Friday, March 14, 2014

Snowing and Growing

Reading: The Elegance of the Hedgehog - My friend, Jill, gave this to me for my birthday.  I started it over the summer and, like a good many other things, promptly forgot about it after July 21.  It has since been rediscovered!
Watching: Training videos for my new job.  Imagine that, an editing/transcription job that actually trains you! I'm floored.
Listening to: John Mark McMillan Future / Past. Mmmm, I just love this song.  Don't ask me about the rest of the album though, I haven't got past this one song yet.
Can't get off my mind: CSA shares. Should I do it this year?  Is it worth it?  Will I be able to fit the random foods into my weekly meal plan?  Will it end up saving me any money?  If you have experience, do share!
I started this post in my head last week, when our town was shutdown for snow ... again. And then things warmed right up and the kids and I pounced on sunny skies and fresh air. And then yesterday we wake up to below-freezing temperatures and wind so fierce there are branches down all over the yard. Today it promises to be beautiful again. And of course, Monday we're expecting a snowstorm. Such is March.

Starting our seedlings.  It's a test in survival.

Let's talk about my people. First, my big guy Jack, who has just grown up so much this past year. Most of my fears from the last 4 years or so have dissipated. He's still ├╝ber-social and a bit too physical, but I no longer cringe every time we go to the park or Sunday school. He's got friends.  He likes them and they like him, and for some reason I find that exciting and relieving at the same time.

We're ready for your visit, Poppa!

And like every mom when it comes to her kids, I think he's super-smart. He's sounding out letters and reading short sentences, and I'm getting giddy just thinking about the hours he'll spend on a blanket reading Robinson Crusoe and Moby Dick in a few months. Because that's what 5 year old boys do, right? Sit quietly and read books?

I can't wait to tell him when he's older that the first phrase he could read and recognize was "Dog waste bags."

Speaking of quiet, I decided to give the boys their own special place as far from the house as possible. We built a stick fort this week and they've already stocked it with weapons and treasures found on our walks. After yesterday's wind storm, we should have enough materials to expand!

Thanks to Jack, I can put another notch on the mommy-belt.  We dealt with our first ear infection last week.  First Jude had a fever for two days, and then got better.  Then Jack had a fever, and did not get better.  He kept complaining about his ears and (silly me), I kept writing if off as a sinus infection.  Well, when he woke up screaming in the middle of the night, with blood and fluid all over his pillow, I realized it may be a bit more serious than I thought.  He's on the mend now, but can't really hear too well at this point.  A convenient condition for a 5 year old who has selective hearing to begin with.  So there's been lots of yelling in our house this week.  Jack - because he can't hear how loud he is and me, just trying to get him to hear what I'm saying.

The kids have asked for a tea party every day lately.

It's all about the "sugar lumps."

Don't let his [lack of] enthusiasm fool you, this was all his idea.

Moving on to #2.  Where Jack concerns me with his "physicalness," Jude worries me with his mouth. He's loud and sassy and repetitive.  So repetitive.  When he's upset, he copes by repeating his argument over and over and over again.  Usually at his loudest volume, most twangy voice, and while laying on the floor kicking his feet.

Jude wanted a picnic for he and Julia.
He's best known for saying "Mom, I 'chold' you I didn't want ____."  Except he "chold" me no such thing.  Apparently, he has his mother's gift for rehearsing conversations in her head and forgetting that they never took place out loud.

He did not want to ride his bike on the road because a car might come and "squish him flat as a pancake." He said he needed more practice on his bike and that he plans to "practice for a few hours after MOPS."
Although he didn't have an ear infection, Jude was sick with a fever for a few days.  He's completely recovered but likes to play the "sick" card whenever he feels it's convenient.  Like when I serve something he doesn't like for dinner.  "I sick, my mouth is telling me I can't eat chicken."  Or he'll say, "I cold.  I shiiiiiv-ering.  My legs are telling me I can't clean-up."  Clever Jude, very clever.

Top-notch day at the "Farm Park."

Perfect day to visit the playground. They were mesmerized by the backhoe and dump truck.

And then there's Miss Julia.  Thanks to this girl, I sleep well at night.  It doesn't matter how few hours I get or how many times the baby is up.  As long as I know Lia is down for the night, I can finally relax.

First, there's my stuff.  She loves my purse, my wallet, my jewelry (I'm about to offer my boys a reward for whoever can find a missing favorite earring that she pilfered.)  She likes to spray my perfume.  She's practically emptied my blush all over her lips.  She puts her fingernails in my lipstick.  And then there's the mascara.  I was nursing the baby last night and Jon heard her saying, "Ouch, ouch" over and over again.  He looked at her standing by the mirror and there she was with my mascara wand, drawings whisps of black on her eye lids and hair.

Oh wait, let's not forget her hair.  Nonnie and Poppie were here for a short visit on their way to Florida last week and Nonnie offered to braid Julia's hair.  She loved it.  And fully-expected me to do the same the next day.  I suppose I should mention here I have never french-braided in my life.  But I did on Sunday.  It looked horrible, but my sweet girl thought she was the most beautiful little lady in church.

 I admit, I'm surprised at how girly she is.  I wear make-up maybe 4-6 times month - for church and MOPS.  And I rarely remember to wear jewelry.  And yet my 2 year old doesn't want to leave the house without her purse, Dora bracelets, a hat, and fresh coat of chapstick.

Not a happy moment. But this is one of her "princess" shirts.
Which brings me to another point.  When we first found out Julia was a girl I told Jon we were not going to do the whole princess thing.  This is not medieval times.  You are not exempt from every day responsibilities.  I am not here to wait on you.  I love dress-up and imaginative play.  And I picture my girls' pretending to be Jo March, Anne Shirley, or Laura Ingalls.  But right now, I feel like I'm losing the battle.  Julia is "princess" everything.  She'll refuse to wear a shirt if it's not a "princess shirt" (I haven't been able to figure out just what makes one shirt a "princess" one and another not).  Her tulle skirts are "princess skirts."  Her biggest headbands are "princess headbands."  And her beaded jewelry is for "princesses" too.  Oh, and french braids are also "princess."

In the meantime, I'm utterly lost as to how to raise a young lady is who both inwardly beautiful and outwardly confident, while still being true to her own little spirit.  Her innocent, high-pitched little voice reminds me this is only the beginning.

And as for my last little lady, good heavens we're having difficult time.  I think I've said this with every kid, but for real this time, Joci is my WORST napper.  I mean, I thought Jude and Julia were tough because they would only sleep 45 minutes at a time.  Oh no, I'm lucky if Jocelyn takes two to three 20 minute naps a day.  That's it.  Sometimes, if she falls asleep in the car seat or the Ergo, she'll go a bit longer.  There was that one day a few weeks ago where she slept for 3 hours after our walk.  But on a typical day, Mama doesn't get much free time.  And that's just naps.

Currently, she's up three times in the night.  Usually around 11, or whatever is approximately 15 minutes after I've fallen asleep.  Then 1:30.  Then sometime around 5:00.  I got serious last week about keeping her out of our bed.  It took a little time, and one night of me listening to her from the floor for a little while, and then army crawling out the door when she finally fell asleep.  But since then, I'm usually getting her back to sleep in her own bed.  It's just the initial waking up and stumbling to her room every few hours.  I thought it was a cold, then maybe teething.  Now, I don't even know.  She's probably just hungry.  At nearly 8 months, I haven't been able to get her to eat anything but mommy's milk (or the occasional cracker to gnaw on.)  I'm working on trying to up my supply, but at the end of the day, I'm sure nighttime feedings are just a part of our realty for these next few months.

Really though, getting up at night doesn't bother me nearly as much as a baby that doesn't nap.  I'm torn between "my baby isn't getting adequate rest for her development" and "there's only so much you can do as a mother of four."  I read somewhere that approximately 13% of babies just don't nap well.  I suppose I have good chances of having one of my four fall in that category.  So perhaps I'll just take it and pray for God's grace over her little brain and body.  The good news is, despite her lack of sleep, she is still a very happy baby.  That little two-tooth smile just slays me.

The teeth.  Oh, the teeth.  On one particular rough night I vaguely remember her gnawing on my shoulder sometime around 3:00 in the morning.  The next day I go to take a shower and discover two huge, purple hickies on my neck.  This is in addition to the long lashes across my chest, the fingernail marks that grace my collarbone, and the scratches across my waist that she attacks with her free hand while nursing.  Good thing it is not tank top weather.  Oh yes, she also gave me a bloody lip when she unexpectedly swung her large head around to catch a glimpse of who knows what.

Because we're in to that easily-distracted age.  Which could be another cause of bad naps.  You try nursing/shushing/putting-to-sleep a baby with four other kids in the house.  Every time I sit down to put her to sleep, someone inevitably comes crashing in asking for a snack, complaining that someone else is hitting them, trying to feed me pretend soup.  And every time they do, the Little Miss is wiggly and scooting to get a view.  It's those days when I'm totally on board with being done with babies.

And then I drop off another load of my favorite baby clothes, or attempt to look through a pregnancy magazine in the clinic waiting room, or pack up a box of maternity clothes ... and it hits me all over again.  Perhaps all my whining about not being ready to say goodbye to babies has brought on this 7-month-old acting like a newborn stage.  I suppose I asked for it!

I'm trying to move on.  I got this idea about going back to school for something, but that will have to wait a few years.  In the meantime, I've started working for a new company this week and they are pretty stinkin' awesome.  It's nice to work for someone that is at the top of their field.  Come over for tea and non-napping babies sometime and I'll tell you all about it.  For now, it keeps me busy when Jon is working late or at the gym, and those few hours when all four of my little people are fast asleep.  Because, despite the all the above, despite these winter storms and "growing pains," there are still patches of sunlight and a occasional hours of quiet.

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