As I walk quickly through the kitchen I ask you to grab your back pack and throw the lunch in it that I had just made you, so you would be completely ready to go. I tell you that I just have to get myself ready really quick and then we’ll load up. A few minutes later you skip into my bathroom and go “wow, mom! You get ready so fast!” Without even realizing it my mind instantly replays the entire morning. It replays getting you ready and combing your hair, getting your lunch made, answering some work e-mails, changing diapers, getting the boy’s room picked up and both of them dressed and then making my way back across the house quickly to go throw clothes on myself. I replay grabbing the easiest dress and sandals I can find and throwing them on. I replay looking in the mirror and realizing I don’t have the time to fix my hair so I just grab the head wrap I had on the day before and put it on again. Then throw some deodorant on and accept that I am as ready as it’s going to get. When you came skipping in I had just glanced at my two day old make-up and pasty face and thought about the days I used to leave for work every morning completely put together. The days I used to shower on a daily basis, do my make up on a daily basis, and actually feel attractive on a regular basis. But as I replay all these thoughts I realize it is part of the beauty of motherhood. As challenging as it is at times, you learn to rid yourself of selfishness and give yourself fully to others. Your family’s needs become your highest priority and you learn to manage your own needs around theirs. If I’ve learned anything over the past 5 years, it’s that there is no room for selfishness in parenting or in marriage for that fact. I know the time will come that there will be time for “me” again, but for now, accepting, and even enjoying, this stage in life keeps me going. It’s definitely a learning process that I’m sure continues through all your parenting years.
As I’m sitting here at my computer working, baby in my lap, and watching my two oldest children playing happily together outside, I’m having one of those moments that I wish I could stop time and freeze this moment in my memory forever. As they chase each other across the yard with buckets on their heads and making siren sounds, I think about the fact that my daughter goes to school next year and that my middle son is going to be lost without his partner in crime. I feel my throat tighten and my eyes water at the thought of this. Some days are pure chaos in our house. Many days end without having had the chance to catch our breath and then the next day starts while we’re still winded. Sometimes this goes on for days, sometimes weeks. Some days I wish for nothing more than calm to rush through our house. I long for the days that night would come and I could climb into bed and snuggle with my husband while the cares of life melted away and no responsibilities flashed through my thoughts. But then I remind myself that this beautiful chaos isn’t going to last forever. This is the last year I am going to get to enjoy having all three of my kids home with me. This is the last year that my middle child will have his best friend with him to play all day. This is the last year that I’ll ever have a baby under one. As each year passes, more and more memories and stages of life fade into the past where they will stay infinitely, never to be relived. I remind myself of this constantly.
The nights Ryan are gone (which are quite a few these days) are usually the most chaotic. They consist of putting the two older ones to bed with a baby in tow. Some nights baby boy cries throughout the process. On those nights I find myself hurrying as fast as I can to get everyone ready and in bed, and after I shut the last door relief rushes over me as I am then able to tend to Cason’s needs and curb his cries. There are also some nights that he’s happy and sits there as we all read books, talk about random things, and pray. Those are the best nights. The ones that memories are made of. After this I move on to straightening and getting the house ready for another day of dirtying, and then doing my night time chores. I then move on to making Ryan’s lunch for the next day and Kinsley’s also for the two days she has her morning pre-k class. Next I struggle for an hour or two to get my little sleep fighter to sleep while simultaneously handing out additional kisses and hugs to Kinsley and shooing her back to bed numerous times. Finally I settle in to do the rest of my work that I didn’t have time to do during the day. Then I fall into bed around 11:00-midnight only to feel like my eyes have just closed when baby boy wakes up for one of his nighttime feedings. But as I sit there nursing my littlest one, exhausted and eyes half open, the little voice comes alive in my head. The one that has visited me constantly since becoming a parent 4 1/2 years ago. It begs for me to not wish these moments away. It encourages me to soak it in and to remember that these moments are going to be over before I realize it, and once they’re gone, they’re gone forever. Time stops for no one. You either keep sprinting to keep up, or you’ll be left behind with life’s responsibilities piling on top of you. You’ll have pictures, but pictures don’t capture the emotions of the person behind the camera. That’s what saddens me the most. The emotions, the love, the proud feelings, are all archived with the pictures. Except you forget about those specific feelings. You can’t take a picture of them to save them to relive some distant day in the future while reminiscing. I remember times when my oldest, Kinsley, was a baby. I would look at her in awe, completely smitten, and wish to never forget that moment. Those moments fade though, and so do their memories. Before you know it that little baby girl is a sassy, spunky, energetic 4 year old and memories of baby Kinsley are overshadowed with 4 year old Kinsley. Those baby memories seem like a lifetime ago now that they have been mixed in with memories of two more babies and a 4 year distance in time.
So what is the secret to happiness and survival throughout the rough of parenting young children? For me, it is realizing that everything is a stage and will pass before you know it. The sleepless nights will end. The child will be potty trained. The frustrations of them not being able to communicate will end. They will learn to tell you they have to go to the bathroom BEFORE you’re in the car and pulling out. They will be able to feed themselves. They will be able to get themselves ready and put themselves to bed. They will be able to play in the morning and let you sleep in. They wont need you like they once did. It will happen, and it will happen quickly. When it does, I know I’ll miss the days that I was needed. I’ll miss being in the rough of raising young children.
This is what keeps me going. It’s what keeps me happy. It’s what keeps me fulfilled. My job may not be glamorous, but I’ve got precious little souls that need me and an amazing husband by my side through it all. I love this beautiful chaos that I call my life.
Things have been so busy and hectic for some time now, but I won’t bore you with those details since this post is about YOU. Since I am getting to this post TWO months late, I will mostly stick to the information that I kept track of in my phone. Each month that you grow older, and each new stage you enter you seem to begin to become easier and easier. You are beginning to realize and understand so much more and I love getting to see you hit each of these milestones. We love you, little monster. Don’t know what we’d do without you.
Some of your firsts, and snapshots of your emerging personality:
15 1/2 months- walks backwards
15 1/2 months- you like to help put your clothes on . (Putting arms and legs through when I hold it out for you)
16 months- for as long as I can remember when you nurse you always have to have your paci in your top hand. The second you start nursing you start searching for it and aren’t happy until you can find it. Then you’ll play with it in your hand until you’re done nursing.
16 months- says “up!” When you want me to pick you up.
16 months- can open and close doors and like to do it all the time.
16 months- love to turn light switches on and off
16 months- Kinsley walked into the kitchen after she got up from nap and you made a bee line straight to her and wrapped your arms around her. You have become so affectionate! Then you two promptly headed for your room and Kinsley informed me that y’all were going to play in there. This usually means that you two drag as many books and blankets to the corner behind the rocking chair and hide back there together. Absolutely melts my heart to see you two like this!
16.5 months- you are really beginning to love books. For the longest time you really had no interest. Now you love to sit and look at them and like it when I tell you what the pictures are of. You are really good at pointing to things that I ask you too also. Like, where’s the dog? Where’s the apple? Etc.
17 months- when we sing “ring around the Rosie’s, pocket full of posies” you’ll say “ashes ashes” and then will say “dowww” too and squat down. It’s so stinking cute.
17 months- you are starting to understand so much more. When we are doing our little bedtime routine I can tell you to go get me a book to read and you’ll waddle over to your bookshelf to grab one. Then you’ll carry it over to the rocking chair to me. Also, if I tell you it’s time to nurse you walk over to the rocking chair and wait for me. It’s so cute.
17 1/2 months- says “chicken.” It sounds really good too and it’s so stinking cute!
17 1/2 months- says “baaaad”
17 1/2 months- “all doneeeee”
17 1/2 months- says “diaper!” (Kind of sounds like it.)
17 1/2 months- will clap to say “yes” for something.
You have been so loving lately. You love to hug and kiss, even dolls!
San Antonio Trip (16 1/2 months):
I was so excited to get to tag along with dada to his conference in San Antonio and had a blast, but it was a rough weaning you (well, you kind of weaned. You ended up picking back up nursing when I got back for a bit longer) and then leaving you for the first time. I’m excited for you to grow up and become more independent from me, but on the other hand it is so hard for me. I know you’re my last baby and because of that a lot of these “lasts” are extra difficult for me. It is also really hard for me to leave you guys and that will never change. The only time I had been away from Kinsley before was when you were born, and now this is the first time I’ve been away from you both. It was hard for me to take my mind off of you two when I’m away. I suppose that goes along with motherhood. About 30min down the road we were grabbing food I looked at your dada and proudly said “See, I’m through crying now.” Then promptly lost it again. Haha. Dada laughed at my ridiculousness. Nina took good care of you two while I was gone, just like I knew she would. It was really good for me and your dada to get to spend some one on one time together. It had been a long time and having little kids can be stressful at times. It was good for us to have a reminder of what it’s like to just be a couple. Once you are a parent it seems like that is your whole identity. It can be easy to put your spouse on the back burner when you’re busy tending to the constant needs little ones and a home.
4th meeting: Heading to Missouri for this meeting made me a little nervous. Back in Dec/Jan we went to Dothan for the New Years Meeting and you spent the bulk of every service crying and with me in the back rocking you. It wasn’t too bad of a trip, but listening to a baby cry a lot isn’t exactly my idea of a “good time” and getting you to sleep in the hotel was not easy at all. Thankfully the 4th wasn’t like that. You wanted to be held most of the time, but you were pretty good each service and in general. Your daddy and I decided that when we had children that we weren’t going to change our lives and let everything revolve around you two. For the most part we have stuck to that. You guys have fit into our lives and our schedule, and having little children isn’t too bad when you keep yourself focused on the big picture. I’m looking forward to future meetings. I know it will keep getting easier as you guys get older. I also know you will grow to love them as much as your sister already does.
Sleep, sleep, baby: You have always been my good sleeper. I can’t remember exactly when you went down to one nap a day, but you kept two for quite a bit longer than your sister did. You like your sleep and you like for me to just lay you down and let you go to sleep on your own. For the longest time you wouldn’t let me rock you at all. You just wanted to be put in your crib and left alone. Now you are starting to like being rocked too, so it’s nice that I’m able to get my cuddle fix when I need it. When you went down to one nap a day that nap is usually 1.5- 2 hrs long. You also go to bed earlier than your sister, usually by about 8pm, and then will wake up at 7-7:30am. I can’t complain. You have always been so much easier than Kinsley to read when it comes to sleeping. I think part of that is because Kinsley has never really needed much sleep. I just couldn’t understand how a child could be as fast paced as she was and not need sleep. Now I realize and understand she just doesn’t need as much as you.
Nursing/Weaning: Had I not gone to San Antonio with Dada, I probably would have continued to nurse you longer. I stopped nursing you the day I left for San Antonio, which was when you were about 16 1/2 months. I figured that would be the last time I would ever get to. I thought that since I had only been nursing you once or twice a day that my milk would just finish drying up and go away while I was gone. It didn’t though. I was gone 3 days and nursed you when I got back because I was loaded. I didn’t have near as much as I did when I left, but I still had a decent supply left. You ended up continuing to nurse until you were 17 months and then I weaned you for good. With you and Kinsley both it was harder on me than you. You guys were both pretty okay with being done (you a little less than her) and I was the one that was sad. It’s a unique bonding experience that only a mother gets with her child. It’s something that you’ll never remember, but I always will and it was extra hard weaning you knowing that you’re my last baby. Having loved that bonding experience, it was hard knowing I’d never get to have it again.
We got chickens!!
Wrapping it up: It has truly been a life changing year and a half. We have had our ups and downs, but I think that is the way it tends to be with little ones. We hope and pray we are raising you both right. We want nothing more than to see your sweet faces in Heaven someday. We love you so much!
Alright, I’m climbing up on a soapbox today, but I promise I won’t stay here long. ; )
It seems like almost every week I stumble across an article written by someone claiming that they have a messy home because their kids are too busy being “happy” and “having fun.” These articles spread like wildfire on facebook. It’s a bandwagon so many are quick to jump on because it sounds good and it makes you feel good- unless you have a clean home. A few quotes that most everyone has probably heard are: “messy homes mean happy kids”, “my house is messy because I’m busy playing with my kids”, or “Our home is messy because we are too busy making memories.” Lately there have been a slew of articles flying around insinuating that if you have a clean home, your children are being ignored or are being deprived of having a fun childhood. Today I stumbled across this article (which is what started my rant. Ha): http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2014/07/21/i-blamed-my-wife-for-our-messy-house-i-was-wrong-for-many-reasons/. The following quote is one of the statements that really got me, “I’d rather not be that mom who ignores our kids, and myself, because I’m so busy worrying about what the neighbors might think of our messy house.”
I want to start by saying that whether you keep a spotless house, a pig sty, or somewhere in between- it doesn’t matter to me. I’m not trying to persuade anyone either way. It’s your house and and you and your family are the ones that need to be content and happy with it. I’m not here to judge anyone’s house or home-keeping abilities, it just seems like statements like the ones made in the above article are being thrown around often, and it is degrading to those of us who work hard to keep a clean house. Making it sound like moms with clean homes sacrifice their children’s happiness and “ignore” them so they can live in a clean home. My house is not spotless, but it is most always clean. If it’s not clean, it’s about 5 min away from being clean. I don’t enjoy cleaning by any means, but I am happier in a clean house. In fact, I feel like I’m losing my grasp on my house and life when I start getting behind on my household duties. I just can’t do clutter. It makes me feel like I’m slowly being suffocated. It’s just my personality- I can’t help that. I also feel a strong responsibility to Ryan. I feel guilty when he gets home and I haven’t had time to pick up the playroom or if the kitchen is messy from me and the kids cooking or just from a busy day. As a middle school principal Ryan gets his fair share of chaos. It’s not something I want him to always have to come home to too. Some days it is unavoidable and some days with little kids ARE sheer chaos, but I try to control it as much as I can.
With that said, here are a few reasons why I have a clean house AND happy kids, and why it is important to me. : )
1. Sometimes my kids help me clean and I think it’s good for them. No, they don’t do a very good job. Yes, it usually takes twice as long. This morning Easton helped me sort his and Kinsley’s clean laundry so I could take it to the room it belonged in. It did take longer, but it was so fun to see him running back and forth between the two baskets figuring out where the clothes needed to go. Then we all went to the rooms the clothes belonged in and I put them away while the kids played. Sometimes Kinsley sweeps up messes under the kitchen table after they eat, and she’s pretty good at it! In fact the other night Ryan was gone and I had gotten the kids their food and then ran to the bathroom while they were eating. Easton decided to dump his rice and quinoa all over the floor and when I came back into the kitchen Kinsley had grabbed the broom and swept most of it into a pile and said “See mom, look what I did for you!” How awesome is that? They also help me pick up the play room when we’re done playing, and now Kinsley is at the age that she can pick up her own room and put the stuff where it actually goes. As any parent knows, it is not possible to always include the kids in the household cleaning, but I do when I can because I feel like it is important for them to learn to clean up after themselves. I realize doing chores together is not the same as just sitting down and reading or playing blocks with them, but we do plenty of that too.
2. Sometimes my kids help me cook. Sometimes we make things specifically for them so they can be involved such as cookies and church bread, and then other times I let them help me cook so that I can get things done that I need to. The other day we ran out of our breakfast granola bars and peanut butter oatmeal balls and the kids “helped” me make more. It gets messy, but they have fun mixing and stirring and it is a learning experience. It does take longer and there is a bigger mess to clean up when we’re done, but I get to do things that I need to get done and they get to help and be involved. The thing I like best about letting them help is that they are not in other rooms trashing them while I am doing something completely different. At least it consolidates the mess so it’s easier to clean up. ; )
3. My kids DO get to make messes and have fun even though I keep a clean house. I work hard for my clean house and I do not feel like I spend any less time with my kids to have it. In fact, I usually work “overtime” to keep it clean. I clean on and off all day long because I clean as I go. We eat breakfast, we clean it up. We trash the playroom playing, we clean it up. We make cookies, we clean up the mess. The kids go outside and get filthy playing in the yard, we clean them up. That may sound exhausting to some, but it’s a priority to me. Also, since I clean as we go throughout the day when the end of the day hits, I don’t feel completely overwhelmed. I do still have chores once the kids go down, but not near as much as I would have to do had I not cleaned as we went during the day. If you’re lucky like me, you have a husband who often helps on these last chores for the day. For some this type of schedule might seem ridiculous. I mean, you’re just gonna get it dirty again the next day, right? Yep. You’re right, you will. But at least I get to start the next day with a clean slate.
4. I have little eyes on me. Even though she is only 3 years old, right now I am in the beginning stages of teaching my daughter how to be a home keeper, wife, and mother. She partially learns this from me and my actions, and to me that is a big responsibility. One I often feel like I am failing at. It is a heavy weight on my shoulders knowing that I have little eyes constantly on me, and that my actions are helping to form and shape who they are becoming.
As mothers and fathers we ALL have weaknesses and areas that we waste time that we’ll never get back. Maybe it’s facebook, pinterest, or tv. Maybe it’s long showers, naps, lounging around, or reading books and articles. It doesn’t matter what it is, the point is that there is no possible way that every free minute that a mom could be cleaning is spent playing with her children, nor should it be that way. Trying to say that one spends all day playing with their kids instead of doing other things (like a quote in the article above insinuates) is completely absurd. Our children are capable of and should learn to entertain themselves also. It is important to spend time with them, to read to them, to teach them new things, and to play with them, but it is not feasible for that to take place all day long. For some reason we as mothers feel like we need to constantly justify our actions. It is OKAY and necessary to spend time on ourselves. It is OKAY to choose to take a shower instead of cleaning up the mess from lunch. It is OKAY to lay down and read during the kids naps instead of cleaning the bathrooms. It’s okay.
Alright, Kinsley just came sprinting out of her room from her nap. Guess I’ll be cutting this rant off abruptly. I’ll leave you with a picture of my special little “helpers.”
Over the last couple months life with two kids has gotten so incredibly much easier. You are still a little cranky pants a lot, but over all you are much happier! Not only are you happier, but you love to run around and play with your big sister. You guys don’t know what to do with yourselves when the other goes down for nap and isn’t around. You guys fight a lot also, but I can tell you two are so attached to each other. I love it. It makes me so happy to see you guys forming a bond and knowing that you both have a play mate. It is so fun for me to get to watch you grow and your personality and understanding explode. I’m so thankful that I get to stay home with you little munchkins and experience these day to day changes. I can’t imagine being anywhere else. You and Kinsley make my heart so incredibly happy and so much fuller than I ever thought possible. I absolutely love getting to be your mom. It’s hands down the most rewarding and best accomplishment I have in my life yet. : )
12 1/2 months- can take 5 steps in a row
12 1/2 months- gives lots and lots of kisses
13 months- first word! “Dah!” (Dog)
13.5 months- high five!
13.5 months- will say “bye bye” and wave.
13.5 months- will say “uh uh” while shaking your head no.
14 months- says “ball”
15 months- recognizes the word head and will put your hand on your head when you hear it.
14 months- you are goofy, HAPPY, INDEPENDENT, and getting to be so sweet again! I love you more and more each day. You are absolutely presh.
14 months- sometimes I leave you in your crib for a few minutes after you wake up if I’m trying to get something done. Lately you will reach down to your laundry basket and pull the lid into your crib. You will also grab anything in there that you can reach. It’s not uncommon now to find dirty clothes in your crib.
14.5 months- you are walking WELL now. You’ve been walking some on and off for quite awhile, but now you’re walking everywhere, all the time. Yay!!!! After you started walking you became a whole different kid. You love being able to walk and the freedom it brings. This has been such a relief for me and a game changer in the whole being a parent to two little ones. It makes things a lot easier.
15 months- loves to push the button on my iPhone to make it light up. Thankfully you haven’t figured out how to swipe it open yet. You also like the app “peek a boo barn”
15 months- you have been fussy and sick the past several days. I also think that you may be starting to cut your two year molars because you’ve been chewing back there like crazy. I just hope they all come in quick!!!
15 months- you get super jealous of kinsley when I hold her. She pretty much feels the same about you too. You two like your attention.
15 months- Even though you two fight a lot, you also absolutely love playing with each other. You guys spend a lot of time chasing each other around and running off and hiding with each other. You guys will disappear often and I’ll find you both hiding in one of your closets together playing. It’s so precious. You guys are definitely partners in crime.
More about you:
*You’re such a cuddle bug. You love to hug and give kisses. I love that about you.
*You have a temper. Sometimes you just get so frustrated and just can’t pull it together. You’ll start screaming and pitching a fit and get so worked up. I’m hoping you grow out of this as you get older. I know that your inability to communicate well feeds into it and I hope that once you start talking more and understanding more this phase gets better.
*Kinsley takes stuff from you A LOT. It makes you so angry and you will start squealing and hollering at her. It would frustrate me too! My goal right now is to get her to stop constantly snatching stuff from you. Pretty soon you will be able to fight back, and I don’t think she’ll try it near as much when you’re able to.
*You can be a squealing crazy maniac, but you can also be so sweet and loving. Hopefully the sweet and loving keeps coming out more and more. : P
Sleep sleep, baby:
For awhile there I thought you were dropping your morning nap, but you seem to be hanging onto it for now. You need your sleep or you become such a cranky pants! For a couple months you were sleeping in until 7:30-8:30 in the morning and it was AMAZING. Unfortunately that didn’t last. Your normal wake up time is between 6- 6:45am. The usual is 6:30am. You go down for bed between 8:30-9:30pm, or just whenever you and Kinsley get tired. Since you wake up so early you are usually tired by 9-10am. Then you and Kinsley take an afternoon nap at 3ish. The days that you sleep in until 7:30 or so, you usually only take one nap and you and Kinsley don’t nap at the same time on those days. It stinks to not get a break during the day on those days, but it’s also kind of cool to get some one on one time with each of you. To be honest I would be perfectly fine if you dropped the morning nap if you would sleep in past 6:30! I would rather get more time in the morning to sleep than continue your morning nap. I’ve tried pushing only doing one nap to see if you would sleep longer at night and you didn’t. All it did was make you super cranky during the day. (No thanks!) From Kinsley I learned that you guys will take care of your sleep on your own. I’ll just continue to follow your cues and when you’re ready for one nap a day, I’ll know. No need to rush it or try to push it to be what I want. It’s so much easier to just go with the flow than to get stressed out because you aren’t doing what I want.
Food and Nursing:
You’re my veggie, legumes, and nuts kid. You are not a big fruit eater. I’ve tried every fruit too. This is completely opposite of your sis because she would eat nothing but fruit all day if I’d let her. You on the other hand just aren’t a big fan of it. You will eat strawberries sometimes, and you kind of like Gala apples which is what I feed you most because it’s what you’ll eat! You would much rather be eating a tray full of black beans though. So weird, I know. Your favorite veggies are green beans and carrots, you love black beans, and you love almost any kind of nuts. We mostly eat cashews and pistachios. I also make smoothies after dinner sometimes for dessert and you love those. I just make them with fruit, yogurt, and a little bit of milk, so I guess you are getting some fruit there too. I’m so glad you’re a good eater though. I try to let you guys try a variety of fruits and veggies so that you can experience them all and develop your own likes and dislikes instead of just buying what I like. Hopefully your love for veggies continues as you get older. Thankfully you don’t seem to have my sweet tooth! : )
Nursing wise, you still nurse about 5 times a day. I am planning to tag along with your Daddy to his principal conference in San Antonio at the end of June though, so I am gonna have to have you weaned by then. To be completely honest, I’m not ready yet. It is really hard for me because you’re my last little one I get to have and I’m not ready to let go of it yet. I’m not ready to let go of you being a baby either. I love the bond that nursing brings. Plus, once you’re weaned, you don’t NEED me anymore. I feel like you enter a completely different stage once that happens. It’s going to be rough weaning you AND leaving you guys, but I know it will be fun and good for me and daddy. I hope you know how much I love you and how much I love being your mom little man. It’s a lot. A crazy lot.
Wrapping it up:
I feel like mine and your daddy’s bond has continued to get stronger and stronger with you the older you have gotten. The more you begin to interact, the more fun it gets for us. It is so neat to see your personality come alive and for your likes and dislikes to become more apparent. As you’ve gotten older yours and Kinsley’s bond has grown as well. You guys are completely attached to each other most days. You two are constantly on the go now and both seem to be very active. I’m glad you’re becoming an active kiddo like her so y’all can help wear each other out! Hah. We love you so much Easton Ryan. We’re so blessed to have you and it is so fun watching you grow and your personality explode. I can’t imagine what life would be like without your sweet dimpled face!
Before you become a parent you just can’t imagine the type of love that you will feel as a parent. It’s a type of love you’ve never felt before and so it is difficult to imagine. It’s amazing loving something so instantly and so strongly. We would do absolutely anything for you little man. We love an adore you!