The Slow Down

This morning, during Hour 4 of the day, but what felt like it could have, should have really been Hour 14, I found myself nursing the baby and watching the other two play* while wondering, how in the world have I done this in the past? How did the long days of feeding a newborn while entertaining, or at least sort of supervising a toddler or two actually happen?

*by play I clearly mean, parallel play, and by parallel play I clearly mean each one pulling out as many random toys as they can possibly find and dragging them all over the house in ways that instantly destroy any order or cleanliness that I managed to create in the previous 24 hours.

To be honest? I can’t remember. I’m sure if I combed back through blog posts, I’d find a story or two about it, but as for now, my brain seems to have blocked that (which makes sense if this time around feels like the “easiest” go of nursing/working our way through the long winter/newborn days). I think the ease comes from a massive letting go on my part to be not too concerned about what the others are doing, even if that means they are spreading mixed up toys from one end of the house to the other and tearing the bed apart for yet another fort/sleep spot. They are happy and the being-fed baby is happy, so subsequently, I am happy.

More honesty? I really am happy and not just for the chaos acceptance.

Even though we have very much entered what I call The Slow Down where every day is pretty much the same, just with a slightly different feeding schedule, I feel content. This is a time with a newborn where the clock/calendar are sort of fuzzy details that you try to hold on to, but don’t always do so well with, that just happens to coincide with TSD of the school year. Jan/Feb are notoriously odd months in the world of education, so just as teachers are in the mode of “Have we hit March and all the long-weekend breaks, yet?” so too am I constantly amazed not only by the time on the clock, but the date on the calendar, as well.

So why so happy? Because I’m in this beautiful, privileged bubble of something I haven’t had much of in the last seven years since I went back to part-time teaching/last year when I did that AND started a small business which is to say: time to “just” be a mom. Of course that is laughable because there is nothing small about the task/role of being a mama, but right now I am not trying to juggle it with anything else outside of the house and I love that.

That doesn’t mean that I no longer love my teacher hat, but after the intensity of last year, and last spring semester in particular, it’s super awesome to go through my days now and know that I have no lesson plans to update, papers to grade, sequences to write, FB posts to schedule, or any other commitments beyond the seven people in this house. Instead I can nurse the baby while the little boys “play” around the house and the Bigs are at school and my biggest “how am I going to pull that off” is going to the grocery store (no, really. that’s actually kind of a big question right now because I sure as sh!t am not dragging them along with me but hate going at night, so how is this ever going to happen?), and the constant mountain of laundry.

The Slow Down may be a bit of a mind game and time warp, but right now I have to say, it’s also a major blessing. From here, our family moves forward without renumbering, so these sweet endless numbered days are a little buffer, a little grace-filled existence in which we get to continue settling, to not be pulled by outside influences, and to just be. As long as I eventually get to the store so my coffee supply doesn’t run out, time can go as slowly as it darn well pleases right now.

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2(mo) on the 2-2

Within our family, there is a lot of overlap, a lot of synchronicity, and that trend has very much carried on with Wilson.

img_9010For example: her birth date. November 22 means she shares a birth month with her sister and day of the month with her oldest brother (HD has started calling the two of them the 2-2s which is super cute). 2-2 is also connected to the two grandpas who literally share the same birthday in February.

Speaking of grandparents, another example: Wilson’s middle name was beautifully simple to pick because one choice meant both grandmas got a namesake, as both of our moms share the same middle name, Ann. See? Lots of overlap!

And what’s also fun on the homefront is that now I get to go through all those bins of girls’ clothes that I’ve been hanging on to for six years for a second time. I told Ben last night that I almost have the boys’ bins memorized in terms of what is coming out of each tote, especially after cycling through them on back-to-back babies, much less for the third time. But going through the Girl 0-3 stuff last night, it was crazy to see things and remember RL wearing them, and so amazing to be pulling them out for WA now. [Side note: yes, the night before her two-month milestone and I’m finally getting to the baby girl clothes in the basement instead of just cycling through the outfits that came during Omaha because Life as Seven is a little nuts, you know?] img_9028

So here we are: two months in, wearing Sissy’s clothes and connected to family members in fun and funky ways, but still very much her own little person.

At two months, Wilson is sporting a clean bill of gut health. She has Awake Days and Sleepy Days where she is either up and squawk/talking to us and feeding every two hours, or has to be woken up every three to nurse. She finally broke out of the swaddle blanket and now has to be in one of those velcro sleep sack things at night. The noise machine we got, by the way, is magical! When she’s awake, Wilson loves to smile and seems to know when it’s me talking to her. Her siblings still adore her and ask to hold/pet/kiss her all the time. Lincoln is especially sweet with her.

And mostly, we just hang out. Hunker Down Mode is still very much in effect and not just because we happen to have a snow day today. Although the kids are still doing all their school/church things, she and I are not. We only do the bare minimum of running around because going places is hard and exposure to as little as possible is good when it comes to germs and cold.

And really, this is all good. It’s OK to recognize that we are in a particular season right now and just like this cold and snow, it’s going to change. For now we take each day for what it is, Awake or Sleepy (for both her and us), and appreciate every smile that is sprinkled throughout them, even if they are hard to capture on camera. 😉

 

Theory Testing

“It’s just hair.”
“It will grow back.”

These are statements I have said many times in my years of coloring, chopping, and growing back out my hair. And really, I’ve lived by them for darn near 35 years, but I had to laugh just now because instead of lived, my computer autocorrected whatever the heck I typed to “lied” which seems fitting since I am now very much rethinking my hair mottos.

Actually, that’s not true either.img_8954

The mottos hold. It really is just hair and it really will grow back (eventually anyway). But after chopping off 12″ last week, which equaled pretty much ALL of my length, to donate, I have found myself very much testing and tested by those comments that I have made many, many a time in the past. As with any test, a few lessons have been learned.

 

  1. I am apparently way more attached to my hair than I previously understood. The fact is, I don’t think this is a bad cut. I just don’t think it is my cut. As in, I don’t know whose hair I am currently sporting on my head, but it has yet to look like “mine” whenever I catch sight of it in a mirror (and we are five days in, so that’s weird). I find this ironic considering that we went full-on pixie straight away to get the length to donate so someone else can indeed wear my hair. And all this, despite the fact that my family and friends have been very sweet and kind in response to the cut even though I didn’t tell any of them about it in advance! RL adores it and Ben keeps complimenting it, and I agree – great cut. but not my cut! lol.
  2. When you want to preemptively strike against post-baby hair loss (oh man, it’s so bad, isn’t it, mamas?!), perhaps wait until some of it begins to fall out so you know what you are actually working with before cutting. Because we took off SO much length/weight and did so while I still have a TON of hair, I now have some very, very free locks/curls that basically just poof to the sky every time I touch them, which is often as I’m still trying to figure out this do (and how to do it). I think once it actually thins out, it will feel less bizarre on top of my head, but in the meantime, I am going to have to start sitting on my hands so I don’t turn the cut into a Chia pet every day.
  3. If you feel the need to do a pixie (an idea I’ve been flirting with for a couple years), aim for summer. It turns out that (duh) January in Nebraska is a terrible time to chop off all the hair that keeps the back of your head and neck warm in the midst of sub-zero winter weather!! While I haven’t yet slept in a hood, I have been curling the sheets up around my noggin at night because oh my gosh – I am sooooo extra cold!!

So, let the regrowth of this “just” hair begin. I wonder how long (literally) it will be before it feels like mine again!

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The pic I sent some girlfriends after I got home from my appointment. That’s my “trying to hold shocked laughter back” face! 

Time Keeps On…

Slippin’, Slippin’, Slippin’…into the future….

Sorry if that means that song is stuck in your head the rest of the day, but I’m right there with ya, humming away and ruminating on all that was and is and will be. I guess the start of a new year (and a new family life) is a pretty mind- and time-bending season of life, so it really doesn’t feel that far off base to say that we are slip sliding our way into 2018 and time is a fluid, flukey thing. Is that really so bad? I think it’s more just what is.

As you may have noticed, in the weeks since we’ve been home from Omaha, I’ve had much less time to write. There was nothing terribly restful about our time at Children’s, but it did mean that we weren’t doing the all-day/all-night with five Littles to care for (and meals to feed and laundry to wash and so on and so on), so while we were very much on a newborn feeding/pumping schedule, I did have/take “down time” to write. I had to for survival.

And while nothing has changed in regards to the importance of writing for me, much has changed in regards to how much down time I have here at home – and this is even with Christmas break and Ben still having a few days to take off from school for parental leave.

Side notes about life as the spouse of a teacher: I love breaks. I love having my coparent home and a part of our bustling house. I love snow days for the same reason – they equal Family Time. But I do NOT love how many hours he has to pour into sub plans to be gone. The amount of time he spent prepping just to not teach while we were in Omaha was insane. And for every parental day “off” he gets, he spends almost all of the evening prior doing the same thing, with hours upon hours spent at school getting everything ready. Anyone with a connection to education knows that teachers often say it is easier to just be there than to try to get ready for a sub, and wow, have we felt the effect of that since Wilson’s birth. Please don’t mistake a teacher being gone as a vacation. I promise you they very much have paid the price in terms of time and stress and effort prior to (and after) that leave. *end rant*

Being home now means doing all the newborn things AND toddler AND preschooler AND school agers things, and then the grownup things. And you know the adulting kind of  grownup things have to come first, so as per usual, the self-care grownup things take a backseat, which might explain why we once got through all the Omaha/holiday/family obligations of the last six weeks, I got slammed on Sunday with germ bugs.

It was *just* a low-grade fever and a sinus headache, that on Monday morphed into a can’t-hardly-move headache, but are you kidding me? Being sick as a parent is tough enough, but you add in a nursing schedule where you are the one doing all the nursing, and sickness somehow manages to suck even more. And all those adulting things? They don’t just go away. In fact, when the primary “house person” goes down, that shit just gets worse (walking in to our laundry room today where the laundry chute sends all the dirty clothes that I have ignored the last few days was disheartening, to say the least).

You see, I thought I would get to use these last few days to catch up around the house before Ben goes back to work full-time. You know, be extra prepared for the chaos that will be living one-day-to-the-next as a SAHM of five Littles 8 and Under (not to mention business owner, but thankfully we’re just going to table that for a bit). But no, the fever and headache said “Nope” to those plans, and instead all I’ve really accomplished the last two days has been watching most of Season Three of Fuller House (bless it, I love it so). And feeding the baby because that is clearly Job No. 1 in terms of importance.

Such is life, this finding of balance between responsibility/obligation and nourishment. And survival. Because let’s face it, Survival Mode is going to be the name of the game for however much amount of slippery time we need it to be. There’s just no other choice. That doesn’t mean we can’t all continue to thrive, but clearly there is going to need to be a BOAT-load of grace dumped all over plans and expectations of exactly what that looks like. For now, it looks a lot like this:

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25 Things – 2017 Edition

The annual list!

The last few years I’ve started working on this in the fall because thinking back over the entire year is hard, but not this time! Oh, no. I waited until the 28th to start. Think I can use “procrastinated on making my list” on my list? I guess we’ll see what happens….

  1. Had the happiest labor and birth for sweet Wilson Ann, born at 1:04 a.m. on her due date, November 22nd (8lbs. 11 oz; 21 inches). Drug-free, two contractions of actual “pushing,” and once again, totally floored by the baby’s gender!
  2. Got tossed in head first to (and SURVIVED) NICU life after Willa was born with an unknown omphalocele which resulted in surgery on Day Two of her life (which also included a bowel resection that was also previously unknown) and then three long weeks of living in Omaha away from the rest of the kids while she recovered at Children’s Hospital.
  3. Started Grounded Sky, my very own yoga for service (15% goes back to the community) business!
  4. Hosted classes, a workshop, a retreat, and four community-based events through Grounded Sky, the last of which raised over $700 for a local backpack/food program for elementary kids.
  5. Became a Presbyterian! After almost two years of attending, we officially joined FPC in June.
  6. First concert at Red Rocks! Nahko and Medicine for the People. Bestill my music loving heart!
  7. First MLB game! #ForeverRoyal (I married into this, but whatever; it’s fun!)
  8. Built my very own website from scratch (OK, template) for GS.
  9. Spoke about Body Dysmorphia in front of an entire room full of people.
  10. Got hit by a deer while driving to book club. The (old) car was technically totaled, but by golly, I still went to book club!
  11. Read 52 books!
  12. Wrote 75 blog posts! Writing was one of the main factors that kept me sane during our Omaha stay.
  13. Taught, for the first time, a five-week summer course for CCC (and this was directly after teaching two nights a week in the spring – and fall – semester).
  14. Attended two full training weekends with SreeDevi Bringi for Yoga Nidra certification. And then wrote several of my very own Nidra scripts!
  15. Visited, for the first time – which is actually embarrassing considering how close I live to it, the Cather Memorial Prairie south of Red Cloud, NE.
  16. Became a kombucha fiend. No one ever loved fermented tea as much as meeee in the weeks following Wilson’s birth. Kept my system functioning and healthy, for sure! Now home, I still have to have it on the daily.
  17. Did eleventy-billion loads of laundry. Just kidding. Probably closer to 500, but since I can barely remember to put the clothes in the dryer, much less count loads, I may never know just how shocking the real number is.
  18. Experienced food poisoning while pregnant. Clearly not something I’d recommend.
  19. Finally earned enough views on Her View from Home posts to actually EARN payment! Whoohooo!
  20. Potted succulents in June. Kept them alive rest of year. Yay, me!
  21. Donated approximately 800 hundred ounces of breast milk to local mamas because Milky Mama + NICU pumping for three weeks (plus ten more days after getting home trying to even out my system) meant I WAY over produced. Waaaaay over.
  22. Started reading The Little House series for the umpteenth time but this round has been aloud to my 8yo (we made it to the first few chapters of The Long Winter, and this is with many other books read aloud inbetween them).
  23. Gave up coffee. Started drinking coffee again a couple-few months later. Probably the last time I try that craziness, at least while small children share my living space.
  24. Made actual phone calls to actual politicians (although nowhere near as many as I should have) because, Resistance.
  25. Got to be on the local news with my hubs and sweet little presidents, less than a week before Wilson’s arrival, talking about our POTUS-named crew. It was sweat-inducing but paired well with my nesting desire to clean the house, and the piece turned out to be a great little “keepsake” of this stage of life for us.

So that was actually easier than I anticipated, until it wasn’t. I got all the way to 22 without much stumbling, but the last couple took me a while to determine. If you’ve never tried a list of your own, do consider giving it a shot. It’s a really great way to look back at the last 12 months as you celebrate the ups/downs/forwards/backwards/all arounds/and inbetweens that have made up your year. #measureyourlife

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All Together Now

After all the hustle and bustle of landing home and then getting through Ben’s last week of school for the semester AND then the excitement/hubbub of Christmas, we have finally had the last few days to just be as a family of seven in our own space, without anything extra pressing or even on the calendar for that matter!

Take yesterday, for example.

It was a whopping, what – 5 degrees – outside? So really, the perfect day to stay warm and cozy indoors (and in pajamas), so that’s exactly what we did. No one went anywhere, not even outside to play in the snow because BRRRR!

Instead we napped (well, WA, TJ, and B and I did, anyway) and had screen time and played games and even managed to squeeze in Mama/Daddy Time with each of the Big 3 (not that Trumy doesn’t count; it’s just that he can’t count yet and therefore has no concept of time/taking turns with this stuff, plus he finds plenty of ways to have his own time with us).

Now, we’re not very good about doing this as often as we should, but much like a Mama or Daddy Date, M/D Time means each kid gets undivided attention individually with each parent for a set amount of time. I.E. 15 minutes to do whatever you want (minus screens) with one parent and no extra kids. That sounds incredibly minimal and simplistic (it is), but you’d be amazed at how hard it is to pull off because you have to have the other parent available to keep said wandering sibs away from your special time and it easily takes at least an hour+ to get the three 15-minute sessions accomplished. And then when you’re trying to do time with both parents in one day, well, there’s your afternoon, folks!

Although it felt like we dropped back into home life in a ding-dang whirlwind of mid-December chaos, I am so glad it’s the holiday break and we have the opportunity to be doing these “do nothing” days filled with whatever whims our kids or we can conjure. Of course it is not paradise and we are having as many kid squabbles as the next family cooped up in the same house day after day, hiding from the cold, but bless it, we needed this time together to acclimate, to regroup, to adjust back to our own “normal” after Wilson’s wild arrival.

As a friend pointed out to me last week, part of this normal is that we’re a Together Family. And it’s so true. We do the majority of our stuff together and the majority of it is close to home. That’s just how we roll (by not rolling much of anywhere sometimes). So the whole Omaha/Hastings split was extra hard because none of us are used to having one parent gone for any extended amount of time, much less both and for so long.

Since we’ve been home, I’ve noticed some residuals from our separation, mainly in the form of questions coming from The Middles about our (Ben and mine) whereabouts. Lincoln is terribly concerned, in the way of any good 4yo who can ask the same question 10 times a day, every day for a week straight, about our upcoming return trip to see Wilson’s surgeon in Omaha. He wants to know exactly how many sleeps we’ll be gone (none; it’s a day trip) and he’s got to ask at least four times to clarify that when we say zero sleeps we MEAN zero sleeps. And Raegan, too, had a moment during our newborn photos, when the baby and I weren’t quite done and ready to follow them home, where she turned to me, eyebrows raised and concern in her voice as she asked, “Mama, when are you coming home?”

These aren’t concerns we’ve had to field in the past because prior to November 22, the question of “When will Mama and Daddy be home?” was a nonissue. We were just always, more or less, together.

And thankfully, that is now the case once again, so much so that even in the multi-levels of our house, we can end up all in the exact same corner of the living room as a total coincidence of Family Time.

I wouldn’t have it any other way. img_8831

What We Know of Willa (One Month In)

While we are still getting ourselves settled into Home Life at the One Week/Month Mark with sweet Wilson Ann, it is very clear that she has stolen all of our hearts and was always meant to be part of our story. I may still find myself mystified at times that I am now a mama to five and that we have a second girl in that bunch, but there’s no mystery when it comes to how happy they make my heart.

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Now that we’ve had a wee bit of time to be in our normal chaos instead of hospital chaos, we’ve also had a wee bit of time to learn more about just who this newest little person is. For the most part, minus that doctor-made belly button and inch(ish)-long scar on her tummy, she’s a typical newborn. She eats every 2-3 hours during the day, sleeps a lot, and poos. That’s really about it (and isn’t it all just glorious?).

Wilson is a fan of her paci, being super snuggled up in blankets or on her people, and noise. Thank goodness, right?! Because you know there’s no way that all four Bigs have suddenly learned to be super quiet, so they’re all a good match. But side note question: anyone out there have a good white noise device to recommend for nighttime? Normally we just run floor fans, but currently using an app on my phone and wondering if there is a happier medium out there.

Her color is gorgeous and she’s doing the full-peel/slight baby acne thing right now. Her hands don’t stay quite as tightly balled as I remember her siblings doing, and she loves to swing her long arms around during feedings and diaper changes (because: challenge is fun, right?). Although she doesn’t cry much, when she does, it tends to ratchet up pretty quickly into a sound that makes my mama heart hurt because it’s one I heard other babies in the NICU doing but never from her while there, so the guilt of not being able to be with her 24/7 the whole time in Omaha comes swooping in pretty quickly when she does that (was she crying like that when we were gone?!). Trying to remind myself that that might just be a Fifth Kid thing and not so much a NICU thing and she’s not afraid to use her voice to join the (happy) cacophony of our home.

Speaking of her voice, she has this grunt/throat clear sound that is always in triplet which is quite endearing, unless it is between 3-6 a.m., in which case I’m less of a fan.

And as fond as Wilson is of being around the rest of the Welschies and their goings-on, I find myself wishing for not much else than to be close to her, too (OK, sleep. I also really just want a bit more sleep or an uninterrupted nap for once, but I digress). I don’t think that’s much different from my other babies, but it feels a bit more heart-string pulling in those moments when I just get to hold her in my arms or on my chest, or put her on the bed next to me for a little close time. After all the lines and cords and beeping/dinging things that were connected to her arms, legs, and chest for the first three weeks of her life, to have nothing between us is the biggest blessing after that of being home.

So one whole month. Forever long and also gone, just like that. She is perfect.

 

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