Posted in family life

Aubade at eight months

What do babies do at eight months?

Well, this one is learning about “in” and “out” with her little red bucket and whatever miscellaneous toys she can find:

IMG_2237

She’s playing peek-a-boo on her own, taking the initiative to hide under a box or scarf then pop out eager to catch the smile or laugh on someone else’s face.

She’s noticing silly sounds that don’t match the normal cadence of speech (like the chug-chug of a train) and laughing at them:

IMG_2243

She’s eating every piece of food she can get her hands on and begging for more! We’re doing baby-led weaning so she’s had quite a large variety of foods already, ranging from the standard banana and Cheerios to pesto and spicy cilantro wheat berries.

She’s charging into every splash pad, hose spray, and puddle she can find, with no fear and pure delight!

IMG_2219

She’s solidly outgrown all her 9 month clothes and is starting to move from the 12 month to the 18 month selection (probably has something to do with all that eating!)

She understands and communicates so well; she is her own little person with an opinion about everything, an openness to exploration, and a great sense of humor – more quirky than Rondel’s pure goofiness, as if seeing something funny hiding just under the surface of everyday life:

IMG_2092

She’s bold, tough, independent, smart, joyful, curious, and persistent – I’m only eight months into knowing her and already I can’t imagine life without her!

Advertisements
Posted in musings

thoughts and worries of a distracted mind

I’ve been thinking a lot about a few topics lately, none of which have made for suitable blog posts.

First, I’ve been very actively consumed by an off-the-record project I’m attempting for my job (basically, I’m trying to develop a database and website for our team, for essentially no cost, using only my own skills and whatever products are accessible for free or close to it. It’s difficult, time-consuming, and addictively enjoyable).

Second, I’ve been noticing how my hormonal cycle still affects my depression even with the Zoloft. And when I’m exhausted and down for a week or so out of every month, I feel like I spend the rest of the month digging myself back out of a hole. Still, it’s much better than being continually tired and depressed!

Finally, I’ve been concerned – or maybe nervous is a better word – about Rondel. His quality of speech hasn’t improved over the past year or so (although his language development has, which would be a greater problem), and may have even declined over the past six months. For people who don’t know him, he is a challenge to understand at all, and even I have to ask him to repeat himself if I can’t see his face or the context of his speech. He’s also had some anxiety or behavioral issues – it’s difficult to tell which may be causing the other, or if they’re both just feeding each other – that have made it increasingly difficult to take the kids out. On a good day he’s sweet, loving, funny, imaginative, energetic, and helpful; on a bad day he’s impulsive, defiant, silly in a “let’s make breaking the rules into a game” sort of way, aggressive, and clingy. And the bad days seem to be getting more frequent, and I never know what sort of day it’s going to be. But in my mind I’m just endlessly walking the treadmill of worry, and that doesn’t make for great reading šŸ™‚ So we’re waiting to have him evaluated, and hopefully that will be profitable. Actually, I wouldn’t mind prayers to that effect!

But it has been a while, and we’re finally starting to settle into the semester and the new house, so hopefully you will see a lot more posts on here soon! I keep reminding myself that I need to write things down or else I’m going to forget them all when the kids have their own families and are wondering how far the apple fell from the tree…

Posted in family life

to saw or to claw?

Rondel’s imagination and creativity have been accelerating exponentially these days, with the rather amusing side effect of turning him into a small hilarious lawyer with regards to our house rules. Case in point: after watching me saw half an inch off of my closet rod this afternoon, he found his small plastic saw and scoured the house searching for things to pretend to saw. Naturally, one of the things he found was his brother, and he started “sawing” Limerick’s neck with his toy.

Now, I love for the boys to wrestle and play rough with each other – it lets them get their physical energy out and teaches them to modulate their expression of it since being too violent would end the fun with tears and conflict. And I don’t have any problem with them “sword-fighting” with random objects, taking turns being the “good guy” or “friendly monster” and fighting away the “bad guy” or “scary monster.” But I really didn’t feel comfortable with Rondel pretending to saw his brother. In retrospect, I can’t say why for sure! In the moment, however, I asked him to stop and told him he could saw anything he wanted but not people, because real saws would never be used on people.

He acquiesced amicably (he usually does when I have some sort of reason he doesn’t have a comeback for), but about five minutes later I saw the saw come out again in a tussle with his brother.

“Rondel!” I remonstrated. “What did I tell you about using the saw on people?”

“I’m not sawing him!” retorted Rondel. “It’s just that I’m a Therizinosaurus and I’m using the saw to be my pretend claw!”

Well then.

I know this is the moment where I’m supposed to go all spirit-of-the-law… but I just felt proud! First, he was playing pretend, using the props at hand to construct a vivid imaginary world. Second, he was recalling rather esoteric information that we’d discovered while reading together (Therizinosaurus has the longest claws of any known dinosaur) and working it into his play, which is one of the best ways to cement knowledge. And finally, he was cognizant of my request not to pretend to saw people and was actually being quite respectful of it, even while doing essentially the same physical action I had put a stop to before!

And honestly, because it was the thought of sawing people and not the physical act of thumping someone gently with a piece of plastic shaped like a saw that had bothered me in the first place, I didn’t mind what he was doing at all.

Posted in family life

night time fears

Limerick has been having significant difficulties falling asleep, at nap time and at bed time, even when he is obviously exhausted (bags under his eyes, defiant and emotionally-driven behavior, constant yawns, lack of appetite and a desire for milk, etc.). I’ve been having trouble identifying exactly what is causing it; Limerick doesn’t seem able to express the problem when I ask him what’s wrong or what would help.

Tonight, knowing that a general source of fear among the under four set in the family has been monsters lurking in various places, I asked him if he was scared. Instantly his body got calm and he buried his face in his hands. (In the dialogue that follows, note that Limerick refers to himself as “you”).

“You’re afraid of a monster.”

“Monsters aren’t real, sweetie. They are just pretend, just part of a story, from someone’s imagination.”

“But you stillĀ think there’s a monster.”

“Well, can we pray and ask God to keep you safe from any monsters and help you not be scared?”

“That won’t help.”

“What if we ask God to send an angel to fight away any scary or bad things while you’re asleep?”

“That won’t help. You will stillĀ think there’s a monster.”

Oh baby. The power of our thoughts is so great. I’ve been in a similar place, where I had a belief that I cognitively knew was unfounded but couldn’t let go (mine was linked to my depression), and I know how hard it is to change one’s thoughts – especially when tired, and probably even more so when one is only two years old. Honestly, I’m impressed he was able to articulate his thoughts so clearly, and I’m not surprised he is struggling to overcome his fears with reason.

I asked him if he had ever seen a monster, and he said he had seen one in a movie. Now, he knows theĀ Monsters Inc. monsters aren’t real, and he seemed to have overcome that fear, so I was a bit confused until he said, “You saw one in the snowman movie.” Ah! “Marshmallow isn’t real either, sweetheart. He is just a pretend story.” The relief in his body was palpable, and at last he was able to relax and fall asleep.

Sometimes it is so hard to get to the root of a behavior with a young child, because it can be difficult for them to understand it themselves, much less explain it to an adult. But it is so much better – for him and for our relationship – when I can take the time to discover the fears and thoughts that are going on underneath, instead of simply trying to address his refusal to lie down and go to sleep by controlling his actions.

 

Posted in family life

silly kisses

We moved about two weeks ago (hence the silence on the blog – packing, unpacking, and dealing with leaks at the new house has kept me pretty busy!), and while the kids have settled in fairly well, bedtime is – as always – the time of day when their feelings of anxiety and discomfort seem to rise to the surface.

So we have the music and night light just like we did at the old house, but I’ve started lying in the room with the boys until they fall asleep, either with Aubade on the floor or with Limerick in his bed, which he much prefers. Limerick saw part ofĀ Monsters, Inc and, while he plays silly games about monsters with Rondel all day long and has a great time doing so, is now concerned that monsters will come out of his closet in the night. I’ve been shutting his closet doors and stacking toy boxes in front of them and that seems to help.

Another thing I added to the bedtime routine, to try to lighten everyone’s mood and end the day with laughter and snuggles, was “silly kisses” – essentially, the goodnight routine from Sandra Boynton’s bookĀ Night-Night, Little Pookie.

nightnightpookie

I use her words almost verbatim, but I replace the little pig’s name, Pookie, with whichever child’s name I’m tucking in at the moment.

“Good night, Rondel ears,” I say, for instance, as I kiss his ears.

“Good night, Rondel nose,” I say, as I kiss his nose.

“Good night, Rondel eyes that are ready to close,” I say, as I (attempt to) kiss his eyes. At this point there is inevitably much giggling.

“There are gentle winds blowing, and stars all above you. Night-night, little Rondel, I love you and love you, and love you and love you, and love you and love you,” I say, as I give him final hugs and snuggles.

Tonight, after I tucked them both in, Rondel said he wanted to give me silly kisses good night also, so I stood up and leaned in next to his bunk bed as he went through the whole ritual:

“Good night, Mommy ears. Good night, Mommy eyes that are ready to close. Good night, Mommy nose.” He kissed my glasses instead of my eyes since they were in the way, but made sure that he got both ears.

“There’s a gentle wind blowing and stars all above you – night-night, little Mommy, I love you and love you.”

I tucked him back in under his blankets and whispered in his ear how much I loved him, and as he snuggled down in his pillows he murmured, “I love you, Mommy.” And he was asleep in fifteen minutes, tired, cozy, and secure in his mommy’s presence and love.

The house may be different, but the family that surrounds him is the same, and that constancy gives him peace in the midst of transition. What a privilege it is to be able to provide that foundation and assurance to people who are still so small and vulnerable! I really don’t mind sleeping on the floor at all, if it is a tangible gift of my love to my children that meets them where they need me to be.

Posted in family life

my aubade (a belated six month post)

Aubade is not quite seven months old, and already I find it hard to imagine what our lives would be like without her.

IMG_7191

She is bold, tenacious, and adventurous; she pursues what she wants with determination and persistence. She constantly pushes herself to do more, to learn more, to find out more, and to be more. When she falls, as all of us fall in the process of growth, she gets back up again to keep trying – but what I find more remarkable still is that she takes the time to appreciate the world from her new perspective before going back to her original course of action, and is not so bent on one path that she is blinded to alternate opportunities around her.

(She can fall straight backwards from a standing position, gaze curiously around her while lying on her back for several minutes, than roll over and continue playing and exploring as though nothing had happened. I am amazed every time it happens.)

IMG_7195

She finds happiness and excitement in just about everything she encounters: the feel of grass on her feet, water to splash, a smile to return, a familiar voice, a snuggle and a kiss, a toss in the air, the wind on her face, or the laugh of a friend.

And her closest friends of all are her two big brothers. Rondel seeks her out for hugs when he’s feeling hurt or sad, brings her toys to play with, and makes silly sounds or plays peek-a-boo with her when she is tired or upset. He almost never fails to make her smile when he tries to cheer her up, and takes pride in every laugh that she directs at him. Limerick has had a more difficult time adjusting to her addition to the family (Rondel’s already been through this once before, after all), but he also loves to see her smile and laugh, and is becoming more enamored of her as she becomes more able to play along with his games and participate in the things he enjoys doing. Her presence brings out in both of them a social maturity – a desire to share their happiness and involve others in their activities – that is beautiful to see.

I am so thankful for this curious, strong, independent girl. She encourages me in my own femininity and as a mother, just by being herself, and I am so excited to watch her grow and mature over the years to come.

 

Posted in family life

working mom of three kids thinks maybe it might be a good time to start using a planner

I have decided that my busy life is not abnormally busy but that this is just the new normal with three kids! I have been working on a project/sample/task tracking app for our team at work (with no experience, no funds, and no oversight – it’s a personal project because we are outgrowing our current solution), and I’m starting to think that I should make one for my personal life as well…

I have tried, at several different points throughout my life, to maintain some type of schedule or planner, and I’ve honestly never been able to keep at it for more than a week. Currently, I don’t even put all of my doctor appointments on a calendar. I just remember the date and time – and if I forget the time, I rely on the reminder call from the doctor’s office the day before. Needless to say, with three doctors of my own and three kids needing regular well visits, this isn’t the best long-term solution.Ā So a calendar app would be a good start, but because appointments only show up on rare occasions, my calendar is typically empty and I get out of the habit of using it! If a calendar were built in to another app, and stayed out of the way unless something was scheduled, that would be much more useful for me.

It would also be nice to have lists – like to-do lists and grocery lists and wish lists – accessible in my planner app. Then when I have spare moments of time I won’t be stuck trying to remember all the things I want to do, because they’ll all be there in a list to pick from! And when I’m at the grocery store, I won’t forget what I need because I’ll have it on a list (this is particularly nice for when we run out of pantry staples or random things like bubble bath and toothbrushes… I can usually remember things like produce and milk).

Maybe I could even automate the to-do list so that if I checked off “Cleaned the Bathroom” it could be added back on to the list with a due date a week later!

I know there are paper-based planners that people swear by. Some of them look incredibly well thought out, with beauty and inspiring quotes to round out the planner’s layout and function. I just don’t think I would use one. I am incredibly prone to misplacing things, and at least a phone can be located when lost using the cloud… and it is already part of my routine, so it wouldn’t require me to remember one more thing every time I went out.

So hey, maybe it’s worth a shot! Near-impossible projects well out of the realm of my knowledge and expertise are what make life exciting (and since the stakes are relatively low, the excitement is mostly stress-free!).

What do you all use for managing your life/family/home/etc.?