Mar 30, 2015

A Few Pictures From the Weekend

The words just don't come on Monday mornings.  The weekend passes in a blurry frenzy, the routine gets thrown out the window, we eat what we shouldn't, never get enough sleep, and Mondays are best left to pictures and second (or third) cups of coffee.

Mar 27, 2015

Post Nap Selfies

My baby girl slept for 2 hours and 15 minutes yesterday afternoon.

I went in to get her because we had stuff to do, and because on her typical schedule 2 hours per nap is more than enough.  While I was holding her and giving her a chance to wake up, I decided to snap a post nap selfie.  

She was making some pretty funny faces.

Right about at this point I was inspired to play my favorite game: copy the face the kid makes.

Some are pretty accurate!  Some are way off, and most are blurry- but all are hilarious. (To me anyway!)  Happy weekend everybody.

Mar 25, 2015

A Lovely Way to Begin

When my baby was born I spent most of the night staring into her little face.  I loved her fiercely right from the very beginning.  I never shared her birth story here.  I wrote it in her make-shift baby book, and when it was finished it felt so personal, I decided against even letting friends and family read it.  

I will share this bit, though, because it was on my mind again last night.  Last night, when the older children had gone to bed and our tiny wonder had woken up after an hour and adamantly declared she would not be peacefully returning to her slumber just yet.  Chris and I sat sleepy eyed in the softly lit living room and watched her happily roll around on our old beige carpet.  In low voices we talked about nothing much and soaked up the opportunity to peacefully wind down at the end of the day.  Clad in blue striped footy pajamas and sheer determination, our little babe focused her eyes on a piece of colorful twisted rope about three feet in front of her.  She clenched her muscles and pulled her dimpled knees up below her body, rising up off the floor and balancing on her elbows.  She inched forward one limb at a time, her belly falling the inch and a half back to the floor in between every stride.  In about five seconds flat she'd successfully traversed the three feet, having crawled for the very first time.  We clapped and cheered and she smiled proudly, and I wondered if we'd taught her playing with dog toys was a great achievement that would be awarded with much celebration and praise in the future.  

In my joy I thought of my older children, and I thought of the night just over seven months ago when my daughter was born.  I was utterly exhausted and, quite literally, deliriously happy.  I gazed into her  beautiful face and was completely overwhelmed with gratitude for how lucky I was.  I had waited a long time for that moment, and worried uselessly needlessly endlessly about whether or not it would ever come.  As I lay in my hospital bed tired battered and worn, I held my baby and I thought about this tiny little human who was only just beginning: I pictured this moment in time where she rested in someone's arms who was so wholly thankful simply that she lived and breathed, and I thought... what a lovely way to begin.

I thought of the nights my older children were born.  I imagined their mother.  I wondered if she held them close and breathed them in, and felt lucky they were alive.  I watched my husband look at our baby and I wondered if their father had looked at them that way.  I desperately hoped so.  I desperately hope so.  I wept.  I kept my eyes open and stared at my baby through the tears that rolled down my cheeks.  

I was overcome by the power of the story I'd written in my head- about the moment a baby is born and how the way it is received affects the rest of its life.  I imagined the unconditional love I felt for my daughter on that first night, before I knew almost anything about her, being both anchor and buoy   for her for the rest of her life.  I thought of it like a karmic well she could tap into later when she was hurt or struggling.  I briefly imagined becoming a doctor or a nurse just so I could be there for as many births as possible, as if I could somehow ensure that those babies were well loved.  

Delirious, I told you.

I know this is all a fairy tale.  A beautiful fairy tale perhaps, lit by love and happiness and deepened by the tragedy that not all babies are born wanted.  It's only a story, though.  It's the result of a very tired mama whose body had just done a lot of big things, with a newborn in her arms and three babies sleeping on the floor at a friends house not far away.  A mama facing the monumental task of raising four children and marveling over the significance of a single moment.

Life however, real life, is much much more complicated than that.  If nothing else life is LONGER than that, which thankfully means it is also much more forgiving.  Birth is only a moment in time.  There are so many different factors that can affect the relationship between a newborn and its mother, and we are fortunate enough to live in a time when we know all about them and there are systems in place to help.  We now know that birth moms*, foster moms, adoptive moms, moms with post-pardum depression, and moms that just need a little time to bond with their babies all will have an entire lifetime of opportunities for precious moments.  The length of time between your child's first breath and the first time you gaze adoringly into her eyes is not by itself a measure of how fulfilling your relationship will be, nor how happy and successful your child will be.

I know this is true.  

Yet here I sit, mother of four children, the night after my baby crawled for the first time, and I think of my oldest daughter.  When did she learn to crawl?

I missed it.  

First foods first teeth first steps first words, and all the days in between.  The drool, the chunky thighs, the babbling.  Holidays, naps, missed naps, buckling babies into car seats over and over and over again.  Wiping noses and butts and checking temperatures and sending them off to the first day of kindergarten and crying because it all happens so fast.  I missed a lot.

So you see how this is more than a fairy tale for me, because it's personal.  Once you strip away the grandiose proclamations about all the babies and drop the dramatic implications of some sort of predetermined destiny, you are left with just me and my feelings.

Sometimes I get the impression that people think since I've procreated the old fashioned way now, I'll no longer lament the fact that I missed the beginning of my older children's lives.  It's not so.  I've come to terms with the fact that my children had a life before me- a life without me.  I respect that time as valuable and important, and I fully appreciate the fact that I am not nor will I ever be the only mom in their lives.  It's no longer a source of anger or frustration.  I feel no inner turmoil, and most days I don't think about it at all.

Mostly, I just wish I could have been there.  Every time we reach a new milestone with our fourth, I feel a twinge of grief that I missed it with the first three.  When I make a note in her baby book about the way the weeks have been going and what she's learned, I long for these days with the others.  I don't feel robbed or jaded, nor do I feel like the sweetness of our moments with the baby are at all embittered by wishes about the past.  I only mean to say that, far from being some sort of consolation prize, our baby is a precious and beautiful gift, the perfect addition to our family, and occasionally a quiet reminder that I know very little about the early years of my older kids' lives.

I love them all, I am grateful for them all, and I know that no matter when you get them they grow up too fast.  Even on my worst days, when all I want is a baby sitter and a hot tub and maybe a margarita, I will tell you that I am thankful for this time in my life when they fill my house with noise and shoes and never-ending requests.  I just might follow it up with a 'but OH MY GOD when will they stop...' whatever annoying thing has got me all tied up in knots that day.

*Please note that when I say 'mom' I also mean dad, it would just be cumbersome to write both every single time.

Mar 23, 2015

New Life for Old Shirts, Meal Times Just Got a Whole Lot Cooler, and Other Verbose Blog Post Titles

I've had piles of t-shirts tucked away for years, all too small/worn/stretched/stained to wear any more, but far too precious to throw away.  They're mostly band shirts, and they're waiting for me to give them new life as something else.  

I've had a baby eating solids for a month and wearing tiny newborn milk-dribble bibs while doing so. I know bibs are pretty cheap and there are like a billion options out there, but I've held off on buying them because I really wanted to see some of my favorite old t-shirts catching globs of green beans as they fall from my baby's perfect little chin.  I'm a weirdo, I know.

It was a pretty simple process.  I made a paper bag template the size and shape I wanted, and laid it over the part of the pattern on the shirt I wanted to see.

I pinned it in place and cut it out.  Since knit fabrics can be kind of tricky to cut without bunches and jagged edges, I found it easiest to use my quilters mat and rolly cutter (I'm sure that's the official name).

Sorry for the crappy cell phone pictures, but you get the idea.

I did not have enough fabric from this particular t-shirt to do the back as well, so I substituted some plain blue from one of Chris's old shirts.  I pinned them together, right sides facing in, and sewed them up, leaving just enough space to flip it right side out.

Not pictured is the snap I applied to the neck straps using snappy pliers (again, the official name for sure.)

Meal time has never been cooler.

Mar 21, 2015

7 Months Old (Yesterday)

 In the last 7 months my precious little newborn has grown from this...

to this:

She has gained more than eleven pounds and six and a half inches.  Another set of pictures, for comparison:

She has lost a lot of hair, and slowly grown it back.  I want to hire a professional photographer just to capture the mop on this kid's head- it is epic.  I am looking forward to barrettes and braids and fine little locks tickling the back of her neck, but I will always miss this doo.

I find myself compulsively taking fuzzy pictures of her sleeping in the dark.  She simultaneously looks so big, and so small.

We cuddled for the last half of her nap the other day, and I waxed nostalgia for the newborn days when all I did was hold her.  Still, I love the way she snuggles now.  It's so intentional it melts my heart.  She cuddles like she means it!  As she was waking up I took out my phone to snap a few pictures.  She would look right at it and then hide her face behind mine- "No mom, I've got sleepy eyes!"

 She eats now, and she loves it.  She prefers chunks to purees and her favorite seems to be green beans, though broccoli is a strong contender.  Giant cold hard slices of fresh apple make great teethers, but she doesn't actually eat it (no teeth!) and cold cucumber spears will do in a pinch.

She sits up independently but only for a couple minutes at a time.  She rolls everywhere she goes, and has gotten so proficient that she can turn to make it where she wants.  In the last few days she's begun to try to get up on her hands and knees, but she's not there yet.

She loves people and people-watching.  Assuming she's fed and well rested, she smiles at pretty much everyone that stops to talk to her.  She'll often give them a big open mouth grin and stick out her pointy tongue to boot.  Just recently she's been adorably bashful- she'll smile and then turn her head and bury it in my chest, only to peek out and smile again.  It's definitely my favorite new thing she's done this month.

She likes to play peek a boo and to share her binky with her mommy and daddy.  She thinks her siblings are amazing, and she laughs every time the dog walks in the room.  His mere existence is hilarious to her.  She waves, she rubs her eyes when she's sleepy, and she babbles a wide variety of tones and sounds- so right now it's really a toss up as to what her first word will be.  Bets are on dada, mama, or hi.

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly she is learning and growing.  She has brought such joy to our family, I can't believe how lucky we are.  I am soaking up every minute, and look forward to finding out what the future will bring.  Happy 7 months, baby girl.

Mar 19, 2015

Potty Talk

I love talking about my kids.  I love small talk about their current interests and activities or telling stories about that funny thing they did the other day.

But I also like to complain about whatever challenges we're currently facing.

After all there's always something, and it always feels like this is the thing that's never going to stop.  This one will end me.  I will definitely be the ONE person with a 38-year-old son or daughter that still spits on the floor, chews on their feet when they're nervous, or sticks the wad of gum on their face- because they're done chewing it but they can't find a garbage can.

I will happily talk about my children to almost anybody, but my favorite thing to do is to talk to someone who has children around the same age who can totally relate because 'that same thing happened to them last week!'

So yesterday, when one of my kids (not the one in diapers) PEED IN THE GARAGE- like on purpose- like it was behind a tree on a hiking trail miles away from the nearest bathroom- but it wasn't because it was MY GARAGE- like they PEED in the GARAGE- I knew what to do.

I texted my friend about it, and you know what she said?

"Both of mine have pooped on the floor inside the house."

Hahahaha it's good to have someone to talk to.  And kids are the worst.

I mean they're the best, really truly.

But they're the worst aren't they?

Her reaction to finding out one of her dearest role models peed in the garage.

Mar 16, 2015

Good Morning Monday

My brain is feeling pretty foggy on this dreary Monday morning.  I'm not complaining about the weather- God knows California needs the rain.  It's just that I didn't sleep well last night.  So, despite my second cup of coffee, all I really feel like doing right now is curling up on the couch with a blanket and staring out the window at the dark gray skies until I quietly drift off to sleep for- oh I don't know- maybe 6 or 7 hours.

I blame Mindy Kaling's audiobook "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?" for keeping me up.  When the baby went to bed at 8pm I was wiped out, so I figured I'd lay down in bed and listen to that book for a while, and then go to sleep early.  Yeah right, me!  Yeah right.  Good books keep me awake, and that's a good book.  Maybe not as deliciously amazing as Tina Fey's book "Bossypants" or Amy Poehler's "Yes Please!" but I don't think that's due to any fault on Mindy Kaling's part.  I think she's just written her book a little earlier in her story than them.  I don't know, maybe it's just me and my love for intelligent creative female role models, but I think everybody should read all three of these books.  EVERYBODY.  Go!  Now!

Anyway, I've got a few projects stewing around that I was planning on starting.  I don't want to lose my momentum by procrastinating, but I might just give myself today.  I'm thinking I'll take it slow, cuddle my baby, watch some {kid} baseball, and finish up some errands and laundry that got pushed aside the last couple of days in favor of an admittedly delightful weekend.  The word 'delightful' sounds so corny, but I had a delightfully corny weekend.  We had some friends over for a few hours, we went to a family barbecue, and there were many moments at home when I thought "Aww this is my life, how sweet."

On Sunday morning, (after a breakfast of pancakes with homemade strawberry syrup and whipped cream all cooked by Chris while I slept until 9), I returned from a jog with the baby to find my son playing out front with the two neighbor boys (remind me to talk about how awesome THAT is later because it is awesome), my middlest daughter baking cookies, and my oldest daughter sitting on the couch writing her fan fiction.  Baking cookies I get to eat and writing for fun?  Be still my beating heart.

So corny?  Absolutely.  But oh man, completely amazing.  Lovely.  Downright delightful.

Mar 13, 2015

Around Here...

Hours and hours spent at baseball fields...

Naps have been interrupted... 

Giving pitching a shot...

Getting stuff done/ playing ping pong in the garage because she loooves her pack and play...

Watching baseball in the rain...

Spotted in the wild...

Holding mom's hand for a minute before falling asleep.