Life Snapshot – Halle 3.75 yrs, Reilly 2.5 yrs, Karis 7 mos

I have been thinking more about what my purpose for blogging is. I’ve realized that my primary goal is to document the things I am learning – about God, life, motherhood, marriage, etc – so that I will never forget all the ways God has been faithful to me AND so that my children can look back someday and see His provision and goodness in a way that is relevant to them.

I want to periodically give little ‘snapshots’ of life as it is in our home. Perhaps one day it will help my daughters when they become mothers and go through the same things. And I’m quite certain that it will encourage me as I look back and realize how God carried us through these times and brought us out on the other side a bit more like Jesus.

OUR DAY

Let me just say I am thankful for the principles of Babywise and the fact that I learned to set bedtime and wake up time for the girls when they were very young. Of course, when they were babies still nursing during the night I would feed them if they woke early, but then I’d put them right back in bed and wake them up later at our ‘desired wake time.’ For us, we’ve been on a 8:30 pm – 8:30 am schedule for quite a while. Reilly used to be an earlier riser by nature, but since she and Halle have started sharing a room she’s been content to stay in bed quietly until time to get up. In theory, I would like to get up before the girls so I can get a head start on the day, but I don’t usually do that. I am a sleeper…Josh will attest to that. When he goes in to work around 6 a.m., he always kisses me goodbye and I’m usually still comatose. 🙂

Okay, so if Karis is still sleeping around 8:30, I will get H & R up first. That is actually one of my favorite times of the day. I walk in with a cheerful “Good Morning!” and am greeted with happy smiles and “Good morning, Mommy!” Halle will usually then remind me of the routine. “Mommy, lets change our diapers (pull up for her), then we can get dressed, and then we can eat breakfast!” They are super excited when I get K up and practically attack her with hugs and head rubs. What a way to wake up for a baby! 🙂

Good morning! ha!

Good morning! ha!

So, diapers are changed (x3), breakfast if fixed (usually cereal, oatmeal, eggs, and/or fruit), and I nurse Karis. Some days I eat breakfast, but some days I don’t get a chance until they have snack time later. If I got up earlier, I could eat then…but honestly, I’d rather sleep. ha.

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Sometimes the girls will watch Super Why on PBS at 9, but lately they haven’t been interested so we just play.  We try to do a quick ‘chore time’ either right after breakfast, or as soon as K goes down for her morning nap at around 10. H & R will help me gather up dirty laundry, put away clean laundry, wash windows (their favorite – they love wiping the bubbles on the glass), do a quick pick up of the play room or dining room, or help put clothes in the washer/dryer.  Sometimes one or both of the girls will help willingly, sometimes not. On the non-cooperative days, I have to give a reminder that if you don’t help the ‘team’ you don’t get to play (ex: You cannot play with your puzzles until you do your part to help clean up). I try to stay very positive and talk about teamwork a lot, and we usually end up singing the theme song from WonderPets – “What’s gonna work? Teeeeamwork!” What’s gonna work? Teeeeamwork! Yay!” My expectations for ‘helping’ are not high. I just want willing helpers. Sometimes the windows end up with streaks and fingerprints even after the girls ‘wash’ them, but if they are doing it happily and trying to contribute, that’s ok!

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helping with laundry

Whatever time is left before 10:30 (snack time) is play time. H & R are really into imaginative play and pretending to be various characters from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood usually. I love watching them play together and they really are peaceful most of the time. When there are scuffles, if Halle is the instigator I will usually ask, “Did ______ make her happy or sad/mad?” If she says sad/mad, then I will ask, “What should you have done instead?” And then we talk about a better solution. If Reilly is the instigator, there is a little less talk and I will usually just direct her to give the stolen toy back or play with something else.

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it is not unusual for someone to still be in jammies late in the morning

Snack time is at 10:30 – usually raisins, almonds, orange, or banana.

Okay – I will do this in three parts – morning/midday/evening. This is getting way too long.

Look-alike Cousins

It’s funny how some people perceive who your kids look like. Most people agree that Halle and Karis look like their Daddy. Well, it’s pretty hard to miss with Karis. 🙂 Once in a while, I will hear that Halle looks like me, but that is usually from people who don’t know Josh. I really don’t think any of my girls look alike, and neither does anyone in my close family. People who don’t know us as well sometimes used to say that Halle and Reilly looked alike, but honestly, I just don’t see it at all. To me they look completely different. I really don’t know if Reilly looks more like me or Josh. She actually resembles her cousin, Claire, more than anyone. I think those two could easily be mistaken for sisters.

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Claire (right) was a little over 2.5 when Reilly was born. That picture of her is from the day she (and her Mom, Dad, and brother) came to visit Reilly in the hospital when she was born. Reilly (left) had just turned 2 in this picture taken last fall. Not sure if I picked the best “look-alike” picture, but their similarities are quite striking to me. Below is a picture of the two of them together on Labor Day of 2012. Claire was 4.5 and Reilly not quite 2. (All the cousins were wading in the creek near our house, so that explains the nearly-naked Reilly and soaking-wet Claire)

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My girls are lucky to have a girl cousin close in age and not *too* far away (about 45 min). They so look forward to our visits with her and her family – as do we!

Endings & Beginnings

Ending: Reilly’s love affair with her pacifier.

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Beginning: Life as a “big girl” – though tonight when Josh tucked her in he said, “Reilly, you’re a big girl now, aren’t you?” She replied, “No, I’m a little girl.” I like that answer. 🙂

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I love the magic of the pacifier. But I hate what it takes to break the addiction! If it wasn’t weird for a 5 year old to sleep with a pacifier, or if it didn’t mess with her jaw alignment, I totally would have let her keep it longer. As soon as we bring out the blankie and paci at nap time or bedtime, she is as good as asleep. She could be bouncing off the walls 10 seconds earlier, but put that plug in her mouth and the blankie on my shoulder and she lays her little head down and snuggles me. No nap or bedtime battles for her. The paci is just her signal that it’s time.

I tried getting rid of it back in January. We talked about it, she understood, she agreed that she could sleep without it….that lasted about 5 minutes into nap time. Then the screaming and wailing ensued. For a LONG time. So I finally got her up and went on with our day. I was determined not to give the paci back. Bedtime rolled around and I thought, surely she will be so exhausted from having skipped her nap (which was a first ever) that she will just conk out pretty quickly. Nope. She screamed and cried for….a LONG time. No consoling, no reassurance of special treats for big girls in the morning….nothing would calm her down. So I caved. Gave the paci back and I kid you not, she was instantly happy and fell asleep within minutes.

This time, I worked up my resolve for a couple more months. Ha! Then I sent Halle to spend the night at my parents’ house so she wouldn’t have to endure the crying that was certain to come at bedtime (since they share a room). And rather than starting at nap time, we started at bedtime this go around. We talked about it all evening and *encouraged* (or bribed…?) her with the hope of chocolate chip pancakes and ice cream (actually smoothies but she doesn’t know the difference) for a reward in the morning. We praised her for being such a big girl and told her we were so proud of how brave she was, prayed with her for Jesus to help her sleep well, etc…

After I tucked her in last night, she started crying immediately after I left the room. Josh went in after about 15 minutes and held her for a few minutes, then tucked her back in. She cried for about 25 more minutes, then stopped abruptly and slept soundly for the next 11.5 hours.

She was so proud of herself in the morning and we made pancakes and smoothies and that was that. She hasn’t cried for nap time or bedtime today at all. I am so happy to have that behind us. I knew we needed to do it and it was hanging over my head for the past several months. I admit I will miss the paci-face and the way she talked with it in. 😦 We are now officially a paci-free household because Karis never got attached to it and didn’t use one at all past 3 months.

Reilly is such a gift to us. She is so spunky and funny. She makes us laugh all the time and has a smile that is contagious. She is smarter than a whip (what does that actually mean…is a whip smart?) and still seems like my little baby girl. I love watching her grow into a little girl and seeing her personality bloom.

And just for fun, here she is at 2 days old. *Sigh*

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Next up, potty training!

-Brit

Spring Fever

Like most fellow mid-westerners, we are so ready for Spring here! We had a lovely warm-ish day  last week so we all went out for a walk. We live in a nice, quiet neighborhood with very little traffic so the girls are free to run and walk alongside us when they want to.

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For the second lap, Halle wanted to ride, and looking at her so big in the jogger made me think back to when we took her for walks as a baby in the same stroller… *sigh.* She’ll be four in May.

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And Karis is going to experience her first ever Spring. 🙂 Possibly first steps, trying to eat grass, cute sun hats, bare toes and chubby legs.

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And LOTS of running around being silly!

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-Brit

This is So Much Harder Than College

…being a wife and mother, that is. Let me be clear that the depth of beauty of motherhood and marriage is unrivaled by any other experience I’ve had in life. But it is so much harder, too.

My mind has never been more stretched. My intellect is being constantly challenged in every facet of a wife and mother’s concerns: health and nutrition, finances, organization, home efficiency, cooking, cleaning, scheduling, planning…oh, yes, and the children! Three kids to feed, dress, bathe, play with, laugh with, discipline, train, teach. Nothing could be more rewarding and it is absolutely where I want to be in life, but it is plain exhausting.

When I first became a mother, I remember feeling like I was getting “dumber.” Playing with one little baby all day and having hours of free time (nap time) that were mostly spent alone made me feel like I wasn’t being challenged. Sure, the early months of sleepless nights and terrible pain of nursing my little girl were hard, but not mentally stimulating. Goo goo-gaa gaa and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star can numb the mind a bit.

It’s three years later and I’m changing my tune.  I have never been more intellectually challenged (not to mention physically, emotionally, or spiritually) in my life. The topics that are bouncing around in my brain on any (every) given day are endless. Homeschooling plans, GAPS diet research (recipes, fermenting, food prep techniques), finding new sources for all the new kinds of food we’re eating, figuring out how to budget for it all, weaning Reilly off her pacifier, potty training, cloth diapering (bought them and have used them but not as much as I’d like), nap/night potty training Halle, laundry!, implementing chore time with the girls, scheduling appointments, softball lessons, church involvement, garden planning, starting solids for Karis, reading too many books at once, pondering/praying about a million things related to mothering these three girls, staying *calm* when dealing disobedient or whiny children, showing grace to them, being intentional about loving my husband, how to get back in shape, my aching back, hips, and feet, beginning stages of researching/planning for possibly building a house in the future, visiting family, planning get togethers with friends…..

Bless you if you read all the way through that list. That list was mostly for me. I’m thinking if I write it down, it will settle my mind a bit. have no doubt that I can thrive in this season of life and that the Lord is always working in me and will be faithful to complete the work He has begun. But I can still say it’s hard, right?

The UN-crafty Mom

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My idea of craft time = free play with glitter glue. Yikes!

A mom like me can start to feel pretty inadequate if she spends much time at all browsing homeschool mom blogs. Crafty moms are flooding Pinterest with their latest creations for little ones’ birthday parties and posting tutorials on how to make butterflies and rainbows out of toilet paper rolls, pipe cleaners, and glitter. Lovely as they are, I am learning to be okay with the reality that I am not that mom. My kids’ birthday parties are decorated with Dollar Tree streamers and pink plates with a few balloons scattered around. And the one Christmas ‘craft’ I did with the girls was decorating sugar cookies.

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I have a degree in Elementary Education. Fortunately my first job was teaching fifth grade so I didn’t feel too much pressure to be overly crafty, but I definitely had the lamest bulletin boards around. Some teachers get all giddy when it’s time to design and decorate their classroom. Me, not so much. I strongly disliked that part of teaching. Even as a student in school I was much happier to do a worksheet, read a book, write a paper, or work on a group project than if I had to cut and paste anything. Blech.

Fast forward to my life as a mother now. I have three little girls. Perfect little subjects for oodles of crafts, right? So, we’ve got the play-doh, stickers, felt, beads, glitter, construction paper, pipe cleaners, and paints. Heck, I even have a glue gun. Our daily routine rarely involves the use of any of the aforementioned supplies. Once in a while I get a burst of inspiration and we might attempt a craft of sorts, but it’s not the norm. And that’s okay.

Sometimes when I start to compare myself to the crafty moms I see all over the blogosphere, the Lord will remind me that he made me unique. I should not hold myself up to another mom for comparison. Inspiration, perhaps, but not as a measuring stick. I may not be artsy, but I love to get my hands dirty in the garden. I enjoy cooking. I love to read and learn and ask questions and solve problems and talk about life and politics and science and God and history and food and sports. Now, whenever I start to worry that my girls are missing out on something by not having craft time every day, I just look at all the things I CAN  teach them. And I have a feeling that if I am teaching out of a passion inside me then they will learn far more than if I am trying to be someone I’m not.

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My oldest two girls have both learned the alphabet by 18 months and all the letter sounds well before age two, so do I really need to do a letter of the week activity every day with noodles or shaving cream in a ziploc bag? My oldest started reading short words at 3.5 years old and can write many words completely on her own. Clearly God has enabled her to learn even *despite* my lack of craftiness. When he made me the mother of our girls, he knew what he was doing. My strengths are what they are for a reason, and the same is true for my weaknesses.

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If you are a crafty mom, bless your heart. 🙂 Your children will benefit from that. After all, God made you the mother of the child(ren) you have for a reason! Your talents, quirks, temperaments, and passions are all a part of the beauty of God’s plan for your family. But if you are like me, a bit deficient in the craft department, don’t look at someone else’s gifts with envy and fail to see the *gifts* that lie within you and can be used to bless others, especially your children! After all, parents have been their children’s main educators for thousands of years – and they did it without Pinterest, blogs, JoAnn Fabrics, or Hobby Lobby. You can too.
-Brit

Laughing with My Girls

Sometimes I really need some ‘silly’ knocked into me. I like to think I have a good sense of humor, but truth be told, most people who know me would classify me as a typically “serious” person. Serious can be good – after all, this being a wife and mommy thing is serious business. But silly can be good too. Seriously good.

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 Tonight I got down on the floor and acted silly with Halle for the first time in too long. I laughed so hard!

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As I watched her squeal and giggle in classic 3 year-old girl fashion, I felt sorry for all the times I’ve missed this same opportunity. Too many times I’ve said “no” to laughing with my girls because I had something more less important to do.

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Lately, we’ve noticed Halle being in a very disagreeable mood more frequently. I think I found out the root cause of that tonight. She needs to see more joy in her mama.

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Oh, I absolutely do feel joy inside – every day, but regrettably I’m not communicating that to my girls in a language they can understand. My little girls don’t need to hear me talk more about being thankful and full of joy, they need to see me laugh. That is the language of joy to a 3 year old.

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  Monkey see, monkey do, right? Okay, or in human terms, more is caught than taught.

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I’m praying for the Lord to remind me every day, all day that these girls need a joyful mama and home filled with laughter. This is not a burden, but a lovely gift. What better job could I ask for?

What things do you do with your kids that gets everyone belly-laughing? Aren’t these the memories we want to be making?

-Brit