This Too Shall Pass

Seeing as it has been the fastest-but-longest month (winter) E.V.E.R., it’s both impossible and totally reasonable that we are now in the final days of April. Oh, April. You’ve challenged me before and you’ve challenged me once again. I don’t know why we have this beef, but it seems that every couple years, you come with…..lessons. I really can’t believe how quickly the month has gone but looking back it was also a pretty damn hard month, so I’m not exactly sad to see it go.

It started with the stomach bug that knocked me out at Easter, the very first of the month, and it’s continuing here, four weeks later in the form of continued boob drama. What started as a bleb in one breast and then shifted to a clogged duct in the other then turned into a bleb in the super sore boob and now remains as two just generally cranky boobs. You’d think we just started nursing instead of being five months in based on how I feel and I have zero explanations for it.

I’ve had Wilson’s mouth checked and there’s no sign of a tongue tie or teeth or thrush (thank goodness to all three of those things) but there’s also no clear indicator as to why her latch is what it is (kinda crappy, kinda leaky at times) or why my nipples are so sore. It just is and I just am.

So we wait it out. Give her time to grow and maybe time for me to heal, and we see what happens. 12 months remains the goal and Lord in Heaven, I may have to be VERY stubborn to make that happen based on how things are right now, but I worked hard enough to get her going in the first place to be able to come home 100% breastfed, so I suppose I can somehow get there. Right? Right.

The other “this” that needs to/shall also pass is a different kind of stuckness (nope, not a word), and it has to do with my physical routines.

I don’t have a set time post-baby where I suddenly start working out again,10452ba4-24b1-4483-ad23-6d8a3fe746c0 but around this time the baby tends to get big enough to start straining my back as I carry the car seat (or just the baby in general), which prompts me to start doing more yoga, etc. to strengthen my body. This go-round I had not only the desire to yoga again but also to RUN which I haven’t done seriously since before children; but I couldn’t get it out of my head, so instead I just went for it. And by it, I mean a run – with Raegain and then Lincoln – and it was great. I logged less than a mile total and there was definitely some walking in the midst of that running, but I was excited to baby step my way back in to what once was a big part of my life.

However, right when my legs stopped being crampy from the yoga + running, my boob/side exploded in soreness from the clogged duct and alllllllllll the nursing resources out there say rest, take it easy, go slow when you’re having these problems, and so. Here I am. Taking it slow which looks and feels a lot like still doing nothing. But that’s not really true, is it? Because if you’re anything like me, you know that sitting in stillness is very much not nothing, nor is it easy.

img_9914So no big physical practice for me right now. On the mat or on the streets. Instead I’m committing to Legs up the Wall and a meditation/mantra of being healthy and whole and that’s it. It’s not exactly what I wanted to be doing right now but it is what my system is clearly, loudly, painfully telling me I need.

It won’t always be like this. In a year’s time, in a month’s time, everything will be different, and I’m much closer to having my body be entirely my own again than I have been in almost a decade, so there’s that to consider, too. Time will pass. Circumstances will change. Focus will shift. For now I’ve got to stay the quiet course and that’s just going to have to be OK for as long as time says it needs.


The Struggle Bus(t)

OK. If the title and the picture didn’t give it away, we’re getting all up in the boob talk with this one, so consider yourself warned….

After the last post about The Bleb (surely it should be a proper noun, no?), a friend who experienced one on her last baby told me to keep an eye out for repeat occurrences, as apparently once you get one, it is common for it to come back. At first I was dismayed/horrified/disbelieving, but it makes sense, especially in my case where I had to create an open wound ON my nipple. Trying to heal something like that can be tricky because breaking open can cause bleeding which can lead to scab/scar which could totally become blocked again, even with lanolin (which I have been applying after every feed on that side ever since).

So that’s part of this story: the paranoia. I am watching those pores like a hawk because I do NOT want another Bleb, but when your sweet, sweet, baby nurses like a, like a what? a Tasmanian Devil? good luck being gentle with a recovering boob.

All of my babies have been movers and shakers while nursing (I credited RL’s and LT’s pint-sized-ness to the fact that they never stopped moving, even to eat), but Wilson is a puller-back which sucks. Or rather, doesn’t suck as nicely as I would like her to (it’s funny how many puns there are around breastfeeding once you get going). Mainly she is forever pulling her head back away from me, with my nipple still in her mouth, so ouch, AND she comes off a ton of times, too, in any given feeding. Part of this is her age and distractability, but part of it is also just her. (Any suggestions for how to curb this and still get her fed would be great, thanks!)

Even though I sometimes think The Return of the Bleb might be upon me, that’s not actually the point here. The point, or rather the pain, is now in my other boob which apparently got left in one particular nursing tank for waaaay too long (confession: a solid 40 hours, tyvm) and is now incredibly, miserably, sore. So, note to self: even if not showering, CHANGE THE TANK/BRA/WHAT-HAVE-YOU every day/night! Duh. And OOF. (Again, any tips here would be great. Trying to massage the breast during feedings and considered using a warm compress on it. Can’t always start on that side, though, because I’m a one-side per feeding kind of girl.)

Once again, in the span of just a few weeks, I find myself doing everything I can think of to clear this what I assume is a clogged duct in hopes of avoiding mastitis. For the love of all things holy, please let me avoid mastitis!


And really, all of this is to say that even though I take these #brelfies, it really isn’t to (just) show off. It’s motivation. It’s documentation. It’s mother-effing determination to keep going because breastfeeding is STILL the hardest thing even though it seems like it should be the most natural. I take these pictures and I write these posts because I want other mamas to know they are not the only ones struggling. I really want all this boob drama to just go away so I can snuggle up and enjoy nursing my last little one for as long as possible, but honestly, the last few weeks have been rough and have left me wondering just how we’re going to get as far in the months nursed as I did with all the others.

If you know a currently breastfeeding mama, give her some love, even if she’s not (over)sharing about her efforts and her struggles, because the struggle is indeed real and encouragement helps.


Oh, Bleb.

*all things breastfeeding in this post. consider yourself warned.*

If the phrase “Milk Bleb” is unknown to you, that’s a good thing. It’s something, like omphalocele, that one doesn’t really have any reason to know unless you are 1) a specialist and/or 2) a, um, recipient.

So a milk bleb is like a little milk blister. On the nipple. It means that one of pores on the nipple is plugged/blogged/stuck with milk, turning that pore into what looks a lot like a little white pimple. On the nipple. It doesn’t look normal, it doesn’t feel normal, its name doesn’t sound like a normal word, and basically It. Is. NOT. Normal.

In the haze of the stomach flu recovery last week, I somehow developed a bleb. I’m pretty sure I’ve had one with some other baby but I don’t remember having to actually do much about it (so it just went away? I don’t know). But after a several/few days of noticing during feedings and showers that yep, weird little white dot was still there, I realized I needed to do something about the darn thing. Although it wasn’t causing a great deal of pain or discomfort, the last thing I wanted it to do was lead to a problem deeper within the breast tissue like an actual plugged duct or mastitis.

Enter Internet searches. I realize you can fall down a rabbit hole pretty quick when it comes to researching medical inquires online, but at the same time, how did people (parents in particular) get by without it? I didn’t even know what to call my condition until I started Googling it but then sure enough, I got a name, information, and tips for how to cure it, all in go. I also had a second set of tips and such that a friend found for me when I asked her if she’d ever had a milk blister, so you know, more info, more help.

After being able to clear the pore, I’ve been on constant rotation with lanolin and double (not triple, specifically, which it turns out is hard to find) antibiotic ointment and it appears that my bleb is thankfully on the mend. I am hoping that I didn’t wait too long with any of this so that I can indeed avoid any other developments because a bleb has been more than enough excitement (nope, not exciting at all) for one boob for all the rest of my nursing days. img_9781

Should We Stay or Should We Go (Now)?

I keep writing status updates and blog posts and song lyrics (just kidding) in my head, so after a month’s worth of not actually getting any of those words OUT of my head, it’s time to dive back in to the blog.

A month is the longest I’ve gone between posts possibly since I started doing this. Losing my Grandpa Cliff and then throwing myself into one of the biggest distractors ever – house hunting – the day after we got home from his funeral also hasn’t happened in my six and a half years of doing this, either, so you know – uncharted territory and whatnot.

And no, not looking at houses only because I haven’t found a better way to deal with grief (although I’d be fuzzing details if I said I had found a good and proper way to actually do that), but rather picking up a thought we started playing around with about this time last year, which would have been shortly after we found out Baby No.5 was on the way.

In case you don’t recall, we moved into this house when Baby No.2 was brand new. We had tried to sell our first house after I found out I was pregnant and it didn’t go well, so we took it off the market and decided to be patient. Then our realtor came to us about a month and half-ish (six-and-a-half-ish years ago is hard to remember such details, even when you do keep a blog to help with such remembering) after RL’s birth with a potential buyer for our home, so we went looking, and just like that we found our current house.

Make no mistake. We love our current house. It is a beautiful home with a ton of character and a surprising amount of space. But if you know us at all, you know we’ve done our darndest in our time here to FILL that space.

And so….the looking that started last year.

We visited a couple houses early last summer, got discouraged, and decided we’d just spend money in our house to make the space we do have work a little better for us. But then, as the year played out, those plans didn’t all come to fruition and so I still find myself checking Realtor.come on a fairly regular basis, which lead to the discovery of a house the day after we returned from SoDak that caught my interest. And then another. And another. However. The market here is tricky (not to mention expensive) and so the last three weeks have been a whirlwind of “What ifs” and “Maaaaaybe we should just stay puts” and “Do you like this ones” and all of those crazy making (for two Type A planners such as B and I) questions that go along with a search like this.

Also, did I mention that we even showed our house a couple times already? I spent my 36th birthday (and the whole day after it) cleaning my entire house (with family here to help, even!) so potential buyers could see it, which was so much work it left me sore the next day as if I’d gone on an 8 mile run. But its hard to strike a deal for your own house if you don’t actually know which one will be yours next.

Because here’s the deal: in order to get a house big enough to even hold our crew, that is also nicer than our current house, in the Hastings market of today, we’d have to go over $100k for what we paid for this one. When we upgraded to this house, we had to go about $30k up (however it was 2012, soooo). And the real kicker is that many of the homes in our price range actually still need updating, or will in the very, very near future, and that is daunting for a family with this many small children (and one income).

Which leads me to my second deal: if we move, I’m most definitely going back to work full-time sooner than later. I mean, not until all the kids were in school, but still – there’s no way to make this fly on B alone forever.

While I’m OK with that concept (mostly), I also wonder how OK we could be here if we just did the work we wanted to last year and stuck it out in our cute little one-and-a-half story house that would be paid OFF before HD goes to college (& that’s without me working any more than I already am).

Do I have house envy? Do I need to have my head examined? Do I need to just have a big cry about everything that has been topsy turvy in the last month, curl up with a good book, and let it go?

I have no idea.

But here I am, sorting it out in words once again, as I do.

And, y’all…truth moment…if we move, I am really going to miss the room in which I wrote this (which was admittedly a couple days ago before we got more snow and it was too cold to sit out here):


A Sadappey Trip

In our house, we have a dinner time check-in ritual called Sadappeys (thank you, Toddlerisms, for blurring the line years ago from where it started as Sad/Happys). We don’t do it every night, but when we do, it gives us a chance to reflect on our day and share our ups and downs with each other. And right now, we are faced with a huge Sadappey.

You see, it hasn’t been since Harrison was the age Wilson is now (approx. 3.5 months) that we’ve had a direct loss in our family, but Monday morning, my grandpa Cliff passed away suddenly. Maybe 89.5 years doesn’t qualify to some as sudden, but his death was certainly not anticipated and has been, as a result, a bit of a shock for all of us. Plus, as noted, we have been tremendously lucky in this respect for many years, which also makes this feel like uncharted territory.

In some ways, it really is. We’ve never had kids old enough to remember losing a family member, so we’ve never had to deal with helping them understand/manage grief while also trying to understand/manage our own. So here is another parenting hurdle to face, and like all challenges, I find that I am very much in it with the extra phone calls and memories and tears and smiles, while at the same time, “normal” life very much continues with laundry and homework and so on; all of this leaves me feeling a bit dazed at trying to hold all this normal and very NOT normal together at once.

In other words, it’s a hard week. And that’s OK. This muddling is very much part of the process and it’s likely that this juxtaposition of handling life while celebrating and remembering a life will continue through the weekend and beyond as we travel to South Dakota for the funeral being held Monday. In true on-point kid style, Harrison nailed it on the head when his first response to the news was: “So we are going to take a sad trip to South Dakota, soon?” Yes, Buddy. Yes, we are.

And yet, when I think about my Grandpa, my namesake (Clifford Raymond for Jennifer Rae (hence Raegan’s name spelling)), there is so much joy in remembering our time with him. I was lucky to call him mine for almost 36 years, and as I’ve been sitting here the last couple days, thinking about him, I realize there are so many characteristic bits of awesomeness about him that I have stored in my head and heart. Essentially, I find myself in the height of Sadappy existence right now. So sad to know he is gone. And so happy to have had as much time with him as I did.

I’m sure the list will grow as the week continues and the Sadappy trip takes place, and so I hope to add to it as we go, but for now – a glimpse at Clifford Raymon Jansen through his oldest granddaughter’s eyes…

He was…

the one who turned a ski rope and a tree into a trapeze, and a boat cushion into a stair toboggan for all six cousins to ride together.

the master of horseshoes (he could spot us 20 points and still beat us as played on the beaches of the Missouri River near Pierre).

the fishing guide who always had a line or two out on the boat or the beach. Soooo many walleye caught over the years.

the one who gave me a greeting so big at my wedding that my veil came lose.img_9394

the lover of old school country music that we danced to together in their basement that was, I’m convinced, 70s-tastic enough to have shaggy carpet on some of its wall (that might have made the stair taboggan slightly more safe?).

the man who took over after my grandma’s death, almost 15 years ago, to be the sender of birthday cards (and he rarely missed a one, even for all of my kids) that always included a clever, handwritten note inside.

the bearer of blue eyes – the same bright blue eyes (that hold that seem devious-in-a-fun-loving-way spark) that I see in my Truman.

the one who called me Jennifer more often than not and loved loved getting to meet (and see almost annually) four of my five children. img_9395

the sayer of things like “Well, I’ll be darned” and “Is that right/is that so?” and another one I can’t remember right now, but each of them would usually be accompanied by an emphatic head nodding gesture that in recent years I have totally caught myself doing.

the wearer of a pack of smokes in his shirt pocket that I was sure were getting crushed when he’d hug people (the man was an enthusiastic greeter/parter) and a holder of, what I remember most, a can of Old Mud (Old Milwaukee) in his hand.

the maker of cookie salad (bless him) and provider/pusher of sour cream and onion Pringles when you visited him (Ben says we’ll have to have some in his honor while we are in Pierre).

the one who showed me the magic of a big family. One of 13 kids himself and the father of four, it is in part from watching him with his own siblings at reunions and with his kids and grandkids over the years that inspired my own desire to have a large family.



2018 Books

Between two book clubs, I read 22ish “required” books a year, and I have quite the stack to work through and lots of recommendations coming in from my reader friends (yay! I love that!), so I’m making a little “required” list of my own to accompany the others, in hopes that I really will make it to these 12 books at some point this year. As always, the full list and a little blurb about each follows in the rest of the post. Happy Reading!

  1. The Power by Naomi Alderman (Thanks, Obama!)
  2. The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine (#RWBookClub)
  3. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (sooo many people recommending this one)
  4. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (DS)
  5. State of Wonder by Anne Patchett (been on my list for a couple years now)
  6. Unseen by Sara Hagerty (KG)
  7. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (SB)
  8. The Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse (SO)
  9. A Thousand Hills to Heaven by Josh Ruxin (RG)
  10. This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel (Glennon rec)
  11. Rising Strong by Brene Brown (from my own list)
  12. American Gods by Neil Gaiman (started this behemoth in 2017; will finish in 2018!)Untitled design (1)


  1. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (book club read) — so, so good. Can’t wait to talk about this at book club because the way it is written is beautiful and thought/question provoking. (finished 1.1.18!)
  2. State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (my book club selection) — I have been wanting to read this since EG mentioned it in Big Magic and while it took a little to get into it (that may have just been a result of the audiobook format), I could not believe how it all unfolded, developed, or resolved. SO good. And really, I can’t wait to discuss with my book club when the time comes!
  3. Gift from the Sea by Anne Marrow Lindbergh — started and finished in one day, I plan to reread this one many, many times throughout the rest of my life. Although I think certain gender/marital roles are a bit outdated in the language used to refer to them, this is such a beautiful and easily digestible rumination on the life and changing seasons of adult womanhood. I highly recommend! (finished 1.31.18)
  4. American Gods by Neil Gaiman — and in total contrast from the previous entry on the list, this one was started last July and just now finished during the first weekend of the following February. Whoops! B and I started listening to this on our trip to KC, but the audio was 20+ hours long and while we got a good chunk of it started on that trip, we got nowhere near finishing it before school started. Anyway, I really want to watch the Starz version of this because it is such a crazy, other wordly, and twisty book that I can’t wait to see what the show is like.
  5. Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan — this is the third novel in this series and I am finally getting a good grip on the huge cast of characters in this wealthy family and all their drama. As with the first two books, I found this to be an entertaining read (and again, the easiest to follow, but that may just come from exposure at this point).
  6. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness — another read-in-a-day book thanks to its YA nature and heart-wrenching, pull you along story. Definitely would be a good one for kids dealing with family sickness or for an empathy lesson for those in different family/health situations.
  7. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson — Welp, should have picked this one for book club, too, because it warrants a lot of discussion, especially the end which didn’t exactly seem satisfying to me. I liked the spin of the main character beginning again and again, though. It was interesting to see what all I could pick up as “changes” in each life, as they were sometimes subtle (and other times shocking).
  8. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (book club read) — This was a perfect read following Life After Life as instead of starting over and over, it followed one Korean family living in Japan for 70+ years, with lots of beautiful vignettes/glimpses into the lives of people around them, too. Oddly enough, they both were set with the same start time, so there were some crossovers about the war and such, but this book gave me great insight into what life was like for people displaced from Korea by the terrible and  continuing conflicts.
  9. Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown — although just as emotionally and intelligently as dense as the last book of hers that I read (Daring Greatly), this one was much more digestible (and more brief) and extremely relevant to today’s times, making it a recommended read for sure.
  10. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (book club read) — Haven’t read this in years so was happy that one of my friends picked it just before the movie release so I could refresh. I seem to remember there being more resolution to it from my years ago read, so my take on it this time was a little different (do I love it so? I don’t know), but I’m very curious to see how they treat it in the film.
  11. This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankle — I canNOT say enough about how much I loved this book. I’ve been saying that a lot of my reads thus far this year have been good (and they have been) but this is one of the tops. I love the way it is written, the characters, and the depth of the questions (parenting, life, etc.) it raises. Focused on a family with five kids (OK, so I may have been biased from the get go), it features their journey/story of when their youngest of five boys begins to demonstrate that he is in fact not a boy. For real; everyone should read this book. (finished 2.25.18) (side note: sort of crushing it on my self-made list. now will have to wait for some of the titles to become available through the library as the wait lists are long for several of them)
  12. The Midnight Watch by David Dyer (book club read) — while the concept here is interesting (the fictional “what if/why”s of a ship that was near the Titanic as it sank but did not come to its rescue), I did not care for the writing of this novel. The unreliable (and alcoholic) narrator drove me nuts, and ultimately I would have liked more resolution for the end of the book.
  13. Still Me by JoJo Moyes — had no idea a third book was coming out in the series until the night before its release, but manged to get an e-copy from library fairly quickly and it was an enjoyable/predictable read and far less gut wrenching than the first two. (finished 3.6.18)
  14. The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter by Margareta Magnusson — perhaps my perspective is shaded by my choice of reading this (start to finish) during the return trip from SD for my grandpa’s funeral, but I didn’t really care for this book. It’s not a sad book, but it’s also not a terribly helpful book in terms of instructions either. It reminded me of a more anecdotal Marie Kondo (KonMarie Method) book, but that one irritated me, too, so maybe I’m just not in the right place for decluttering books at this point in my life. And while I sort of see how this could start a conversation for families before someone actually passes, I could also see how a recipient of a gift copy of this book could think, “Ummm, so you’re saying I have too much stuff and should get rid of it all so you don’t have to?” Again. I may just be really prickly these days.
  15. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (the Original Screenplay) by J.K. Rowling — Huh. Wasn’t really my intention to read the screenplay version of this, mostly because I think they aren’t the easiest thing to read, but it was still interesting and told a great story. Perhaps I’ll have to track down the original version another time to get the full effect.
  16. Beartown by Fredrik Backman — Backman has quickly become my favorite contemporary author, and I’ve only read about half of his stuff. This one was HARD to read because of the subject matter but I absolutely love the way he can develop such a vast and complete cast of characters and write what is a essentially a who-done-it in way that leads up to the final pages but is never cloying or annoying in doing so. So, so good.
  17. The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers — The piece of nonfiction was fascinating. It’s all about one man’s quest to improve the quality of life for coffee farmers in Yemen and the quality of Yemeni coffee and I learned a TON. Plus it was an entertaining and ultimately suspenseful read as the real world, politics, and war all played roles within the story. (finished 3.29.18)
  18. Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrick Backman — I’ve now read all of Backman’s novels (not his novella and another short) and he is now tied for Tops at my Contemporary Author’s list. His stuff is incredible. This novel spins off from a side character in My Grandmother Asks…, and a side character I didn’t even like mind you, and I LOVED this book. The way he writes! I laugh, I cry, I just want the stories to keep going (& I never quite figure out where they are landing until they tell me at the very end). Seriously. Read his work. Any of it! SO. GOOD. (finished 4.4.18)
  19. Educated by Tara Westover — had I known about this book earlier, it would have definitely gone on my Must Read list, but as it is, it founds its way to me/that list anyway. Couldn’t put it down. It is a remarkable coming of age novel, except that’s just it – it’s not a novel. It’s one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read.
  20. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain (book club read) — I don’t read many books set in a day’s time span, so that alone made this interesting to read, once I got into which admittedly took a while. I also don’t read many novels set in contemporary times, although this one is still a decade out at this point, so the pop culture references were different for me. I’ll be curious to see what shape the discussion takes for this one – talk of war? soliders? love and loss and life? football? Not sure.
  21. Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone (book club read) — Huh. I don’t know. Normally I really like YA reads but this was one was almost too much of a teenage drama, except with OCD thrown in and some comically melodramatic “love scenes.” I saw some of the twists coming, but maybe just because I had forewarning that there were some. The author’s note at the end made me appreciate the whole thing more as she explained that she wanted to write a book that would highlight OCD in young people and hopefully show them how they could manage through therapy, etc.
  22. A Thousand Hills to Heaven by Josh Ruxin — This biography was such a great read. Informative, inspiring, entertaining. I loved that the timeline was so close to when Ben and I visited Rwanda (but sadly Heaven was not one of the restaurants we visited; I even checked our scrapbook to see); I could see in my memory some of the exact places he mentions in the book. But more than that, this book really sheds lights on how foreign aid can/should work – go in and help but ultimately prepare yourself and all those around you for your eventual step back. Helpers are not meant to be saviors, upon whom all is dependent, and this book of setting up health centers, better ag practices, and even starting an upscale restaurant, demonstrates that all beautifully.
  23. The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil — I received a birthday gift of three months to Book of the Month (online subscription service; so cool!) and this was my first pick. It was a strange coincidence to read it, the tale of a young Rwandan refugee leading through seven African countries and eventual landing in America, directly after the previous book on my list. A Thousand Hills to Heaven spoke so much about healing, hope, and rebuilding, and then this book showed that same resilience but with a much darker shadow of never being able to shake off entirely the trauma of the war and fleeing it. (finished 4.28.18)
  24. S-Town — I know this is a list of books but a friend had the very fun, very spontaneous idea to have our book club listen to this podcast and holy cow, it is intense, interesting, crazy making, and so many other things – I can’t wait to discuss it with them! And it is as long as some of the audiobooks I have “read” so I am counting it!
  25. The Self-Driven Child: The Science And Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives by William Strixrud and New Johnson — Ben ordered this after reading an article about it on NPR and I have to say, this is one parenting/brain book I think all modern parents should read. While a lot of it applies to adolescents, I think there are ideas here that we can definitely start applying to our own kids.
  26. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (book club read) — I don’t often reread books (because my stack of new to-reads is so long) but I was very glad a friend chose this for bookclub because it was excellent to read again after 15ish years. I came to it with much more perspective and understanding, not to mention empathy for the mother character even though our circumstances are not at all similar. And weird because this makes the third book set in the same general region of Africa that I’ve now read in the last couple months. (finished 5.19.18)
  27. The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine — although it took me almost half the book to get into this one, it’s a quick read so that wasn’t the worst thing ever, and once I got to that halfway point, it became pretty page-turning. This is a story about marriage and perceptions, lies and deceptions. Essentially, a great summer/beach read.
  28. The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin — I’ll be honest. Sometimes I grab books at the library simply because of their covers. Sometimes that results in disaster, and other times, such as this, I end up so, so happy with my impulse grab. This novel is based on four siblings who learn, as children/young teens, the dates of their deaths from a fortune teller. The rest of the story unfolds from there and it was such a good one to read!
  29. The Read-Aloud Family by Sarah Mackenzie — Ahhh, books about books! I love them. This was interesting as it reminds me a lot of The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease, the same book that the author credits as a springboard for her own desire to read aloud to her children, but with a slight Christian bent to it (that is fine, but that I didn’t see coming based on the subtitle or back of book description). It’s not overly preachy, though, and has great suggestions for how to cultivate a book culture for all ages of children in your home. The one thing I wish was in this book that isn’t is how to read aloud when you have children who fall into multiple categories as the author, a mom of six, clearly does. Still, I’m ordering a copy so I can keep it close both for book suggestions and read-aloud strategies. (finished 5.29.18)
  30. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green — I think I may, sadly and surprisingly, be burnt out on YA fiction. I have loved Green’s other books but this one about a teen with anxietywasnt my favorite. Too similar to an April read? Maybe.
  31. Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin (book club pick) — loved this book! From the way it was told (different voices and formats) to the topics it touched upon (mothers and daughters, feminism, politics), it was a great read.
  32. Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate (book club pick) — There were parts of this novel that made my chest want to explode and my lungs cease to work properly because the story of children being taken from their parents is just too dreadful to imagine. This book uses multiple narrators and present day + past moments to tell its story, which is always entertaining to me, although much of the present day bits were a bit, fluffy and predictable. (finished 6.10.18)

The Lasts

Last week, Ben had to set an alarm on his phone and when I heard it go off the first time, I almost jumped out of my skin.

To me, that was no regular sound, but rather THE sound that literally marked our time in the NICU, as it was his phone that kept track of just how long it had been since we last fed the baby or I last took my medicine. Day and night, those were the bells that we worked toward and through, not knowing how many more times we’d have to set them before our wish to come home was granted.

We did that for three weeks. And bless it, now Wilson is three months old and we’ve been home for well more than double of the time that we weren’t here. NICU parents: is it weird that I’m still counting that time or is that another NICU thing? Because I can literally look at the calendar and be thankful in an instant again that we’ve put that many dates between being there and being home. (Disclaimer: I don’t hate the NICU. Yes, I’m still shaking it off myself at times, but obviously if your baby needs to be there, you are hella grateful that it exists and can help you get to the point of shaking off and being home.)

At three months, Wilson continues to charm us all on a constant basis. She sleeps – in my arms, in her rock-n-play, in her bed – pretty much wherever and whenever. She eats – almost always in our favorite rocking chair where I can watch the little boys play Wrestle Mania on the bed that sits in that same room. She smiles – ALL the time at ALL of us and it literally the best thing ever, every single time. She talks – OK, coos and makes this little noise that sounds like “whoo whoo” just like her sister’s owl friend, and again, hearts melting left and right each time it happens.

At three months, Wilson also continues to surprise us with her growth. Unlike her sister (one of my two babies who stayed in the 8th percentile, Sister Wilson is gaining and stretching like crazy. She’s up to just shy of 13 lbs. and is so long that she’s already outgrown the 0-3 month clothes. So while it was just a wee month ago that I finally pulled out the baby girl stuff from the basement, I’ve already had to go digging again because she’s too long for all the stuff Raegan wore her first winter (and she was almost three weeks ahead of WA on the calendar). And because Big Sister stayed little for so long, I hit a bit of a season snafu in that next sized bin which lead me to make a quick Target order for some 3-6 sleepers to get us through the rest of this crazy-arse cold weather that I would very much like to see end and soon, thanks.

I mention all of this not to bore you with details about my online shopping habits, but to document that not all reminders of our time in Omaha are triggers in the negative way. img_9238Meaning? Well, these sleepers. They are the exact same set (but one size bigger) that we bought for her on one of those after-hospital Target runs in the first few days at Children’s. She wore them all the time there and since we’ve been home. They are beautiful and soft (and zip from the top down which I have never seen before but is incredibly smart and great for keeping tummies warm and covered) and I don’t feel like jumping out of my skin when I see them.

Actually, what I do feel like I’m doing with this new set is my darndest to hang on to those moments of being small and new because for the first time, I know that I am actually doing all of this for the last time.

The thought of tossing those 0-3 month sleepers in a tote and just moving on with it caught me off guard because the next time I dig through those clothes will be to sell or give away, not for one of my own babies, and that hit me harder than I expected it to. So I’m totally slapping a Band-Aid on the situation by putting her in the exact same outfits one size up, but I’ll take it because this is my version of enjoying what truly are the lasts.

I may not be able to pull off the “enjoy EVERY MOMENT” thing that every young mother has heard at some point in her young mamahood, but I certainly am soaking in as much as I can because I get it. Our family will not grow and stretch again, but you can bet these babies of mine are going to keep on doing just that.