Sunday, August 14, 2016

Clare Sophia: 5 Months

Weight: I've decided I'm taking height and weight out for the next baby because I never know! My guess is 17 lbs since she was 15 lbs a month ago and is putting on about .5 lb-1lb a week.

Height: Taller than the last time? I think she was 25 inches so maybe another half inch or inch. 

Medical issues: None! We enjoyed an issue free month. 

Sleep: Clare's sleep has changed a lot. She went from 90 min between naps to 2 to sometimes 4 hours between! On average, it's about 2-2.5 hours between. She has started going to bed later and waking up earlier, and napping a bit longer. We're still trying to figure it all out, and then I'm sure it will change again :). 

Clothes/diaper size: Size 3 diapers and 6-9 month clothing. She's so long and those thighs are so chunky!

Likes: being held, playing with toys (the O'ball is her favorite), watching her sister play, short stroller rides, being tickled, being smiled at/smiling, playing with toys in the exersaucer.

Dislikes: Felicity jumping near her or (obviously) hurting her... which has happened a LOT more this past month, being laid down, having to take a nap, the car seat.

Nicknames: Clare Bear is still her main nickname. 

Milestones:Clare hasn't done any of the traditional milestones yet. She's still not sitting, even in the tripod stance, and hasn't started rolling front to back, though she's trying, and really hasn't rolled back to front in quite a while. But! She had what I will call a milestone when she accepted a straw sippy of breastmilk I offered her. I've only tried it once (I left another time and had a sippy ready but Steven ended up not needing to give it to her while I was gone), but I consider it major success for the baby who refuses all bottles. I'm hoping to try it again next week at the beach to see if it buys me a bit of time by myself!

I don't want to forget this: I don't want to forget her being small :(. Steven and I had a talk the other night about enjoying her more. We both feel like we spend so much time doing things with Felicity, since she needs to much one on one attention and is so engaging, that we end up basically just managing Clare between naps. I don't want to waste this time of her being a little baby and then regretting it. So we are making a concerted effort to really enjoy her more, to make Felicity wait a bit if we're playing with Clare. Their naps haven't been lining up as much lately (sniff, tear) and I've used that time when Clare is awake but Felicity is asleep to really dote on and play with Clare. It has been really nice! I also don't want to forget Felicity jumping or running and Clare dissolving into a fit of giggles! 

Friday, August 12, 2016

In the Middle

I feel all over the place these days. Some days, I sit back and look at my life, feel very contented, and just breathe it in. Other days, like yesterday, I feel like the chaos will never end, the littles will be little and needy forever, and my head may burst. But I spend most of the time in the middle... days that are equal parts frustration at toddler shenanigans and baby diaper explosions, and joy at 2 year old hilarious phrases and infant smiles and giggles. I am enjoying life with two children more than I did just with Felicity simply because I know now that the hard times will pass and the tough stages won't last. It doesn't mean that I don't get stressed ever (I'm stressed a lot!), but I feel like I lived in a constant state of stress with Felicity; I stressed about her sleep, about behavioral things, developmental things. And stress didn't get us anywhere or solve anything, of course. This time, with Clare, I'm able to brush off more and, therefore, enjoy more.

After Felicity was born, I think I sort of counted down until we'd try again for another because I really wanted a sibling for her. Right now, though I don't feel our family is complete by any means, I'm just enjoying the 4 of us. I'm happier in this stage of infancy, knowing how fleeting it will be- how fleeting it IS!- and I'm also enjoying watching my big girl grow up before my eyes. I'm not thinking about future things, or more babies, or anything much besides tomorrow, and it's nice. I've thought toward the future for as long as I can remember. Is it graduation yet? Is it time to move yet? Is it time to start my job yet? Get married yet? Have a baby yet? Have another baby yet? I kept wondering to myself, when will I just stop and enjoy? And I didn't know the answer until now. I hate that it took me that long to get to this place (and it's a flaw within myself, I know), but I'm so glad to be here for a while. I want to soak in the baby snuggles, the nursing sessions, the finger painting, the never ending book reading sessions, the play dates with my friends, the family "date days" we have.

Each day, I have a loose plan. My days are similar to each other, but different enough that it doesn't get too boring. I'm sure to some my life is incredibly dull. But that dullness to me looks like watching children grow up, learn, and explore. It looks like creating new friendships and furthering old ones. It looks like constantly working on and improving my marriage. And it looks like experiencing things through the eyes of a child. There are things in life I'd love to do... travel the world, eat at nice restaurants, spend money without thinking... but right now my focus is on my family; I'm working on myself, my marriage, my home, my kids. And I find a sense of happiness and security in that. I often hear people talking about "losing" themselves in their kids, especially in regards to being a stay at home mom. Right now I'm happy to "lose" myself to motherhood. If all I do is produce people to better the world, then I think I've done plenty. If I lose myself for the betterment of another human being, then it was a worthy cause. I don't mean to say that one shouldn't have things outside of their children. Everyone's calling and desires are different. But I do think it's perfectly fine, and a beautiful sacrifice even, to pour yourself into your children for a time. I honestly think I've found myself more in the past few years than I had in the 28 before that.

I've found that a few friendships help sustain my sense of "me". I don't need much outside of my family right now, but friends are certainly helping me in this journey. I love having people to talk about faith, family, parenting, and deeper issues with. I walk with a neighbor of mine most days of the week, have 2-3 play dates with another friend each week, attend a Catholic mothers' group once a month, and will begin MOPS again soon. The common theme there is motherhood and I love it. My days aren't really pretty. I don't live in a pinterest worthy house or have neat and tidy kids. I can't tell you how many times I text Steven to vent or complain about my day- a toddler who hurt the baby or a baby who won't nap. Life is messy and exhausting. But when I take a step back, I realize how absolutely blessed I am to be able to raise and guide these humans. It is such an honor to know them, to help form them, to be the person to comfort them. Motherhood is such a beautiful experience, even on the hard days. I'm ok with, and happy with, "just being a mom" right now.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Dating My Husband

Marriage is hard. Marriage after a baby is harder. Steven and I had a really amazing talk the other day. One of our "takeaways" was that he felt we were more disconnected after Felicity was born, while I felt we mostly struggled with baby related things, where as I feel more disconnected now, and he feels we're mostly struggling with baby/toddler related things. I find it fascinating that two people living the same experience can have completely opposite feelings on it. Just goes to show how different we are as humans with unique personalities and perspectives, and how important it is to communicate. My neighbor and friend recently told me that she and her husband have an "unplugged" date night once a week. In a time of our lives where dates outside of the house are rare to nonexistent (Clare doesn't take bottles), I thought this was a fantastic idea. Especially since Felicity is going to bed a little later, Clare is a bit of a wild card, and by the time they're both down, we're so exhausted that we both hunker down to our computers happy to not think or talk to anyone for the rest of the night. Well, that may be relaxing but it hasn't been great for our marriage. So we decided to jump on board this unplugged date night. I found the unplugged part so important because I could see us easily picking a movie night many weeks which, while fun, isn't really face to face time. I wanted to be sure we were really interacting. We've decided to take turns planning it each week and it has been fun to do and also a lot of fun to plan! We did this early in our marriage as well, except the dates were out of the house. But we took turns planning and it had to be something new each week. It really helped us get creative and branch out, and was a ton of fun experiencing something together each week. Anyway, I thought I'd share our first 3 weeks in case anyone is doing the same thing, or wants to, and might need ideas. Thankfully pinterest has quite a bit, too!

The first week was my week and we decided kind of last minute so I put together some games for a Game Night. I didn't want it to be all board games so I reached back to my youth to think of some things. We played "dots" (where you have a sheet of dots and take turns drawing lines, the last one to connect a line to make a square gets to initial that square, whoever has the most squares at the end wins), hang man, and one card game. I planned for us to have a word search race, but I left the word search books in the room with a sleeping Clare so that got cancelled! We had some snacks and talked while we played, and it was really enjoyable!

Steven's date night was next. For the first part, he decided we'd sit on the porch and talk. Honestly, I was kind of thinking we'd spend a lot of time just sitting. Lately we suck at conversation because, like I said above, we're just so tired at the end of the day. He said he would look up some questions if we needed to. But we didn't! We sat on the porch for almost an hour, by the light of a citronella candle, and just talked. The conversation flowed to the point that we lost track of time for the second part of his date! He had bought 2 Dollar Tree journals and had us each write a page of a story that we made up, then switch journals and write a page based on what the other had written, then switch again. It was fun seeing how differently our stories started out, and frankly being a bit ridiculous together.

This week was back to my turn and I decided to be a bit more creative. I settled on a carnival theme and had a lot of fun! I made up 5 activities: ice cream sandwich sundaes, face painting, kissing booth, animal ring toss, and tossing balls into a bowl to win a goldfish (cracker). I made signs with pictures for each activity and hung them around the living room and kitchen so we could make our way through the 'carnival'. Besides the fact that the cat jumped up beside me and puked during the kissing booth, it was a ton of fun. My favorite activity was face painting. I'm not artistic at all but it was a lot of fun! And we realized we're both very ticklish with a paintbrush near the corner of our eyes, so we used that to torture each other during painting. We enjoyed it so much that we ended up both painting each other's faces twice. And ice cream... I mean, how can you go wrong? The date was a bit faster than I thought, especially for having 5 activities, but neither of us minded since we'd had so much fun. I wonder what Steven has planned for his turn! 

Does anyone else do this? I'd love to hear date idea if so!