What a Wednesday

Y’all, it has been A Morning, and, for the record, as I start writing this it is currently just 9:34 a.m.! So why so frantic considering so little of the day has gone by? Well, we’re smack dab in the middle of a BIG week and today of all days, HD decided to get himself up but let everyone else keep sleeping, so from the time we realized this (about 20 minutes later than we should have, but c’mon – those of you with little Littles know just how precious/valuable/vital 20 minutes can be, especially in the mornings!), we were scrambling.

It also happened to be the kids’ second day of Walk to School and Lincoln’s second day of swimming lessons, so, enter: CHAOS.

For Walking Days (where we meet up with a 100 or so other Longfellow kids and walk to the school from the museum) we have to be out the door a solid 25 minutes earlier than normal. So if you are math-y (ha! not me!), I’m pretty sure that means we lost 45 minutes of prep time today, so no wonder we were a little frantic and frazzled! When you add in the fact that LT lost his ever-loving mind about having to put his swim trunks on, and then stood there in the kitchen for another solid 12 minutes refusing to put his arms in his sleeves so he could put on his coat and then his shoes, well, yeah – F.U.N. for all!

Best part? When he finally decided to cooperate, which was a good 4 minutes after we should have been OUT the door, I couldn’t find one of his shoes (because of course he refused to wear the pair that had two available shoes, ready to go). Bless the Bigs’ hearts – while I blanketed the toddler in the stroller, they went back in the house and magically found the MIA shoe AND got it on his foot so we could in fact finally rush out the door.

Friends, I thought I was going to send myself into labor trying to get the kids to their walking spot on time. Cardio, beyond basic motherhood and having a toddler, has not exactly been a part of my routine, so trying to walk super fast on streets we don’t normally walk (that have way more traffic) while keeping up with not-wanting-to-be-late school-agers and a still-dragging-his-feet preschooler (while pushing the stroller-contained toddler) was sweat inducing.

But, we made it. And the kids got their signs, and I got to walk behind HD and his buddies (last time I walked with Raegge) all the way to school before then hurrying home so we could load up the still-mad-about-swimming Lincoln to get him to preK (late, because, such was our morning). And then it was off to the grocery store with Truman, because, food, but going to Walmart was actually the easiest part of my day thus far, and that is saying something!

Why record all this? Because this is life right now. One frantic part to the next, and it is worth nothing that as crazy as it was today, no one (besides the aforementioned 4yo) lost their shit this morning. Not even me! Although, truth? It’s possible the youngest two learned their first 4-letter word as I definitely didn’t filter a couple of the shit!s that came out with my deep exhales in the middle of shoe searching/trying to get everyone everywhere on time.

And so it goes. We are going to have shit moments and we are going to have shit mornings. I’m working to check my anger and my privilege, because if the worst thing I have to stress me out right now is the clock and some effing swim trunks, then I think we are pretty darn fortunate in the face of all the other struggles and hardships and hurts out there. In fact, our radar blip today is nothing compared to the large picture, and stepping back to remember that from time to time is important.

Our experiences? Our emotions and reactions? They still matter. But I’m trying not to get so stuck in them as often because they pass, sometimes rather quickly, and to be aware of that is a good thing. The more we can sit (or keep running around like our hair is on fire because who has time to sit?!) with the hot discomforts that bubble up inside rather than shove them back down, the more we do to improve how we interact with and treat others and the ripple effect of that? The world needs it….

…even if we still let whispered 4-letter words come out as part of our steam-release.

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Mostly Cloudy with a Chance of Breakdowns

In the last eight sleeps, only two have not involved being up for hours in the middle of the wee early night/morning. Each one of these disjointed sleeps eventually included a short “nap” before the rest of the house woke for the day, but I am here today to admit how much I am struggling as a result of all this and just how relative that lurking darkness in the seemingly fine, bright clouds in the sky feels to me. img_7753

Zombie jokes don’t even begin to describe the dark and ragey place my overtired but brain now seems to live. And while this is not new territory for me, especially this late in pregnancy, it is certainly unwelcome as it is making normal existence as a functional human being difficult, much less the challenge it is adding to parenting. Anything and everything my crew decides to throw at me right now feels huge and heavy and fit-inducing, for both them and me.

Like 7:50a.m.-we-need-to-be-out-the-door-just-tie-your-shoes meltdowns.

Like someone who learned (where? how? WHY?) the phrase, “Bye, Stupid!”

Like another someone who insists on sitting on my head as I try to take a PBS nap on the family room couch.

Like all the sass and attitude that I might normally be able to deflect or redirect, but that suddenly feels personal and like the epitome of reflection of how much I am sucking right now.

It’s all of these things and a dozen other little bumps in any given day that I’m not handling well. At all. I’m mad. I’m sad. I’m yelling. I’m crying. I’m the stereotypical wrung out mom (to-be) and the crap part is, I have absolutely no idea what I can do to turn it around, because try as I may have in the last 8+ years of baby growing, I still haven’t found the magic cure for taming the hormones that will 1) bring rest in order to 2) bring peace.

Now, I know that part of today’s particular struggles (that list from above? Yeah, that could be any given day in the last week-ish, but it was all this morning before noon) have been compounded not only by the lack of sleep but the excess of activity. I had a HUGE weekend with two major work events and a book club and normal church activities Sunday morning, and while that’s all good stuff, it meant I was moving from one to the next to the next to the next, fueled on adrenaline, coffee, and a Sunday afternoon power nap that I’m sure I should have been doing something productive around the house during, but AYFKM? My body and brain are SO. BEHIND.

Also not so helpful? Ben has conferences tonight, so after a not-great morning, I’m in charge of nighttime stuff that is normally not “mine” and I’m basically using this screen-time post-writing opportunity to officially offer a wild-flung hope and prayer that we all make it through without more yelling or more tears, from any of the parties involved. That actually sounds like I am asking for a miracle, but I guess a mama can dream, even if she can’t sleep.

And the moral of this post? Yep, there’s not one. Other than to say, for honesty’s sake, that Baby No.5 has landed me in the not-sleeping place far, FAR sooner than I would have liked and that, too, is worth documenting, in all of it’s weepy, very un-shiny glory because I know no mama alone, but the other worn-the-eff-out mamas need to know it, too: I see your dark circles, friend, and I know just how uneasily they are earned.

 

Flip of the Switch? 

Sometimes with Littles, changes are gradual and you don’t even notice until weeks later that they are demonstrating some new skill or wearing capris that once where definitely pants. And then other times, kiddos can seemingly overnight do something that draws your attention and makes you go, “Whoa! Where did you come from, child?!”

I had one of those switch flipped moments with Lincoln this week and as baffled as I am, I am also happy for him and pleased to see this kind of growth in him. 

If you know LT via the blog or my stories, you know him more as I know him…a loveable, athletic, uber independent, little spitfire. If you also/only know him in person, unless you are around him a LOT, you might see glimpses of these things, but mostly he has always been far more reserved and withdrawn with others outside of our family. 

Case in point? We have been tossing around the idea of having him evaluated for speech and when I discussed it with his teacher so she could keep an ear out for any indicators, she (unsurprisingly) agreed but also said (unsurprisingly), “But he doesn’t really say much at school.”

Then yesterday happened and we met for the first time a new sitter who is going to help me out occasionally this year and my kid who is normally hiding behind my legs (& will probably continue to do that, btw) was an animated goof the whole time she was at the house….talking, running around, kind of a wild man (way to show the sitter what she’s in for, kid!) goof! It was really fascinating to see. 

And then today? More confirmation of a change and some growth. We attended our first Toddler Art in over two years (birth of and subsequent year of napping Truman + Tuesday preK last year kept us away) and Lincoln was totally into it. He was pumped to go, and he participated by singing and volunteering answers to questions (this was the part that made my heart swell a bit). Again – fascinating and so, so cool to witness.

The most fitting part of today? The art theme was turtles and I couldn’t help but think I was literally observing my own kid come out of his shell a bit while we were there. Not that there has ever been anything wrong with him or that I’ve been waiting or pushing for this, but I still love that he’s willing and able to put himself out there more than ever. 

Plus, I have been telling friends for years that when this kid does come out of his shell to watch out, world, because there will be no stopping him. Looks like we might just be at the start of a very grand new adventure!! 

On Definitions, Labels, and Learning.

During a lecture in grad school, one of my professors called me out by name during his class for being a (quiet) contrarian. It happened so long ago that I can’t recall his exact language, but it was something along the lines of,  “And then you’ll be saying something and can look at Jenni and know she is contradicting all of it.” And even though I don’t know if that’s precisely how he said it, I do know the first thought that went through my head was, “Me?! No, I’m not!” which pretty much proved his point right then and there.

The funny thing was, until that experience, in my 22+ years I naively assumed that I thought and believed pretty much like anyone else around me. It never occurred to me that someone might take me (well, actually my writing, as I’ve never been very outspoken in classes) as a force of contradiction. In the years since, however, this claim has stayed in the back of my brain, and it’s actually helped me in many ways.

For one, it’s good to know that I have my own voice and that it is worth sharing because yes, it might in fact differ from that of another person. Not that I have to strike out to change their thinking, but that giving my unique perspective is of value because it does indeed add to the conversation. For another, it has helped me – sort of – as a parent because now that I am raising at least one little contrarian of my own, I can find solace in knowing from where it comes, even if that doesn’t do much to help me actually deal with it in real life.

All of this is a very long-worded intro into the fact that as Ben and I are now completing the New Member classes at our new church, First Presbyterian (you guys, I still can’t spell that right on the first try) Church in Hastings, I’ve had some of these contrary student moments that have given me pause and caused me to reflect a bit.

At our first session last week, we were asked as part of our introduction to share what it means to us to be a Presbyterian, and y’all, I blanked. So much blanked that I said, “I don’t know” as that part of my introduction because beyond still not spelling it correctly, I couldn’t tell you what the word itself meant or where it came from, so how else could this contrarian answer but with a non-answer?

Fortunately, we did go over some church history and even the definition of the word “Presbyterian” (ha! no red squiggles!) which has to do with church governance and committees and such , and I walked away from the evening certainly knowing more, but also realizing that I knew more than I gave myself credit for when I first answered.

Another benefit of being contradictory in nature? You learn that you can contradict yourself even, and sometimes fairly soon after a statement’s been made.

You see, as I listened to the others in our group do their own introductions, I realized they were all touching on the very messages/themes that I’ve written about before when I’ve blogged about church, namely being the concepts of love and service. Love and service. It may have been the invitation of friends and the desire to have a church home for our family that initially brought us in the doors, but it is this particular church’s driving forces of love and service that kept us coming back and ultimately led us to become official members this summer. And not just lip-service, either, but actions and actual in-the-world service, which is where my heart lies, introverted and contradictory as it may also sometimes be. [Parenting side note: this too has come up more and more when I address my children because as much as their mama loves words, they have to know that actions matter, too, and often times, even more so than their words.]

In my defense, I was the very first person to share, after our pastor that is, and tired/pregnant mama brain + first-out-the-gate nerves perhaps got the best of me. I should also mention that one of the other questions we had to answer was about which Bible character we related to with a list of examples/qualities to help us, but I still totally pulled a “there aren’t enough women on this list and I’m not connecting with any of the men on here, either” for that one, so yeah….Sorry, Pastor G – there’s that whole contrarian thing again!

But after chewing on these questions for the last few days, and learning more and more about the larger church itself and the actual congregation here that we are now officially part of, I once again land at the conclusion that we are fortunate to be where we are in this community that lives not only by faith but also by love and service. This is the message, the work, and the spirit we want to surround our children with as they grow, and it is how we want to be in the world, too.

And, as I explained in an email to our pastor that he’s most likely not seen yet, but touches on many of these same points, this particular explanation would have been far too long to share with the New Members group (and thanks to my prenatal weepies, I doubt I would have gotten through it one piece anyway), but it is worth sharing here because where we go from here….how we love and serve as a family….well, that’s what it is all about and this is where I share those stories.

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Taken the Sunday in June when we joined the church! 

 

Soon? Wellllllll…..

Hey, there, friends! Greetings from the 3rd trimester and September! We’ve had an interesting start to the school year with a sick Harrison (for over a week and a half!) and other various oddities, but we’re now a week in which puts us past Truman’s 2nd birthday (Happy 2, Little Man!) and the 29 Week mark for me and Baby No.5. This 3rd trimester has decided to show up with some oddities of its own, which I’ll touch on here, but really this is a friendly little reminder that some words, when applied to pregnancy, are very, very relative.

First, the update: Holy Heartburn! Over the last weekend, my esophagus decided to burst into flames and for the life of me, I don’t know what’s going on. Diet? Trimester? Stress? All of the above?! Who knows. But for the first time, I am taking an OTC medicine for it because WOW. And OUCH.

Also OUCH? Well, I won’t go into specific details because it’s too much TMI for today, even for me, so instead I’ll just leave it at this: there is no way my body needs to be preparing to actually give birth 11 weeks out, so let’s just hope the system chills out a bit, shall we?

And about that 11 weeks….

Y’all, I still have 11 WEEKS to go. And much as I can’t control what comes out of the mouths of others, you can sure bet I am going to try to gently remind folks that while that might seem like soon to you (or them) it is NOT to me. I may not be counting the days yet, but 11 WEEKS currently feels like an incredibly long time to me, so as fast as I know it actually will go, I (and probably most pregnant women) would prefer not to hear it called “SOON.”

For me, that word is double-edged. While I’ve had moments of doing much better this go-round with body image, I’ve also had complete face palms and freak outs, so to suddenly have people using the S-word around me all the time makes me think they must think I look ready to pop. And you know what? Maybe I do. I honestly have no idea, other than my weight and baby’s growth are both normal and on track with all of my other pregnancies and within healthy limits, but there I go getting super defensive, so let me bring it back in a little bit….

The point is, even if someone thinks I look like I’m ready to have Baby tomorrow (despite weird pains in my body, trust me: I am definitely not ready for that), I don’t need to hear it. If someone feels the absolute need to comment on my body or my belly or my shape, the only thing they should be saying is that I am a) glowing (I still don’t know what this one means, but I’ll take it over an insinuation of ready-to-burst anytime) or b) look fantastic.

And really, there is no need to comment on my body at all (but I won’t lie; a compliment isn’t going to hurt a preggers, ever). Instead, ask me how I’m feeling or how I’m sleeping or how the kids are doing or what we had for dinner last night or basically anything other than drawing attention to the fact that yes, my belly is large (because it should be) and yes, a baby is going to come out of it (but that my definition of “soon” is probably highly different than most of society’s right now). And if you’re just curious/can’t remember when I am due, ask that. I’d much rather tell you (November) than assume that by your use of “soon” you mean a couple weeks from now. 😉

So that’s it. I’ve said all of this before, I’m sure, but since folks continue to use very, um, interesting words to comment on my physical appearance these days, I too am taking the blunt approach of saying: Love it or let it go. And, please!, don’t assume the word SOON is part of my current vocabulary.IMG_2500

 

The Camel’s Back + Football Pretzels

For the last week, our house has been in attempted healing mode. I’m not entirely sure how well our efforts have been going if we’re still at it a week later.

For me, that means my knees. After taking a tumble on a concrete driveway last Wednesday, it took several days just for the injuries to scab over, much less really start healing. While one is definitely closer to fine than the other, I still can’t put hardly any pressure on them (I can at least bend them enough to squat down to kid level though), and, like most injuries, you just don’t realize how many times in your daily life with Littles that you put weight on your knees until your knees tell you NO.

My discomfort, however, has taken a backseat to the health mystery of Mr. Harrison who has had an incredibly strange seven days/beginning of his school year. I’m no math teacher, so this could be wrong, but at this point he has darn near missed as many days as he has attended (one of those was our own doing with our Eclipse Day).

The culprit for the rest of them? Fever. One that showed up last Wednesday afternoon when I picked him up from school, then spiked on Thursday night (and resulted in couch sleeping shifts for B and I that night), and then persisted at various levels the whole weekend. Of course we kept him home on Monday but ended up not at the doctor because the fever went down (I had my own doctor’s appointments for Baby No.5 that day, so we still had familial representation at the medical park), to the point that he was then good to go to school Tuesday. But then the fever showed up again, low-grade, last night and was still there, low-grade, this morning. So. Another day home, but this time for sure to the doctor.

I should mention that we also did a trip to convenient care on Saturday where they did test him for strep, which was negative, but you know how sometimes you can just look at your kid and know something is still not right? That has been the last five days with HD. img_7527His eyes just haven’t looked right this whole time.

So this morning, another strep test and a finger poke to check blood counts and whatnot. Everything came back – again – negative. But you can tell something is wrong just by looking at him, much less by peering in his throat, so we’re thinking the medical mystery is a virus last week that broke Monday but then resurfaced as a secondary infection yesterday. So meds it is, as many fluids as we can get in him (unfortunately the child got his father’s hydration habits and not mine, so this is a challenge unto itself), and hopefully back to school ASAP.

From a parenting standpoint, this has made the last week, um, challenging. Next to nothing has been normal, and even though I am not teaching for CCC, I am still working via Grounded Sky and coordinating not only a big event for September, but also still teaching yoga classes of various styles. Plus, hello Third Trimester with Baby No. 5. I feel like that should be explanation enough as to why things have been less than smooth these last seven days.

So wth does this have to do with a camel and pretzels?

Today, after getting home with all three boys from preschool pickup, after spending much of the morning at the doctor’s office/pharmacy with two of them, in a span of two minutes, the 4yo managed to lock me out of the house and then then 2yo (once I was back in the house), dumped an entire bag of football shaped pretzels all over the dining room. Normally those aren’t really things that would make a person lose their shit, but I lost my shit. Which really means, I yelled and stomped around the kitchen a bit, and was just generally a big old mess of human because my patience and nerves (and knees, because ouch – literal salt in the wounds trying to clean up the pretzel mess) are shot.

And, clearly, I desperately need some normal, because so far, we are two weeks into the school year and I still haven’t found what that means for us yet. So with our window for establishing a routine being so short before we upturn everything again, I’m not terribly surprised that locked doors and pretzels were enough to tip me over the edge today.

Humanness + tunnel of parenthood + recovery mode pretty much = I need a nap, lots of coffee, just a teensy bit of normalcy, and no more damn pretzels.

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Life with a 4yo

Life with a 4 year-old is many things, and often many things in a very short time span. Take this morning, for instance…

Life with a 4yo is him walking into your bedroom and leaning his head against Mama, just for a second, just to say “hey.”

It is seeing just how many times and in how many ways you can touch your sister at the breakfast table even though Mama has said at least five times, “For the love of all things holy, quit messing around and Just. EAT!”

It is being totally cool with wearing pajamas all the live-long days (that are not church/preschool days) and being extra excited to be big enough to move up to the next size of Brother’s hand-me-downs (no, really – bless his sweet heart. he was SO excited to see some of the clothes I pulled out for him to wear, in part because he is so thrilled to be wearing stuff that HD remembers wearing).

Life with a 4yo is spending five minutes frantically pulling bikes and random yard toys/tools out of the garage so you can get to the double stroller that he has specifically requested for taking to school drop off for the first time this year.

It is then spending the next five minutes (the first half of the walk to school) telling him (with the help of the big siblings who had to help with extraction/wait to get going) that he picked the stroller so now he must RIDE in the stroller.

img_7547It is THEN spending the next five minutes (and later, the whole way home) pushing just the baby in the double jogger because the 4yo bailed and refused to get back in said requested stroller. Classic 4yo, I tell you.

Life with a 4yo is requesting to hear this song, not that one. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

It is “Can I have a berry bar?” at 8:15 a.m. (every blessed day).

It is red-faced, foot-stomping “NO!”s (sometimes from Mama, too).

It is wide-eyed, mouth dropped open wonder at seeing Mama’s belly wiggle from the baby juking and jiving in there.

Life with a 4yo is taking the toy truck and trailer away from the almost 2yo one minute and then sharing it without being asked the next. Repeat forever.

It is ball throwing, furniture climbing, self launching from various surfaces, and “Tag! You’re it!” also forever.

Above all, life with a 4yo is never dull and rarely quiet. And as gray-hair-making as it can be, life with a 4yo is amazing. See, for example, leg/under the bump hugs on the first day of preschool. Also classic 4yo. img_7534