Sunday, July 20, 2014

Tomorrow's Toddler

Reading: Okay, so it's not really reading, but I got the Homemade Flour cookbook out from the library and it's soooo inspiring!  I think I wanted to make at least 95% of the recipes in it.  But first I'm going to need to go on a grain shopping spree!
Watching:  Those who follow my Instagram may have noticed my birthday gift from my big brother, all three seasons of The Young Riders.  This was my favorite show when I was growing up.  It's about the beginnings of the Pony Express and was probably my first introduction to the wild west, event before "Little House on the Prairie" and "Oregon Trail."  I know I was only 6 when it first started but I still have distinct memories of some of the episodes.  And considering they're over 25 years old, Jon and I were both pleasantly surprised to discover that it's "not cheesy."
Listening to:  Jon and I watched "Ragamuffin" this week and I've had Rich Mullins songs going through my head ever since.  I think my favorite is "Hold Me, Jesus."
It was a year ago.  A year ago today that I spent all day using my kitchen to its fullest potential.  I think the hours before my babies' births are some of the most vivid in my mind.  They are so full, expectant, for lack of a better word.  And July 20th was no exception.  I thought I was so busy back then, with three little ones.  But looking back, I spent an entire day cooking (and I watched a movie simultaneously that night).  It's been a year since I could dedicate an entire day to hanging out in my kitchen.  No, a year ago I wasn't that busy.

According to comedian Jim Gaffigan, if you want to know what it's like having four kids, just imagine that you're drowning ... and then someone hands you a baby.

But this girl.  We just love her so.

I mentioned before about her name meaning "cheerful increase."  I admit, there were many days when it seemed like that was much more a statement of faith than of reality.  Let's be honest, sometimes life with four under six isn't all that cheery.  But I doubt we'll remember the specifics in a few years.

Nope, in a few years our most vivid memories will be this smile.

And those four teeth.  I thought for sure another tooth or two would make an appearance after we got back from the beach, but no.  Apparently that dramatic week was all a hoax.  Despite only having four teeth, she manages to grind them all.  It gives me the chills.  She also does this thing where she protrudes her bottom jaw.  I was freaking out about her possibly having an underbite and had dreams about her having to wear some sort of headgear or something when she's older, but Jon has assured me that her teeth seem to line up normally when she's relaxed.  So I have no idea what this chimpanzee jaw is all about.

That jaw!

Loves the kitchen, just like her mama!
And I'm going to go ahead and claim the victory in the sleeping department.  Since coming back from the beach she's only woken up in the middle of the night a handful of times, and at least twice were due to her very loud sister.  I don't know if I'd say she's sleeping through the night, since 5:00am isn't exactly morning for me, but I'm more than grateful for these longer stretches.  She was contentedly spending that final hour in the morning sleeping between Jon and I but lately she's decided not to go back to sleep and rather to crawl all over us, knock things off the bed stand, and attempt to nosedive off the bed.  I've been wanting some sort of accountability for getting up earlier in the mornings.  And now I have it!

And naps.  Oh, sweet naps.  She's taking two REAL naps a day.  In her crib.  And although she still cries when I initially lay her down, it only lasts a minute or so.  Wonderful things are happening now that I'm baby-free for a few hours a day.  Like I'm keeping up with the laundry.  I even mopped my floor three times this week.  Not that that's a good thing.  I really shouldn't have to mop it more than once, but you know, that whole four kids thing...

Love watching their little friendship grow!
The little lady is still very much a mama's girl.  She starts getting anxious if there's even a stranger in the same room, let alone one that tries to make eye contact.  But we're still able to leave her in the church nursery.  And she's still fast asleep when I go to pick her up.  So we're working on it.

And when we're home, and it's just our family, she's definitely becoming more and more confident.  Sometimes we even hang out in separate rooms for 20 or so minutes at a time!

Budding bookworm.
You can tell she's growing more and more interested in the big kids.  She follows them around the house and loves when they play games with her.  And we all love to hear her laugh.  Or, when she's really excited, bang her heels on the floor and spin a 360 on her bottom.

We're seeing little glimpses of her personality, and of course, she's a spunky one.  Her favorite activity is to sit at the top of the stairs and throw anything and everything she can get her hands on down the steps.  Her other favorite activity is to open the pantry, pull herself up into the bottom drawer, and find all the glass bottles (she specifically steers away from plastic.)  Then she sits on the floor and bangs the glass bottles on the tile until mommy comes to put an end to it.  And when that happens, she finds her way to the dishwasher, her new favorite seat.  Never mind that someone may actually be trying to get in and out of the it.  And never mind that it's usually holding a puddle of water.  When the dishwasher is open, Joci is there.  Which is why I've resorted to putting off the dishes until she's taking a nap.

Let's see, she also likes to open and close the sliding screen door, play in the toilet (yesterday I found her swirling all the kids toothbrushes in the toilet water), empty the trash cans, and climb up the back of the couch, bang on the window, and then nosedive back down onto the cushions.  I'm a little concerned that this particular child missed her in utero dose of inhibition!

And now she can climb up on her sister's bed all by herself!
And as usual, I'm this hot mess of being utterly torn that I'll no longer have a "baby" in the house and so excited that she's growing and developing.  I'm sad that she soon won't need my help to fall asleep at night.  And, at the same time, giddy that it won't be long before both girls can share a room, as well as secrets and giggles before bed.

She has her daddy's knack for talking out of the side of her mouth.

But most of all I'm just thankful.  Thankful for this past year of growing and stretching as I learn to mama my four.  And so thankful for this sweet girl.  Another J-babe but still different in her own right.  With her whispy bleach blonde hair that curls when she sweats, and her elf-like ears, twinkly eyes, chimpanzee jaw, Chicken Run smile, and breathy laugh.

We survived!  ... Joci has no idea what we're cheering about.
She's ours, and she's her own, and she's such a testament not only to God's love and creativity, but also to His grace for the mama of babies and their siblings who's trying to figure it all out that first year of life.  Tonight, I'm a little sad that we cross over that year mark.  But tomorrow we'll look back at that line with huge Chicken Run grins.  Because not only did we make it, but we've still got a lot to smile about.

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