'Muff'in Dome

Category Archives: Motherhood

April 2017 Reads

I found myself with my nose stuck in a book more often than not during quiet time in the afternoon this month. {Not so much knitting.} So many good hauls from the library and so many great picks added to our house library {that is going to need a new bookcase soon}.

We inadvertently added in a healthy dose of poetry during this #nationalpoetrymonth. All of us gained a greater appreciation and interest in the flowing verse. We’ll be diving into more this summer.

{I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.}

 

The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines — {MMD Reading for Fun Challenge, “A book you don’t want to admit you’re dying to read”} I picked up this delightful book without having seen an episode of Fixer Upper. The faith, determination, grit, etc. of this couple is incredibly inspiring. Their belief in the providence of God, an even sweeter cherry on top. Many friends of mine rave about this star couple and I can definitely see their appeal. {And, yes, I remedied that lack of Fixer Upper — made my husband sit through an episode a few weeks ago, and I’m definitely hankering to go back for more!}

America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray — {MMD Reading for Growth Challenge, “A book that is more than 600 pages”} I am a huge fan of historical fiction. I read a ton of it. But this one maybe my top pick in the genre for the year. It’s certainly in my favorites of the era, maybe second to this one. I never knew much about Patsy Jefferson, but she is one female whose story should be included in school history books. Such a feminist for her time.

The Inspired Room by Melissa Michaels — I’ve been wanting to do some more serious decorating in our home over these past few months so I picked up this book to gain some inspiration. It hasn’t disappointed. Many practical tips for simple fixes that can really liven up a room, as well as balance it.

Upstream by Mary Oliver — After encountering and loving many quotes by this prolific poet in others’ writings, I thought it was high time to pick up one of her own. This book was actually short essays, but made me fall in love with her writing. I will certainly be looking up more of her work in the future. In addition to a few essays on the works of some well-known poets that we quite interesting, what this book mostly contained was thoughts and memories of the author’s forays in nature. It is an excellent pick for reading in a cabin in the woods.

Cut Flower Garden by Erin Benzakein — I’m diving in deep to begin my first patch of cut flowers this year. This book is an amazing inspiration {even if you just desire it for the eye candy of gorgeous blooms sprinkled throughout}. Behind all the beauty though, the author gets down to the nitty gritty of the details of growing each of the varieties she’s experimented with on her own farm for years. I purchased a handful of seed packets from Erin’s farm in Washington as well, and I’m hoping to share glorious results within the next few months!

The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny — Third in the Inspector Gamache series, this one was the most predictable, but that didn’t make it uninteresting. The underlying premise concerning the great inspector that runs through all of the books, came to a deep twist in this episode. {I didn’t purposely time it this way, but it was perfect for the month of April as that is when it takes place, right during Easter.}

Magic of Motherhood by Ashlee Gadd — I’ve been following along with the Coffee + Crumbs blog since its inception, and this lovely collection of essays by the team of main writers was no less touching. I found myself emotionally moved by the feelings shared of mirrored experiences of motherhood. So good.

 

Books Read with My Children

James Herriot’s Treasury for Children by James Herriot — My girls have fallen head over heels for Herriot’s delightful stories of farm animals that he encountered over the years. The personalities of animals can be so funny! I remember reading through many of these as a child myself, and even pulled out an old copy of mine that contains his Cat Stories. Simple and sweet, this is an excellent pick for transitioning into reading chapter books as it is well sprinkled with pictures but longer prose.

A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson — We’ve forayed into the land of poetry as my eldest is developing an interest in rhyming words {even making up her own words just so they rhyme with others she’s said!}. This collection has quick ones that capture the attention of children as they speak of imagination, rhythms of the child’s life, and play.

An Egg is Quiet by Dianna Aston — The artistry of this book is reason alone to own it. From the tiniest ladybug egg to a whopping ostrich shell, this book wonderfully illustrates the incredible beauty and amazing functionality of eggs in many colors and sizes. I learned so much myself! {We also love A Butterfly is Patient, A Seed is Sleepy, and A Nest is Noisy.}

 Easter Parade by Irving Berlin — Based on the text of a song by Irving Berlin, this delightful book was a favorite of my eldest due to the fun, elegant hat made by the young bunny for the Easter parade. 🙂 There are few things better at Eastertide than a lovely Easter bonnet!

 

Friday Frivolity {7QT}

So much to share, so little time. Luckily, it’s Friday — time for Seven Quick Takes! Hold onto your seats!

1) Diving into the garden season with a lot of weed pulling and a lot of seed planting. I’m trying my hand at a cut flower plot this year. There will be cosmos, zinnias, celosia, bachelor’s buttons, amaranth, and black-eyed susans {hopefully!}. I’m excited but feel a bit daunted by the task. I haven’t had much luck with growing flowers from seed in the past. I purchased Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden a few months ago, and I’m trying to follow Erin’s advice to a ‘T’ {with a little prayer of hope thrown into the mix!}. We’ll have some veggies and, of course, the strawberry patch too!

2) Last weekend, we attended a local(ish) Scottish Highland Games. The Celtic blood runs deep on both sides of the family, so the girls have taken a natural liking to the heritage both of their parents love. {Evey often asks to learn Irish dancing. One of these days, we’ll find a good group in the area for her take lessons.} We saw a group of harpists that renewed my great desire to own a harp of my own. There was even one for sale! — but, alas, out of our price range currently. We marched in the parade with the Cochrane clan, a surname on Steve’s paternal line.

3) Stephen and I got out for a wonderful date night in March that included a concert and surprise! Eucharistic adoration and Confession. A fellow Christendom alum, Marie Miller, was performing the opening act for Five for Fighting, so we grabbed some of the last seats in the house, up in the nosebleeds, but had the best time anyway. Marie did an amazing job, and we were equally delighted with the the lyrical genius that is Five for Fighting. I don’t own any of his albums, but I certainly want one now.

We also stumbled upon a Lenten night of Eucharistic adoration taking place at the cathedral that was such a blessing for both of us. Not only did we get to spend some quiet moments with the Lord, but we also were able to partake of the sacrament of Confession.

4) After much deliberation, we’ve decided to start Evelyn in some more formal schooling this fall. We worked through the early set of Explode the Code this year. She’s certainly excelled in learning her letters and their sounds, and is SO ready to learn how to read. {We may just dive into this early during the summer months!} The Charlotte Mason method has been a natural fit for our family so we’ll be following along with their curriculum, particularly that of Mater Amabilis with a few additions/revisions from Ambleside. {I may do a more thorough explanation of our preschool curriculum from this year. Would anyone be interested in hearing more about it?}

5) We instituted “popcorn and poetry” afternoons which we’ve enjoyed several of this month. It’s an alternative to an afternoon tea which will be coming back around when we start school in the fall. Not sure who enjoys it more — the adults or children.

6) Steve began a new job at the beginning of April which required a bit of travel at the beginning for training. Some of it allowed for our family to stay at my in-laws’ cabin in the mountains which are still thoroughly covered with snow…and much was still coming down during the month of April! The girls loved the extra snow play and we made it cozy with hot chocolate treats and many snuggly reading times {with a side of knitting for mama}.

7) I purchased for myself today this lovely new tank for the summer that Blessed is She just released. It will be a constant companion during the summer months in the garden, by the pool…whenever the temp reaches the triple digits, to be sure! The one with the Teresas has me all “heart-eyes” too.

I’m also looking forward to my new copy of the academic Blessed is She planner {if you’re awaiting the calendar year version, it releases in October}.

I might also have to pick one of these prayer posters for our large living room wall. A good {and helpful} reminder to say our prayers!

 

{Linking up with the fabulous Kelly on this lovely Friday afternoon for 7QT.}

Never a Waste

 

I found myself earlier in the week running around, completing some last minute tasks for the upcoming holiday this weekend, as I’m wont to do as one approaches.

I had pulled together a few things here and there that I wanted to send to my brother in Michigan who lives there during law school, and won’t be with us to celebrate Easter on Sunday. I filled a little bag to carry the things with me to the post office, with the intention of picking out a flat rate priority mail box upon arrival to package the items in.

We had received something earlier in the week from a family member in such a box that looked like it would be an appropriate size for my things, so I went in search of this item when we arrived. Lo and behold, no such thing existed, at least not in our little town post office. There were only three choices: the first was about as small as a regular-sized novel, so way too thin for my purposes; the second, about the size of two large shoe boxes put together, about twice as big as I needed; and never mind the third.

Since I had no other packaging options with me other than what was available to me at the post office, and my children were already entering into the noontime melt-down stage, I hurriedly looked at the boxes available for sale. The smallest was still too large, but, at least, this one could be altered.

I went to work loading the box, then cut the sides down so that it would fit nicely against the objects in the box as I had nothing to fill in the empty space with. A slice here, a bend there, I finagled the edges down to close the box. I taped it shut, placed my label on top {again, searching to the bottom of my purse for a suitable scrap of paper to write on as these provided nothing for addressing}, and shuffled the children along with me to get in line.

When it was our turn, I informed the post man I would need to pay for the box too, in addition to postage. He paused for about five seconds, looking at the box puzzled, then remarked that he didn’t recognize the box, at first, as something they sold for I had cut it down.

He then asked, “Do you stay at home with your children? Are you a housewife?”

“Yes?” It was now my turn to be puzzled.

“Well, that certainly is a waste! Look at what you’ve done here! So smart!”

I was a bit taken aback by the remark, so I gave an awkward chuckle, paid for my things, and moved on.

But his remark stuck with me as I drove home. I ruminated on it and after a few minutes realized just how mistaken his comment had been.

*******

Being a mother and housewife, gives me ample opportunity to practice these very skills he was so impressed by. Sure, they could come in handy aiding in professional work, but they are no less useful at home taking care of my family. I’m content to be resourceful. I’m happy to find suitable substitutions when exactly what I need is not available. I’m glad to be able to adjust mathematical proportions when they are not satisfactory for the task at hand.

And why should I not employ some of my best skills at the service of my family that I love dearly?

It is unfortunate that caring for others, especially those most helpless in society, is seen as a profitless endeavor. The eyes of the world mistake what in life is really most important. The raising and nurturing of souls entrusted to my care is the most important work of my life. I want to give the best of myself right here.

I would not walk away from this interaction discouraged, however. Instead, it gave me great resolve to continue bettering my skills, my intellect, to more excellently serve my family at home.

*******

Today, I finished a book about Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha {Patsy} Jefferson Randolph, called America’s First Daughter. Although a work of fiction, it gave some excellent historical insight into the influence of this grand woman on her father’s legacy. As her mother died when Patsy was young, she took on the matriarchal role of the family, including serving as Jefferson’s “First Daughter” when he was serving in public office positions, at home and abroad. Her father supported her education, in both homemaking and intellectual pursuits, which left her with quite a useful set of skills in managing a household while educating and raising her own children. She was never employed in a profession, but her concealed work within the heart of the family, the influence of which sometimes stretched out into public affairs, had a huge impact on the work and authority of Mr. Jefferson. {And did I mention she raised twelve children, many of which went on to live illustrious lives?}

This book reminded me that an education is never “wasted” even if you are not employing what you have learned outside the home. A family, a household is the basic cell of society. What is happening within it has a greater influence, ultimately, on society at large than any work that is happening in a professional environment. My mind, my skills are not “wasted” on the concerns of my family and home.

Homemaking and raising children may not be acknowledged as professional endeavors but it is some of the most important work that I, or anyone, will ever engage in. Let’s not demean it, nor shame the women and men who undertake this often hidden and thankless task with great enthusiasm, giving much of their best in domestic tasks to those who need them most.

 

Gathering My Thoughts ~ Busy, But Happy

{I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.}

chasing bubbles

Outside my window: Sunshine, yet coolness. We had a wonderful spring rain yesterday and the air is fresh and light.

Listening To: Quiet while the girls rest.

strawberry picking

Clothing Myself In: Half pjs, half active wear — which the only activity I’ve done in it so far today has been dishes and general cleaning. And perhaps a few laps around the backyard with the girls.

Talking With My Children About These Books: We finished our last chapter of A Bear Called Paddington this morning. Breakfast included English muffins slathered in butter and marmalade in his honor. The girls have been inquiring about marmalade as it is Paddington’s food of choice, so we dropped some in our cart during our weekly shopping trip. They are both big fans. I wasn’t much when I was little, but I love it now too.

I’m thinking of Mr. Popper’s Penguins for our next read-aloud. What are some of your favorites to do with young children?

paddington marmalade

In My Own Reading: Provence, 1970 — I purchased this on a whim as I needed an extra book to fill my cart on a buy two, get one free sale through B&N. It is written by the grand-nephew of M.F.K. Fisher who seems to have inherited his grand-aunt’s talent for writing, detailing the winter of 1970 and how it shifted the American way of cooking and eating due to this group of food writers that includes M.F.K., Julia Childs, James Beard, etc. Probably more of interest to the foodie set and those interested in the evolution of the food scene in America, otherwise, you might find yourself bored with so many details of the relations between these writers.

Thinking and Thinking: About making a Summer Bucket List with the girls. We have plenty of things planned {which I will add}, but it is fun to have a few spontaneous options so when we find ourselves with downtime on a Tuesday morning, we have ideas of fun to be had! What should we add?

painting each other

Pondering: “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” ~Sylvia Plath   {Thanks to Verily.}

Carefully Cultivating Rhythm: Although we don’t have a strict schedule, and I don’t believe in one with very young children, we do have a happy rhythm to most our days which I really love. One of the most essential parts of our day is nap/quiet time. They need it, I need it.

painting in the sun

Creating By Hand: I have some teeny, tiny socks I’m working on {The needles are so tiny!!}–my first pair of socks ever–for my littlest nephew born this past Monday evening. At some point this week, I also hope to stitch up his blanket. Warmer weather has me switching into stitching project-mode rather than knitting. I just don’t feel like it much when it is so warm.

Learning Lessons In: Being easy on myself. I’ve had a heavy dose of ‘guilt’ in just about every facet of life lately, most of it completely unwarranted. It makes me less than my best when I’m thinking about all my errors {or what I perceive to be such}. And it truly has not been helpful in regards my attitude/outlook on life. Trying to turn that around. My husband helps me immensely.

sock knitting

Encouraging Learning In: We have a new Chick Fil A being built in our town. I pointed this out to Evelyn the other day. She’s ecstatic…but was a tad confused why we couldn’t go there yet. Currently, it is only framed. When I began to explain that it still needed to be built, a light bulb went off in her head. “Buildings are BUILT BY PEOPLE! They’re not just there.” So now every other question is: Who built this? When was it built? It cracks me up. 🙂

Crafting in the Kitchen: Inspired by Britt‘s Instagram post last week, we pulled out the Joy of Cooking to make our own oatmeal cookies, sans raisins, this morning. They are a definite hit.

tea time

To Be Fit and Happy: I have a rowing machine sitting in my garage that is just begging me for a good workout. We finally got a bunch of things cleared out this weekend that mean I can actually access it. Now, I just need to build up my motivation….. I’ve been inactive for too long.

Loving the Moments: Lucie’s spontaneous hugs and kisses with an ‘I wuv you’ tucked into my ear. The point at which they begin to offer affection and endearments without promptings just makes you melt into a puddle…and offer whatever treats their little hearts desire!

Living the Liturgy: The feast of the Sacred Heart is coming up this next Friday. It is one of my favorites. I’m thinking of what to do to commemorate the feast with the family.

organized simplicity lists

Planning for the Week Ahead: We have a long weekend on the horizon. We’re planning on house projects that have been put off too long. I’ve been working, piece-by-piece, on decluttering our storage office room that has become out of control. Major progress was made yesterday, so painting, new bookcases, furniture rearrangement, etc. will be possible on Saturday.

#write31days ~ Day 4: A Baby Shower

diana-baby-shower

A simple capture, really. But these types of moments are so dear to my heart.

Yesterday, we were celebrating a friend’s second child–her first son–who will be born at the end of November. It means so much to me to celebrate each LIFE that a friend brings into the world. And, also, to celebrate and encourage her in her motherhood.

It is a lot of work growing a baby inside you. It is even more work raising that child up. It is so great to pause as we rejoice and support as she embarks on this journey with her newest one.

Every pregnancy is different, every child is unique–it is good to stop and remember.

Lucie’s Birth-Day

Evey-meets-Lucie

I’ve had this post in my drafts for a while now but couldn’t find a good time to post it. I almost did on Lucie’s first birthday, but forgot. Bonnie of The Koala Mom did a round up today of birth posts in honor of “Labor” Day that I participated in with Evelyn’s but I figured now might also be a good time to share Lucie’s birth-day story too. Happy “Labor” Day! It certainly is my most important work! 😉

An entire year later is probably not the best for remembering the fine details of things, but I don’t want to skip out entirely on recording my reflection on the birth of my second shining star.

As with Evey, I had serious prodromal labor with Lucie. About a month before she was due, I was already at 1 cm dilated and 50% effaced. My body likes to do things slow and steady, I guess. I had a new doctor the last trimester of my pregnancy with Lucie as my original OBGYN decided to start doing home births and we didn’t feel that was for us. {As dedicated as we are to natural birth.} So my new doc — Dr. Dana Jacques — not knowing too well the history of my first, guessed I would go into labor fairly early with my second seeing as I was making progress that far out. But was pretty convinced it would be similar this go-around — Braxton-Hicks would be my constant companions for the foreseeable future and my little one would make her arrival closer to her due date. Call it Mother’s Intuition, if you will.

Sure enough, I came in for my check up two days before her due date and I was now 4cm dilated, fully effaced…but not in labor. As with Evey, I decided to go for the “sweeping of the membranes” as I really was ready to get this show on the road. Steve came with me to the appointment just in case that set things off and sent me to hospital immediately. But even after a couple hours walking around the mall, I was only beset with unpleasant cramping on and off. No consistent contractions. We picked up Evey and headed home for the evening.

The next morning, I started having contractions on and off. I didn’t want to hold out too much hope but it seemed like they might be consistent. Steve called into work to let them know he wouldn’t be coming in that day. We went out for a quick breakfast and dropped the car off at the mechanic to have it checked out. {It got left there for a while!} At this point, I was having them regularly and they were intensifying just the tiniest bit. We decided to go grab some things at the house for ourselves and Evey, and head to my parents’ house as they were only 15 minutes from the hospital while our home is at least 40.

We arrived just around noontime. My family was watching one of the World Cup games so I joined them on the couch. Still consistent contractions, but only about 10 minutes apart. I was a little hungry so I grabbed some of the pizza they were serving up for lunch as I knew oftentimes when one goes into labor it is hard to get a bite to eat and one can use all the energy one can get.

Because it was my second and my first had come in 10 hours, my doctor had said to get to the hospital when the contractions were consistent for at least an hour at 10 minutes apart. We had definitely hit that mark so we headed over after lunch.

They were beginning to become uncomfortable by the time we reached the hospital, but I wanted to walk as much as I could to help labor get moving along. We parked in the garage, a little ways from the front door despite our “pass” to park at the entrance, for this reason. We kept going down the long hallways when we got there, walking right past a woman I knew who was just visiting her son in the NICU. {She was due the same time as me but gave birth to him almost 3 months early.}

It was a busy day in the maternity ward. There were no empty laboring rooms available. I was placed in a triage room, but immediately, I knew I didn’t want to just lay there on the bed in that postage stamp sized, closet of a room. Since I was still at 4 cm, I asked to walk the halls so Steve and I began the seemingly endless trek up and down, up and down. With each wave of contraction that hit me now, I had to lean on the wall or Steve for support. They were coming on with strong force and consistent, about 3-5 minutes apart.

I was only able to do this for about an hour as it was exhausting supporting myself and managing the pain of the contractions. Fortunately, there was finally a laboring room for me to occupy. At this point, it was about 3 o’clock in the afternoon. I was around 5 cm dilated.

Of course, one always want to hear they’ve made more progress than that. But one can jump from that point to fully dilated in a matter of minutes so I tried to comfort myself with that thought.

I took some rest on the bed. The force of the contractions at this point was overwhelming. They were coming every 1-2 minutes apart. Steve was trying to help me get through, reminding me to relax; I was nearly biting his head off because it was so hard, poor thing.

I alternated between praying the Hail Mary, which was both comforting and strengthening, and chanting ‘baby, down’ as the contractions rocked my body. I visualized her descending and making her way out. This really helps me and makes me feel like my contractions are being effective.

A short time after that my doctor got off work for the day and came to check my progress, sometime after 5pm. Still only getting close to 6 cm. She asked if I wanted her to break the bag of waters. I remembered this from last time: not exactly what I wanted, but what I did want was continual progression, so I assented. It seems to help when I stall.

The contractions, of course, became unbearable at this point. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to sit or stand. I alternated between the two. I thought about sitting on a birthing ball they brought me, but I just was so anxious with the pain, I couldn’t. Steve did an amazing job holding me up through all the pain, both physically and emotionally.

When I was hitting the wall, I lost my lunch. I began shaking uncontrollably. And the pressure began.

10 cm. Fully dilated. What every laboring mother longs to hear.

I knew I was ready to push.

They called for my doctor and I began.

At first, I was having trouble coordinating my breath and the push. It wasn’t very effective pushing. One of the labor nurses stepped in and coached me. She talked about imagining like I was about to dive under water for a long period of time, pulling as much air into my lungs as possible as I felt the contraction coming on. Then, slowly pushing the air out of my mouth and focusing my push on the point where the baby was to come out. After a few of these, her head began to emerge.

I definitely experienced the “ring of fire” and wanted nothing more than that beautiful head to break through the barrier. It took about 15 minutes of pushing and I felt her head slip past. The rest of her body came quickly after. 6:16 pm on Wednesday evening of June 25th, 2014. About ten hours of labor, same as her sister.

When they placed that precious girl on my chest, I couldn’t believe what a solid chunk she was already. She wanted to eat and knew right where to go for food. {This healthy appetite hasn’t changed, by the way. ;)}

With Apgars at 9, I was able to hold her for several hours before they washed and measured her. Steve and I chatted and admired our little Light — Lucie Marie — while the doctor stitched up a first degree tear I received. {My big-headed babies are a little brutal on the body.}

10469451_10152131752266975_9082008331016369430_o

One of my proudest moments was walking with her isolette to my recovery room several hours after giving birth.

We had a longer stay than I wanted because I didn’t get a full dose of antibiotics for the Strep I was carrying so Lucie had to be monitored for 24 hours. Because that fell in the evening after office hours, we had to stay until the following morning.

One final note: if I could choose to always go into labor at the beginning of the day that would be wonderful. After laboring with Evelyn through the night and, then, Lucie through the day, it made such a difference when I was pushing finding strength after having a full night’s rest versus trying to do so when I should have been sleeping. But, alas, we can’t choose these things.

Daddy-and-Lucie

Moments ~ {Vol. 11}

girls-digging-in-dirt

Dirt, dirt, and lots of dirt. Most mornings are spent outside digging. Pre-lunch time is spent bathing.

little-diggers

Digging with spoons because we’re fancy like that.

evey-scootering

Evey’s becoming a scootering pro.

evey-finger-painting

Never one to paint her body before, Lucie’s encouragement pushed Evey outside her comfort zone.
evey-finger-painting

First finger painting for both girls.
lucie-finger-painting

Doesn’t mind getting messy one bit.

lucie-finger-painting

Who says paint is for paper?

dancing-with-daddy

Daddy-daughter dance to “Let it Go”.

frozen-with-daddy

Saturday morning Frozen viewing with Daddy.

sunday-morning-with-daddy

Sunday morning snuggles with Daddy. Sweetest.
Evey's-cow-drawing

Evey’s cow. 🙂

Evey's-cow-drawing

He got more legs and accessories than he bargained for.

dinner-under-the-lights

End-of-summer party at my parents’ complete with appropriate ambience lighting.

dinner-under-the-lights

Magical.

orange-sunflower

Our first sunflower of the season!

tomato-braised-chicken-and-red-wine

Enjoying a wonderful red from a friend’s family winery in Oregon alongside a delicious Sunday dinner.

anchor-steam-porter-tasting

#muffbrews continues. We’ve been on a porter and stout kick lately.

kitchen-flowers

Beautiful flowers from a #bissisterhood friend. Makes my kitchen so pretty.

post-water-snack

Snacktime post-splash pad fun. They enjoyed themselves. Really.

star-cookie-treat

Grocery day treat. Bribery or reward? You decide. 

free-ice-cream

Free ice cream at the library? Yes, please. {Although, every time we go to the library now she wants to know where the ice cream van is.}

evey-purple-popsicle

Matchy-matchy.

lucie-ice-cream-cone

She knew right what to do with that cone.
sticker-feet

Creative sticker sticking. {She likes to place them over her eyes too. Whatever floats your boat, Ev.}

A Year Full of Light and Life

L at Jamba

Sweet girl. Today you hit your first year milestone. I can’t believe you’ve been with us that long already. It feels like forever and it feels like yesterday you arrived. We are every bit blessed to have you in our lives.

You are a firecracker. Every bit, you fit your name. Those eyes. That smile. Your exuberance for life.

Your sister adores you and has from the moment she met you. Sure, you have your moments where you get on each other’s nerves, but those moments are few and far between. You roll around on the floor together giggling. You squeal in delight at each other, upping the ante each time. You’ve recently started this game where if you have something Evey wants, you run the other way with it, your eyes flashing with mischievousness. But you always give kisses and hugs to each other before bedtime. I hope you will always take care of each other and love each other fiercely.

Your outgoing-ness pushes me outside of my comfort zone, but I don’t mind too much. With you, it is easy to meet and make friends. When we visited New York earlier this year, you wanted to befriend every person that walked by. You wave, you flash that beautiful grin, and bewitch every passerby. You just want a smile in return.

You began walking a few months ago. Now, I have to run to keep up with you. Although your balance is still a work in progress…sometimes you get going too fast down the hall and crash into the wall, at the park you are overeager to walk on uneven surfaces and eat dirt too often. You can’t keep up with your growing height — under the table is now a dangerous place to play as the edge smacks you right in the head when you stand up. But it is so fun to watch you explore the world around you as you gain your newfound skill. The backyard is your favorite place to adventure.

Your first word was ‘boat’. I pointed them out in the marina while we were down in southern California and you took great delight in the little ones floating the harbor. You also love ‘doors’ — this is anything that goes to the outside, windows included. You point excitedly and shout ‘door’ every time you see one. You were easily taught ‘uh oh’ and now drop things from your high chair just so you can practice. You become very agitated if someone doesn’t pick the object back up after you’ve announced as clearly it doesn’t belong down there. It just needed to be dropped for a minute.

The past few weeks you’ve taken to a small stuffed bunny, which we call ‘bun-bun’. She’s your lovey and you like to carry her around with you. You understand when she has to sit on the couch while you eat your meals at the table. I place her on the arm and you go grab her when you are finished with your meal. The bunny was a gift to Evey when she was sick from Nancy on the train, but she doesn’t seem to mind passing it along to you.

You have incredible rhythm and bop to every beat you hear, be it the dishwasher running or a car driving by with a bass stereo blaring. You feel it in your bones. Your favorite toys tend to be the music makers — the maracas, the xylophone, the egg shaker. I’m eager to see what instruments you pick up as you get older.

You are a daddy’s girl through and through. Always have been. You’ve been happy in his arms from day one. He’s often better able to help you get back to sleep on those restless nights than I am. His arms are your favorite resting place. He loves to play with you and make you laugh those great belly giggles, flashing your toothy grin. {Already at an even dozen!} You are his favorite fan as he walks in the door in the evening. You run as fast as your little legs will carry you straight into his arms, squealing with delight all the while.

The expressions of your face say you have a lot you’re thinking about, a lot you want to express. I can’t wait until I know better what goes on in that active brain of yours. I have a feeling there will be a lot of creativity, tantrums, and inquisitiveness in the future.

It will be bright. Just as you are, my little Lucie {light}.

 

Love, Mama

Caring for Oneself

reading

I get the impression that moms are feeling a bit burnt out right now. Perhaps its the school year coming to a close and the prospect of the summer in front of them. Perhaps its arriving at the mid-point of the year and looking at all they’ve accomplished {or haven’t}.

Or nothing remotely related.

I’m feeling it. The overwhelm has been washing over me much too frequently these past few weeks. I’d like to blame it all on the hormones, but I think that is giving more credit than is due to those finicky things.

What it often comes down to, and what the conversation has been about on the Net this past week or so, is self-care.

Do you take enough time for it? What does finding time for self-care mean to you? I’ve been pondering these questions, trying to find solutions to the wave of overwhelm inundating my life lately.

 



exercising with a baby

The means of self-care is personal to each. As Jenny touched on here, an introvert’s version of self-care is going to look different from an extrovert’s version.

What works for other more extroverted moms, like my little sister and some of my best friends, doesn’t actually revitalize me. And just as I need to be sensitive to the fact that my sister dearest could literally interact with another human being endlessly, for all 24 hour in a day, and nearly die of happiness for it, I also need to acknowledge that I need a good 1-2 hours of silence every night after bedtime just to feel like I’m no longer suffocating.

Summer is a great time for renewing this endeavor. With freedom from some of the normal daily tasks, there is more of an opportunity to set aside time in the day for oneself. Elizabeth delves into that more deeply here.

Sometimes, I have to be reminded that not every need must be filled by me. The bone-tired feeling? That soul-crushing fatigue? Usually they are the symptoms of self-reliance. They mean I’ve tried to save the world instead of trusting that God can accomplish His will in my life and the lives of the people I love. I take on every need as my personal mission, and I neglect to seek God’s wisdom and direction in filling the needs around me. I am certain His plan is more prudent than the full-throttle assault that is my default.

 

We need to lower our standards when they are too high to achieve any margin in our lives for rest for ourselves. Colleen writes about that here.

I think it’s OK to do any of the following if I’m feeling so overburdened by life, I’m are not quite sure how to get out of bed: 

  • put the television on for the kids so I can drink a cup of coffee or run on the treadmill in peace,
  • let the house get messy so I can read a book or engage in another pleasant activity, 
  • or scrap all the housework and put the kids in the car so I can go visit with a friend!

There are some days where it is just impossible. Sometimes we need to “fake it to make it” as Nell hints at here.

I’m not at my best. I look in the mirror and see the little kisses under my eyes called cosleepernumber3 and guiltily gave up sugar again as I was abusing it//turning to it for an afternoon pick up instead of a healthy snack//my clothing doesn’t fit like I’d like it to. But I can’t wait around for life to suddenly hand me a week of full-nights sleep, a personal trainer, and a chef. Instead, I’m determined to feel my best that I can be right now. 



There are ways to find time for ourselves. It is necessary for our well being and, dare I say, the well being of those in our charge. A burnt out mama makes for a burnt out family for a mother is truly the heart of the home.

As mothers, it’s easy to play the martyr sometimes. We tell ourselves that our children need us. We must be everything to everyone. But this is just not sustainable. We are not God. We must not play Him. {And, hey, even He rested on the seventh day.}

There are other wonderful people in our children’s lives and we must give them the opportunity to love on them as well. An engaging activity that distracts the kids while you compose yourself with a warm cup of tea and a chapter or two of a good novel is a good alternative too.

knitting and tea

Sometimes we need to step away so that we can be a better caregiver and nurturer when we are on duty  for them.



I’m working to take all of this to heart myself. I like to care for others — but I’m not good at being the one taken care of. Really, though, isn’t this selfish? How are others to practice charity if another does not accept their charity when it is given?

I maintained the unhealthy thought for a while that I could just keep pressing forward no matter how I was feeling. Always. If I was tired, I just needed to suck it up. Someone else’s need surpassed my need to rest. If I felt touched out, too bad, that little person needed to be held by me. If I was hungry, I could wait…and wait…and wait. Until I was so hungry, I was bursting at the smallest thing.

My patience for anything and everything just starts to go right out the window when I fail to take time for myself. I am learning this.

And I am learning how to make it happen.

Is making time for self-care difficult for you? How can you make it better happen in your life? I’d like to continue this conversation so I’ll be writing a follow up post soon about how we can. 

%d bloggers like this: