The Fourth Turns Four

Oh, Trumy! My Trumy. How can it be that you’re no longer three?!

Sweet Boy, today you are FOUR!

Because we’ve been here before, three other times, we know – to an extent – what lies ahead in the next twelve months.

Four is an age unto itself; one that comes with the highest of highs (new accomplishments, new achievements, new independence) and the lowest of lows (4yos are like little cranky lawyers sometimes; it’s not their fault, just their nature. That said, it isn’t always easy to share a roof with a little cranky lawyer, even when you love them so much your heart could burst).

I am so excited for you, Tru-man, in all that you will learn and do and become in the next year. You’ve got more school and sports and activities on your plate than ever before; I know you live to play, so all of this is going to be great fun.

And even though you’re not our first four-year-old, I also know you will bring us a great deal of learning and action and becoming as your new year unfolds.

Why? Because you are you and you are your own.

I have never met anyone with quite so much spark in them as you. From your nose-crinkle grins to your constant (oh, wow – SO constant) requests to play Legos or build with you, to your brighter than bright blue eyes that shine so much light and love and life…I know that Year Four with you will be a whole new journey simply because it is yours.

We are honored to be on this ride with you. We are the luckiest to call you ours. You are the third little boy that stole our hearts and this world just wouldn’t be the same without your energy and your vibrancy.

Happiest of Birthdays, My newest 4yo.

(A pic on the last night of Three and one on the first day of Four)

The Second Grade Sickies

In what feels waaay too freakishly similar to what we went through two years ago when HD ended up with a mystery bug to start off the school year, we are now on Day 5 of fevers and headaches and stomach aches for our current 2nd Grader, Miss Raegan.

Because of the nervous-making mumps reports in the great state of Nebraska, I took her in on her first day home sick from school, last Friday. Strep test was negative, so we hunkered down for the weekend, prepared to treat symptomatically/over the counter. And that’s what we did, day after day after day for the 3-day weekend. Not really an exciting way to spend Labor Day weekend, but honestly, I prefer quiet weekends and it is what all of us needed to start off the school year anyway.

But I’d really rather not have illness be the driving force behind our stay-at-home choice. And poor Raegan – she’s so sad that the real week has started now and she’s missing school. Again. (and will be again tomorrow because she’s definitely not yet fever free which is the real marker for returning to the classroom).

In the midst of these attempts to get our big girl healthy, I’m also flashing back to almost four years ago because the last week also feels freakishly similar to having a newborn in the house which we just about did at this time then (Trumy’s bday is this coming Friday). I share the level of the house on which RL sleeps and normally she’s our RockStar best sleeper in the bunch, but not when she’s sick and definitely not with this virus.

For the first time ever, we’ve got a kid having fever dreams. Have you ever had those in your house? Hoby pokes (WA’s version of Holy Smokes; I’m probably going to say it a lot forever, so, fair warning). It has been ROUGH. Poor girl had nightmares for three nights straight and would wake up in major distress each time. Then the last two nights have involved tummy aches and needing Mama at all hours of the night (last night I gave up and just climbed in bed with her) and yep – minus nursing and diaper changing duties (thank goodness), I feel newborn tired today. Both my body and my brain are dragging.

But my main concern is RL. I hate to see any of my babies sick but I really hate to see her sick like this. We’ve got another 48 hours to let this ride itself out and if no improvement, back to the doc office we go. Here’s hoping she is well on her to well before then.

#assholeparent

You know all those parenting memes and hashtags that are floating around that make you snort-laugh or nod your head so vigorously your neck hurts, all because they just clearly get how rollercoast-y this raising tiny humans gig is? I appreciate the heck out of all them because every single truth-telling masked in joke-form speaks to my soul and helps me normalize that no, it’s not just me, and yes, children really are the best of the best even though they throw the worst of their worst at you.

Which they do.

A LOT.

Take this morning. I quickly became an #assholeparent when I told one of my children to wash his hands after using the bathroom. The bathroom he raced me to just to beat me to the privilege of peeing first before leaving for school (a moment he topped off by slamming the lid AND the seat back down, thank you very much), so really Рhow dare I remind him that basic freaking hygiene needed to happen?! But apparently it was a grave (or is it great?) offense, because the rage and meltdown that came left me blindsided.

For the most part, we’ve navigated this kids-going-back-to-school business with relative easy. Oh, there have been some super Captain Cranky Pants moments in our house, don’t get me wrong. But we’ve tried to take things slow on weekends and evenings, and for the most part, we have not had these trouble getting ready and getting out the door.

Well. Welcome to Week 3, friends! Honeymoon is clearly over.

Thankfully, even though my child was losing his shit, I did not lose mine. But part of what came out of still needing to get in the van and get to school in the midst of his meltdown is that a) he didn’t want to get his backpack and b) I wouldn’t let anyone else put it in the car for him. Natural consequence, right? Right.

Except then, on the drive to school, I remembered that it’s Wednesday — that means early out AND Wednesday Folders (the day the school sends home ALLLL the official paperwork which is fabulous except when your kids explode their folders all over the kitchen before you can get in from unloading the baby from the van and you don’t know which of the eleventy-billion papers might belong to which of your three school-age children, but I digress/am flashing back to last week).

Wednesday is a crappy, crappy day not to have your backpack.

There was no time to turn around to get it at that point and really, said child still hadn’t calmed down enough to warrant such an act, so I dropped them off (and watched his backpack-free back walk to his line, looking totally out of place in the sea of kids + bags) and went on with the rest of our morning tasks.

Within half an hour of getting back to the house, I decided to run his backpack to the school before lunch.

Did he make a crap choice this morning? Yes. Yes he did (and no, I don’t just mean not washing his hands). But am I actually an #assholeparent? Well, I’d sure like to think not, and I want my kid to know that I really do have his back(pack) even when he’s the one having a tough morning and isn’t handling it very well (read: is being a bit of a tiny asshole, expect I would never call my kids assholes).

I have yet to see him and hear what he thought about his bag magically appearing on his hook today at school, but whether he is happy or indifferent, I don’t really care. I didn’t do it to be a hero. I did it because we’re all human. We’re all going to have asshole mornings. We’re all still worthy of having people show up for us in small ways and big ways and bring your bag to school ways.

PS: This picture is from Open House, a few weeks ago…a night they definitely all had their backpacks (and some funny faces post mad-dash through the school to drop off all their stuff)!¬†img_4825

Making Peace with Sunday Dinner

Just shy of a year ago, my feathers got seriously ruffled when someone made a comment to me insinuating that I wasn’t doing enough as a mother by not having a hot meal ready to go the second we walked in the door from church. If you’ve ever read anything I’ve written about church, you know that it often hits me in all the feels and leaves me sweaty and exhausted by the time service is over because, well, five kids 10 and under makes for a long haul, no matter how welcoming the majority of the environment is to their presence (and thank goodness for all those who are so gracious and accepting of my wiggly, not-so-little herd).

Today at church was the kick-off of Sunday School, which Ben teaches, and the baby no longer naps through, so the whole crew was there bright and early to get all the info and send 4/5 off to their classrooms (actually, the baby tagged along with Daddy and his class because after him heading back to school two weeks ago, she’s not really willing to let him out of her sight if she can help it, come the weekend). And then we stayed for service, as is our tendency during the school year (sorry, summer; you sort of went off the church attendance rails this year).

By some force of magic (and the help of a familiar, friendly face), Wilson went to the nursery during most of the service. That meant I got to hear more than I normally do which is always nice, but we still had Truman (who went on an all-day early-bday extravaganza to Omaha yesterday and is still in fall-out today) and a “How much longer is it???” asking Lincoln from like the first hymn on, and yeah – still sweaty, still tired when it was all said and done.

And you know what?

That’s fine. It’s totally OK for our time in the pew to be a little bit challenging right now (and for the foreseeable future). We’ll get what we get out of it and our kids will hopefully get something out of it too, and someday far from now, we’ll be empty-nesters who can actually pay attention start to finish and that will be a grand adventure, although in a totally different way.

For now, we’re going to let some things go, and by things I really mean Sunday dinner. I didn’t really care too much last year when the flip comment came my way (except for the rudeness of said comment) and now a year later, I am just full-on embracing the fact that our Sunday routine after church is going to be constituted of precisely No Routine.

After my kids have held their sh!t together for 2.5 hours of Sunday School + a full church service, I really don’t care what they do once we get home, short of cleaning their hands and changing out of their church clothes*. I don’t even care if they sit down right away to eat; I mean, why would they want to after being so still for so long leading up to that point?

You want to go play in the dirt? Fine; change your clothes first.

You want to go read a book? Fine; wash your hands first.

You want to eat some left-over pizza or a granola bar and crackers or some watermelon for lunch? FINE. Change your clothes and wash your hands first and have at it!

I just don’t care for formality at this point. What I care about is that my family is here and free to have a little say in how they unwind and process and if we can give them a little more grace and space in the doing so, along with ourselves, then that’s all the better.

*I really wish I had gotten a picture of the little Welschies today before we came home and they changed because how they dress for church is definitely another avenue of Pick Your Battles (and Mama’s not picking this one) in our house. Lincoln was in gym shorts and a t-shirt. Truman, khaki shorts and a t-shirt. Harrison, sweatpants with a “fancy” t-shirt and his dress shoes. Wilson in a cute little dress. Raegan in a fancy fancy dress she got as a hand-me-down from friends. So basically, a giant hodgepodge and again, it all went fine. I might fight this more on days they have to sing/play bells in front of the congregation, but beyond that? Whatever. img_4915I will dress myself up as I like and I remind myself that just like Jesus doesn’t give a flying flip if my kids eat cheese and crackers for lunch after church, he also doesn’t care what their clothes look like, no matter how much society may try to make us think otherwise.

 

 

Off He Goes, Go He Must

All of our babies have family namesakes (some on multiple levels) and it is from Lincoln Thomas’s, my dad Tom, that I know the phrase used above in the title. From as early in my memory as I can go, which is probably about the age LT is now, I remember my dad saying some version of, “Off I go; go I must” when he’d be headed out of the house to the field or the truck or where have you. This phrase seems fitting today because Lincoln Thomas embarked on his own first big adventure away from home – full day Kindergarten. img_4862

Of course Linky’s had some practice at being away from us over the last three years with increasing days of preschool, leading up to five day half days all of last year. But this whole away-from-home-all-day-every-day business? Goodness, it feels different.

Of course I know he’ll be fine. He is my small-but-mighty, my little-but-fierce and I know he’s going to learn and love a lot about school this year. Getting him to this point this summer, though, has felt like a bit of a proving ground.

Based on frustration levels (both his and mine) and gray hairs (just mine), I’m pretty sure we went through some serious teenage-like push-away phase during the last month where I know he still loves me and I love him but holy moly whoa…challenging attitudes and behavior and moments and just all the things that I guess are making it easier for us to separate now that he’s off to school all the time? That’s how that works, right, as they claim more independence and grow? They sometimes have to gain that space by making it for themselves.

Both the hubs and the BFF think that some nerves and anxiety on LT’s part might be behind it all, and that’s probably all true, too. Goodness knows, I’m as mama-heart-nervous to send this one off as I have been with all the others. As much as I know he will be all of these things, I sit here and ache a little with the longing for him to be OK, accepted, understood, and loved. I mean, it’s what we want for all of our babies, yes? Now and always. Yes.

But the beauty of this kid and all that is sweet (and those little bits that sometimes turn sour) is that he was indeed ready to go this morning. It probably helped that his own BFF is in his class and started today too, which is another calming factor for all of us, I think.

All told, the first morning was fantastic. We stood all smiles and high fives in line until it was time to go, and he told me he didn’t need me to go in the building with him, so we stood and we watched and not a tear was shed by any of the Welschies, not even Mama! For as hard as the last few weeks have been, I know it will be equally hard to be away from him all day today.

So to all you mamas sending pieces of your heart off to school this week or the next (or the next), trust me when I say that I get it when you are both so excited to see them go (again – multiple levels to this, my friends) and missing them like crazy while they’re gone.

But off they go, as they must. This is the way, the path, and bumpy as it may be at times for all kinds of reasons, it’s an honor and privilege to be along for the ride with these incredible young souls.

 

Medical Mystery? We’ll See.

Oftentimes I use this space to sort out life as I write. Getting my thoughts down in words has always helped me process which means I don’t always know where I am going to land by the end of a piece when I begin it. Such is life, right?

But today’s post feels even more open-ended than that because I know for certain that when I hit “publish” I am still not going to know any more answers than I do in these opening lines, no matter how large my word count grows.

Long story short, I’ve been dealing with unexplained, persistent, and at times really troubling abdominal pain for much of this summer.

In typical Type-A fashion, I didn’t want to go in to see someone about it at first because I wanted to give it time and figure it out myself. But as the weeks passed and things didn’t improve or show any sign of definite cause, I decided it was time to seek out professional help which I did a week ago.

Thankfully, as of now, nothing is presenting that seems imminently scary and that alone is a huge relief. However, what that leaves us with currently is taking time and space (and a few other measures that I’ll keep private for now) to allow some hopeful healing to take place.

If things improve, awesome; that’s obviously the best outcome possible. If they don’t, we’re back to the drawing board, so to speak, to keep seeking out answers by more extreme means. But there-in lies my writing conundrum in sharing any of this because I really don’t have resolutions to share at this time and that’s hard for me. Waiting and wondering are hard for many of us, I would assume, especially when pain and discomfort are involved. But I’m doing what I can to lighten my load (any time I utter a phrase like that I snort because we all know that is easier said than done, yes?) and make changes to my routines that might help the healing process.

Enter one attempt: the standing desk.

One pattern I have noticed this summer is that sitting tends to aggravate things and that’s how I tend to hold my body when doing all of my online teaching/grading. So after hemming and hawing for a few weeks (another pattern of the summer, unfortunately), I decided to invest in a standing desk from which I can do more or most of my online adjunct work. It is early days in terms of deciding how the standing feels in my body versus sitting, but the colors of it are already making my heart happy, so I figure that’s as good a start as any to improvement.

Where things go from here only time will tell, but in that meantime, I’ll do what I can to aid and assist the process of healing.

Raging Ducking Batch

I’m not the first parent to clarify the difference between vacation and travel when it comes to going places with kids, and this isn’t the first time I’ve written about such on the blog. But today has been an interesting Day of Fallout, post-travel, that is usually reserved for when our kids stay somewhere without us and then come home. Except we all came home yesterday and apparently we all needed to exorcise some Fallout tendencies today.

It doesn’t help that our travel, which was six-ish days long, involved some unexpected high stress of a really sick baby. Thanks to Zorfan and ibuprofen, she bounced back remarkably quickly, but Ben and I had two nights out of five with extremely little sleep and clearly I’m still feeling that lack in the here and now.

It also doesn’t help that my here and now started bright and early this morning with an unnamed child coming in to ask me if it was time to get up yet to watch a show when unnamed child definitely knew that it was not yet time and if unnamed child had just left me the frick alone and gone to watch the show instead of asking to watch the show, unnamed child would have been in far less trouble than waking me up to ask such a ridiculous question in the first place.

Basically, the (mama) bear was poked early today and she was cranky as all get out for most of what followed. That might have been the case either way on our first full day at home, but wow. It was A Day.

To put it another way, I sent one of my Dear Ones a text that said: “Also, holy smokes. After trying to hold everyone’s shit together for six days away from home, I am a raging ducking batch today.”

And then we decided that wins the Best Autocorrect of all time and even though I have a headache from exhaustion, I’m feeling a little less rage-y around my house. A little less ducking batch, too.

So after getting the littlest two to bed, the Big 3 helped clear the yard and then settled down to a living room Reading Party. Even Mr. Lincoln who can’t yet read grabbed a book and a couch cushion and (sort of) quietly looked at pictures without asking (too many) questions.

It wasn’t perfect, but it was a lot prettier than the rest of the day, so we’re going to go ahead and cling to that brighter spot at the end of a long haul and hope that tomorrow goes a little bit smoother and starts a wee bit later than today.

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