Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Getting By with Coffee and Prayer

If you spend enough time clicking around Internetland, you'll find myriad posts about how kids help us to Heaven. How our kids sanctify us through trials, through sacrifice, through highlighting our own shortcomings.

My kids are sanctifying me by driving me to prayer.

I mentioned on Sunday that I've been struggling to incorporate personal prayer into my day. As if on cue, my kids turned into whiny, needy, non-sleeping messes. Of course, it coincided with Charles' first week of residency nights -- meaning long days of solo-parenting (save an hour in the morning and another in the afternoon). Being me, I fight through, la dee dah.

Then the other shoe fell. Today was a super coffee day.

Not sleeping selfie

That is putting a positive spin on the fact that I spent a lot of time awake last night, dealing with a hungry, non-settling Peter and an uncharacteristically upset and non-sleeping Clare. And what did I find myself doing? Rocking and praying. Praying and snuggling. Praying.

I have learned time and again that He will give me the grace to rise out of the trenches, if only I ask. I just have trouble asking for help, even from God.

Today, I was rewarded. I was able to find some peace. Peter napped. I am typing to the tune of sleeping babies.

He even fell asleep during tummy time!

I'd like to say that I've learned my lesson and that I've turned a corner and things will be different from now on. But we all know the truth. It might be better for awhile, and then I'll start to slip. And eventually, God will once again find a way for my children to lead me to Him. What I can count on is His constancy. He will be there with waiting arms when I, once again, turn to the only source of enough strength to be not just Mom enough, but to be the mother He made me to be.

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Answer Me This, Vol. 8

Celebrating Sunday with Kendra.

1. What's your favorite thing on YouTube? I actually don't watch much YouTube. I mean, occasionally, I watch a video after everyone and his uncle has told me about it. And I really appreciate how much DIY stuff Charles has learned from it, but me? I'm just not someone who spends a lot of time there.

2. Who taught you how to drive? My dad, in our old Plymouth Voyager. Yep, I learned to drive in a mini-van, which made the transition to mini-van as my everyday car pretty easy. I took my first drive way out on a back road in a town north of where we live. I also took driver's ed as summer school the summer before I turned 16.

3. What's your favorite thing to cook? Soups and stews. I am a devotee of the Le Creuset. I love chopping veggies and then letting my food simmer on the stove or, even better, bake low and slow. Mmmm....I'm also getting back into bread making after a bit of a hiatus -- I've not done it much in the last year or so, what with being on the road so much and then being pregnant and then having a newborn. Buuuuut....I'm building a new starter, and excited to try some new stuff. Yes, it is the dead of summer, but my love of the oven transcends seasonal cooking.

Day 1 -- Before I decided not to document my starter build

4. Are you a hugger or a non-hugger? Why? I'm a hugger, but, I also am not one to initiate a lot of hugging with people I've just met, so I end up being/coming off as a non-hugger. It's the introvert in me. My kids, though, are going to remember me as a mom who give them an embarrassing number of hugs; at least that's my goal.

5. Where do you pray best? I've actually been contemplating this. My private prayer life needs a serious boost. I mean, I feel a deep closeness to God in Gothic cathedrals, but that is not exactly replicable on a regular basis. I also love the quiet silence of candlelight, but I'm not sure where/how to replicate that at home and in my daily life. Carving out real time for prayer in a way that actually works long-term is something that I'm contemplating seriously right now. I crave it, but have more false starts than I do results.

6. When is the last time you saw/spoke to your grandparents? I have two living grandmothers, and I saw both of them the day before we left for Kansas. Both are in their 90s! I never knew any of my great-grandparents, so I'm glad that Clare and Peter will have met these two lovely ladies.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

To Clare on her 2nd Birthday

{Getting published a bit late: Clare turned 2 on July 10. *sniff*}

Clare Bear,

This has been such a full year for you. You won't remember any of it, but in the last 12 months, you have lived in 4 different cities. You dealt with lots of medical stuff -- including major surgery. You got a baby brother.

In spite of it all -- or maybe because of it -- you have thrived. You are adaptable, but you are a creature of habit. You are a social butterfly, but do well playing independently. You know what you want and you want it now -- you most definitely have a mind of your own.

You are, as grandad says, a chatterbox. You love to talk, and you are, as we have often put it, extraordinarily verbal. You will happily read books all day long. Your attention span is pretty remarkable for a 2 year old. Maybe you will be a word-lover like your mama. Or maybe you'll be an architect with your love of beauty and building blocks.

You love princesses and pretty dresses and playing in the dirt. Nothing makes me happier than seeing you in one of your dresses looking like a total disaster from a hard day of playing. 

Most importantly, though, you love God. You are learning your prayers; you can make the Sign of the Cross (sometimes with a little extra devotion to the Holy Spirit). You love angels, and tell us that they say, "Glory to God in the highest. Peace." You pray before your tea parties. You ask to wear your "beautiful crucifix." 

You light up the room with your smile and your laugh, your sweet soul and your heart of gold. You bring us so much joy -- may the world bring as much joy to you.

I love you,

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Friday, July 18, 2014

7 Quick Takes, Vol. 71

It's Thursday afternoon. Both kids are napping (even if Clare isn't quite sleeping yet), it's raining, and I'm sipping a cup of coffee while writing these for tomorrow. Bliss.

Linking up with Jen, and updating on the goings on around these parts in the last couple of weeks.

1. Last Thursday, we celebrated Clare's 2nd birthday. I have my belated reflections on my sweet 2 year old ready to publish next week (thanks to a busy week and unplanned blog break). We didn't have a big, crazy party, but I think we did a good job of celebrating her and giving her a wonderful day.

Blueberry muffins for breakfast

Eagerly (understatement of the century) watching dad put together her Cozy Coupe from grandma

Playing at her new water table.
Opening presents
Chocolate cupcakes with pink frosting for dessert
It was cool and rainy in the morning, but it cleared up so that we had a blast playing in the (now toddler-ific) backyard all afternoon. Charles, by dumb luck, got a short day, so he was able to enjoy it with us. I made some of her favorite Mexican food dinner, and we got to enjoy some yummy cupcakes. I might not have mad decorating skillz (cake or otherwise), but I can celebrate with love and joy and food -- and hopefully, that will resonate for many family celebrations to come.

2. ^^ That counts as two, right?!?

3. I love this picture of Clare doing stickers and Peter playing on the floor, like he's watching her. They already love each other -- you can tell from how much he smiles at her and how much she loves interacting with him. It makes me look forward to them growing up and, hopefully, becoming partners in crime.

Put Minnie Mouse here.

4. I never got around to posting this picture from Charles' first official day of residency!

There's a doctor in the house!

5. On that note, I've been thinking quite a bit about my blogging transition to residency. Mostly in that I'm probably not going to talk about it a lot. I'll talk about how it affects me, of course, but I'm not interested in turning this into a medical wife blog or into a complaining about residency blog. Of course, I won't be silent about it. It does affect my life, so it will linger in the background. It's just that I'm a lot of things and my life is a lot of things, and being a resident's wife is just a little piece of it.

6. Miss Clare had a bit of a cold Tuesday night/Wednesday. Thankfully, she is back to her goofy self now, and nothing much came out of it. After a winter and spring of freaking out over every.single. moment of ill health, and watching her spike too many fevers and spend too many days feeling poorly, it was such a relief to see her bounce back and experience a "normal" little cold.

Crazy Clare

7. And Mr. Torpedo has become interested in his Taggie Blanket . . . which is pretty adorable. He fell asleep snuggling it the other night, and, of course, I had to capture the moment.

A boy and his blanket.

Have a lovely weekend!

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Peter - 3 months

My little man turned 3 months old last week!

He has the best little smile and giggle--with dimples!

He is still spitting up. Boo! At least this time, I know he really will outgrow it!

He is "talking" up a storm. Lots of baby babble! It is just so cute. Even Clare babbles back to him sometimes.

His favorite activity is laying on the floor and kick, kick, kicking!

He rolled from his belly to his back for the first time on the 4th of July, and now is getting into the stage where he flips himself over as soon as I lay him on his tummy! All the better for laying on his back and kicking! He has been rolling back to side for a couple of weeks now, so I won't be surprised when he can roll all the way to his belly.

He has a loooong torso. He's definitely an awkward in-between size on sleepers and onesies. (Mama is going to have to admit defeat and put him in 3-6/6 month sleepers and onesies pretty soon.) Pants are already hard. He has a skinny little waist -- one pair of newborn shorts are still loose, and one pair of 3 month pants are WAY too big. I think that, down the road, he's going to be wearing belts for function, not just fashion!

Sleep is still inconsistent. He will sometimes go to sleep on his own and sometimes needs help (walking, patting, bouncing, occasionally nursing). Sometimes he'll wake up every two hours on the dot. Most nights he does a long stretch and then a couple of wake-ups. One night last week, he put himself to sleep at 9 and slept until 7. Bam! I'm not at all counting on this continuing, so I don't feel like I'm destining myself to misery by committing that to writing. He is still sleeping in our room, but his room is next on our freshen-up list. He'll be moving soon, and I think we'll both sleep better for it!

Mas pictures:

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Happy Thoughts

My sweet little charges left me playing firefighter last week -- jumping from one "crisis" to another and not getting ahead of the game, which, in turn, left me precious little time to do much besides survive. Anyway, they are both napping now, and I felt inspired by Jenna to knock out a list of things that make me happy for my return to the blog-wagon. That, in turn, reminds me of a relax and fall asleep technique from my dad: thinking of happy thoughts.

21. Little girls in pigtails

Without further ado, 20 Things that Make me Happy

1. Coffee -- any coffee, but especially that first cup in the morning
2. Hugs, especially from my littles
3. Rain
4. Getting lost in a book
5. Flowers -- any way, shape or form, really
6. Warm crusty bread with butter
7. Making soup/stew
8. Combining #6 and #7
9. Going out to eat (no cooking, no dishes!)
10. A cold beer on the deck
11. A long walk
12. Spending time with Charles (sappy, but true)
13. Mexican food (I sense a food theme arising)
14. Laughing until I can't breathe
15. Sitting down and writing something that is worth reading
16. Fall clothes
17. Advent and Christmas
18. Toe nail polish
19. Lip gloss
20. Fresh-from-the-garden veggies

On that positive note, I'm off to see if I can get a post or two out of draft! :)

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Friday, July 4, 2014

7 Quick Takes, Vol. 70

Fourth of July Friday!! (Linking up with Jen.)

1. Having information at your fingertips -- literally, thanks to the internet -- is a blessing and a curse for someone who is knowledge hungry like me. I've spent the last hour chasing a rabbit through the web. Fascinating stuff about my statue that will be fodder for a future blog post, but I want to do a bit more research, first. And the history major in me is geeking out, so said blog post will likely be written in the next few days.

2. So, of course, today is the 4th of July and I am uber patriotic, so I'm doing my happy 4th of July dance. I am. I really am. But I'm also feeling homesick today. Not for Phoenix, but for my hometown of Prescott. That's because Prescott has, bar none, the best 4th of July in all the land. It coincides (intentionally) with the town's Frontier Days, so there are festivities galore -- rodeo, parades, vendors, activities, fireworks, people wearing red, white, and blue (or their very best western garb). There is just excitement and fun in the air!

Hokey? Yes. Awesome? Yes.

Me -- total Clare look going on.

3. If we were there, one thing we would absolutely, most definitely be doing is decorating Clare (and Peter and Kenzie) and their strollers and walking them in the Kiddie Parade. Clare would have had a blast! It is definitely something I have wonderful memories of from childhood, and something I hope to be able to do with her someday as well.

4. Don't worry, my sparkly tank top made the trip to Wichita and will be worn later this afternoon (to preserve it from spit up and whatnot)! :-)

Sparkly tank pictured here at Clare's patriotic 1st birthday party last year.

5. It's the 4th of July. I gotta. Theme song of my childhood. Especially 3rd grade. :-)

6. My brother-in-law and his son are on an epic river trip down the Missouri and Mississippi. It so happens that they are just south of St. Louis . . . which is ironic, because we were in St. Louis about this time last year. In fact, the day we visited the Arch, they were cleaning up from the giant festival they (apparently had/have) over the 4th. (Blog. Twitter.)

Throwback Friday, take 2

7. I got nothing. Go grill something and watch some fireworks!!

Happy Happy 4th of July!! Have a lovely weekend! As always, stay safe out there!

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Best Bad Day of my Mothering Career

I've been thinking a lot about one particular day from Clare's infancy. I wasn't blogging then, and at the time, I probably wouldn't have written about it beyond, maybe, in passing. I certainly wouldn't have written about it the same way I see things now.

Clare was not an easy baby. She was a little bit colicky. She was a lot fussy. We could fake it well from wake-up until mid-afternoon, which things would start tumbling downhill quickly. We would then spend hours nursing and bouncing and crying and desperately trying to calm her. She was also a spit-up prodigy -- but was deemed a happy spitter, so all we could do was wait for her to outgrow it. On top of it, at about 1 month, she had what I thought was a bad case of baby acne.

You can see the rash forming on her poor little cheeks.

On the day in question, things were particularly bad. Clare was just about 1 month and was mad as heck and not going to take it anymore. Nothing was working. Every time I nursed, she would start screaming and spit it all up. We must have changed her diaper a million times. A billion minutes of burping attempts. Gas drops. Gripe water. White noise. Walking. Rocking. Bouncing. Singing. Swinging. Swaying. The other two blasted Ss. You name it, we tried it. It.just.was.not.working.

Finally, at about the 4 hour mark, I lost it. I couldn't do it anymore. I knew that the poor thing just needed to sleep and wasn't giving in. Something must be wrong. Clearly, I was a horrible mother. I was exhausted and incompetent. I couldn't even soothe my own daughter. The tears began to flow.

That was the point when Charles stepped in. He put the baby in the swing. He put me on the patio with a glass of wine. He convinced me that letting the baby cry for a minute while he comforted me would be okay. Then he went inside and helped with the baby while I got some fresh air and relaxed. Finally she fell asleep and I went to bed and life went on.

The next day, we took a first-time-parents' trip to the pediatrician. In addition to reassurance about the reflux and the colicky disposition, we were encouraged to put something on the terrible rash. We stopped at the drugstore on our way home and bought a variety of lotions and potions. Once we put some Aveeno for Eczema on that rash, the poor girl relaxed and slept longer and deeper than she had in days -- maybe ever.

On the surface, it's the story of a bad day for new parents.

Looking back though, I learned the most important lesson I have as a mom. I learned to relax. As much as I would like to believe the contrary, I am not in complete control. Sometimes, I can do everything "right" and things still won't work out perfectly. Motherhood doesn't leave room for perfectionism. No matter what the outward appearance or blog or the Instagram feed tells you, we all have wounds and struggles and battle scars. We all have successes and failures. We're good enough and we fall far short.

That's parenthood, for better or for worse.

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