Monday, October 24, 2016

I can finally breathe

I hadn't even realized it had been so long.  I hadn't even realized I wasn't doing it.

Of course, I mean this figuratively.  I've been breathing.  What I haven't been doing is thinking about myself, or my future, or the things that I want.  I've only been thinking about the things that I need.   To get through this moment, this day, this week.  Usually not further ahead than that.

Being a stay at home mom is very, very hard.  I've now been doing it for a little over 4 years.  I've had a couple other gigs mixed in here and there; I've taught a few classes, I've done some landlording.  But for a little over 4 years, my primary job has been taking care of 3 little people.

My kids are now 7, 4 and 2.  The youngest two are 15 months apart.  That was hard.  I have one in 1st grade, one in half-day Pre-Kindergarten and one in half-day preschool 3 days a week.  I'm finally at a point where they can play upstairs, out of sight, for an hour.  And not kill themselves or burn the house down.

Over the past 9 months we've slowly been getting to this point.  Emerging from the fog.  I've gradually started to take care of myself again.  I've started looking in the mirror and putting effort into my appearance.  I've started to be more conscious about what I eat in order to realize why I've gained 30 pounds since Teddy was born (30 pounds!! Ugh.)  At least I've finally stopped gaining.  I've started to exercise, and ran a 10 mile race a few weeks ago.  I was awfully slow, but I did it and it was a blast.

Now.  Now I'm starting to think about what I want next.  I have zero regrets about staying home with my kids.  I was so torn about that decision before I made it, but since I started to stay home I have not regretted it a single day.  But I am within sight of having the kids in full day school.  And even now, if I found something I was really interested in, I could put them in their programs for full days.  The idea of a regular, full-time job is a bit daunting, because of the hubs work schedule.  There would be weeks we just wouldn't see each other, and the kids wouldn't see him.  Unless I found something I was really passionate about, I can't imagine taking that on.

So I've started to ponder.  What's next.  Maybe another rental?  More classes?  I'm just not sure.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

2015: A recap

1. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?  I became a working mom with three small children.  I became president of a volunteer organization (a local Mom's group).  I went on a girls weekend away.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?   I mostly kept last year's resolution.  I didn't really make any this year.  Some of my goals, generally, though: exercise more and eat more consciously.  Write on this blog more.  Establish more responsible sleep habits.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?   A friend of mine, who we used to be neighbors with, had her third child. I was SHOCKED when she announced she was pregnant, totally did not see that one coming.  One of DH's old high school friends and one of my old high school friends each had their first baby; I intended to make some quilts but still have not.  I don't turn them out as fast as I'd like.

4. Did anyone close to you die?  I really thought this would be the year our faithful old dog, Vito, said goodbye.  He seemed to be very sickly last spring, and I prepared the girls for this possibility.  But he's still kicking, laying here next to me as I write.  Thankfully, no one died.  I dread the day I have to say more on this bullet.

5. What countries did you visit and/or where did you travel?  Still haven't taken the kiddos out of the country, so I modified this question to recap travel in general.

Last February I went to Camp Du Nord, near Ely, for a Women's Ski and snowshoe retreat.  It was GLORIOUS.  Three days with no children or responsibilities of any kind.  What a release that was for me.  I will be going again this year and can hardly wait.

Last spring, during MJ's spring break, we stayed put for the first time ever.  DH's mom came to visit and it was lovely.

In May, the family went to West Virginia.  We spent a week in the mountains at a VRBO with some old friends.  It was beautiful and I would love to return.  The week was a bit rough, though, because we were the only ones with mobile children (one other couple had a young infant).  We were in a very different place from the rest of our friends.  They were all very understanding and seemed to enjoy our children, but I think DH in particular had a tough time balancing being a father when he just wanted to hang out with old friends.

Also in May we went camping nearby with some good friends, the Firedales.   Teddy and I ditched a day early, he was a hot mess and I couldn't deal.  The next month we went to a cabin with some other friends, and it went quite a bit better.  Much of last year, the theme was "Teddy sleeps a little better, but still pretty much sucks at it".  Survival.  So the cabin was awesome, but a bit of a struggle.

In July, hubs and I were supposed to go to Vegas for a 3-day-weekend to celebrate our 10 year anniversary.  It would have been our first time away from the kids in 5 years.  My MIL was in town and planning to watch the kids, but she got horribly sick and we had to cancel the trip.  We were bummed, but there was a blessing in disguise.  Hubs uncle had planned a trip to visit, not knowing we would be out of town, and we would have missed his entire trip.  Instead, we went to a baseball game and all-in-all had a lovely time.  I still dream of time away with my husband.  For the most part, I've wrapped my head around that never happening, at least not until the kids leave the house, but I'm not sure that hubs has.

Lots of travel... continuing on....

In July we went to visit my family in Oregon.  Lovely.  Perfect.  I love it there, hubs loves it there, the kiddos love it there.  Teddster did break his leg on this sisters third b-day, but otherwise it was wonderful.

In September, we went to Alexandria, MN, tagging along on hubs work trip, as we do every year.  This year, though, was actually really fun.  I look forward to next year; this is the first time I can say that.  The housing was better, there were other folks with kids nearby, and I could actually participate in things.

In October, we again went to Du Nord, this time as a family, with some other friends.  It was DH's first time there, and he fell in love with it just as passionately as I did.  We are already trying to plan our next trip.

Lastly.... in December, we went back to upstate New York to visit DH's family.  The trip was long, and Christmas is a tough time to travel with three small kids.  On the way there, we were not sure we would do it again, but it was such a wonderful trip that we completely reversed that opinion.  So good to see extended family, friends we haven't seen in forever.  Lots of DH's family that had never met the kids, or barely met them, got to spend quality time together.  It was awesome.

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?
I would like to feel put together.  In house.  In personal appearance.  In life.  Last spring, Teddy was still sleeping pretty poorly, MJ was only in school half days.  Over the summer, all three were home.  In the fall, I started working part-time (my position ended in December, though).  Which is to say: I felt frazzled all the time.

But now, finally, a week into January 2016, I actually feel things coming together.  MJ is in school full days, G is in school three mornings a week.  Just the ease of grocery shopping with one (fairly well behaved) child is magical.  My house is cleaner (about as clean as it is realistically likely to get.... past a point, I just don't care enough.)  It's almost overwhelming.  I'm rediscovering what one can accomplish when one has time.

7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
I don't remember particular dates.  But the Paris Terrorist attack stuck in my memory, unfortunately.  This is the first year I've actually read this as more than just personal events.... probably says something about my life.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Being a working mother of three.  The logistical challenges were many.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I don't want to say "I didn't have any", but I don't think anything I consider major.  The things that have plagued me in the past, such as patience with the children, were markedly improved this year.  I established some strong routines and things got better.

The thing that nags me, though, is my inability to lose weight.  It has actually gone UP this year.  It mostly perplexes me.  I feel like I am more active and eat better than I used to, so I really don't understand where it's coming from.  Age?  I guess.  I refuse to "diet", other than to just try to eat healthy.  I don't eat many processed foods, and when I've tried to actively lose weight in the past it just robbed me of energy to deal with the littles.  Doesn't seem worth it.  Furthermore, I refuse to introduce my children to this concept.  Body image is so, so fragile for young girls.  I will focus my energy, for me, and for them, on eating healthy and staying active, and let the chips fall where they may.  Now I just need to accept that.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Not particularly.  We had a lot of stomach viruses this past fall, it felt like one after another.  Teddster broke his leg (a buckle fracture of his tibia) when I went down a slide with him and G (I should have known better.... this will be something that our children will be horrified we ever did).  Hubs came down with anaplasmosis last summer (from a tick bite while camping); it was terrifying to see him so ill.  Last thing that comes to mind was some dental work at the end of December.  I experienced real-deal PTSD, flashbacks to having my wisdom teeth removed.  Perhaps a story for another time.  But I almost passed out at the Dentist having a filling.  It was awful, but it went fine in the end.

11. What was the best thing you bought?  

This one is easy.  Two things.
1) my sewing machine.  I am in love with it.  I don't use the free motion foot as much as I thought I would, but love it nonetheless.  I didn't realize how bad my old one was until I got this one.
2)  a cordless dyson.  Even hubs agrees on this one.  It is so phenomenal how much dirt this thing picks up.  I now vacuum almost every day, because it is so easy to do.  It has made such a difference in the cleanliness of our house.  I only wish I had it before the littles started crawling.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
In the past, I've read other peoples surveys, and they often say "their husband".  I haven't felt that impulse in the past.  Not that he was bad, but not above and beyond.  Maybe working too much, or tired and grumpy, etc.  This year, though, I feel it.  Wholeheartedly.  He stepped it up and it made a huge difference.  It started last summer.  He had been particularly grumpy, and we had a very heart felt conversation after his anaplasmosis bout.  He turned it around.  He vowed to be a better husband, and it happened.  Then, in the fall, when I started working again, I just couldn't keep up with the amount of child rearing.  I needed him to step in, even though I knew he was super busy, and he did, gracefully and cheerfully most of the time.  I feel like this was the year he vowed to be a better husband, and it was wonderful.  I feel like it has strengthened our marriage a ton.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?  Donald Trump.

14. Where did most of your money go?   Our mortgage and savings.  But, apart from that, travel.  It is always travel.  I am okay with that.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?  Sewing.  And quilting.  I know that makes me a geek, but I love it.  I love creating things.  I love that I can do it easily when the kids are around.    I didn't sew much over the summer, and I worried I had fallen out of love with it, but when the weather turned cold it came flooding back.

16. What song will always remind you of 2015?
I am so removed from popular culture.  I can't think of any new songs, at all.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
– Happier or sadder?
Happier.  Probably because I'm getting better sleep.  I continue to nap when the kids nap and stay up way too late, but I will never adjust to 5:00 am wake ups, and it's how I stay sane.  It's worked for well over a year now, and I don't see it ever ending.  I was worried, when I working, that it would be a problem.  It wasn't.  The kids wear me out to such an extent that I NEED a nap when I'm with them.  I can get by without one when they're not around.

– Thinner or fatter?
Fatter, as mentioned above.  But fat and happy is not so bad.

– Richer or poorer?
Richer.  Thanks to hubs choosing a great career, and some added bonus from me working.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Playing with the kids.  Valuing these fleeting moments.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?


20. How did you spend Christmas?
In Binghamton.  With my MIL and BIL, and some lovely extended family.  It was so warm we comfortably grilled (spiedies) outside.  Greta dragged her presents into the other room to open them by herself.  Teddy didn't quite understand the point of it all, but loved it.  MJ was fully in the throes of Santa questioning.

21. Did you fall in love in 2015?
With my husband.  I feel like we are more of a team than we've ever been.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
I watched Game of Thrones this year (still haven't finished it).  I love the series that hubs and I watch together, which are few.  We just finished Fargo Season 2, and earlier we watched House of Cards.   Still love Downton.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Donald Trump.

24. What was the best book you read?
Trying to remember what I read this year.  Not a lot, a lot of spare time spent sewing.  Magical art of tidying up was impactful.   Also Defending Jacob.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? MJ and I listened to the Nutcracker a lot.

26. What did you want and get?

A sewing machine.

27. What did you want and not get?
I am blessed.  Nothing of significance.  Except a 10th anniversary celebration, I suppose.

28. What was your favorite film this year?
Umm... didn't watch many.  James Bond, it was fine.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Met up with friends at a couple bars.  I LOVE spending time with adults on date nights.  Real conversations, not interrupted by children.  It was amazing and lovely.

30. What is one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
A housekeeper.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?
Wear what I feel good in.  Inspired by Kon Marie.  I cleansed my closet (didn't get a lot further than that).  I bought a few more pieces, and have given myself permission to get rid of things I don't feel good in.  It has been good.  I have also discovered I like neutral colored clothing; I love bright colors on other people, and as accent pieces, but have come to realize I never actually wear them if I buy them.  This has gone a long way towards insuring that I don't buy things I don't wear.

32. What kept you sane? Sewing.  Wine.  My husband.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?  Umm.... I don't know.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?  Gun violence.  And Black Lives Matter.  I'm not a fan of things that disrupt people just trying to live their lives.

35. Who did you miss?  My Mom.

36. Who was the best new person you met?  Anastasia.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015
Parenting efforts in the early years pay dividends years later.  But they're worth it.  I'm starting to see our efforts in teaching MJ politeness and helpfulness fully come to fruition.

Loyalty in a life partner is far more important than I ever realized.

It boggles my mind that my 20-yr-old clueless self was so astute at picking a life partner.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Welcome to 2015.

Because that's how long it's been since I posted.

In fact, I never even wrote about Teddy's birthday.  Mostly because it was a non-event and I felt guilty about that.  His Dad was working.  His Baba was sick in bed.  One of his sisters was at a movie.  So it was G, T-rex and me.  I labored all morning to make strawberry cupcakes from scratch (which is very difficult with two toddlers around) and he didn't even like them.

On the upside, though, I get to tuck him in every night with the quilt I made for him.  He seems to like it, so I count that as a win. On my birthday last year, I decided I wanted to start quilting.  I have also loved crafts, and my most recent crafty interest was mosaicing.  But I had to do it in the basement (flying shards of glass belong in the basement) and I never enjoyed being in the basement.  Cold in the winter, hot in the summer, no where comfortable to sit, no windows, etc.  So I decided I needed a craft I could do upstairs, with children milling about (because it seems there are always children milling about).  Furthermore, I wanted it to be something not fragile.  So after thinking about it for a while, quilting was the decision.

I went to a fabric store on my b-day, T-rex in tow, for the one hour a week I have only one kid with me.  I bought everything I needed to get started, as well as the fabric for my first project, which I decided would be T-rex's birthday gift. With a birthday right after Christmas I knew a party wasn't really in the cards, so opted for something else special.

The thing is, I grew totally hooked.  So that's what I've been doing in my free time.  Not blogging.  Not playing Candy Crush.  Not cleaning the house (not that I ever was).  Not reading.  I'm still totally hooked.  I have since finished Greta's quilt and have several other works in progress.

Tonight, though, I feel a little under the weather.  So I finally dusted off the old keyboard to catch up a bit.

Catching up on everything is unrealistic.  But I can mention a few things.

We just returned from our first camping trip of the year, Teddster's third camping trip ever. This occurred only one week after returning from a week in West Virginia.  It turns out, he is not much for sleeping anywhere other than his bed, and it is making travel hard.  To be fair, he wasn't much for sleeping there for a long time either, so at least he finally figured that out (not until about 13 months... the toughest sleeper by far).  T-rex and I only camped for one night, because he wouldn't sleep anywhere other than on top of us, fitfully, even with the aid of Benadryl (taken under physician supervision).  I was just done with poor sleeping, so he and I came home a day early, and he slept wonderfully and I got some rare one-on-one time with my boy.

Teddy is a wild man these days.  He is constantly climbing everything. He was climbing before he was walking (the walking happened within days of turning 1).  He loves to climb on top of the table then yelp at me until he gets my attention and shout "Get down"!  He does it primarily because he knows he's not supposed to.  I tried to stop the behavior and it only made it worse because it became a game for him.  He's had 4 or so concussions already, none of which actually occurred while doing anything that looked particularly terrifying.  He was born to be the child of an ER doc.

Greta is now fully potty trained.  She basically potty trained herself.  We tried to encourage her but the more I pushed her the more she resisted.  I finally told her if she pooped in the potty she would get a treat, and that was the motivation she needed.  She started pooping regularly in the potty and has had only one poop accident since.  Next step was that I told her if she went a day without any accidents we would go to the store and pick out a baby doll.  She worked hard and has done amazing.  If I push her to go potty she will usually refuse, but if I let her do it on her own she does great.  Certain times are a requirement (you must pee before we leave the house, before nap, etc.)  Still a pull-up to bed, which is a-okay by me. This girl is so absurdly stubborn.  She is definitely a challenge to parent, as I usually have to think of how to get her to do something without being seen as "making" her do it.  I know this is a more effective way to parent, but sometimes you need to be able to just make them do it, and it never, ever goes well.

And the big girl.  She's a pretty amazing kid.  Fearless as ever.  But also creative and imaginative.  She entertains herself for two hours a day while her brother and sister nap.  Today she made a tea party for her dolls.  The other day she decorated the house with geese she made.  Sometimes she makes a boat out of bottles in the recycling.  Or cards for her friend.  She now has a best friend, and I'm so happy for her.  Our neighbor has become her besty, and they are such nice kids.  I couldn't have picked a better friend for her.  They imagine constantly, seem to get along well and generally lift each other up.  I feel so blessed that the kid my kid plays the most with is such a positive influence in her life.  She is also the most talkative person I know, which drives my quiet loving self batty.  Though I missed it when she was gone for a day.  I know this is the reason she is so eloquent, a comment we get again and again from strangers.  She has an amazing vocabulary, is friendly and outgoing with strangers, inquisitive about everything....  She has been working hard to learn to read, and I have to work hard not to push her too hard.  It's hard for me to be as patient as I need to be, and I constantly have expectations that are clearly too high.  Not doing anyone any good.

Alrighty.  That's enough for now.  Maybe I'll try to keep this old blog up on a more regular basis....

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014: A recap

I didn't quite get around to this survey last year.  I had a 3 day old, and for the whole month of January I tried to find the time.  I eventually let it go. I let many things go this year, out of necessity for my mental health.  That was one thing I learned this year: how many things I have to let go in order to stay sane.
1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?  I stayed home with three small children.  I learned how to quilt and made my first quilt for Teddy's 1st birthday.  

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?   I have a tendency to make very vague New Years Resolutions and not tell them to anyone, so that if I fail no one knows.  :)  So, I don't take them too seriously. Last year I wanted to read more and watch less TV.  I 100% succeeded.  I read a ton and watched very little TV.  It felt awesome.

 This year I have decided to not drink any alcohol in January.  A cleanse, of sorts.  Not entirely a resolution, but sort of a start.  I want to get more done around the house.  Fix some things that have been nagging me, like painting the kitchen and possibly redoing the countertops.  

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? A few good friends had babies.  No relatives.  Not me!!!

4. Did anyone close to you die? My grandmother died in June.  I wasn't terribly close to her but was sad nonetheless.  Teddy and I flew to Oregon for the funeral, and it was nice to see some of my extended family.

Additionally, an acquaintance of mine, and good friend to several of my good friends, died this fall.  He was 36 with two young kids.  Very sad.  Tragic.  Heart wrenching.  

5. What countries did you visit? No countries.  We have yet to take the kids out of the country, it sounds like lots of stress with very little gain.  We travelled to the pan handle of Florida and to Orlando, as well as Oregon (twice) and a few cabin trips in Minnesota.  

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014? Sleep.  Calm.  Less stress.  Teddy basically sucked at sleeping for the entire year.  He's starting to get better, and the girls are now pretty consistent sleepers after settling into their bunk bed routine.  But I have not adjusted to the third kid all that well.  I have been stressed, exhausted and yelling much more than I'd like to admit.  I have taken steps to improve that in the past few months, and I'm starting to see the results of that.  I'd like the less stressed, better rested and calmer version of me to become the norm.

7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?  I'm not sure there were any dates.  The first time in a couple years I haven't given birth, so no new birthdays to add.  No new houses, new cars, or the like.  

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? I'm starting to feel so boring.  No major accomplishments, other than keeping three littles fed, clothed and loved.  I oversee two rental properties, one of which I found a new tenant for.  

9. What was your biggest failure? I was not a great parent for much of the year.  I yelled a lot. I did not have grace under pressure.  

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Nothing major.  I did have a round of mastitis last winter, which knocked me to the floor, but some antibiotics knocked that down quickly.  Also followed by a UTI which also went away with meds quickly. Other than that, our family has stayed pretty healthy.  Yes, illnesses hear and there but nothing crazy.  (Not including my mother-in-law's terrible bout with the flu while visiting over Christmas.  Fingers crossed we don't get that one.)

11. What was the best thing you bought?  
No major purchases.  A small TV for the living room, a purse from Keen I'm in love with, and bought some new clothes since I'm finally not pregnant.  The best place my money went, though, has been a gym membership at Lifetime Fitness.  Although I don't make it quite as much as I would like, I make it pretty often and the kids have loved it.  There have definitely been days where that is my only bit of sanity in the day.  I drop them at childcare, and sit quietly in the locker room for 5 minutes.  Then exercise at my own pace and take a quiet shower.  Total bliss.  Also, the kids love it so much it serves as strong motivation to get me out the door.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? My Mother and Mother-in-law.  None of our family live close, but it is so nice that they have stayed so involved despite being so far away.  My Mom came for a month when Teddy was born and put up with my cranky, hormonal, crazy self.  She has been a couple times since and I am so lucky she puts up with our crazy family.  My Mother-in-law doesn't make it out quite as much because she isn't retired, but she, again, is so patient with our crazy family.  I am blessed by some awesome moms.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? The riots in Ferguson, MO, and the violence that has erupted elsewhere, has made me sad.  Yes, the initial shooting was sad and terrible.  But the idea that people then riot and destroy property, or shoot police officers, is so appalling to me.  How do people expect more respect if that's their reaction?  I know this is a contentious topic.  But that's my $0.02.

14. Where did most of your money go? Travel and savings.  We travel quite a lot, and now that we're buying 4 plane tickets (soon to be 5) it adds up quick.  But with all our family living far away it helps us stay close.  And we also love it.  It's our biggest luxury, by far.

Other big expenses were a pop-up trailer my husband bought and which he adores, and date nights.  We do like our date nights.  It is usually the hubs that insists on date nights, but I'm always glad when he does.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?  Hmmm.....  I was pretty darn excited about going to Disney World in December.  I was also excited for our Florida trip with friends last March, and our Oregon trip in August.  So travel, I guess, was exciting.

16. What song will always remind you of 2014?  "Take me to Church" by Hozier, "Happy" by Pharrell Williams and  Ed Sheeran "Don't".

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
– Happier or sadder? 
This shouldn't be a tough one, but it is.  I was pretty excited about our 3rd kid, but the reality has been really, really tough.  Not that I thought it wouldn't be, but I was hopeful that within a few months it would get easier.  If you had told me a year ago that I would still be sleeping so poorly I would have cried.  Hope that things would get better got me through much of this year.  They are starting to get better, but they're still pretty darn tough.  Greta is still only 2 1/2, so of course she's no angel.  Teddy is just now becoming a toddler.  This spacing has been tough.  Our kids are just intense.  Which makes them all so interesting, but so exhausting.  There are a lot of issues I thought we would get past this year that are still real issues, such as Greta's violence to her brother.  So, I am happy.  So happy.  But now that I have a more realistic outlook on our next couple years I'm not sure that I'm happier.  I'll leave it at that.

– Thinner or fatter? Thinner, but not by as much as I had hoped.  I am still 10 pounds up from my pre-pregnancy weight.  With both of the last kids the weight came off by now, so I'm frustrated.  Hoping my alcohol free January will help with this a bit.

– Richer or poorer? Richer.  We do pretty well at saving.  And now that we are home all the time, we don't eat out as much as we used to.  Not as much time to spend money. ;)

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? I really think I did an awful lot considering how crazy our year was.  So I'll leave this at nothing.  

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
 Stressing.  I wish I could take things in stride more easily.  Stress doesn't help much when dealing with small children.  Only patience does.

20. How did you spend Christmas?  My mother-in-law and brother-in-law were in town for Christmas and it was lovely.  Although it would be nice to be near family for Christmas, it also looks incredibly stressful to run all over for everyone's various Christmases.  I love staying home with our family, cooking and feasting for days and opening presents on Christmas morning.  

We also have a number of good friends with no family around, and we always have a few Christmas parties with them in the weeks leading up to Christmas.  They are really like family, without the drama that comes of your blood relatives.  

This year we took the kids to church on Christmas Eve.  Greta and Teddy lasted for all of 15 minutes before I had to walk home with them.  I also may have overdone the number of presents I got them this year.  I vow not to do that next year.  They were officially spoiled, no need for that.  

21. Did you fall in love in 2014?  I can honestly say I fell in love with Teddy.  It wasn't immediate, because I just didn't have the time to focus on him and stare lovingly in his eyes that I did with the other two.  And since I was exclusively pumping for the first several months, I didn't have that bond either.  But now that he's sleeping a bit more, and interacting more, and I can focus my attention on him, I adore him.  I think it really started when he started crawling and would crawl over to me and tug on my leg to be picked up.  It was so endearing, how he viewed me as his protector from the world.  He's on track to be the craziest one of the three, which is truly saying a lot, but I love seeing his personality emerge.  

22. What was your favorite TV program? I am totally addicted to Downton Abbey.  I look forward to a new episode with longing.  Other shows I liked this year were Girls and House of Cards.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? I can't think of anyone I hate.

24. What was the best book you read? I loved Gone Girl, could barely put it down.  I also really loved My Notorious Life and The Fault in Our Stars.  I'm not original in my fiction taste.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? I'm not sure I had one.  Spotify, perhaps.

26. What did you want and get?
  Some awesome vacations.  A night away.  I feel like there was something else I can't remember, which makes me feel ungrateful.  Patio furniture!  

27. What did you want and not get?  A stand mixer.  A sewing machine.  More time.  More quiet.  A tenant for our second rental, hope to resolve that soon.

28. What was your favorite film this year?  The ones that have stuck in my mind are Gone Girl, Grand Budapest Hotel, Begin Again and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? 
34!  I had an awesome birthday.  As a birthday gift, I had a night in a nearby hotel.  We had a date night on the town, then husband tucked me in and went home and I slept as late as I wanted with no one waking me up.  I woke up to quiet.  I ate a leisurely breakfast and read the paper.  It was awesome.

Also, a group of friends went to the Mall of America.  Sounds lame, I know, but I loved it.  They have a ropes course and zip line we went on, and some others went on some of the roller coasters.  Then we all ate at Benihana.  It was just great to have all these friends out without kids and actually get to talk to them.  We are always around each with our kids and real conversations are tough.  It was a blast.

30. What is one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?  More time to myself and meaningful work outside the home.  

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013? "Oops!  Forgot to look in the mirror! I have no idea what I'm wearing."

That statement isn't even a joke.  The number of times I walked out of the house covered in puke, wearing a tiara my daughter put there or with food in my teeth were many.  I have always tried to maintain some effort towards my appearance, but this year it went to shit.  It took all my effort to get everyone out the door, and if I paused to look in the mirror or give any thought to my appearance I would never have made it anywhere.  
I am starting to change that a bit.  So now it's often dresses with leggings or t-shirt and jeans.  A scarf instead of a necklace since Teddy pulls on all my necklaces.  I am told I wear too much black, so I have tried to branch out.  I have come to realize if I stick to neutral colors with bright accessories I can handle that.  I still like black, though, because it's easy and looks good.

32. What kept you sane? Sertraline.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Hmm... no one, really.  I'm not much for movie stars, can't think of any crushes.

34. What political issue stirred you the most? Ebola.  I spent an insane amount of time thinking about it, and donated quite a bit to the cause.  It's a major part of the hubs job, which certainly contributes too.

35. Who did you miss?  Some of our friends that have moved away, especially Elissa.  

36. Who was the best new person you met?  I became more involved in a local moms group and met some awesome women through there.  It has been such a wonderful source of sanity for me, and Greta has really started to bond with some of the kids.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.
  Oh gosh.  Nothing I didn't know, exactly.  Exercise makes me happy.  Sometimes to make things easier on yourself, first you have to do some significant work (finding a babysitter, an outlet, etc.)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

10 + 11 Months

One post a month shouldn't be too tough.  But it is, apparently.  I completely missed the 10 month update.  Sorry Teddy.

But, sweet boy, when you don't get much sleep, everything seems tough.  Let's see, two months gone, what all has happened.  Fall was beautiful, lots of time outside.  Halloween was cold, but you made an adorable chicken.  November was even colder, and you experienced the snow for the first time.  Big fan.  The only thing that allows you to tolerate your snowsuit is when you get to play in the snow.  You experienced your first sled ride, your first cake, your first dum-dum and your first playground slide.  Not in that order.  All of them: love.

You went through some tough weeks, followed by some attempts at sleep training, and you finally started sleeping through part of the night.  Not up 4 or 5 times, so better.  Still, though, at your best you were up two or three times.

Finally, last week, days before your 11 month birthday, I couldn't deal.   Half of the night you were up every hour.  I gave up.  I was too tired to care.  I put in ear plugs and you apparently fell asleep.  Eventually.  I'm not proud of my parenting moment, but then you slept until 8 am!  Astounding.  The next day, at nap time, I let you cry again.  You fell asleep for a few minutes, then up again.  More crying.  But then you fell asleep for 3 hours.

So, full on cry it out.  And it worked.  You are now going to bed at about 6 or 7, and sleeping until 6 or 7 am.  You often wake up at about 5 for a bottle.  But that is astounding!  I feel like a real person again!

You are a busy, crazy little boy.  You love climbing in the dishwasher, eating the dog food, pulling power cords out of sockets, and chewing on christmas lights.  You aren't allowed to do any of these things, and it makes you mad.

In the past few days you've actually started to take a few steps at a time.  So close to walking.  I think your sister has hindered you a bit; when you look like you're about to walk and she comes barreling toward you, you just plop right down.  Can't say that I blame you.

Not a great eater, but a terrific cuddler.  The list of things you won't eat is still longer than the list of things you will.  You will eat beets, peas, tomatoes and broccoli (sometimes) but not carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, green beans, or most other vegetables.  You like cheese but not eggs.  All fruits, of course, are a-okay.

But, until last week, you would regularly nap on me.  Just cuddle right up and fall asleep.  You love exploring your world, but also love crawling over to me and tugging on my pant leg to be picked up.  At almost 1-year-old, you love being in the Ergo, faced toward me, snuggled up and warm.  I love it.  I hope you stay my cuddly, fuzzy headed little boy forever.  

You both adore and fear your older sisters.  You both adore and abuse you.  You are loved, but it is not yet a patient love.  That will come in time.

I absolutely can't believe you're almost one.  This year has been a total blur.  So glad I took a lot of pictures.  I look forward to sleeping more, and hopefully remembering a bit more.  A little less craziness.  Still crazy, but crazy together rather than crazy individually.  You are such a part of this family now.  Baby.  Baby T.  Teddster.  Mr. T.  We love you.  We can't wait to see the little boy you become, but will miss all your babyness.

Get some sleep, sweet boy.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

those cute moments

I am behind on all things blog.  I haven't written MJ's 5-year post.  Or Teddy's 10 month post.  Having these hang over my head has prevented me from posting at all.  Here are some tidbits from our life right now.

MJ is in the habit of asking very probing questions right now.  What is the last number?  Where did the first people come from?  How are ribbons made?  (Not so much that last one.)  I have mentioned before on here how much her non-stop chatter gets to me.  However, the other night she stayed at a friends house and I totally missed it.  It was nice to spend some time with Greta and Teddy, but I missed having conversations.  I missed my buddy.

For the past couple of months, MJ has been napping daily.  Considering she stopped napping at 3 1/2, this is quite a change.  Previously I felt that so many of her behavior issues were because she's tired all the time, and if she just slept in she would act better.  Although she never succeeded in sleeping in, now that she naps she is such a great kid, all the time.  Granted, she's often up until 9 (or even later!) but the tradeoff is a well behaved and pleasant child.  With her napping, that means I often have a triple-nap happening, and I have even come to rely on that afternoon nap for myself.  It has totally messed with my sleep schedule, though, and I don't even know what a normal sleep schedule would look like for me anymore.

G is so very 2.  She still screams when she wants to frustrate me, but she is also so resourceful.  Rather than ask if she can have something when she thinks we'll say no, instead she climbs into the cupboard and just gets it for herself.  Although she regularly whacks her brother, she also has started to share with him.  She frequently goes out of her way to make sure he has a toy, or a snack, and will even fish things out of his mouth that he feels compelled to chew on.  Tonight she got herself some cereal, and then shared it with her brother.  I didn't understand what was funny but they were laughing hysterically.  It was such a bonding moment.

Although G likes her brother, she adores her sister.  When MJ spent the night at her friends, G was at a total loss what to do with herself.  The girls play together constantly.  Although there is fighting, it is always short lived and quickly resolved, usually with minimal violence.  A favorite game is MJ on a horse pulling G in some basket, or a line of baskets that are a "train" or something similar.  Another fave is MJ sitting and calling for G to bring her things; sometimes it's tea for her sick baby, sometimes it's biscuits for the queen, who knows.  Sometimes even G devises the game, usually something simpler like "steal the baby doll and run away as fast as you can", but they are both entertained and take turns.

And then there's baby Teddy.  He is called "baby" so often that he really just learned his name.  G has a tough time saying "Teddy" so we tend to all call him "baby".  He is still crawling, though I continue to think he'll be walking soon.  He pulls up on everything, all the time.  He will let go and stand for 10 seconds or so.  And he will use walker toys for short distances.  I can't help but wonder if he's making sure he's extra steady, knowing Greta will probably knock him down once he starts walking.  Although it will be nice to not keep my floors so clean (not that they're that clean), he's so darn cute when he's crawling.  He points his hands inward, very gorilla like, and books it across the floor.  He crawls over to me to be cuddled, then squirms to get down and see what his sisters are doing.  Lots of babbling, "dada's" and "baba's" and "mama's", all of which don't mean anything yet.  I thought he waved at me and said "hi" last week, but he hasn't repeated it.

As for sleep, he's finally doing some of it.  Through sheer force, borne of fatigue, he's finally sleeping through the night.  He tends to wake up at 5:00, though, or a little before, ready to start the day.  5:00 is early.  Especially given my wonky sleep.  He usually gets a catnap in the morning, then a long nap when the girls sleep at about 1:00.  Many days that long nap is mostly on me, which I can't say I mind.  I love snuggling with him, and it seems to help, but has definitely become a habit for both of us.

All in all, times are good.  Winter has hit.  I can tell it's going to be a long one.  With MJ's school getting out at 11:00, but most things not opening until 10:00, I'm already feeling pent up.  And it's been about a week.

Here's hoping sleep settles in.  The baby sleeps.  And sleep....

Thursday, October 16, 2014

16 October 2014: Greta wins the playground and MJ learns to smile. And Teddy didn't fall down the stairs.

The third day in our week.

I head to bed at midnight (on the 15th), after finishing yesterday’s post and reading for a bit.  I’ve discussed my weird sleep schedule a bit.  It’s working for now, so I try to embrace it.  Greta starts crying at 12:30 so I go in to check on her.  She’s frustrated, and pushes me out of her bed, but then gets upset when I leave.  Weird.  We do this a couple times, and she finally calms down and goes back to sleep.  So do I.

Teddy wakes up at 5:50 in the morning!!  I think that counts as sleeping through the night.  That definitely counts as sleeping through the night.  We’ve made some progress!  I give him a bottle and he goes right back to sleep.   At 6:30 he's up again crying.  Husband and I debate a bit who will get up, but meanwhile Teddy goes back to sleep.  The next kid up is Greta at 7:10 and Teddy is awake shortly there after.  Hubs gets up with them for about half an hour and then I follow.  All in all, the best night of sleep the kids have had in a long, long time.  Now if I could just get it together.  

Hubs loves to wrestle in the morning.  I hate to wrestle in the morning.  So glad he fills that niche for them.

Tucking Dad in so he can get some rest before his shift.

Hubs plays with everyone for a bit, then heads back to bed.  He has to work late tonight, so he gets some extra sleep.  

I scurry to get everyone dressed, make coffee, pack my gym bag, pack the diaper bag, pack snacks for the playground post gym.  Dad never gets the kids dressed when he gets up with them.  No biggie, but they’re much more difficult to dress later in the morning because they’re so squirmy.  If they’re still in their sleep coma they don’t squirm so much.  We are in the car by 840, despite the fact that I’ve been moving non-stop to get out of the house for the past hour.  I thought we’d be early but arrive right at 9.  On the way to gym I listen to reporting about Ebola, and from the back seat MJ asks

“Mom, what is a True Love’s Kiss?”

Ugh.  More about the boy?  I don’t know.  I explain it’s when two people love each other and give each other a kiss.

“Did you and dad have a True Love’s Kiss?”

“Yes, sweetie, but we were 20.  You are 5."

The drop off at the gym childcare goes shockingly easy.  The kids are excited to be there, and no one cries!  I’ve been a member for a month and a half and have never had a complete workout and shower; I always get called back before I’m done.  Fingers crossed.

I can tell it's been a while since I ran because my playlist feels fresh again .  Though one ear of my new headphones is already busted, I can't make a pair last!  The insoles I got in August are feeling really good.  I thought I may have to stop running, but these have helped immensely.

There are so many of them.  Milling about, whining about the hand sanitizer, ready to leave.

I run for a little over half an hour, then do some push-ups and ab exercises.  Nothing crazy.  I don’t really stop to rest because I desperately need a shower.  I get a lightning fast shower, dry off, and throw on some makeup.  I’ve been at the gym for one hour.  When I walk back into the childcare center everyone is still happy!  It feels like an amazing day.  Teddy is clearly tired, but not crying.  I no longer feel like I’m torturing them bringing them here.

This girl can always be found on a swing.  Thankfully, she has branched out a bit.

Monkey see, monkey do.

One of the few glimpses I caught of this girl.  She's often plotting with some new friend on the playground.

I forced them to sit with their snack.  One of my few rules at the playground.

We are back in the car by 10:15 and drive to a nearby park.  A mom friend organized a playdate for today.  Nearly all the kids in Minnesota are off school today and tomorrow, so I definitely want to do some fun things with MJ.  The playground is new, and absolutely swarming with kids.  A picture of mom hood.  The weather is beautiful, everyone is trying to take advantage of this gorgeous fall.  When we arrive, I give each of the girls a banana and put Teddy in the Ergo.  I expect him to fall asleep, but he is wide eyed, staring at all the commotion.  He falls asleep for the last 20 minutes.  At one point, MJ is running around screaming at the top of her lungs because a boy is chasing her.  Greta is a bit hesitant at first, but quickly adjust and climbs everything with no fear.

I push the playdate as long as I can.  It’s beautiful outside I’m actually getting to chat with some friends.  Before I realize it, I look at my watch to see it’s 11:20.  Greta is laying down on the play equipment and humming to herself, which she does when she’s trying to put herself to sleep.  Shortly thereafter another boy runs into her and she melts down.  I pile everyone in the stroller and we head to the car.  We’re in the car by 11:45, and as I start the car MJ says

“You didn’t say ‘We survived’  You always say that when we all get in the car after a crazy morning”

Hmm.  Didn’t realize this was such a regular thing to leave my mouth.

Some post nap cuddles with the skeleton on our front porch.  This picture wins the day.

Food.  Everyone's favorite activity.

The one who didn't get a nap yet.

Another MJ portrait.  Her height is not helping the double chin situation.  Also, this shirt was clean 2 hours earlier.  These children make me filthy.

We've been trying to teach him how to wave, but this was totally an accidental shot.  He was probably throwing food on the floor.

I was teaching MJ about fake smiles and real smiles.  So I took a shot of G, and a shot of MJ. 

All day she kept trying to give me a real smile.  

Her finished bat chandelier.  So proud.

Since we haven't seen what he's up to in a bit.

On the way back home, Greta falls asleep in the car.    When we stop, I pick her up and carry her up to the porch. I drag everybody inside, but leave a bunch of stuff in the car for now.  Quick and easy lunch, peanut butter and jelly and frozen peas.  Everyone plays after lunch, and I finish MJ's bat chandelier.   

Meanwhile, Greta takes one of the Nerf bullets, chews it into tiny pieces, and swallows half.  I'm done, I take the gun and all the bullets away for good.  I put her in timeout in the bathroom.  It sounds barbaric, but when she’s being destructive or dangerous to Teddy and I don’t have the hands to deal with her, I put her in the downstairs bathroom.  This way I can still hear her, but I can fix the situation before I let her out.  While she’s in there she decides to go potty and is successful.  She asks for a treat, and I tell it won’t happen until later, which she’s okay with.

Potty training has devolved into a lot of naked Greta time. 
My naptime selfie.  I love that he's almost 10 months and still loves to snuggle.

At 1:30, we all head upstairs.  Greta goes down for a nap first, followed by Teddy (easy this time!) and MJ.  I lay down next.  I read for a bit and do some other internet errands.  I love my bed.  It is my relaxing spot.  I close my eyes for about 10 minutes but don’t actually fall asleep, then I hear Teddy.  I go and get him and bring him into my bed at about 2:30.  He falls right back asleep on me, and now I am somewhat obligated to do the same.  I don’t think I fall asleep, I feel almost hypnotized, but I must at some point because Greta stirs at 3:50.  Oh my, the kids slept late!  Awesome!  Teddy wakes up next, and we go wake up MJ.  G is a total mess, likely because she’s hungry, but she refuses to do anything other than scream.  We go downstairs and eat a snack of yogurt and who knows what else.  I am losing it a bit, with Greta’s constant screaming and crying.  She begs to go outside, to go bye-bye.  At about 5:00 I acquiesced.  My kids usually eat dinner really early, so a 5:00 trip to the playground seems risky, but we troop down the block.
This.  For the next hour.  Terrible twos.

Again, trying to give me a natural smile.

These two will conquer the world some day.

There’s a group of older neighborhood kids there.  Not the best behaved neighborhood kids.  We live in a very nice area, but go a couple blocks away and it can get dicey.  We’re at the edge of the gentrified boundary, and these kids are some of the evidence of that.  Most of them appear to be between 7 and 10, but there is also ~4 year old girl there, presumably with her brother.  Hearing a 4 year old say “Shut up mother fucker!!” is alarming.  She also said a couple other things I won’t even write in my blog.  Not to us, to her brother, I think.  She was actually a very nice little girl, but clearly not in the best home situation.
A bit tough to see what's happening here, but I didn't have the balls to whip out my good camera.  G is nonplussed, waiting for them to move so she can climb on.  Eventually they do, and are very nice about making sure she's safe.  Even the surliest youths have a soft spot for little girls.

MJ was intrigued a bit.  I decided to stay for a while, largely so I could talk about it with MJ when we left.  Greta ran around, oblivious.  At one point Greta decided she wanted to play on the balance beam they were all hanging on.  She stood next to them for a while, about 10 of these older boys, just staring.  Not the least bit intimidated by them.  Finally she decided to try to climb on, since they weren’t getting off.  The boys actually made a point to move off so she could go on, and were very nice about it.  I read somewhere that the presence of little girls makes boys and men more empathetic.  This seemed like a perfect example of that.  When we left, I talked to MJ about the behavior of the kids at the playground.  I asked her what she thought, and she said she thought they were “rambunctious”.   I told her I didn’t like their language, and they were saying things that neither kids nor grown ups should be saying.  She asked, “Like what?”  I couldn’t even bring myself to repeat it.  I can’t decide whether that was the right decision, or whether I should have specifically told her the words that were bad.

A rare October sprinkler.  Greta could not pass it up.

These photos taught I should be using the Sport setting on my camera more often.  

The toddler convinced the big girl to join in.  These photos just justified the entire cost of my camera.

And finally, a real smile.  It took all day, but we got one.

The view from here.  Poor Teddy never gets to join in the fun.

My classy socks with flip flops trend.  These shoes feel better on my feet than any others, so sometimes you just gotta rock it.

Wall walking.  Not my favorite activity.  

Our own personal dirt pit.  MJ decided she's building a "dirt castle".  Hopefully the city puts a tree here sometime soon.

We played outside when we got back home.  Teddy crawled up the stairs like a pro.  I don’t even have to worry much about him anymore.  The girls walked along the retaining wall and befriended some ladies out walking their dogs.  I sometimes think, if we moved these incredibly social girls out of the city, which we sometimes discuss, they would lose their minds.  It was so incredibly nice outside, and it supposed to be chillier starting tomorrow, so stalled as long as I could outside.

Caught drawing on each other.
It was already 6:30 when we went inside so I made nachos for dinner.  I love nachos.  Before having kids, I used to eat nachos for dinner on an embarrassingly regular basis.  I fix them real meals 95% of the time, but sometimes I want nachos.  Seems not much worse than pizza.  And I made some guacamole, and there were beans.  So maybe it’s better than pizza.

After dinner, Teddy crawled around a bit and then melted down.  I gave him a bed and he was still totally restless.  I rocked him until he calmed down some, then I put him in his crib and he fell asleep.  I came downstairs, where the girls had gotten some halloween candy in my absence.  It kept them quiet, so okay by me.

At 7:15 G told me she was ready for “Night night”.  Wow.  With such a late nap I thought she’d go to sleep late, but it was actually earlier than usual.  I put a couple things away, and knocked something off the top of the fridge which hit me on the nose.  The pain was excruciating, and I at first thought I broke my nose.  I curled up into a ball on the floor.  MJ asked if she should press the emergency button on the alarm and I said no.  After I calmed down, I explained that would have been a perfect idea if I hadn’t responded.  And then I showed her how to also call 911 on my cell phone.  Without a home phone, these are the tools we have.  I will be curious to see what  my nose looks like tomorrow.

I took G upstairs.  She tried to go potty but nothing happened.  She brushed her teeth, we put on pajamas and read a few books.  After she piled dolls, legos, books and a wood alligator into her bed she climbed in.  Easy peasy.  I thought she was down for the night.

I came downstairs and MJ and I lit the jack o’ lanterns for Dad to see when he comes home.  MJ helped pick up the living room, and at about 8:00 I told her she could watch something.  I cleaned the kitchen, did some laundry, and called it a day.  At 8:45, I read a story with MJ and sent her to bed.

However, when I went upstairs I heard G yelling.  I went in and she had taken her pajamas off.  That girl.  She refused to put them back on, and wanted to come out and play.  She looked as though she had fallen asleep, I have no idea what woke her up.  She was not happy that I made her stay in her room.  I left her, naked except for a diaper.  She yelled a little then quieted and went back to sleep.  In the middle of this, MJ went in, but G didn’t seem to care.  9:40 MJ came out again.  These naps cause her to stay up late, but she’s so much happier so we work with it.  Since I get a nap, too, I can stay up a bit later and the math works out.  

At some point, I may go back and read through these posts.  I'm sure I'll be appalled by the grammar situation happening.  Right now, I just need to hit publish.