Thursday, April 28, 2016

In Which the Allergies Runneth Over

It has been the week of allergies. I am still in denial because I don't have allergies, but now that I'm on an allergy medication as well as two different eye drops, I think I should acknowledge the truth and move on.

Let me just say: to all of you courageous people who have played off the line, "It's just allergies", I salute you. Because I believed you--and allergies are the worst.

I really dislike not being able to see out of one eye because it's burning like the fires of Mordor (nerd reference for the win) and won't stop leaking tears down my face. It makes driving annoying and reading near impossible. While I don't mind the Man chauffeuring me around every where and thankfully have most of the twins' books memorized so I can "read" with my eyes closed, I can't recite The Wind in the Willows verbatim to the boys and would really like to know how my own novel ends.

Perhaps it's made even worse by the fact that for five minute periods I feel better and am thoroughly enjoy feeling better only to find myself streaming tears again and hiding from sunshine like a vampire. Allergies, man, they're hard.

At the very least, the Man and I have now officially crossed Texas off of our Retirement Potentials list (because I won't reward Texas pollen with my presence), which only leaves 49 states and the rest of the world to decide between. I may have allergies, but I'm still winning.

That's my foot on the right.
I'm surviving allergy season by napping on any flat surface available while the
kids joyously trash the house. It's working well for us,
and the teddies and babies are enjoying a surplus of clean diapers.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

One Moment

My sister told me on the phone today that there was a moment this week when she and her kids were coming home, their hands full of wildflowers they had picked, her eldest son racing down the hill on his scooter, when she just wanted to slow down and grab hold of the memory with both hands so that she wouldn't forget how perfect it was.

Isn't it interesting how those moments happen in the middle of the mundane, and if we're not careful, we miss them?

Last day of first grade...or kindergarten...we aren't quite sure.

There's something about them--the quality of the light, the way the air holds its breath, the stillness between seconds--and we try to take a picture with our minds so that we can hold onto the moment, remember its every detail, replicate it in our mind even years from now.

We won't be able to. Memory is fickle, and we know that. And the very fact that these perfect moments happen in the middle of our every day makes them that much harder to grasp.

This kid...

It's one moment, maybe a glancing smile exchanged with my husband while the kids laugh around the dinner table, maybe pudgy arms wrapped around my neck accompanied by a tiny kiss on my cheek, maybe my hand reaching down to pet the dog in the middle of the night--and I squeeze my eyes shut and try to memorize everything about it, knowing that tomorrow it will be blown off into the wind like dandelion fluff.

Finally, I just give thanks and pray that God will help me remember. Because I know that the things that make a life are not the Pinterest moments or the well-planned birthdays or the perfectly executed vacations (not that there is anything wrong with those things). A life is made up of a string of moments, one after another after another.

I brush the hair off of sleeping eyelashes. One moment.
I read as the sun sets, an arm around each boy. One moment.
I push the swing higher to the music of shrieking giggles. One moment.
I hold the Man's hand while we drive. One moment.

Tomorrow there will be new moments to replace them--some good, some not so good. I say thank you. And best as I possibly can.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Bucket Lists and Babies

I hit a major goal on my bucket list this week. I feel like I should write about that because it was kind of a big deal for me, but also because I think sometimes we need to remind others that there is life after kids.

When I first found out I was pregnant with the Little Man, I thought my life as I knew it was over. In my hormone crazed mind, all my dreams were suddenly placed on the back burner, and I was no more than a receptacle for a child. Seven years and a little sanity later, to a certain extent, yeah, it was kind of like that. But really, not at all. Because while there are seasons when all I do is kids, I never stop being me, and the things that make me Marian never disappear. I might have less time for the things that once defined me, but they are not suddenly negated.

So if you're a new mom reading this (or a mom who's just had kid number two or three or four), take heart. I know having a new baby can feel overwhelming. You're stuck in a world of breastfeeding or bottles, spit up, runny poop, endless diapers, and an ever changing nap time. And you have graciously, sacrificially, lovingly set aside your own wants to care for this tiny being who is completely helpless. The days are very, very long...mostly because you never get to sleep any more so they stretch on into what was supposed to be tomorrow.

But the newborns grow up. And you will read books again and go to coffee shops and have the occasional uninterrupted conversation (though that will still be rare because hello, you have kids). You will find the time to exercise. You will go shopping (if that's your thing) and buy something other than unscented wipes and new pacifiers. You will fix your hair and do more than survival make up. You will wear jeans that fit again.

You will remember what it feels like to be you.

Not the you from before. That you has now deepened and broadened (especially around the hip area). There are parts of you that will be recognizable, aspects of your personality that will be greeted like old friends, but parts that will surprise you too. You still like running, but suddenly you have a taste for guacamole too.

This weekend I ran my first half marathon. I was surprised that my bladder nearly gave out on me--darn you, twinnancy! And that I had as much fun running it as I did. And that the sight of my children and husband cheering me on, first at mile ten and then at the finish line, about brought me to tears. But the running part felt very familiar, like getting back a piece of me that's been on hold through multiple pregnancies.

So I just wanted to say, I did it. And you can too. I don't know what's on your dream sheet. Maybe not running until you about pee your pants and your toenails want to fall off. Maybe it's going back to school. Maybe it's learning a new hobby. Maybe it's just figuring out how to do a Dutch braid. And right now you feel so overwhelmed and think that you're never going to do more than survive all the wonderful children God has given you.

Take heart. It may not be this season, but it could be the next. Our kids grow up so fast, and our bucket lists aren't going anywhere. Then again, one of the women who came in before me was pushing a running stroller with her very young baby in it and she was trucking so...some people are just super awesome and don't have to wait. You could try that route too. For the rest of us, solidarity: our bucket lists will still be there when the newborn smell has worn off.

This is after I availed myself of the port-a-potties.
Didn't the Man do a great job getting all the kids ready?
He even color coordinated them and got a bow in Bee's hair!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Bedtime Reading

Bedtime reading is sacred in our home. This week we've been straying from the more traditional written word and enjoying the challenge of I Spy Treasure Hunt with photographs by Walter Wick and riddles by Jean Marzollo. I love the I Spy books, and so do the kids. We've found several of them (including a Christmas themed board book that has been read to oblivion), and this one has been fun times for all. 

Unfortunately, this week, Littles decided to unscrew the lightbulb from his table lamp...and then Bruiser promptly shattered it...and I'm too lazy to change a we've been trying to find all the little hidden items by the light of the dusky sunlight that makes it through the window or the blindingly awful over head light. We've loved the challenge. Bedtime has gone a little late as we've gotten sucked into finding that one last item.

Last night after we finally gave up on I Spy (and probably destined the boys for a lifetime of glasses), I tucked the boys in bed, strapped on the Man's handy headlamp, and read them a chapter of The Wind in the Willows. It was so cozy, and it just happened to be the chapter where Mole gets lost in the Wild Wood, which was deliciously appropriate for reading in the dark. Tiny got very sucked in. Me too.

Some of my favorite reading happens in bed. There are few things more enjoyable than curling up against a stack of pillows with a good book and a warm blanket. There's also something thrilling about hiding under the sheets with a flashlight because you don't want Mom to catch you. Or, in my case, don't want to disturb your husband by keeping the lamp on. 

Lately, the Man and I have been letting Littles stay up with the headlamp and a book for another half an hour or so after getting tucked into bed. We feel that this is a time honored tradition which is just part of the joy of being in a reading family. However, this evening, I came up to lay down the law over bed time with the twins (again) and discovered that Bee is also delving into the world of reading under the sheets. She had handily picked out a Dr Seuss book and was more than a little proud of herself. It got confiscated after this picture.

So, what about you? What have you been reading in bed lately? I've been sampling some Annie Barrows, but when I was a kid I typically stayed up late with L.M. Montgomery, Brian Jacques, and Robin McKinley. So far Littles is tending more towards Beverly Cleary and Roald Dahl.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Visit from the Frizzells

{For Shirlee}

You asked for a visit from the Frizzells, and while I can't exactly make that happen, I'll get as close as possible. Here is what you should expect, should you ever receive a visit from us.

First, I hope it's okay if I bring my own coffee. I tell you this because I know some people don't appreciate coffee as much as I do, but I can't survive vacations with the kids without coffee. Truth.  And I don't think you can survive the un-coffeed version of me that the family has lately informed me is "just not as nice".

Second, I might bring Trigger with me because he's adorable and pathetic and I love him. Don't judge. I realize that the tables have turned, but seriously, look at his precious puppy eyes.

Third, you need to prepare yourself for the fact that my children are quite possibly the loudest human beings on the face of the planet. Here's Tiny playing drums on the cookware. What he lacks in rhythm, he makes up for in passion. Invest in ear plugs. Or maybe I should bring you some for your hostess gift...

Fourth, some nameless people in the family have started taking sports very seriously. I will make sure to remind said people that it's a bad idea to play baseball in the living room. I'm sorry in advance for whatever gets broken by loose baseballs and swung bats.

Fourth, it might get a bit dirty. My kids are magnets for mud and puddles. Also, they leave behind a trail of zucchini bread crumbs (a modern day Hansel and Gretel) which the Man swears are even harder to sweep up than rice.  Point me towards the cleaning supplies.

Lastly, I apologize for the fact that our youngest son is incapable of keeping on a shirt and has started impersonating Cousin It. He firmly believes that hair cuts are optional, and he has optioned out. Also,  Bee still doesn't understand why Bruiser gets to run around outside with no shirt and she doesn't get that option. I further confused her by forgetting she was a girl for five whole minutes yesterday and letting her do so until I came to my senses. Whoops.

At any rate, party at your place? I'll bring the crazy. You bring the awesome. And it will be--wait for it--crazy awesome.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Let the Sleeplessness Run Over

Dear friend whose one year old has suddenly decided she wants to see Mommy multiple times a night, 

Let me speak to you out of the wealth of my experience. 

But first, let me tell you how my eldest child lulled me into a false sense of security before I had the rug rudely pulled out from under my formerly well rested self. Never mind, I won't tell you about that part. It's not relevant, and it will only make us all long for things that will never again come to pass. I will just say that said child still routinely sleeps 12 hours a night and has to be dragged out of bed by the smell of burnt bagels while still wearing his favorite pajama shirt which reads "Waking Up Is Hard To Do".

Unfortunately, every child is different.

My other three children... Insomnia and I became close friends for quite some time. Even now, when I feel well rested and generally get my allotted 7 hours of sleep, there is rarely a night when the Man and I aren't each out of bed at least one time each. There are nightmares and potty accidents and lost loveys and pleas to "cover up me, Mommy" even though all children are perfectly capable of covering up themselves.

So here I am, not nearly as far removed from the trenches of sleeplessness as I'd like, to share what little I have gleaned with you:

  • You can do everything right, but you can't make them sleep. I swear to you that I read every sleep book available when it came to the twins. And implemented all of the suggestions religiously. Even the ones that contradicted themselves. And did so like my life depended on it. Because it really did. And was too tired to realize that I was completely crazy pants. It may have made me feel like I was doing everything I could, but it didn't make them sleep. You can lead a horse to water... BUT (repeat after me) you can't make a baby sleep.
  • If you have a partner in parenting, let them actually be your partner. The Man and I didn't really figure this one out until the twins. In all honesty, I felt fully capable of handling Tiny's sleeplessness on my own and the Man was swamped with work, so I made an executive decision to not interrupt the few hours of sleep he was getting. The twins were a different story. I was desperate over a year in, and he was home. He was my saving grace. This is especially important if you're still nursing. A middle of the night wake up had to be responded to by someone who didn't smell like breast milk. If you've got back up: use it.
  • Water sippies are your friend. Sometimes early toddlers are just thirsty. It's hard work learning how to walk. Sure you'll have to break this habit once they start potty training and haven't stopped drinking themselves to sleep, but it's totally worth it on the sleep end now. 
  • It's a season. I know it's no fun waking up to a demanding child when you are supposed to be past that stage. Expectations are a beast. Especially when you're pretty sure yours are founded in reality. But seriously, it goes so fast...and then they're in a top bunk dropping sippy cups on their sisters' heads and you can't get to them for those midnight snuggles. Hold them close, smell their heads, remind yourself they won't be nursing for much longer, and try to pray something other than just "Please, God, let them go to sleep" (although that is a totally acceptable prayer too). I spent a lot of wakeful nights praying for other mamas who weren't getting sleep either. Solidarity, sister.
  • Let these moments spur you to gratitude. Thank God on the nights you do sleep. And on the nights you don't, thank him that you have a kid who wants to spend time with you, a kid with a healthy appetite, a kid you can snuggle in your arms still. Or thank God that you get to send your husband in there to deal with your shrieking offspring while you roll over and get a little more sleep. There are always opportunities for gratitude if we are looking for them.
Why do they do this? Who knows. What is the joy of not sleeping? Sleep is wonderful! It's pretty much the best thing ever! Do they miss you? Are they really hungry? Are they perversely trying to keep you from being well rested enough to have another one of them? Could the answer be "D. All of the above"? We will never know.

Until, of course, we get to heaven and ask God why He didn't give us babies who slept a little better, and He informs us that He just wanted a little more time with us...and to give us a little more time with some the best gifts He's ever given us. Plus, He was all out of the babies that did sleep well and hadn't restocked on His supply yet.

May you get your version of this soon.
And may you know that her younger brother almost got
mailed to California tonight after an hour worth of sleep wars.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Dandelion

Last week we raised the question of why dandelions are the official flower of the military child. Here's the answer for you:

source unknown

I'm calling the tie for Shirlee's answer: 
"Because a dandelion is exactly all those things, bright and bold to the eye, strong and resilient to the elements in which it is dealt, soft and tender to touch."

and McKinzie's:
"I'm guessing the wind blowing them has something to do with the dandelion as flower of the military child."

So, ladies, you get to pick my next couple blog topics! Speak now or forever hold your peace. Also, asking that I not blog at all is definitely an option (pick that one! pick that one!--then I'll take the week off and do nothing but read novels!).

Here's to our dandelion military children! Too many exclamation points!