Close Proximity

Crickets here on the blog lately as for the last couple weekends, Wilson and I have been sharing sniffles back and forth and back again. You see, she’s awfully darn cute, so when img_1071I got some head cold germies, it was hard to remember to keep my distance from her (plus we still nurse around the clock, so….) and then when I got better and she got them, it was hard to remember not to let her slobber-bobber-ness get too close to me, so….I’m starting off my second Monday in a row with a head fog.

Fitting as we’ve been in a fog these last couple weeks, anyway, awaiting Ben’s grandma’s funeral (happening this weekend) and trying to wrap our (foggy) brains around the fact that school is starting, well, next week! Ben actually went back today for his first round of meetings and dives in full force with those this Thursday with kids starting classes the following Thursday.

We will have two in elementary and two in preschool (after he officially turns 3, for Truman, but knock on wood, potty training is going well, so looks like it is a go), which means this mama has to wrap her (foggy) brain around all the drop off times and split locations and all that again, which is different this year as our kids’ school is doing a two-year remodel, so they have to be taken to a different location, which feels new and little nervous making for all of us, I suppose, even though I know it will go fine once we get the new system figured out.

But we’ve honestly had a strange summer and a strange year, so shifting into the new school year and all the change that comes with it is making me glad to have at least a few more days here with all my babies under one roof (even if we are sharing too many back-to-school germs before back-to-school has even begun). I like it better when Ben is here with us so we can divide and conquer and enjoy just a tad bit more, but that’s what Paw Patrol is for, right? Right.

It may not have been the summer (or spring) we had planned or wanted, but we have been able to be together just the seven of us a lot, and that is always, always a good thing in my book.

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Grandmas, Gravy Boats, and (another) Goodbye

The first time I met my would-be-husband’s family, I crashed their family reunion. We had been together about a month and it would only be five more until we were engaged, so maybe that sounds like a weird first encounter, but really, I think we just knew this was it and there was nothing odd at all about diving in headfirst.

I’d like to think Ben’s grandma, Louise, knew it, too, because she was the one who insisted I be in the group photo, front and center next to Ben (Cox/Welsch crew: if anyone has that photo, can you snap a copy and send it to us, please?). I wouldn’t put it past her to have had that kind of super power because she was indeed a wonder of a woman.

Unfortunately, my use of the past tense is not accidental. After a decline that began in March, that we all had thought/hoped was turning out to be a miraculous recovery, Louise passed away in the early hours of Tuesday morning. So here we are, once again, faced with paying respects and giving our kids, and ourselves, one more lesson in life and loss and goodbyes.

What. A. Year.

I’ll be honest, this one hits hard for me. It’s way too soon after saying goodbye to both of my remaining grandparents (Ben still has two, now), but it is also that I feel this loss like it is my own. Geographically, Louise and her husband Eugene have been the closest ones to us in our married life which meant we saw them more, but really from Day One, Louise treated me like one of her own. Always caring, always asking after my work and my family, always wondering, in early days, when that first great grandbaby was going to come, and after early days, how each of those great grand babies was doing.

The weekend before last, Ben took the Big Four to see her and since I couldn’t go, I wroteIMG_9368 a card that he was able to share with her. In it, I teased her (gently, with love, in a way to hopefully bring about that kind flash smile/eye twinkle that she had) that in those early days she was always telling me that she was only going to live to 83, so would I kindly please get on it with the great grands. I told her I was so glad she didn’t call it quits then because, instead, she got to meet, hold, love on, and know all five of my babies, and for that we were all so lucky.

Technically that card turned out to be my goodbye to her but it is not the end of my memories of her. She will forever in my mind be the one who came to see four of my five babies when they were still hospital brand new and deemed each one “SUCH a nice baby” (& who always wanted to know if they had blue eyes in every subsequent phone call and/or card sent). The one who LOVED the color red and was thrilled to buy us the Fiestaware gravy boat from our wedding registry because it was one of the pieces I had picked in her favorite hue (plus super appropriate piece coming from the woman who hosted countless and delicious family dinners). img_0839The one who collected quilts and made sure to give us one for each baby. The one who helped make some of their blankets, too. The one who played Five Crowns and Play Nine (& other countless card games) with us and our children. The one who sent me a sympathy card when my grandpa Cliff died and told me how lucky I was to have a grandpa for so long.

She was right about that. But here is what I also know: I may have only been able to call her mine for 12 years and not 36 like my two 89-yr-olds we’ve lost this year (Louise would have been 89 next month), but I am by far a better person and a better mother because of her.

Clueless

There are certain elements of parenting that I expect some people figure I have down pat considering the number of young children in my house. Actually, there are some elements of parenting that I think I should know forwards and backwards by now, but I’ll be real honest and say, “Nope. I am still (always?) running in Novice Mode.”

Take today’s Adventure in Parenting, for example: Day One of Potty Training Truman.

By the Fourth Kid you probably have a system for that, right? Or at the very least remember the ups and downs, the ins and outs, the highs and lows of at least some of the previous children’s experiences, right? RIGHT?!

Again, I’m here to tell you, “Nope. Apparently not.”

I legit remember next to nothing about how it went, much less how we did it for any of the other three. Maybe that’s because HD was just too blessed long ago (I do remember preschool was a motivator and it must have worked) and I think RL and LT really learned from watching their bigger sibling(s), but with Trumy, there’s been no training potty in our bathroom for two years, so what does he know about such things? So what if we’ve been hinting at putting pee in the potty for months? Toddlers have no concept of time or parenting goals, and until you actually fly by the seat of your Paw Patrol undies, what hope is there of accomplishing anything??

img_0952Because of all our South Dakota trips this summer, we’ve been putting off the task (and putting off the task) but apparently after breakfast this morning we decided to just go for it and put him in his big boy undies for the first time. And then we set an alarm on Ben’s phone so we’d remember to ask/have him try every dang 15 minutes in hopes of avoiding accidents. I may not remember much (anything?) from the other kids, but I do know this tactic is new and it semi-worked?

I question it because he definitely had a huge accident this morning 2 minutes prior to the alarm going off and by the end of the day he was flat out screaming at us that NO he did NOT want to GO TO THE POTTY anymore, sooooo. Maybe a good idea? Maybe not? Because really it was just a lot of false attempts, but he did actually do his business TWICE throughout the day and didn’t have any more accidents, so maybe we’re on to something?

Don’t you love how confident that sounds? lol

Like pretty much everything in parenting (life?), this feels like a crap shoot (sorry; couldn’t resist the pun) and only time will tell if we’re on to something. But once again, we have the hope of preschool ahead for him, plus he’s almost three, so it really is time to start at least trying this next big thing.

And if nothing else, thanks to the blog, I will at the very least remember this when it comes around to training the fifth.

Milk, To Go

It’s been a while since my last update on breastfeeding, and the good news is, the blebs seem to be, for now, at bay. It took waaaay longer than anticipated for them to fade which meant the pain lasted WAAAAAY longer than anticipated, too, but for over a month now, things have been (knock on wood) back to normal/good. Fingers (and toes) crossed that this trend continues.

To be fair, we gave the system a good test by taking it on the road for our SoDak trip. Nursing away from home is never easy with a baby this age (so distracted! so many extra-long stops along the way!), but all things considered, Wilson did a great job of rolling with it and not injuring me again as we traveled.

Although I am no stranger to nursing in very public places if need be (can you say Houston Children’s Museum, WHOA), I prefer to sneak away when I can, and fortunately on our trip, 90% of the time, I could do just that. I had one afternoon when we rode the 1880s train from Hill City to Keystone and back where I had to nurse both on the train (for soothing because she HATED it) and on a bench at the station (which was empty when I sat down but then soon filled with other bench sitters even though departure time was still 45 mins out, but hey – we saw a deer up close!), but otherwise we were either back at our cabin with my family or I had access to our van.

Ah, nursing in the minivan. Nowhere near as bad as nursing in a public bathroom (ew) but still strange. But also air conditioned and with the option to sort of hang blankets to block view of the passenger seat and still use my Boppy, so really pretty fantastic. Much of our feedings we looked like this, and yes, most of them also turned into little cat naps for Little Miss:

And really, on our big travel days, the extra long pit stops weren’t such a bad deal, either, because it gave the Bigs a chance to get out and stretch legs, etc. at parks along the way. Bless it, I am a BIG fan of Google Maps satellite view because all you have to do is zoom in and look for a baseball diamond in just about any small town and there ye shall also find a park and public restroom. Modern pioneering, I tell ya.

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Also very modern? Something I discovered (and am very excited about, very grateful for) upon returning home from our trip: a nursing swimsuit! I know, I know. I just bought a new suit this summer, but I am returning it because this is awesome and I had no idea until last week that such a thing even existed. It’s a two piece with extra high, extra comfy and flattering bottoms, and a top that unbuttons from the tops of the shoulders (but still with straps down the front so you still stay covered and everything stays in place) from Latched Mama. I get it that the Internet is a creepy place sometimes, and who knows how it decided to show me an ad for this suit, but bless it (again), I’ll take it!

This will get its official test run this weekend on a little family excursion, but I’m already totally thrilled by the fit and accessibility, not to mention the postpartum-friendly design (no matter how many months or years that’s been, actually). Even though the snaps will eventually be obsolete, I can see wearing this for a few summers for sure.

So, from here to there and there to here, I can nurse just anywhere! 😉

Practice

I just finished a home yoga practice on the sun porch (that was closed up all day and consequently SUPERBLY hot) and it felt so good. Shocking, right? That my body (and brain and heart) thought some yoga felt good?

I know. You all know already how much I love the practice.

But do you know how often I don’t practice?

Like all facets in life, my yoga ebbs and flows. Sometimes I knock it out of the park and other times my therapist flat out delivers a three week challenge in which she wants me to do 30 minutes a day (yoga or some bilateral activity like walking) to insure that I get some actual real FOR ME self care. Not bubble bath self care (not really my thing anyway, but I do love a good epsom soak), but legit movement FOR ME.

Challenge Accepted.

Actually, it was accepted six days ago and I’ve held strong to it.

Until today I’ve done videos after the kids went down for the night (I love when people message me and ask where they can start an at home practice. I hands down always say Yoga with Adriene; she’s served me well for over 4 years and counting). But tonight I had the time and space to roll out on the sun porch to get my asana and sweat on in a total go-with-the-flow practice.

It. Felt. GREAT. There may have even been a spontaneous dance party in the middle of that which you will not find in your regular flow class but which I highly recommend for home practice. 😉

And there was also this: a constant running voice in my head about how my body feels. How it feels to move (good). How it feels to challenge myself (awesome). How it feels when I twist and turn and fold and squeeze (hmmmmmm).

So I grabbed my phone (I know – not very yogic of me, but it’s the chronicler in me) and snapped some pics. And between two different poses, I got two pretty striking perspectives, which are fairly accurate in how I see/feel about myself.

One is what I would call pretty awesome. The other is what I would call pretty real. While it’s not easy to share that second one, it’s like the swim suit in that it just is what it is (and it being Navasana or Boat Pose, a.k.a my nemesis and not just because of the belly squish).

Now, let me back it up a bit. My therapist did not put me up to the 30 mins a day because either one of us thinks I need to do it for weight loss or because there is something wrong with my physical body. I’m doing it at her request because the more time I take for myself to move, the better I am able to see myself in a loving way, and that means loving whatever there is to see. Does it mean I can’t want to make changes? No, not all. But I want that desire for change to come from a healthy place, not a berating one, so I’m doing the work and I’m doing my 30 mins a day, and I’m sharing pictures of different perspectives because, Truth. Life. Love. Care. Acceptance. Practice.

May we all find just a little bit more of each, every day. Even in Navasana.

 

Road Weary

Yesterday we did a first ever (and let’s be real, unlikely to be repeated for many, many years) 9+ hour drive with the children in one go. Also a first ever? A six day trip with the children, and as any of you currently living with the 10&U crowd may know, a TRIP is very, very different from a VACATION.

Yes, we did touristy things, but no, I would not call our Black Hills Extravaganza a vacation because we had to do all the normal parenting things but with a bunch of extra hours in the car, sugar, loosey-goosey bedtimes, and not in our own house. While I know what I signed up for when having (this many) children, I also know that I look forward to the day when B and I can once again travel in such a way that does not involve working harder than we do when we’re at home.

Of course, the trip itself had a slightly heavy undercurrent as our real reason for venturing so far from home with so many young children (maybe by the end of this post, I’ll get mentioning that so much out of my system) was to pay final respects to my grandpa, Cliff, and attend his internment ceremony at Black Hills National Cemetery in Sturgis, SD. So yes, tourists over the weekend and once again mourning on Monday. But it was good that we could be there because I slipped up big time when we attended his funeral in March by not taking a moment to say my actual goodbyes to him, and on this trip I made darn sure to get the closure that I needed.

After tears and hugs and goodbyes post-ceremony, it was time to hit the road home because two kids had camp starting this (Tuesday) morning and we knew were looking at 7hrs, 45mins even without kid stops and a time zone change to boot, so on we rolled.

img_0819Truth be told, the kids did well. Ben did amazing (he drove the whole way). And I did my best to be a solid co-pilot, spotter, DJ, snack and water provider, fight-breaker-upper, and food source (breastfeeding while traveling post coming soon, friends). While I thought it would be the tireds that got the best of us, it was really the discomfort of being in the car that long that did us in.

We spent many, many hours driving last Wednesday and Thursday to get there, and many more each day of our trip to see the sights scattered around the Hills, but yesterday took the cake. Or rather, it ran over the cake and smashed it good and flat. I think Harrison and I felt it the most as he was the poor kid stuck in the middle of the back seat bench with no proper place to get comfy for sleep and my back was just PISSED by the time we were halfway home. And unfortunately it’s still not very happy with me, even though I can’t fault it one bit because of all the work it did all trip long of schlepping Wilson in the Ergo darn near everywhere (including 250 ft. below ground in Wonderland Cave).

The hope with the night-trip home was that the kids would sleep, we’d transfer them to their beds when we got home, and that would be “it.” The problem with a plan like that is that the children must actually sleep, which 3/5 of them barely did (and 1/5 of them I don’t think did AT ALL). And, again, I get it. Discomfort, lights (sun and then headlights), the sillies — all of these things make it hard to sleep. In the case of RL, the stars (which apparently she’s seen very little of in her life thanks to her sleep strict parents) were justimg_0823 too beautiful to watch to bother with sleep, and so. On we continued, through was sounded like all the bugs in Nebraska until just after midnight when we got back to Hastings where we promptly got all the kids in their own beds and then collapsed in ours until the whopping time of 7:13 when the first kid got up for the day. Keep ’em up so they sleep longer in the morning? No such luck.

So, in case you see us stumbling (no, really – Trumy fell at least three times more today than an average toddler clumsy allows) or gimping around in the days to come, just know that we are in post-travel fallout, doing our best to realign bodies and sleep patterns while also being very grateful to have been there and back on our trip.

On This Day

I’m not sure what possessed me to make my first new swimsuit since RL was the baby girl in our house be a bikini (except that one pieces are a pain in the ***) but sure enough, that’s what I did. Ordering any clothing item online is a crap shoot, but the introvert in me + lack of stores in my town made a guessed-at size and purchase seem like the path of least resistance. Because, as you may have noticed, it is summer and it is hot and I have small children, and all of those things mean being outside and near water this time of year.

Full disclosure, I am a big proponent of the Wear the Swimsuit camp. Just fly your freak flag and Wear. The. Suit. Lumps and bumps be damned. Pastiness, too.

Also full disclosure? I find it incredibly hard to actually put that mantra into real life action because swim suits are HARD. Hard to find. Hard to wear. Hard to like. At least, that’s the case in my world.

But true to my other forward/backward motion with body dysmorphia, I’m pushing against the hard and doing it anyway. And I’m forcing it to be documented because this is part of the process, too. Essentially, I’m in full-on fake-it-til-you-make-it + be-in-the-pictures-anyway modes here because I can’t hide from summer and I can’t hide from life.

It would be easy to look at this and call it a Before Picture. Before I lose the baby weight. Before I revamp my diet and exercise. But really, it’s already an After Picture. After having five kids in under nine years. After going from 26 (age when I got pregnant with HD) to 36 (current). After getting straight with the notion that I’ve got some warped perceptions of self and body image. After learning that the way I talk about my body matters and recognizing that even when I know better, my self-talk can still spiral out of control for the negative.

Because, ultimately, I know this is neither a before nor is it really an after, either. It’s just what was on this particular day. And on this day (damn it), I wore the suit and I took the picture.  36249474_10160766912935651_5116656649246867456_n