Leap Day

After being a relatively calm germ zone for the first seven weeks of 2020, our house got hit HARD in the final week of February. In fact, I haven’t been this ready to be done with a particular month in years (the last was back a few years when we had a really nasty April, I believe), so I’ll be honest – I’m not thrilled that this February happens to come with an extra day.

It started with poor Mr. Lincoln who woke up in the middle of the night last Thursday-into-Friday and from there we entered the most bizarre virus holding pattern I have ever witnessed. It looked like this: someone gets sick middle of the night and is terribly ill for somewhere under 12 hours. Then comes a night of calm followed by a good day (we played baseball as a family the day after LT was sick), but then that night another person would fall sick, in the middle of the night of course. And Repeat, repeat, repeat.

It was NUTS.

And even though we had high hopes that someone, anyone, of us might escape the madness (I can’t even tell you how many times I washed my hands, how many Clorox wipes we used, and how much laundry I did), it just wasn’t meant to be.

All five kids, both parents. Down and out over the course of eight days.

See why I’m ready to see this month GO? But that wasn’t meant to be because of course this happens to be a Leap Year.

Actually, though? That might be a good thing. Since our last woman standing (RL) was in agony yesterday, that meant we had today to have our first All Clear day in over a week knowing that that’s it. All she wrote. No shoes left to fall with this virus.

img_6928Even though it feels like my brain/heart would have liked to mark this Leap Day with something(s) special, I’m plenty good with what we had instead; in fact, no pukers and sun shining was plenty special, thanks. Instead of worrying about any fanfare, we treated today like any other Saturday – watching Lego Masters, going on a family walk to feed the ducks, and about 10 loads of laundry for me to process (Lord in Heaven; so much laundry, even when we don’t have gross sickies in the house). After the last eight days, typical, low-key, even a little hum-drum was a welcomed, happy change of pace.

And now? Cheers to my month: March!

Get Up Gone Wrong

OK, that’s not entirely true. Getting up early hasn’t gone totally wrong for me since I last wrote, but it’s been over a week and a honesty/reality check is due.

Getting up at 5:00A is hard. Apparently for me it is also not possible. Not once since my last post did I actually get up for my alarm set at that time.

I told you  – this is honesty.

I did try, however, but I had some extra rough nights there at the start and it was the weekend which meant it was waaaaay too easy to say I didn’t HAVE to get up at the pre-crack of dawn, so why? Why bother if I could snooze and make up for some of the tosses and turns?

So after a couple few days of that, the reality check came and I said goodbye to the 5A goal. I’m not saying I’ll never get there, but in the dead of February, it’s just not happening. 5:45 seemed like a better compromise because it gave me at least an hour before the rest of the house is allowed to get up (several of my children are natural early risers which is why we have such strict bedtime rules around here for them), which seemed sufficient.

Thankfully that one I could do, at least for the majority of last week.

I got up, I worked out, I showered, and started breakfast/coffee. All in all, a good routine that was feeling good, too. It still didn’t result in instant wholesome sleep all night, but it felt like the start to a good habit.

Then Friday came. My kids had the day off from school and we had the strangest schedule ever, followed by a Valentine’s date night in which both B and I forgot to eat before going to a music performance (we fed the children, I promise), which was fantastic, so that plus the two glasses of wine on said empty stomach (I rarely drink any more) plus eating supper when we got home at 10 made for an absolute FAIL of sleep that night.

It was ugly.

And you can bet I turned off that dang 5:45A alarm all together because, just, NO.

*sigh* One step forward. Two staggers back.

And actually, it’s mid-week of Week 2 and I am still staggering a bit. I got up early Monday morning but then the last two days it felt better to snooze than get up and work out and even though the alarm goes off, I’m pretty sure it’s cheating if I’m staying in bed more mornings than I’m getting my butt out of it.

I suppose this means my new 30 days starts now. I realize new habits sometimes take time, which is why I’m sharing any of this in the first place. I want to establish a new, better, healthier routine for my body, but clearly doing so isn’t going to happen overnight. Perhaps not even a fortnight or two. But trying again is worth it and so I shall.

More updates to come soon – hopefully with a few more steps forward than this attempt produced. img_6836

Early Riser

Since the sleep reset, I’ve been giving myself some time to process and test the effectiveness of the effort. Obviously the hope had been that it would kick that mid-to-early morning waking habit that I seem to have fallen into in my post-nursing-baby-life + home-renovation-stress-bomb of the last year and change, but unfortunately change is not what I found.

Not even with a little mild, dual release sleep aid am I able to consistently sleep through the whole of any night. And beyond the reset and the meds, this is not without really trying. For one, I have given up any middle-of-the-night reading which is something I used to do when frustrated with not sleeping: turn the light back on and read until my eyes would burn and hope that would be enough to turn off my spinning brain, too. NO MORE. For another (TMI warning), I’ve somehow managed to Jedi Mind Trick my bladder into realizing that even after having had five vaginal deliveries, I really don’t need to pee in the middle of every night. Kudos to my friend A for suggesting this and thank goodness she was right.

So again, here I am, trying to break some bad habits in hopes of helping my sleep pattern, and even though some components are on track, the end goal just isn’t there yet.

When you take all of the ups, downs, experiments, trials, and errors of this months-long process of trying to help sleep in hopes of helping the still-never explained abdominal pain and add it to the chaos of this last week, both internally with our schedule and externally with the world (I know some of you have to be feeling that also), Friday afternoon hit me like ton of emotional bricks. I was just DONE. I sent this pic to a group of girlfriends not because I’m crazy but because I knew it was a safe place in which to say, “Holy Hannah, I am struggling.”

And clearly sleep is still one of the struggles. img_6731

But, as we know, from struggle comes one idea and then the next of what to do or what to try and since everything thus far hasn’t landed me at the desired place, I am indeed on to the next. And I am sharing it with you here because: A) processing and B) accountability.

Since my brain seems so damned determined to be awake at 5A, I’m going to give myself 30 days of just getting the hell up then (clearly the number of grumbly swears here indicate that I’m not totally thrilled with the plan but you know what? It’s only crazy if it doesn’t work and I am willing to try (another) potentially crazy fix in case it does). I plan to work out, eat breakfast, have my coffee, and just generally enjoy the quiet each morning before my (not quiet) crew gets going, and maybe, just maybe, my brain and my sleep will finally feel in alignment with one another.

If you see me looking a little dazed and confused in the coming days, you’ll know why. If you’re an early riser, let me know how you spend/enjoy your time at the start of each day. And if you’re wondering how it’s going, feel free to ask. I’m sure I’ll be updating along the way and for sure at the end of the 30 days because, why not, right? This is the journey back to self after 10+ years of pregnancy and nursing and if reclaiming sleep requires setting a new alarm for a month, then so be it. On the off chance of it working and/or being enjoyable, I’m down to get up. Really, really freaking early.

img_6766

Me Do It

A lot of this blog is me recording and documenting our day-to-day so that even when these years of living in the The Tunnel are long gone, I can still look back on exactly what they were like.

And rest assured, the two that remain Tunnel-bound for the next few years give me plenty of post-worthy content.

In part, they are the cutest little things I’ve ever seen:

img_6627

In others, they cause me the “11” that now lives permanently between my eyebrows.

Perhaps it makes sense then that one of Wilson’s defining features these days is her own overly expressive forehead. Sister may only be two and change, but she has got the spirit and the face of a fiercely independent. Hasn’t she always?! I mean, from the day she was born, she’s driven the bus with even more control than any of the others and that is truly saying something!

Like many moms of school-age kids, my van is my bus and we’re in it every day to get kids here, there, and everywhere. Knock on wood, WA does a decent job, most of the time, getting in and going all the places with me. Good thing I start the process of getting out the door well before we need to leave, though, because Wilson’s favorite phrase as of late is a loud, emphatic, “ME DO IT!” In fact, the image here is of her mid-statement of those very words. img_6657

And she means it.

img_6496
Insisting she wear leggings with a sweater, a dress, AND a vest! 

 

She wants to feed herself. She wants to dress herself. She wants to get up on things and down from things solo. She wants to put her shoes on unassisted, and by golly, just about any task you can think of, she’d rather do it herself, thanks.

One thing we’ve discovered that she cannot do very well is say her name. I don’t suppose this is all that uncommon, but you take the fifth baby in a family that has always called the youngest the baby until the next baby comes along and now this time there’s no more babies coming, you get stuck being The Baby. Forever! I mean, she does know her name; she responds to it always and can say a version of it. But if you call her something wrong (like another child’s name, which, let’s face it – happens a lot) and she will again give you a frown or head shake as she reprimands you, saying, “Me no Truman! Me Baby!!”

Noted, Lady Baby. Noted.

Also noted is her obsession with talking about people we know but refusing to talk TO them. This mostly applies to adult males, like our pastor or my friend’s husband who is doing the construction on our last basement room. She looooooves to say their names and point out where they might be (the church and the basement, respectively) but bless it, she will not talk to them or say their names to their faces. That said, I think if we would let her go all the places she wants (namely weekly church activities like WNL and Sunday School, both of which she’s still too little to attend), she would do so in heartbeat. Because of course she thinks she should be doing what the Bigs are doing, which is a trend I don’t see fading any time soon.

Jokes about gray hairs aside, I adore this age with The Baby. I’ve never before been able img_6475 to be quite this present or physically able to play and be with my two-year-olds (because I’m always in the uber-pregnant of newborn stage by now and exhausted) and even though she’s mammoth and occasionally mouthy, I love bearing witness to her spunky personality and little pixie voice that is still obsessed with Margaret Tiger and insists on “Twinkle, Twinkle” before naps, and loves all her “WonnaWoman” gear.

 

Reset

I’m not sure how wise it is to pull a first ever all-nighter at age 37 5/6 (or at least the first one in 20 years), but in the hopes of helping correct my sleep cycle, I am currently going on Hour 32 of NO SLEEP.

Yes, that’s right. I have been up since roughly 6A on Thursday and it is now after 1:30P on Friday. And yes, I have been up that whole time. To help my sleep.

Think I sound crazy? Well, I’m sure I am a little crazy sounding today because my brain is fried from lack of sleep, excess of coffee, and hope upon hope that this radical move makes a difference in my sleep pattern.

And no, I didn’t dream this up on my own.

This was actually a legit suggestion made to me by one of my health providers to try to break my mid-early-morning wake-up habit and I’m so sick of the constant waking that I decided to give it a try.

But here’s where I do confess to being crazy: I actually tried this last week on Friday night and failed miserably (I made it to somewhere between 2-3A and then woke up to the sound of the coffee maker beeping at 6A). I was so disappointed that my try didn’t work and really just left me more tired then ever, which was so not the point. Honestly, I can’t believe I even considered a second attempt, but yesterday afternoon I got a wild hair for Round Two and decided to give it my best (and last) effort but with actual planning this time.

Last week I thought I would just read all night because I tend to do that when I’m not supposed to, but it was super cold and my bed was super cozy and yep – dozing before coffee could come to my rescue was the end result of that.

Last night I made an entire list of activities to occupy the hours of 11-6 and believe it or not, I stayed up and I didn’t even get to everything on my list. To give you a sample of what I did with my “bonus” nocturnal time, here you go:

  1. Did yoga before midnight for my 30 Days challenge.
  2. Did yoga after midnight for the next day of my 30 Days challenge.
  3. Watched the live-action version of Aladdin while folding laundry. Why? Because I could.
  4. Worked on a Shutterfly family album.
  5. Watched Grey’s. I will love that show until it dies.
  6. Ate sushi at approximately 2A. Not joking.
  7. Drank a bunch of water.
  8. Mended holes in three pairs of pants for HD, including his snow pants.
  9. Painted my toes.

Clearly you can see it was a wild and crazy night. BUT, all of that busy work (& snacks/beverages) kept me awake until the coffee maker went off, so it was indeed a success.

img_6620Well, I guess I don’t know that yet. It will depend on how my sleep goes tonight and the rest of the weekend. The hope is that this reset will be just enough to jolt my system out of old, bad habits. Maybe one time trying this isn’t enough to do that. And if that’s the case, peace out; I cannot do this a third or fourth time. I am tired as all get out today and I’m counting down the minutes until bedtime worse than normal, so no – either this is it or it’s not. Whatever. At least now I can say I tried to do to the actual suggestion to the best of my ability, and besides brain fog, I’m not any worse off in the long run than I was 24 hours ago when I decided to do this. Again.

 

Unreliable Narrator

As far as Januarys go, this one hasn’t been that bad. I know we’ve had others that were far more brutal in terms of illness and weather (although the cold plus just enough snow/ice every few days to keep the roads an absolute mess has been exhausting and cabin-fever inducing to new levels); however, the way my posts are going so far in 2020, that’s kind of hard to see because even though the new year hasn’t been the hardest, it clearly also hasn’t been the easiest.

It seems that we are in the phase of life and parenting right now that is tough. (Sidenote: I’m 10.5 years into this gig and starting to become wise to the fact that all the phases come with their own, unique challenges, so…..).

Part of that is the sheer number of children in our house. For perspective, I’ve started referring to the children as “a little army of our own making” which is said with equal parts love and exasperation. Another factor in the struggle is that their age range (10.5, 8, 6.5, 4 1/3, and 2) makes it near impossible to do any activity all together that everyone enjoys/doesn’t sabotage (WA, I’m looking at you). And yet another part of the hard is the fact that each one of those children, just like the stages of growing up, comes with her or his own unique needs and challenges that we have to navigate at all hours of the day and night.

Hey, I didn’t say this was ground breaking content here; just some necessary truth telling because when you see pictures like this, I need you to know (and my future self to remember) that they are utter bullshit.

img_6546

The fact that my children all played the same thing at the same time peacefully, yes, did happen. But it lasted for less than two minutes before someone got bored and someone else stole someone else’s tool and someone else tried to eat the PlayDoh (*ahem* Wilson). So yes, I snapped this pic and am sharing it with you but not because I’m gloating or showing off my mothering skills. It was an utter fluke in the midst of long winter days filled with close quarters, quick tempers, and meals that are much like play time where there is always SOMEONE (pick one, anyone) who is pissed and not having it.

I share this with you because I need to be honest about the unglamorous moments, which, let’s be real, seem to accumulate much faster than the shiny ones. Actually, I just think it’s that the shiny ones aren’t as (literally) loud as the hard ones, which is why it is so tempting to try to capture and document those only.

But that’s not real life, or at least not mine, so here we are – stuck in the middle of winter, telling some truth and owning the fact that loud and cranky as it may be, I still wouldn’t ask for anything different (that’s also BS; of course less infighting and food complaining would be welcomed. Beyond that? Nope; wouldn’t change a thing).

 

 

 

One Blessed Day

I know I’ve said this before out loud, which means it has probably crept into a post before, too, but oh my word. How do parents do school breaks and keep a shred of sanity without having their co-parent home?!

In other words, I am very spoiled that for 95% of my kids’ time off from school, my spouse is also off from school. And thank goodness, because being outnumbered 5-2 is hard enough, much less 5-1 like I am today, on the last day of Christmas Break.

Confession: this morning I even had my mom here for a few hours to be my +1, so seriously, I have little room to bemoan this situation, except for the fact that this break wasn’t exactly the one of our dreams.

It started with a lot of social nights for me which was both awesome and draining because, much as I love my people, homebody introvert needs kicked in. And I guess you could say my need was answered because then we got majorly stuck at home, but not in the way I would have wanted.

We ended up with a kid-after-kid progression (in age order, no less) through GermVille, starting two days before Christmas that went from HD to TJ and it was awful. Fevers. Coughs. Interrupted sleep. Worry and stress. And totally botched family Christmas plans. We still got to sort of see my family that was in town but not in the fun, spend a lot of time together hanging out way.

Thankfully the baby avoided that round of yuck (but her runny nose the last couple days indicate that she’ll most likely be our first fallen ill in the new year) and we got to have a semi-normal second week of break but it was literally all spent here or at my in-laws. Meaning, we went into LockDown Mode big time and did NOTHING all the rest of break that put us around other people/exposed us to any of the crud flying around town (minus HD’s first-ever go at acolyting in church but just he and I went and left other, still-recovering kids home).

To say that cabin fever has set in big time is an understatement, even with all the fun new board games and Legos the kids were gifted for Christmas.

So to lose B to meetings today, on the same day that I have to re-enter my own online teaching presence, but still have all five kids home which happens to include a snot-faced toddler and a bunch of end-of-break crankiness?

WHOA.

I repeat: I don’t know how people do this on a regular, all-break, every break solo. One blessed day of it and I’m over here twitching a bit.

To all you parents getting through the last day of break/preparing yourselves for tomorrow’s blessed and challenging return to routines and being semi-dressed and functioning before 8:00A, Godspeed, good luck, and may your caffeine source be STRONG.

And may all of us avoid the sickies which you know is already making me nervous about re-entering the outside world.