Looking on the Bright Side

Time for a post of happy things…

Last Friday, I got a day all to myself.  Well…  With Ruby, the 8 month old.  Same thing, really.  I decided with the boys gone, I would use that day to start sleep training her for naps and bedtime.  Well…  Little Noodle was way ahead of me, apparently.  She fully cooperated – and has been sleeping like a champ ever since!  It’s currently 8:21pm and she’s been asleep, in her crib, for over an hour.  Success!!!

In addition to getting the little one to sleep well, I managed to clean, organize, do three loads of laundry, and read.  Like…a book.  And write.  And daydream.  Outside.  On the porch.  It felt like I was being incredibly irresponsible, sloughing off my responsibilities.  In other words, it felt wonderful.

On Saturday, our family went to one of my favorite places to pick blueberries.  An amazingly beautiful farm, tucked up in the hills of Wisconsin, near the Mississippi River and Lake Pepin.  It’s one of my happy places.  And much to my delight, I discovered my son is an awesome blueberry picker!  (And I think he had as much fun as I did – and has already asked to go back.)

Sunday, I snuck out for a bit.  We have lived in our new house for over a year, and still have nothing hung on our living room walls.  I visited a few shops to try to rectify that situation.    I found a couple of things…  On sale, too!  Gotta love it.

That evening, we grilled kabobs for dinner!  And grilled some fresh pineapple, too.  Deeeelish!  We don’t grill near as often as we used to (too many mini-people running around with tight schedules to stick to).  So this tasted even better than usual.  AND, we had blueberry cobbler for dessert.  Perfection.  Summer meals make everything seem brighter.

Have to admit, I had a rough morning with my boy…  Thought my good vibes had already come to an end.  BUT…  This afternoon, after his nap, he and I cuddled up and watched videos of the Okee Dokee Brothers on Youtube for an hour.  (Not something I normally would do…)  He is fascinated with bluegrass instruments – guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin, bass, harmonica, drums…  And has been pretending to play them all day.  We have a coffee can that we have turned into a drum (that is actually pretty cool).  It’s cardboard, with a plastic lid, and a metal bottom – so lots of different noises are possible, depending what you use to play it!  He was experimenting with it all afternoon.  I’m in awe of how his brain works.  (And need to find someone to start teaching him some instruments!)

 

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A piano outside an antique store in Stockholm, WI.  A street performer in the making!

Another high point today was simply getting the mail.  Besides receiving my fun new hairbands from amazon, I got the sweetest note in the mail from a lovely friend (and former youth group kid).  Her card simply said that she appreciated the “honest, authentic” perspective that I share about life in general.  I’ve been afraid, beginning to blog again, that people would take my writing the wrong way….  Some of it may seem really negative or like I’m complaining about being a parent…  But really, it’s just my perspective from the now.  If I wrote about these things years from now, I’m sure I’d look back with rose-tinted glasses.  But right now is hard.  And that is ok.  It’s real.  And for other moms going through the same things – we need to hear it from each other.  Because it’s a lonely road when most people say, “it gets better;” “you’ll miss it someday;” “you’re just lucky to have kids;” “you’re so blessed.”  And yes, while I agree with all these things with a whole heart, sometimes it’s nice to hear, “you too?!  Ugh…”

So, yes.  I loved this quote, sent from my friend (it’s now hanging on the wall right next to my computer):

 

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Life is what we make it.  But it gets knocked around a lot by influences outside our control…  So it’s important to look on the bright side!  What’s your bright side today?

 

I Cried.

Yesterday, I cried.  My little boy, 2.5 years old, is in the midst of figuring out feelings and impulses.  This, I know.  In my mind, I understand this.  But when he hits, kicks, throws things, and screams….  It’s hard to be rational, patient, and kind.

Yesterday, was a tough day.  He would go back and forth between being the sweet, lovable, little boy that I adore and giggle with – to being full of piss and vinegar…  He’s taken to kicking me when he’s frustrated.  He screams an ear-piercing, insanely loud, wail if he doesn’t like something you said or did.  And just for the sake of adding a little more frustration, he’s taken to pulling my hair – just for the heck of it.  (He’s seen Ruby do it, and me say “no,” and now thinks it’s funny.)

He was playing with baby Ruby on the floor…  Making her laugh and giggle, and sigh with glee.  She was trying to crawl and we were both cheering her on.  So fun.  So happy – all three of us.  For about 30 minutes, we were all full of giggles and joy, loving our time together.

When all of a sudden, with no warning, he stands up.  Walks over to Ruby.  And smacks both sides of her head.

That was it.  I had it.  He went to time out.  And I cried.

Maybe it’s part of normal development…  But it makes my heart hurt.  And I find myself wondering what I’m doing wrong?  I’m sure all parents feel this.  I’m not alone.  But that doesn’t make it any easier in that horrible moment….

I know he’s a sweet boy.  I know he’s full of compassion and empathy.  I know he loves to take care of his sister, protect her, and love on her.  I see this side of him everyday, too.  But that doesn’t make me worry less.

Yesterday, I also heard the news of Philando Castile’s death.  Another incident of a black man being shot by a police officer…  It turns out, I know several people who knew Philando…  And it sounds like he was someone everyone should have known.  Sweet, loving, peaceful.  Stopped for a traffic violation, when all hell broke loose.

I cried.

My heart hurts at all the horrible violence in our world…  Terrorists.  Guns.  Racism.  Fear.  Fear that leads to violence…  Emotions too big for some people to control.

And I look at my little boy…  Going through normal, developmental temper tantrums that lead to hitting, kicking, throwing things…  And I pray to God that I know how to nurture his kindness, compassion, and empathy…  That I know how to help him deal with emotions – especially sadness, frustration, anger, and fear – in positive healthy ways.

And the immensity of that task…  It made me cry.

We live in a broken world…  And sometimes it’s too hard to feel all the feels…  But I’m determined to be part of the light.  Part of the good.  Part of the peace that our world so desperately needs…  And while I fear for my kids growing up with this violence all around them…  I pray that they will be part of the solution.

I was crying this morning watching the news about the snipers who shot into a peaceful protest in Dallas…  Shooting 11 police officers, killing 5.  It feels like it will never end!  I cried for our country, for police officers, for the families and friends and communities that are feeling these losses the strongest…  I cried out of feeling hopeless for our world…

I think my little Ruby sensed my sadness.  She started smothering me with her open-mouthed, slobbery kisses…  Giggling.  Smiling.  Reminding me…  Life goes on and there is hope for the future – especially if we can nurture the love of our children.

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I cried….  And will cry again, I’m sure.

But I love, too.  And help.  And care.  And am, hopefully, raising my kids to do the same.  In the midst of the dark…  There has to be light.

“This little light of mine…  I’m going to let it shine!”

 

Things I am thankful for today:

  1.  God.
  2. Prayer.
  3. The helpers.  (Thanks, Mister Rogers.)
  4. A quiet day at home with Ruby.
  5. A clean house.
  6. Candles.
  7. Cold brew coffee.
  8. Parent friends to commiserate with.
  9. My desk…  (I think this is the first time, in 16 months, I’ve sat at my desk and typed!)
  10. The kids’ naps.  (Hee hee.)

July: Currently

Another blog I used to read did a quick “where am I at?” post once a month… And I love it. It’s so simple, and yet – a great check in. So, I’m going to give it a try! Here goes:

coming to terms with being a stay at home mama of two littles.  One was work, and fun, and surprising, and manageable.  Two is different.  A handful, chaos, frustrating, and exhausting…  Finding the joy takes a little more effort from me somedays.  But I’m lucky – I have two adorable goofballs.  We’ll get there.

feeling burnt out.  Busy holiday weekend.  Both kids still wake up at night.  The two year old was up to his new tricks today – busy, busy, busy.  It was a tough day of balancing discipline and compromise.  Ugh.  He’s smart, persistent, energetic, talkative, and cute.  Sometimes its hard to be mad…  And sometimes it’s hard not to!

looking out my window.  Storms are rolling in.  The birds are getting their last snacks from our feeders before racing off to hide from the winds and the rain…  It’s suddenly much darker…  Which only makes me more sleepy!

starting to get back on track.  Looking for the magic in each day.  Recording those moments in pictures, Facebook posts, and journal entries.  I learned from Sawyer’s baby days how much those little memories mean to me…  I love looking back on them already!  (And so does he!  He looks through my pictures and asks me to tell him the stories…  Pretty sweet.)

laughing at both the kids.  As exasperating as they can be, they’re quite the team.  Today, Sawyer was pretending to give a concert in our living room.  He’s standing on the ottoman, holding his “guitar,” talking through the intro of his song, then singing screaming some unintelligible nonsense while jumping around.  Ruby, who I thought would be terrified by this display, proceeds to bounce and clap, cheer and laugh when we was done.  Oh brother.  They’re quite the team.

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squeezing in a little quiet before dinner.  By the time Hubby got home today, I was done.  Fuse was short.  I just needed a break.  He took the kids for a walk, and in a moment I’ll make dinner.  But the last 45 minutes was just what I need to recharge before dinner, baths, and bedtime…

And…  Storms brought a power outage during story time   We lost power for 16 hours!  I’m finishing this post the next day.  Ugh.

believing life is good.  Even through the storms.  Literally, and figuratively.

thinking I’d love a family vacation at a cabin this summer…  On the water.  Something to soothe my soul and nerves…  (Not likely to happen.  But I can daydream!)

knowing Ruby is almost on the move!  She’s rolling, rocking, pulling herself partway up on things…  Life is about to get even crazier.  (I’m kind of excited for her to chase Sawyer around…  Is that mean of me?!  Hee hee.)  Time to start contemplating child-proofing, again.

fighting – or arguing – with the 2.5 year old all. day. long.  He’s an emotional mess these days.  One moment he wants to do something for himself, then he screams and throws something because he wants mommy to do it…  And then, regardless of whether I do it, he will cry and scream for the next 30 minutes.  Somedays, life seems impossible for him AND me.  He’s feeling a lot of things these days.  And they’re big feelings.  And apparently, I’m the wrong person to help him through them…  So we sit at an impasse most of the day.  It’s exhausting to say the least.

thanking God, everyday, for these kiddos.  They make me crazy.  Like, somedays, certifiably crazy.  But…  They can be sweet, cute, funny, amazing, lovable little creatures, too.  I’ll keep them – God help me!

being me. The good days and the not so good days…  Pluggin’ along.

Make Plans… God Laughs

Wow.  Today on my memory feed on Facebook, a link to this blog appeared.  Honestly, I completely forgot I created this blog!  I started it shortly after I became a stay-at-home-mom with one little guy…

Life sure has changed!

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I’m still a SAHM, but now have a 2.5 year old and an 8 month old.  Life is fuller.  Busier.  More frustrating.  Not as rosy.  A lot more chaos.  A lot more screaming.  A lot more “no.”  A lot less sleep.  A lot less getting done (hence no blogging for two years…).

And I realized today, maybe I’ve allowed myself to fall into a way of life I’m not too keen on living.  I look back at those happier blog entries and wonder, “what happened to her?”  She was so positive, happy, and full of joy….  These days, I just want sleep.  And quiet.  Quiet would be nice…

I read those old blog posts at 6:30 this morning.  It’s 4:30pm now…   The hubby took the kids to play at the neighbor’s house – and I’m taking a moment to myself to put into words what I’ve been thinking all day.

It’s time to start with a clean slate.

I need to find ways to bring joy and gratefulness back into my everyday, every moment…  I need to find ways to incorporate peace and stillness, reading and walking back into the daily grind.  I need to center myself again.

This parenting thing takes it out of you.  Big time.  Toddlers take every last morsel of life and devour it whole…  Leaving crumbs for you to gather in their wake.

Not anymore.  Mama’s taking it back.  (Not sure how, yet, but realizing how far I’ve strayed is a start!)

Maybe we’ll start here.  Let’s re-write that 3rd paragraph:

I’m still a SAHM, but now have a 2.5 year old and an 8 month old. Life is fuller. Messier. More unpredictable. Not as quiet. A lot more giggles. A lot more singing. A lot more snuggles. A lot less nights out. A lot less projects.  But more reading books.  More building blocks and knocking them down.  More pretending.  More trying new things.  More cheering and screaming with delight.  More splashing and spraying.  More garbage trucks, diggers, firetrucks, and lawn mowers.  More “Good morning, Ruby” and “Please and thank yous.”  More dance parties and singing in the shower.  

Life is good.  I just need to pay attention to ALL of it.

So here’s ten things I’m grateful for today, in this moment:

  1. Hubby took the kids for a walk = Quiet.
  2. This blog, and the reminder that it exists.  The reminder of who I was.
  3. Sunshine after a storm.
  4. Sawyer, the 2.5 year old, loving “parfaits.”
  5. Ruby, the 8 month old, trying to pull herself up with such determination.
  6. A four day weekend with the hubby home.
  7. Decorating the house for the 4th of July with Sawyer, and adding decorations to his little kitchen.
  8. Library visits.
  9. Sawyer trying to help me pick out sunglasses.  (He picks up the gaudiest ones there, and says, “Here Mommy, these would look soooo pretty on you!”)
  10. Naps.  Long naps.

Made It Monday – Photo Collage

Finally!  This project took a year to complete…

First, I found out I was pregnant…

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Then, six months later, I was ready to pop!

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Finally…  Six months after “popping,” this little human has taken over!

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I just ordered the photo collage to frame and hang in our bedroom…  I can’t wait!

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**The idea came from Pinterest, of course.  Too cute to pass up!

 

Any projects in the works at your house?

Road Trip!

Ahhh…   The dreaded road trip – with a baby.  What usually takes 5 hours to get to my mother-in-law’s house, now takes at least 6 hours, usually 6.5.  Lovely.

But here’s the thing – I LOVE our rest stops!  It’s great family time!

We bring a giant picnic blanket and find a shady spot in the grass.  Get the babe out of the car, let him wiggle and crawl and play. Change him.  Feed him.  And play.  Lots of play.  Gotta say, after a long week – this can be pretty fun times!  (Even the dog gets in on the fun.)

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Daddy is trying to eat his lunch…  With Sawyer and Bailey doing their best to make him give it up!  (Mr Tough Guy!)

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Stretching his legs – with wiggles and dancing, too!

Today, we found some great McDonald’s with nice, big trees and grassy areas around their parking lots.  Perfect.  Isn’t it funny that we now rate places to stop along the way by who has the nicest lawns?  I’ll be very sad when winter comes and we actually have to sit inside… and behave… and use the icky changing tables…  I plan to thoroughly enjoy the rest of the summer road trips!

What are you – particularly – loving this summer?

 

Made it Monday – Pool!

We finally “made it” to the pool this summer!  (Which is silly…  We live in a neighborhood with two beautiful pools…)  Between the summer being a little cooler than usual, our vacations, the pool hours (opening at 10am), avoiding the peak sun times, Hubby getting home around 4:30…  And Sawyer’s dinner and bedtime rituals beginning at 5:30pm…  We just hadn’t made it to the pool yet.

It’s August!

And we’re so pale!

(I usually half live at the pool during the summer!)

But we finally made it.  Sawyer was wearing all the ridiculous sun-protection clothing and sunscreen.  He looked hilarious.  (But I saw the news last week – apparently, we’re all going to get skin cancer.  So might as well protect the next generation from the very beginning…)

We started gradually.  I sat on the step with the little guy.  He dipped his toes and we splashed a bit.  He was slow to to smile.  But eventually thought that was pretty cool.

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Then, we let him stand on a step.  Since he loves standing anywhere – that was a big hit!  Now we were having fun!

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Mike eventually took him into the water and pulled him around a bit – then the smiles really came!  And he started kicking – loving it!

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He was perfectly happy lounging in Daddy’s arms, enjoying the show that all the other kids were putting on.  He was entranced by the splashing and laughing and yelling.  The pool “noodles” even caught his attention – curiosity peaked.

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So cute.  What a fun way to spend our Sunday afternoon!

Isn’t it funny how the simplest things become magical again, once you have a baby in the house?  Watching them experience things for the first time is so enchanting.  The wide, bright eyes.  The wonder.  The uncertainty.  The excitement.  The joy.

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It was pretty clear to the other moms at the pool that it was Sawyer’s first trip to the pool.  (They all had that knowing smile and chuckle as they watched us…)  One mom even offered to take our picture.  I love it!

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Did you accomplish any goals lately?  (I hope they were as fun as a day at the pool!)

Camping Out…

Camping out…  is a lot different than it used to be!

My hubby and I love to camp.  Love it.  And we’re good campers.  Happy campers.  Efficient campers.  We’ve got this down – whether it be car camping or a short backpacking trip.  We’ve got it.

Til baby came along.  Ha!  We’re bound and determined to continue camping…  It’s just that it’s… a little different these days.

We get to camp on a Friday night, around 5pm.  While Mike sets up camp, Sawyer and I play and read books on a picnic blanket.  And he eats dinner – while trying not to make such a mess that the bugs swarm!  It’s tricky, but we do it!  By the time his dinner is gone and cleaned up, it’s “supposedly” time to get ready for bed.  I start the bedtime ritual while my hubby is making the campfire and beginning to cook our dinner.

Bedtime?  Are you kidding?!  We get the jammies on, read a couple of stories, say our prayers, have a bottle, sing a little…  And then?  Well, apparently it’s playtime!

Sawyer loves the tent.  Loves that he’s laying beside us and can roll over and grab our face at any time.  (It gives him the giggles.)  He wants to crawl, to stand, to roll in our sleeping bags and over our pillows.  He stares out the door at the kids walking by.  He hears dogs barking and perks up to see what’s going on.  I gotta say, it is pretty fun laying in the tent with him…

All of a sudden, Daddy comes to play in the tent, and tells me to go eat my dinner.  Seriously?!  He’s made and eaten his dinner already?!  Time goes fast when you’re trying to get a little one to sleep…

So we switch roles.  I go out to the campfire and eat my delicious kabobs.  And in the tent?  It’s not any quieter…  I can hear laughing and giggles.  That kid is not going to sleep anytime soon.

They emerge from the tent at 8:30.  Sawyer’s having the time of his life.  And I’m realizing there will be no “mommy and daddy time” at the campfire tonight.  And that’s ok.  He’s a happy kid.  And this is what it’s all about, right?

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The magic of being outside as the sun sets.  The smell of the campfire.  The flames dancing and hypnotizing anyone who looks at them – including the babe.  The fresh air.  The scent of rain coming.  Hearing thunder in the distance…

Oh wait!  What?  Is that rain I feel?

Yep…  Quick, into the tent!  A downpour!  Thunder!  Lightening!

I was a little nervous.  Sawyer’s eyes were big – yet, he played harder than ever at first…  And then passed out in my arms during the heaviest part of the storm.  Oh dear…

An exciting night.  That’s for sure.  Not what we expected.  Not what we planned.  But I’m so appreciating our ability to enjoy it for what it is.  And loving how well Mike and I work as a team.  We may not get much time together at the campfire…  But we love seeing Sawyer wiggle and giggle and hear each other’s laughing, too.  We’ll figure this out the more we do it.  But for now, it’s not exactly a bad way to spend a Friday night.  We’ll take it!

Remembering Today

“What do you want to remember about today?”

The fact that it is an ordinary, everyday kind of day.  Nothing extraordinary is happening.  Nothing spectacular.  Nothing over the top crazy fun.  It’s just a day.

And it’s worth remembering.

Remembering…

…Sawyer’s big smile and giggle when I went in to get him this morning – sitting up in his crib, gripping his monkey, bouncing up and down with excitement as Mommy wished him “Good morning!”

…Toys and blankets scattered all over the floor in the loft.  Giraffes, mooses, books, balls, rattles, a “minky” blanket, the star that plays classical music when shaken…  All kinds of fun to be had!

…His first glimpse of Elmo.  A big smile.  Suddenly interested in what it is happening on the TV.

…The drool-y, messy, open-mouthed kisses that have begun.

…Walking away to change the laundry, and peeking back to see Sawyer crawling towards things that are off-limits – with a grin on his face.  Oh boy!

…Watching the dog sprawl on the blankets, til the little boy make a beeline for her.

…The hubby coming home for a quick lunch break – with kisses for both of us.

…Sawyer giggling with black beans, sweet potatoes, and cereal in his mouth – and oozing out…  What a mess!

…The fragrance of clean laundry.

…The warm taste of fresh coffee in the morning.

…Catching a glimpse of this:

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…The feeling that life is good.  I’m where I’m supposed to be.  I’m loved – and have so much to love in return.

 

What is worth remembering about your day?

Oh, Baby…!

Here we go!  This happened this weekend:

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I went to his room, thinking he was sleeping, just to check on him.  I found him sitting up in his crib.  This was the first time he’d done that!  So I ran to get the camera in order to show my husband…  When I got back, he was kneeling.  Huh.  First time he’d done that, too.  Looked down at my phone to get the camera function up and running, looked up… and Waa-la!  He was standing – with this terrified look on his face!  

It was one of those moments when a thousand thoughts run through your head, all at the same moment.  I was amazed, excited, terrified for and with him, and dismayed that my easy days at home with him were about to be over.  I knew if I said anything – whether it be a “yeah!,” a “oh $#&*!” or nothing at all – he was going to fall forward and bump his little head…  And sure enough, within just a couple of seconds, he did.  Ugh.

After I calmed him – and me – down, I went downstairs to where my husband was grilling our dinner and said, “It’s time to lower his mattress.”  Hubby looked at me and said, “Ok.”  (Probably thinking we’d do it tomorrow…)  “Now.”  I said.  I told him what happened and he obligingly went upstairs to do just that.  We finally got the kid to sleep – way past his bedtime.  Dinner was late…  And we both stared at each across the dinner table, thinking, “Here we go!”

Sawyer is 6 1/2 months old…  I really thought I had awhile until I’d be dealing with these kinds of happenings…  Maybe I was naive?  Or wishful?  Either way – in a matter of 19 days he taught himself to: sit up unassisted; army crawl; go from crawling to sitting up and sitting up to crawling; and now, apparently, he pulls himself up on furniture to a standing position.

Uffda.

Gotta say, I’m having a hard time with this.  It’s all going so fast!  I guess I thought I’d have time to get used to the crawling (and baby-proofing) before the standing by the furniture.  Now, I’m really curious when he’ll try to walk.  He has a long ways to go to figure out the whole balance thing – but he’s already figuring out how to put one foot in front of the other when we hold his fingers…

Too fast!

I already miss the days of having him in my arms or in a baby carrier most of the day…  It seemed like I would never be able to get anything done, every again…  And yet, it was so nice to have him so close.  And then, the days of him in his little seat or the swing – laughing at me while I danced around, cleaning the house or making meals.  I was so proud of myself if I could win a smile or a giggle!  And lately, just getting him to crawl five feet to “come to mama!”  His look of determination should have warned me what was coming next!

Now, when we find him pulling himself up – whether on our hands, the couch, or in his crib – he’s so proud of himself.  It’s fun – and terrifying – to see that “look what I just did!” smile.  When we say “sooooo big!” he lights up – it’s as if he knows exactly what we’re talking about.

It’s pretty amazing…  Watching him become his own person.  And to think, I always thought I wasn’t a baby person.  I would have been perfectly happy to jump to the four-year-old days.  And now?  I wouldn’t miss this for anything!  It’s crazy and exciting to see what he does every day…  And trust me.  There is literally something new just about every day!

(In fact, he just grabbed my finger and put it in his mouth – and guess what?!  I finally felt a tooth!  The journey continues….)

What excitement did you encounter this weekend?