Early Mornings, Late Nights

As any teacher (or former teacher, or spouse of a teacher, or spouse of a teacher who is also a former teacher herself) knows, the Fourth of July is a signal that summer has shifted. I don’t know if the official term is called a downhill slide, or what, but summer tends to speed up after the 4th and before we know it, all of those back-to-school meetings and events and actual First Days arrive front and center.

As it stands, I am perhaps more anxious about the upcoming school year than others, but not for regular reasons. Normally I’d be trying to figure out my own teaching (which I am not doing because I am taking off the semester from adjunct life) and getting kids to various (pre)schools of their own (oh, that’s still a fun little rabbit hole to let the mind wander down from time to time, don’t worry). But this post-July-4th, I find myself wondering just how in the world I am going to keep up with this dude once Daddy is back to work: img_6771-1

Trust me. He is the cutest little solo elephant herd you’ve seen, and he does about as much damage as an elephant bull can manage in less than 60 seconds, no problem. This includes structural (he’s got his mama’s long arms and there can reach ALL kinds of places he shouldn’t, not to mention the climbing he does) and physical (Lord in Heaven. Can someone please send bubble wrap? And a helmet? And elbow pads? Crashing, bashing, and wiping out seem to be what this kid was made for these days and he’s got the bumps and bruises to prove it!). But mostly he’s got SUCH a mind of his own and I’m not really sure how my eventual third trimester self is going to handle his activity level, much less his attitude and his sprinting in opposite directions of me. I haven’t been a runner since before babies, Baby. Knock it off.

Thanks to the previously mentioned 4th, I am still very much worn the heck out. That whole week of people blowing up money all over town meant for so many late nights that I didn’t want to have and left me feeling, once again, totally behind on sleep. Then you add in the fact that I still occasionally wake up and can’t go back to bed in the 4’s (hello, Early Bird), and I am. Just. Tired.

And headachey. SOOOOO many headaches with this pregnancy…it’s getting to be a bit ridiculous.

Of course, there are still plenty of mornings when I skip over that super early rising, but when one of them happens to coincide with an unnamed child who will soon be 8yo (whoops) getting up and coming in my room a half an hour before he’s supposed to leave his own bed (which is still freaky early for most folks), well – chaos. Shenanigans. Not enough naps and coffee and headache remedies to counter all that. And that’s just it – because Ben is still on break, I still get to take those naps! So what am I going to do after the first week of August when he’s no longer around?! Oof.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: no mother(-to-be) needs practice at being tired. Until someone can show me the science behind why the body/brain do this to pregnant (and postpartum) women, I will continue to give Mother Nature the WTH face because obviously we all know that tired is coming with the new baby; it’s really not needed now!

Tunnels, Light, and What’s that Smell?!

You guys. It is here! The end of the biggest year ever of adjuncting and, ta-da!!!! My final grades are entered! I did it!!! Do I currently sound like an over-sugared 5yo who just found out she gets more sugar? Yep, and I’ll own it because this year was a PUSH and after all that we are not only at the end of an academic calendar, we are also at the point of making the LAST PAYMENT on our debt snowball!!! Yeah, I think I’ve earned all the !!s and imaginary cartwheels I can muster right now because this year+ of effort has been intense and deserves a moment of recognition.

The other incredible news? I am starting to feel human again! And two weeks ahead of schedule AND without taking my B6 anymore. Can you believe it?! We were so caught up on Saturday morning with soccer games that I totally forgot to choke down my pill and since I still felt fine-ish by noon, I decided to just go with it the rest of the day. And then I didn’t take any yesterday either, or this morning, and I am totally still standing. WhooHoo! I had honestly gotten so gaggy every time I tried to take one that I wonder if they were starting to be counter productive. Whatever the cause, since I’m no longer feeling quite so face-dragging-on-concrete, I will totally take it (and again do imaginary cartwheels). Side note: ironically, last night, after approximately 30 hours of feeling better-ish, I had a massive attack of heartburn. Ahhhh, growing a human – it is never dull!

img_6035-1Also, never dull? Life with toddlers. Trumy had a heckofa time of it last week with a cold that turned into a nasty cough and then, on Friday afternoon (of course), a spikey fever and then seemingly better over the weekend and then last night at bath a Do-Not-Touch-My-Right-Ear most likely ear infection. Took him in this morning (after I got HD out the door and RL dropped at preK) and sure enough – infected! But now we’ve got meds and he’s got the first dose in him and is taking a late morning nap and hopefully all will be back to his table climbing, snack mess making, normal self very soon. And all this before 10:00 today! I realize this entire post just sounds like a big ball of self-congratulations, but seriously. I feel a little bit like Wonder Woman to have handled all this already today.

Less than wonderful, however, is the unknown smell coming from my kitchen. I mean, I get that my housekeeping standards have been less than stellar lately, and maybe it is just my uber/pregnant nose being sensitive, but something in my kitchen needs to be found and removed. IMMEDIATELY! But I’m not that much over my queasiness to feel brave enough to go searching and eliminating, so I’m not really sure how this is going to go. Can I somehow avoid the kitchen for the rest of the day until Ben gets home and I can put him on the task? LOL. Nope. Not an option. But dang – what the heck happened in there? Is it the the trash? The sink? Heaven help me (and hire me a cleaning service for a month, please).

Minus the cleaning fail in the kitchen and the fact that I’ve got a kiddo on meds (but hey, at least he can also now be on the mend), I feel like things are coming up a bit rosy for the Welschies on this Monday morning. We’ve been in some dark, long tunnels in the last weeks/months/year and suddenly it seems like there might just be light at the end of all of them. Incredible!

 

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

11 Weeks. Today I am 11 weeks which puts me 1 week away from bump pictures beginning and still 3 weeks away from feeling human again. Here’s what I’ve learned about Baby No.5: with said baby, one feels (and looks) very pregnant for a very long time (and this little gem of wisdom from someone who still has 3/4 of the way to go!). And of course every single second of it – the upset tummy and disturbed sleep and holy-mother-of-never-have-I-been-so-tireds – is worth it. But do I dare tell the truth and say that somehow some of these seconds seem to last hours? As in 14 weeks, much less 40, feels light years away still and I am continuing to struggle a bit with our day-to-day.

Now, of course, our days have been rather extreme this entire school year what with all the adjuncting and business starting and eventual new-human-growing, so I’m trying very hard to give myself some space and grace around the fact of this struggle. I wouldn’t expect anyone else to fly through these months with a constant smile on her face and 100% of her shit together, so why do I kick myself for being human, and especially right now? It’s unnecessary. I still haven’t had a chance to write about the awesomeness that was our Sunday workshop with Lora McCarville via Grounded Sky @ Prairie Loft, and I promise that is still coming, but I mention it here because it helped remind me that this – this crankyness, this tiredness, this holding on for dear life – is an extenuating circumstance. In fact, some things are already lightening and brightening.

For one, my semester is in its final week. I have some stacks of grading to tend to yet, but the end is NEAR. VERY NEAR, and I have learned that this double-nights-a-week business is not for me. While I’m thankful for where the elbow grease got us this year, I am not looking to do it again anytime soon.

In another move to lessen the demands, I made the call to offer less yoga this month. That may seem like an interesting choice to some for a growing business still very much in its own infancy, but if I can’t model self-care and self-preservation with my own life and career, then what business do I have in teaching these things?

The one place where conditions could still improve (besides my tummy which seems to get most cranky between 9-10 p.m., making my attempts to go to bed peacefully very interesting) has to be with handling all the momming that must continue, especially in regard to the one who will no longer be the baby by the end of this year. Yes, when I ask, “Can’t we all just get along?” I am specifically talking to this dude: the one who both refuses to leave my side and wants to do All The Things on his own. img_5951How is that even possible? How do you get a kiddo who is 100% committed to both clinging and independence?! And because language skills are still slow coming, the amount of fussing and whining and other forms of communication add to the draining factor of chase me/don’t put me down/chase me/don’t put me down/chase me/pull me off this piece of furniture/don’t put me down/chase me/get me a snack/not that snack/retrieve me from some place I should not be/don’t put me down/chase me/don’t put me down/don’t sit down either EVER. Yep. Not joking. But that on loop and welcome to my days (with just one of the Littles!).

As far I as I know, there is no cure for Tired Mommy + Rambunctious Toddler, so we’ll just keep chugging along, hoping some sort of balance comes soon. There are just a couple weeks left in the school year and then I’ll have my co-pilot back to help (actually, take over, at least in the mornings as I am planning to teach a 5-week summer class) AND best of all, I’ll finally cross the 14 week mark and be in that blissful second trimester stage of functional human again.

We Are Living in a Toddler’s World

And it is a scary, scary place. Actually, for him, I think it is quite fun and entertaining, but from the standpoint of the person mostly responsible in the day-to-day for keeping him from a) hurting himself and b) destroying every blessed thing in sight, we are are struggling.

Am I alone in thinking that with each new stage of independence/mobility, a different side of the personality comes out, too? I have a feeling this will continue all the way through parenthood (i.e. when they start to drive, leave for college, etc.), but it certainly rings true in my world in The Tunnel as of late.

Now that Trumy is officially upright and mobile, and trust me it’s not walking – it’s running – I feel like most of my time spent with him when he’s awake is an even split between feeding him (he’s growing so much lately, it seems) and keeping him from danger. I’ve had friends tell me in the past that their kiddo was a wrecking ball as a toddler and the image always made me chuckle a bit, I thought sympathetically, but nope – I did not truly understand that term until now.

The biggest problem is that what TJ thinks of as danger (nothing) is not the same as what I see as danger (um, everything?). Let me give you some examples:

He LOVES to climb up on anything he can and even when he’s on the floor, he’s got my img_5405crazy long arms that LOVE to reach up and pull whatever they possibly can from any and all tables and counters and surfaces. This means no ones’ cups or plates are safe if left too close to the edge of the table when he is loose, and don’t get me started on the piles of school papers that he keeps spreading all over the kitchen floor before I get a chance to deal with them.

He LOVES to get into the bathroom where he inevitably sticks his hand in the toilet if someone was forgetful enough to close the lid (*ahem* everyone but me) and also LOVES to get up by the sink to mess around with the sink itself (which, let’s face it, probably isn’t the cleanest spot) and/or the toothbrushes.

He LOVES to throw shit down the laundry chute. In the last month I have found so many toys and books and shoes and food items mixed in with my laundry; while it makes life a bit more interesting when doing the wash, it is less cool when it involves a sibling’s shoe that is MIA before school the next day (or three days later and we still haven’t found the thing).

He LOVES to throw shit in the trash, too. Now, that wouldn’t be such a bad deal if he actually restricted himself to putting trash in the trash, but oh no. A toddler’s mind is not wired that way, and mostly he LOVES to put whatever he wants in there (and sees nothing wrong with trying to retrieve things, either).

img_5338He LOVES to rip things. Dang it. I have always been so lucky in the past when it comes to kids and books, but No.4 is giving me a run for my bibliophile money because he KEEPS. RIPPING. PAGES. No, Baby!

He LOVES cords. And turning off power strips. And basically any other manner of electronic thing he SHOULD NOT BE TOUCHING.

So, OK. I’ll stop there. Not all of that is dangerous, but it does feel very Wrecking Ball-like, and it is wearing me out. Literally. My back and my right shoulder are sore from all the scooping up/retrieving of him that I have to do in any given day to keep him away from these (and other) potential hazards/problems.

Obviously I am thrilled with his walking and his development. And I even don’t mind the mischievous grins on his adorable little face when he’s pulling this crap, at least not most of the time. But I am questioning just how far I can go before this 4th Kid wears me down into the Oh Just Do Whatever You Want Stage.

Considering that he’d ransack the house and hurt himself in the process means that even once I’m there, I still can’t let up on the vigilance.

New World Record (for me)

Because my kids come from competitive stock, and they watch a lot of sports highlights with their Daddy, the phrase “NEW! WORLD! RECOOOOOORD!” is not unfamiliar to me. I hear it a lot, actually, and mostly from the 3yo which is just flat out entertaining because who knows how many new entries he has made for the Guinness Book of World Records of his own creation.

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My Tree of Life PicsArt – from 16 mo, because we just haven’t been able to get a new one done yet.

But, for real, yesterday was a big day – 17 months of breastfeeding Truman, which yes – IS a new world record for me. To recap: HD – 16mo, RL – 13mo, and LT – 14.5mo. All came off the boob, so to speak, for different reasons. And, true to form, TJ is also doing his own thing by going the longest and showing no signs of stopping anytime soon, which is fine with me.

Actually, this is especially fine because as cold and flu season continues, I am more than happy to keep giving him any antibodies I possibly can, not to mention fluids when he doesn’t feel like eating much. Such is the case this week as he seems to have picked up (shockingly) Lincoln’s head cold from last week. Poor baby. He is so congesty and miserable. When you add in the fact that in the last month he really just got the hang of walking and that he hasn’t been sleeping so well ever since Norovirus Hell 2017, I’ve actually got a fairly fussy but determined to be independent little dude on my hands. It’s been interesting, to say the least.

Some of you saw this yesterday, right? The bloody nose debacle? That’s because he fell img_5187while carrying around unopened Mt. Dew (which he did AGAIN this morning but thankfully – I guess – just landed hard on his bum and not his face) and then sneezed his snot face out into one heck of a Kodak Moment. Mom Life sure is glamorous, eh? But again, I say – you try telling him that it’s not a good idea to walk around with big awkward objects in your hands while wearing footie pajamas and with a head full of snot and still-newish to walking legs.

Logic and Littles rarely go together.

Hence the totally different approach to nursing this go, to which I say, you do what you need to, Kid; I’m cool with wherever this record decides to land. Although, let’s get over this cold quickly, OK? While I know sweet babe is not feeling well, a congested latch is NOT a fun thing for the mama either. Ouch!

Fourth Kid: A Short Essay on How I Do It

Just kidding. There is no way I am about to get all pontificat-y on parenting. If anything, you know that when people ask me how (or praise me for doing) what I do as a mom, I have a hard time not laughing and saying, “I have no idea how I do it either!”

But really, there is some truth in that. Much of my mom life is completely winging it, just like everyone else, because – as we all know full well – there is no one right thing that works for every kid and every parent. That’s life.

While I will stick to my long-ago claim of it doesn’t matter how many kids you have, raising tiny humans is hard, I will admit that some things have changed about me as a parent since I wrote that post. For one, I’ve let down some of my standards.

Before you think I’ve lost it, let me clarify: I have learned to let some of the minor shit go so it doesn’t become major, and that too is a personal and unique journey for each of us as parents (or as individuals). In my parental life, the best (albeit maybe silly) example I can give you is this: I no longer force the children to stay at the table when they eat (snacks, that is).

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Yes, I legit took a picture of floor sweepings. Yes, I had just swept this flour in the last 36 hours. 

Ground breaking, eh? But it’s actually an interesting progression of control and what it means to relinquish some of that in the name of embracing the mess. No, really, because this slippery slope has led to waaaay more mess in my house and it’s the really annoying kind where you step on pretzels and Cherrios all the time, but honestly, I just don’t have the fight in me to make them stay put anymore while they snack.

For one, I don’t want to be at the table for 80% of my day, and as my friend Megan’s blog name will attest – being a Keeper of the Snacks is a legit part of motherhood as far as any of us can tell.

For 1.A, I have other shit to do. Most of it involves picking up after my little crumb spillers and mess makers, so you know, Catch 22, but seriously. When it comes to battling over keeping them in their seats versus following them through the house with a broom, well, fine. At least I’m up and moving.

But what this phenomenon is really all about is The Tunnel and the fact that I know have one, almost two!, kids out of it. And this is why it doesn’t matter so much how many children you have, but how far apart they are in age. Because once your littler one(s) see your bigger one(s) doing something, by goodness, they are going to want to do it, which should mean that my older children have been setting wonderful snack consumption manners examples for my youngers (because the Bigs actually did have these rules enforced), there’s just a bit too much coming and going and here and there to worry about where so-and-so is when they eat an animal cracker. Or a graham cracker. Or a WheatThin. Or Ritz. Goodness. Why do we eat so many crackers in this house?

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This guy is Culprit No.1, followed by LT at a close second. 

And so. Along with the mountains of laundry, I sweep the floor umpteen times a day. My couch cushions are at times crunchy feeling, and Lord in Heaven, I once found the 7yo eating a graham cracker in my bed (that was NOT okay, btw!). In other words, motherhood is messy. Literally and figuratively. And what I’ve learned from/by the fourth kid is that that is perfectly acceptable.

 

It’s Been – One Week

Actually, over a week now, but I’ve been meaning to write this post for a few days and sometimes you just can’t get an old BNL song out of your head, so you go with – actual timelines be damned.

One-plus week of/since what? Coffee. Yes, my friends. I am over a week out and still coffee free, if you can believe it.

And truth, other than two times when I was really, really jonesing for it (once, less than half a week in when I finally felt well enough to attempt cleaning the house post-flu and another time this past Thursday when it just sounded so nice), I’ve been good. Never any headaches and no major blow to my energy level from what I can see; and that, I must say, is a complete miracle because the baby decided to have A Week of it in regards to sleep.

Call it walking skills developmental crankiness or potential teeth crankiness or post-flu crankiness…Truman has not been sleeping well at night. But here’s the deal….at 16 months you don’t get to backslide and suddenly not be a sleeper. That’s just not cool, kid. However, this week there have been more nights than not with him not sleeping through the night, which results in him waking everyone else up in the middle of the night and goodness me, we’re all just a bit worn out at this point.

It occurred to me while typing this that perhaps he is napping too long or too well during the day, seeing as he still goes down for both morning and afternoon naps, but I’m also going to pull a big NO! on nixing that because if he drops a nap, I’m screwed for any chance of getting work done during the day which simply won’t fly. We don’t normally keep two naps this long, mind you, but I really am hoping it holds on a bit longer, although certainly  not at the expense of night sleep.

Oh, parenting. You are always so fickle. I mean funny. I mean – well, perhaps another f-something.

So, yes. To have made it through my first week back at CCC (with the same number of classes from last semester but double the students) and through the sleepless shenanigans and still be coffee-free? Well, I’m writing about it because it feels like a bizarre accomplishment of sorts, and thereby worth documenting.

Here are the various goods I’ve been drinking instead (because, remember, I haven’t walked away from caffeine entirely – that would be insane):

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The fruity stuff is not my favorite, and I ordered a chai latte mix because as much as anything, I miss the consistency of what my coffee + creamer/milk combos were.

Speaking of creamer, I totally found something to do with the leftovers: img_4901salted caramel fudgy brownies. While they may have made me gain five pounds this week, I don’t care a bit because they were totally phenomenal. Recipe can be found here and is so much worth investing in some coffeemate, butter, and chocolate chips because holy fudge heaven. I mentioned the five extra pounds, right?

So it looks like this is legit. I no longer drink coffee. And I appear to be cool with that, however, I need to maybe unfollow some bits online because all the coffee memes I see make me miss my magic beans. But naw – I love Sweatpants and Coffee too much to remove it.

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