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.)