later and two rounds of antibiotics the doctor checked me.  I hadn’t really progressed so she stripped my membranes and discharged me, telling me to come back if my contractions picked up.  The antibiotics would be good in my system until midnight that night, so we were hopeful.  We went home and went on a long walk and I even went for a 2.5 mile run to try to encourage things along.  It seemed to do the opposite, as my contractions completely stopped.  Frustrating, but oh well.

Fast forward to early Sunday morning and again, contractions.  This time they felt a little stronger – not painful but I could feel them more than Friday morning.  I debated about the hospital but in the end thought we should go, since we would need to redo the antibiotics.  We got there and they monitored me for a bit and then told me to go walk for an hour and come back and be monitored again.  We did and after the second monitoring I was discharged again – as labor was stalled out again and I hadn’t progressed really (Friday I had been 2cm and Sunday morning I was just 3cm).  I was feeling really emotional at this point – I felt stupid for going to the hospital twice with false labor and I felt confused about what was happening – why contractions would start and stop, why I wasn’t progressing, how I was supposed to know when to come in or not.  The doctor told me to wait until they were every 5 minutes, 1 minute long, for an hour, which helped me to have a solid idea of what I was looking for (prior to this it was more a vague, “when labor starts” since we knew I might go fast).

The rest of Sunday I basically had no contractions.  We went to Walmart and picked up groceries, went for some walks, etc.  Dave and I went to bed around 8pm that night.  At 9:30pm I woke up to a monster contraction – right away I was breathing to get through it, concentrating on staying relaxed.  I grabbed my phone and started timing them.  They were coming every 3 minutes and lasting a minute.  After 20 minutes I woke up Dave and told him that I was having contractions and they were really hurting.  He immediately got up and said we needed to get ready for the hospital.  I said no, that we were supposed to wait for an hour, but he said we were going now (smart man).  I got up at 10pm to get dressed and my water broke.  Contractions started coming every 2 minutes and 1 minute then.  We hurried out to the car, hugged my mom goodbye, and drove to the hospital (fortunately just a mile away for us).  I gratefully accepted the wheelchair ride up to labor and delivery and we got checked in to our room.  I changed in to my gown just after 10:20 and told the nurse I felt a lot of pressure.  She checked me and yep, I was complete (truthfully I had been feeling pressure starting about when my water broke, so I think I was complete way earlier).  I started pushing, our doctor arrived (luckily she lives close to the hospital, too), and at 10:42pm Molly arrived!

It was a crazy fast labor and delivery, which made it challenging while I was in it, because I felt like I was on a runaway train.  There was no buildup or adjusting to the labor – it was just there, full-force, and all-in.  But it also made things so much easier.  Physically I’ve recovered much quicker because my body didn’t have to work for very long – I wasn’t all-body sore or exhausted like I was with Leo and Kate.  And because labor was so fast, we still got to go home after 24 hours, which we were really grateful for!

IMAG1769

Leo and Kate have both adjusted really well – they love to give Molly kisses and Katie loves to touch her eyes, ears, nose, mouth, etc.  Then after they kiss her they completely forget about her and get on with their normal play.

IMAG1812

IMAG1790

Molly is gaining weight well – at her 10 day appointment yesterday she was 7 pounds 8 ounces.  She’s pretty mellow overall (moreso than I remember Kate or Leo being) and a good sleeper and eater.  She’s made the adjustment from 2 to 3 remarkably smooth (so far).

IMAG1782

We love her to bits and are so so glad she is here!  (I’m realizing we are definitely missing a family photo of all 5 of us… we clearly need to get on that!  And one of the three kids!)