Thursday, November 24, 2011

I'll Be Thankful if They Don't Cry the Whole Trip...

I should really do a post about all that I am thankful for, this being Thanksgiving and all.  But alas, I don't have time right now for more than a quick update and a couple cute photos...  Just know that I am.. Thankful.  I am very thankful for a lot of things, and I'm thinking about it all, but not enumerating them right here right now.

I am busy because we are planning to bundle our munchkins out of bed at approximately half past insanity in the morning (middle of the night, rather) and drive to Minnesota to visit Nathan's parents and his brother's family.  We will have our Thanksgiving Day with them on Sunday.  I've been baking and cooking and doing laundry like a maniac.  Today I still have piles of packing to do, and we're planning to have the van loaded by bedtime and AAAACK and we'll all get to bed at a decent time and leave very early and the boys will all sleep soundly until the other side of Chicago and you know what they say about plans, best-laid or otherwise.

I do enjoy roadtrips.  I've been on lots of them!   However I am now finding that being responsible for packing up five (!) people and being the main provider of food and entertainment of said people for the trip can be... exhausting.  Makes the fun a little harder to find.  Jonah has been crying about how this is the "worst time of my life, hmph!" and I try to put on a happy face instead of sending him to the basement and I tell him how much fun! this! will!  be!  and I try to believe it.

So, we're off!  (I first type "oof".  Yes, that too.)  And I will leave you with a little bit of gratuitous cuteness:

Nathan wrapped Andrew up like this and I thought he looked like one of the scary little glow-worm dolls, but way cuter.

 Not sure which is worse; looking like a  glow-worm, or Curious George:

Monday, November 21, 2011

More Sleepy

They actually both fell asleep in my lap.  While that was very sweet, I have too many things to do right now to spend naptime holding them.  So I enjoyed it for a few minutes, and then carefully extricated myself.  It's amazing that Evan didn't wake up.  Jonah made sure they were well-covered with blankets.  He takes good care of his little brothers.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011


Blogging is not coming easily these days, as you may imagine.  I frequently write blog posts in my head, but that's just not quite the same as writing them on the internet.

My posts just don't seem to make it all the way to the internet.

I just can't figure out why.

We said goodbye to my dear sister a couple days ago, after she'd been here a whole month, helping around the house and keeping me company.

 We miss her.

Also, there are dishes piling up.

Alyssa!  Come clean my kitchen!  And then we'll laugh about goofy nonsense and have popcorn and tea and watch a movie together.  Please?  Doesn't that sound like an offer you just can't resist?

I think Evan really misses her a lot.  She really spent a lot of time with him and he's a particularly needy little guy these days.  He's really still a baby, and needs a lot of attention, still nurses occasionally, and cries.  A lot.

He's also busy.  The level of destruction (not to mention the noise) this kid is capable of only grows every day.  It's truly astonishing.

This little guy, on the other hand, makes plenty of work all by his little self, and he can't even go anywhere.

It's like having twins, except that one of them repeatedly trashes the house.

Andrew has a theme-song that runs through my head on a daily basis.

Sleep a little, nurse a little, sleep a little, nurse a little.  
Sleep!  Sleep!  Sleep!  
Nurse a lot, sleep a little more.

(Name that tune!)

It's quite accurate, too.  He catnaps and snacks and catnaps and snacks.  Then he finally, finally, FINALLY falls asleep and stays that way for a good nap.  Then he wakes up and tries to tell me that he's truly perishing of hunger this time and then he catnaps some more.  In my arms, preferably.  He's also very alert and aware during his awake times and even talks to us just a little.

It is a little chaotic around here, I must say.  But we're managing and adjusting.  Someday, we'll settle into our new normal... someday....

Friday, November 11, 2011

Three Little Monkeys

I thought it might be about time to get a picture of all three of my sweet little boys together. Can you believe I haven't yet?

 Um, there might be a reason for that, actually.

It's not as easy as it seems...

Hey, that one is kinda cute!  But there's always someone not looking at the right place  And surprisingly, it's not always the littlest!

But then... just deteriorates...

Until my photo subjects just... leave.


(And now, as an aside, I discover that I have exceeded my photo upload quota for this blog.  I guess I need to figure out what to do about that...)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

On Mothering

For the past half-hour, I've been soothing and rocking my two-week old baby --this tiny, very new, little person, who is completely dependent on me and whom I've just barely started to get to know-- to sleep for the night.  It's not easy; I don't really know what he wants.  I try different things over and over-- rocking, bouncing, nursing, shushing, swaddling, more nursing.  He fusses and squirms, irritable, tired... until he finally gives in and drops off to sleep on my chest with his soft little head snuggled into my neck.

I don't dare lay him down just yet, so he sleeps on my chest while I browse the internet, reading articles that interest me.  I just read something about the supposed dangers of swaddling babies-- just after I swaddled my baby to calm him and help him sleep (something to agonize and worry about?  Nope.  Not a bit.).  Most of the articles I gravitate to lately seem to be about various aspects of mothering, so that's what I'm thinking about as I sit here, mothering my newest child.  To add fuel to that line of thinking, today I attended a lovely gathering of like-minded mothers and I so enjoyed talking with them and hearing their stories and struggles.  My thoughts may be raw and unformed, but I should get them all down anyway.

The opinions and methods and scientific studies and traditions of mothering are quite varied and diverse.  And everyone feels so strongly about their own way.  I used to find this so confusing-- what's the right thing to do?  I agonized about it when Jonah was tiny and fussy and I didn't feel at all competent to mother him.  Surely I was doing something wrong.  It was all so much more complex than feeding, changing, and protecting from harm.  These little people have intense needs, needs which must be met, but how?

Now, with my third baby, I'm feeling more competent, yes, and the only way to get to that point is experience.  But I'm also finding myself more inclined to take or disregard advice as it suits me.  I'm coming to the conclusion that it doesn't really matter how a mother mothers, so long as it works for her.  I'd like to say "so long as no one is harmed" but that is often out of our control.  My Dad says, "Every parent gives their child some kind of baggage."  We are not all-knowing and can't forsee all the results of our actions..  We can just do the best we can with the information we have.

 It seems like I read a lot of material supporting "attachment parenting".  For various reason that I will not go into here, I've never really identified myself as an "attachment parent".  Yes, I do a lot of things that fit in with that-- homebirth, exclusive breastfeeding, cloth diapers, baby-wearing, (limited) co-sleeping.  But I don't actually consider myself an attachment parent.  But then, I don't fit into the opposite end of that continuum, either (I have no idea what that would be called...).  I'm just somewhere in the middle.  Not to say I haven't tried many things that characterize either style of parenting.  I've tried a whole range of different things with my kids, and I don't feel like they've been harmed by the things that didn't work.  They've been well-loved through all my parental experimenting. 

I've simply had to find what works for me and my kids.  I try hard to avoid being too lenient, and yet I find that I can't be very hardnosed about everything, either, because I'm a softie and often don't have it in me.  In the long run, is it really that important how I choose to diaper, feed, or sleep my children?  If they are healthy, happy, and thriving, why does my particular method matter?  But so much of what I'm reading lately is of mothers who are highly opinionated, vehement, militant, and often polarized about these basic family choices.

I guess I've decided that I would prefer to do whatever works and what I can handle in these areas, and save my thought and energy for the "long-term investments".  I'd rather work hard at teaching them, training them, disciplining them, helping them learn what they need to be capable and well-developed people.  I want to focus on being cheerful and patient and loving as they grow and challenge me.  The specific methods I choose will be whatever works for us to achieve these goals.  And don't get me wrong-- my choices are not arbitrary.  I have very specific goals in mind and particular skills that I want my children to develop.

"What do you want me to be when I grow up?" Jonah asked me the other day.  "It doesn't matter to me what job you have," I answered, "I only want you to work hard and serve God cheerfully in whatever He gives you to do."  But he won't do that unless he's taught.  There's the long-term work.

I recently read a piece that asserted that "we all have children for selfish reasons, anyway" and another that says "we're actually mammals and should remember that and take our mothering cues from other mammals."  The problem with both of these opinions is that they leave out God.  We may have selfish reasons for having children, but above that, parenting is a God-given vocation.  We are human, created in the image of God and thus above other mammals in our calling. Raising and teaching children is actually very important work, not just something to do because we want to.

And along with my human-ness comes fallibility and imperfection.  A lot of fallibility and imperfection.  And the children I am raising are fallible, imperfect little sinners as well, and that bears remembering as I choose how to care for them.   I can only try to make the best choices I can and trust the Lord to preserve my children from my mistakes and shortcomings.

Monday, November 7, 2011


If his Auntie is so awesome...

...why is he looking at her like that?

Paranoia much?

But really...

...she is pretty awesome.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Squeaky Clean

I'm not really a Very Good Mommy.

I don't wash my kids every day.

I mean, I wipe down their dirty parts as often as necessary, but actual baths?  Not so good at that. 

A relaxing way to end the day and wind down for bedtime?  I think not.

Goofiness and crying and big wet messes, that's bathtime, and it's great fun, but not every day.

Once as a kid taking a bath with my brother, I dumped a whole bottle of dishsoap, which we used as bubble bath and which was conveniently left by the tub, into the water.  Then we kicked and splashed until the suds mounded up over our heads and onto the floor, and my brother got some in his eyes and started crying.

I guess I don't see the need to do full-blown baths every day.  I think it's not so good to wash all the good flora and oils off the skin.

Yeah, that's it.   That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.  (Because the only other explanation is that I'm lazy, which might be true as well.  Possibly.)

All that to say that at the ripe old age of 10 days, Andrew finally got a bath.  He was due.  He did not scream and fuss, he just looked quite concerned the whole time.  And perhaps a bit cold, but we got him all bundled up again quickly.  And now he smells only of that wonderful, addictive newborn smell and I spent all the rest of the day just sniffing him.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Punkin Light

We don't celebrate Halloween.  Jonah knows about it, and he knows why we don't do it.  However, he was really intrigued by the idea of carving a face in a pumpkin, and we figured that would be a fun fall-time activity.

A few weeks ago, during the almost-endless-baby-wait, we went with my Mom to a farm where they were having fun weekend activities like a corn maze and hay rides.  Jonah picked out a pumpkin to bring home ("Find the best one!" we said.  "Here, this one will do!" he said about the first pumpkin he saw.) and has since been begging, pleading, and pestering daily about carving it.

So the other day, I thought we had better get to it.  And by "we", I mean, "someone else."  I wasn't sure how my sister, Alyssa, would feel about it, so I tried to be cryptic in asking just in case she didn't want to.  That way, Jonah wouldn't be disappointed.  Because, you see, he wouldn't even know what I asked.  I immediately posted the following exchange on Facebook:

Me, to Alyssa, trying to be cryptic because Jonah was sitting next to her: "Do you feel at all competent or, um, inclined to, uh, cut features into the surface of a, um, large gourd?"
Alyssa, laughing: "Yeah, I could do that."
Jonah: "WHAT? We're gonna carve my pumpkin?!??! Yay!"

Yeah, so that worked well.  But it was fine, because she was happy to take on the project.

Jonah was actually no so thrilled once the project was underway, because scooping out the seeds is just not very exciting.

He got some help, but she mainly made him do it himself.

He drew a face on paper to show what he wanted, and she drew it on the pumpkin with a marker and they carved away.

I guess she did most of the "sharp knife" business, as is fitting.  She's a good auntie.

Jonah was very pleased with his pumpkin-face.  (Which, at first, he said "is Martin Luther" in honor of Reformation Day.)  I gave him a candle for it and we've been lighting it by the woodstove in the evenings until bedtime.  He likes it a lot, and I'm not sure he's prepared for the inevitable decay.  We'll see how he handles that...