Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Maybe I was born with it...

Today is has been a sun-shower day. One of those changeable days where the sky pours buckets, and then the sun comes out.  It's glorious, but it turns my world into a hot steam-bath.

Also mind-bogglingly metaphorical for my life right now, but perhaps I'll save that perusal for another post.

We were able to work in the garden this morning in fits and starts according to the will of our tiny mistress who currently dictates our daily routine, or lack thereof.  Yesterday, she was excessively demanding and needy, so today, I was just crazy to get out in the garden and move around according to my own will for a change.  However, Eleanor still wouldn't stay asleep in her bed for any length of time.  But whenever she was, or with her strapped to my chest in the baby carrier (hey, what's a little extra sweat?), we donned our boots and headed out into the sun and mud.

Ah, yes, it is challenging to maintain this level of high fashion.

Sometimes, pulling weeds can be so therapeutic.  Most of the time, actually.

Andrew was entertained for at least a solid 15 minutes trekking back and forth between me and the chicken run, carrying little handfuls of weeds to feed the chickens.  I was amazed at how cheerfully occupied he was, and I might have even been patting myself on the back a little for my mother-genius. Then I wasn't looking and he took his "help" in a different direction and pulled out eight cucumber plants.

Yesterday, Eleanor had a high-need day.  (And I try to remind myself when I get frustrated that a day is nothing when compared with months of high-need I faced with the boys as newborns.)

I couldn't seem to set her down for even a minute without immediate crying, until I set her on the floor by the train track.  She lay there quite happily for a good 10 minutes watching the little boys play.  Silly mommy, she just wanted to see something different and have a little fun for a change.

Of course, I didn't dare get very far away from her for fear she'd be trampled in a toddler-brawl or something.

She really loves a good, tight swaddle, but it's been so hot that she quickly develops a heat rash, even with a very light swaddle blanket.  So then I had another stroke of mother-genius:

I just pulled her arms inside her onesie.  It's not quite as good as a tight swaddle, but it has essentially the same effect and she calmed down quite a bit.

Nathan laughed when he saw her like that after he came home, but I just congratulated him on finding such a smart woman to be the mother of his children.

My other stroke of mother-genius (hey, I'm on a role, here) was yesterday when I might have sort of threatened Evan with No Birthday until he starts pooping in the toilet.  I'm so fed up with the poopy underpants routine and I've tried every trick in the book to no avail.  Desperate times, desperate measures, etc., so no birthday for you, kiddo.  It was a risky deal, for sure.  But he WANTS that cake.  He was really into the idea, so I said, "Hey, if you poop in the toilet, I will march straight to the kitchen and bake you a cake no matter what day it is!"

So.  Guess what we had today?  CAKE.  (Actually, brownies, but he doesn't know the difference.)  That's right, he nonchalantly went into the bathroom and took care of business all by himself.  Heck, he's probably just been waiting for me to "sweeten the deal" sufficiently.  "M&M's?" he thought to himself, "Nah.  I'm going to hold out for CAKE, baby."  Everyone has their price.

And it's a price I'm certainly willing to pay.  Hey, I got chocolate out of the deal, AND no poopy underpants.  We skyped Grandma to tell her the news and made a BIG deal out of being a big boy now.

And now that I've bragged it up on the internet, I'll await my great cosmic smackdown tomorrow.  Because every piece of mother-genius carries one.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer, Baby, Happy!

It's the first day of summer, and a lovely, perfect one at that.  Not too hot, breezy, sunny, gorgeous.  My three littles all napped at the same time while Jonah and I made 20 pints of strawberry jam.  If all goes well, there will be ham and veggie quiche for supper and strawberry-rhubarb pie for dessert.  It doesn't get much better than that.  (Obviously, I am feeling considerably more alive and well this week!)

It also happens to be Eleanor Carolyn's one-month birthday!  

She's sweeter than that strawberry jam, I tell ya what.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Right Now

Eleanor is a very well-dressed tiny girl.  She has quite a collection of cute girly things to wear.  Maybe I'm a little jealous of her wardrobe, but I won't say for sure.  And maybe, just maybe, she's my little dolly and I kinda like to dress her up in these adorable outfits. Maybe.  

Anyway, people have been so generous to her and I know she's gonna grow out of these tiny clothes really fast, so I think it's perfectly acceptable for her to wear them every day!

Obviously, I'm having a lot of trouble getting posts up on this poor, neglected blog of mine.  I have probably lost every last reader I had left.  All three of them.  I really should at least put up a photo every other day or so, except that I can't even get to that.

I admit to being a little, or a lot, overwhelmed.  But I guess that's to be expected.  I hope to get past it, but I don't really feel like I'll ever be on top of anything, ever again, unless I climb up Mount Laundry and sit there perhaps. (And I am very well aware that things are actually pretty good, and could be so much worse, but I'm pretty wimpy and whiny, too.  I actually have moments of heart-stopping terror when I think of horrible scenarios (I'm told that's part of being a mother) and I'm so thankful for God's goodness.)

I guess I'll post a part of an email I just wrote to my sister.  It's maybe a little gritty, and I would apologize, except I won't.  Sometimes gritty writing is very therapeutic.

 I know it's cliche and all, but I seriously am feeling trapped by being here with kids all the time.  24/7.  Yes, I have a fantastically helpful husband, but he's busy and stressed, too.  It takes so much energy and awareness to do this job, and I just feel like I don't have it.  I go on autopilot a lot, and autopilot is a killer.  Autopilot crashes into mountains and buildings and shit.  The crying, the screaming, the fighting, the requests, the hunger, the dirt, the spilled milk, the snot, the endless loops of frustration.  It's the same every day, it never gets better.  I feel like I'm at my limit.  Every day, I cry and say, "I can't do this.  I can't!"  I can't physically muster up the energy to settle every dispute, discipline every disobedience, wash the freaking poopy underpants, ET CETERA, AND be cheerful, teach, guide, direct...  How am I supposed to keep up with all the little kid needs AND teach Jonah and keep up with his insatiable desire to learn things?  How am I supposed to give the little guys the love and positive attention they need when I feel like I just discipline them all day and they frustrate and test me endlessly?

So I'm noticing that it's just when I'm crying that "I caaaaan't" and I'm feeling borderline abusive that I have the brilliant idea to say "screw it" to the dishes and the grime-coated floor and instead pop a bowl of popcorn and sit on a tablecloth on the floor with the little guys and read them books while we have a "popcorn picnic".  Just when I want to scream at Jonah for his endless requests for my attention and help, I have the idea to hand him a recipe for chocolate ice cream and let him go to it. 

My point is that the hard stuff drives solutions.  The hard stuff is what makes us do better.  Otherwise, we just get lazy. 

I find myself complaining about how hard things are lately.  Before Eleanor was born, i spent the entire pregnancy complaining about how hard it was, and that birth is waaaay too hard and I didn't want to do that.  And I still think that.  But of course I'm glad I did it.  And I try to remember that I'm not entitled to have things easy.  And then I whine that it isn't fair. But two of the sayings I've heard from Dad the most are "Life is hard."  and "Nobody ever said life is fair."   Sometimes, wisdom is simple.

And I'm so bad about wanting to be on to the next thing, that even when I'm sitting and holding my sweet, newborn baby because she just really wants me and won't be patient in her bouncy chair while I work for another minute, I'm thinking of what I will work on as soon as I can lay her down in her bed.  That should be a criminal offense, don't you think? But I do it all the time.  I feel so buried in work that I can't let it go to enjoy holding my baby.  Even while I've been writing this, Andrew brought me a book and I sat here with him in my lap, peacefully looking at a book (and I should be happy for moments of peace with that child!) and I got impatient because I wanted to finish this email instead. 

We human beings are mighty hard to please, is all I'm sayin'.

When will they just GROW UP already?  Why can't we get past this endless little kid intensity?  I can't stand this anymore!!!  That's what I think, more often than I care to admit.  You know how stupid that is, right?

Oh to learn to enjoy where I'm at, right now.  It's a tough lesson, for some reason.  It doesn't seem like it should be, being the pleasure-driving creatures that we are.  Every morning when I open my eyes, I pray about that. I pray that I can smile at my children more than I snap at them.  I pray that I can be thankful and cheerful.  I pray for help getting through today.

And God is good.  He is always faithful to provide beyond my wildest imaginings.  But that doesn't mean it's easy.  The hard stuff is still good stuff.