In Bits and Pieces

Like many people, especially in Nebraska, our January was neither terribly healthy nor very happy at times due to rolling sickness in our household. Spending eight days of various children coming down with various degrees of fever was exhausting and even though we’ve been fever free for a week now (knock on ALL the wood), we’re still recovering.

Today also marks the end of our first full week of school since the Christmas break. That’s in part due to breaks and weather, but mostly illness, and holy moly cow, we are feeling it. Or, at least I am, as it feels like the only word that truly describes this week + my children would be: RELENTLESS.

img_2967Actually, that’s not fair. It mostly pertains to one particular child who absolutely will not leave my side (NO: I am not pregnant. It is not that kind of clinging) and will not let me get anything done because he wants me to build with him all the live-long day. And it’s not just asking, it’s whining and demanding and oh. my. gosh. Do you know how many Lego towers and gas stations I have built this week? Me neither, but I wish I had a nap for every one because I bet in that case, I’d feel a whole lot better than I do right now.

How am I writing this then, if TJ has been so stuck to me? Finally, a blessed bit of Netflix to the rescue. Now, if only I could decide which of the 50 things I need to do most in this moment of quiet (grade papers, fold laundry, read a book, pee, do the dishes, eat, yoga, absolutely freaking nothing). But instead, I need to write because January sucked for that and long as they are, these days are worth documenting, too.

Now, it doesn’t help that our house is in bits and pieces still, too. And will be….forever, it seems, but really at least for the very distant, foreseeable future as not one of the five (so help me Baby Jesus) spaces is actually complete yet and we’re already two months in to the process. I am not going to complain about the fact that we are working and able to make our house work better for our family, but I am going to lament the hell out of the fact that progress is slow, my day-to-day privacy is nill, and there is still SO much left to be done before we can get back to normal.

For the sake of fairness, not all of January was crap. It got me through 2/3 of my first time teaching two classes in one term for BU. It gave me (OK, I took by staying up too late) time to read. I did 30 Days of yoga through an online challenge AND attended some kick ass public classes taught by friends, including one with sweet RL on the mat next to me. I even added some yoga teaching back to my schedule for the coming month.

But bless it, I really need a respite from the building…of Legos, of house stuff, of all the things that are distracting the bejeebies out of me right now because it is crazy making.

And of course none of that is possible because that’s not reality. Reality means I have a 3-yr-old who needs me right now, so I have to be there for him, even when it mean building my umpteenth Lego tower of the week. Reality means we’ve committed to home improvements that are going to take t-i-m-e while we live in the chaos of it, so I have to be patient even when I want it all done yesterday, please and thank you.

And reality means continuing to find ways, in whatever blessed little bits and pieces I can, to carve out time for that which calms me down and brings me back to center. Like this, and like whatever I can eek out next to keep the system going.

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Wrecking Ball Wrecked

So in case the last two weeks haven’t been intense enough, Truman decided to throw us for a medical mystery roller coaster these last two days.

When I got back home from DC last Friday, he was already showing signs of a head cold which continued all weekend with your basic runny nose and cough that kept him (and Ben) from sleeping well at night. Even though he didn’t seem terrible, we kept him home Tuesday from preschool in hopes of not over extending him, but I decided Tuesday afternoon to take him in to the doctor because something just didn’t seem right.

Except nothing really turned out to be that wrong either (nose, throat, ears, etc. all checked out OK), so “rest and recover” was the treatment given and on we went. My mama intuition may have been bruised a bit, but OK.

img_1809Well, sure enough, Wednesday afternoon brought an out-of-left-field fever that left my normally all over the place wrecking ball boy tuckered out on the couch, snoozing on and off from late afternoon through supper. Nothing crazy, but nothing good either. [By the way, that blue thing is the crazy cool little fever wrap that my friend K told me about that is meant to make kids more comfortable when feverish (it draws out the heat but not in a freaky fast way). We thankfully haven’t had to use it a ton, but Truman seemed to like it these last couple days.]

This morning, he looked like thisimg_1825 and ate some cereal, so we thought the worst was behind us, but again this afternoon, he came up and asked for me to make him a nest (what we call a rest spot in our house) so he could sleep.

Clearly I could tell the fever was back, but didn’t even check it because I just wanted him to sleep a bit; however, a little while later after messaging with a friend, I decided to get an actual temp and my heart about stopped. His temperature, the very first time I took it today, was 104! I have never ever in my mamahood had a baby with a temp that high.

From there, frantic phone calls ensued including one to the doctor’s office where they asked for me to bring him back in which I was more than happy to do because honestly – WHAT?! Where did that come from?! But unfortunately, we still don’t actually know.

I was able to get him in and they were able to get the temp down (you guys, the official read out at the office was 104.7 and if I wasn’t already freaked the hell out, you can bet that number sealed the deal) with some medicine and cool water to drink, but everything else in his system – ears, nose, throat, lungs, etc. – still checks out pretty much mostly OK.

So maybe it was a cold followed by a virus that caused the fever? Or maybe we’ll be right back there tomorrow if anything else changes or the fever persists or we can’t get enough fluids in him because who the heck knows.

For now, he’s doing much better. After the meds kicked in and we got home, he wanted to eat and drink more than he had all day (yay!!). He also wanted to run around the house like a wild man with his siblings (heaven help me), which definitely makes him seem like his normal self, but wow. What a day.

Fingers and toes crossed and prayers lifted that the fever is on its way out and that whatever caused it is going, too, and withOUT any other flare ups in our house on its way out the door.

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.

One out of Five

And just like that, we’ve passed another milestone and are one step closer to being out of the Tunnel of Parenthood (I sometimes imagine an ominous three-note dity in my brain when I use that phrase. You?) However, seeing as the milestone in question is that of The Nap, I don’t know whether to celebrate or lament in this post. And also the Tunnel is time dependent, not milestones, but whatever. My brain is tired, so I’ll take the weak comparison and run with it.

Over the weekend we made a last minute decision to travel to SoDak for an overnight trip so we could see my grandma Gert and our travel + visit times both Saturday and Sunday meant that we weren’t in a house during nap time either day. And apparently the vehicle is no longer a sure bet for napping where Truman is concerned, so….there. His nap gone without intention, our toddler is now free to reign alllll the live-long daylight hours.

Actually, he’s handling it pretty well. The first day, Saturday, was at my parents’ house, so Truman had lots of fun distractions around him (mainly their puppy who is as much a toddler as TJ is) and was so worn out after supper that he agreed to going to bed before any of his siblings without any fuss. All told, he had a few Moments, but nothing too horrendous.

Day Two, Sunday, saw us traveling during the mid-to-late afternoon hours which for a suddenly non-napper translates to Witching Hours pretty quickly. The last 45 minutes were horrendous. But eventually we got home and we’ve now gone through two more nap times without naps and I guess we are surviving?

img_0313I mean, the volume level is intense and the end-of-day emotions are intense, but this is not the first toddler to drop a nap in the Twos (actually, he might be one of our longer nappers, if memory seves me right), so we kind of know what we are doing. Or at the very least, we know that bedtime will be easier and earlier and that alone will see us through one more step through that Tunnel. Right?!

If nothing else, those blonde curls and blue eyes continue to be the perfect salve for any and all chaos he creates.

 

 

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.