27 July 2016

Fixin' My Wagon

Today I am rocking it. Theodore slept in this morning and I seized the opportunity to do the dishes, wipe down the counters and the table with a special cleaner, tidy up the entire house, sweep the floors, vacuum the basement and three bedrooms, and get dinner is in the slow cooker.

Yesterday after I blogged, I felt restless and needed to do something. I hoped online to remind myself that a three kid stroller is not financially possible right now and stumbled across wagons. In a blur of decisiveness, I found one that looked good, remembered I'd seen something similar at Sams' Club, called the location nearest me to discover they had it in stock, and piled up the kids. The first stop was for french fries and coffee because food makes kids happy and iced coffee makes mommy happy.

Pro tip: ask for empty small cups and put the french fries and chicken in the cup to keep the car cleaner.


Back on the road, blaring the Christian radio jams, I told the girls we were "going shopping to buy a new walk." I love Sam's Club because all three kids fit in the cart and I still have some space to fit groceries.


 We got home and tested it out:


I added a few embellishments: an infinity scarf tied to the side to wrap around Theodore and give him some stability, a backpack hooked to the back with carabiner clips to lug gear *cough*diapers*cough,* Roxy's collapsible water bowl with carabiners, and a Mommy Hook just in case. I also tried to jerry-rig a canopy, but it didn't work out so well. I'll try again today. Anyway, by the time I finished, Matt was home, so we had dinner and went for an evening stroll before bed.


It worked out quite well, the kids loved it, Roxy was no more anxious around it than she is around the double stroller, and I didn't have to wear anyone in the 1,000,000 degree heat. It's my goal to get out for walks twice a day in hopes of relieving family-wide grouchies.

It'll be nice to go from this:


to this:


26 July 2016

I Can Make It!

This summer is really wearing me out. I have three kids five and under, and obviously my five-year-old is not your typical five-year-old. Abigail is very close to Eleanor - who, admittedly, is pretty advanced for her age - developmentally. Eleanor throws more temper tantrums, but Abigail is more oppositional. So I feel a lot like I have two-year-old twins and an eight-month-old. Theodore has officially vanquished his title of "Chillest Baby" to become my "Clingiest Baby When Awake." My daily goal is to keep everyone alive and in a clean diaper. Most of the time I'm desperately searching the cupboards at 5:00, trying to figure out what to make for dinner that takes no prep.

I feel really isolated. Lonely. But I feel like I don't have any other options. Trying to go somewhere with two-year-old twins and an eight-month-old? I'm dripping in sweat just getting everyone into the car. Trying to nurse Theodore and prevent Abigail from destructing something at someone else's house is impossible. Some weeks I'm bursting to get to Zumba just to get a solid hour to myself. I've been turning down invitations left and right: a going away party for a friend, a company bbq hosted by Matt's employer, heck, I can't even get back to Theodore's Godmother for a dinner invite. I honestly don't even brush my hair most days (it just goes straight in a pony tail). I've enlisted my mom to come out once a week to watch the girls while I run errands, and my parents take the girls for an outing once a month so I can get stuff done (or sleep, to be honest, this last time I fell asleep on the couch for a thick, 1.5 hour nap).

I'm eager for school to start back up. For someone else to be in charge of occupying Abigail. For occupational therapy so she stops some of the extra draining behavior. For the girls to get some space from one another because I am so sick of the "she took my toy" fights. Some days I feel like I'm doing pretty good for a mom in my situation. Other days I feel like I'm one high-pitched shriek away from locking everyone up in their own room until Matt gets home. Yesterday is was the former, today it is the latter.

This is a time of super-selflessness. It's really hard and admitting that does not make it any easier.

20 July 2016

Digital Exposure

Matt recently got an offer for a 3 month subscription to the Wall Street Journal for some ridiculously cheap price, and I have totally become addicted to reading the paper in the morning, especially with all this election coverage. In fact, paper reading time usually spills into the late morning and I set up shop in one of the girls' room while all three kids play together. The lack of time on my phone and the computer always, always translates to better parenting and better behaved kids. Yet every time, I'm always shocked, "I should do this more often - it was so much easier to keep my temper today!"

I think the secret is that these types of reading/browsing/gaming are loathe to be interrupted. It's easy to yank the screen out of the reach of little hands and and promise to put it down after you finish this one thing. Then I get all frustrated because I just want one freaking second to myself, when the truth is that I've already had 20 minutes. A newspaper, on the other hand, is easily swatted away by little hands. Poof - attention broken. Focus on the kids, pick the paper back up. Plus newspapers are way more boring for kids than the Internet.

There is a sentiment that one must be careful who her friends are. The influences we have around us shape who we are. Well, today, in the age when digital things have replaced actual beings, I think it is easy to make the jump that we must be careful what our "frequently visited websites" are. I should evaluate what sites are in my history list and see if that's really who I want to become.

18 July 2016

Raising Catholic Kids

I wonder how anyone stays true to the Catholic Church in today's world. I feel really blessed that Matt and I have had the purity that we have, and I worry a lot about keeping my kids' innocence in tact while still letting them engage the world.

Last year before we had a tv, my brother-in-law invited us over to join them to watch a basketball game. They have a nice set up in their basement with a projector surrounded by an assortment of couches and chairs - it feels like we're at the movies. Anyway, it's a college basketball game airing around dinnertime on a beautiful Saturday. Safe for kids, right? Not so fast. The commercials, my goodness. Movie ads with cars smashing into bridges and bursting into flames, guns drawn and pointed in people's faces, and all of it was larger than life sized. My sister-in-law was totally on top of it. "Kids, close your eyes!" She'd shout when she had an inkling. I stared at my nieces and nephews in shock as the older ones all dutifully closed their eyes. The younger ones tried to peak, but my sister-in-law was prepared and clasped her hands over their eyes. It was learning moment for me, as I watched some excellent mothering in action. In shock, my gaze moved to Abigail who was frozen, staring at the screen.

Then there's the giant posters of scantily clad women at the mall. Or the billboards on the freeway decrying animal abuse with a picture of a torn-up dog. Or the pickup truck next to us at the stoplight with the window cling of a silhouette of a woman in a sexual position. Or even the advertisement on the stall door in the public restrooms offering help for domestic abuse with a picture of a frightened woman. "Mommy, lady sad!" Eleanor says, her face inches from the picture, studying the intense emotion. "It's okay!" I say with forced cheerfulness. "She'll get some help and then she'll be happy!" I scrambled to finish my business, pull my pants back up, and turn Eleanor away from the picture as Abigail tries to move in for a peek. "Mommy, lady sad," Eleanor remembers an hour later as we're eating fruit snacks and string cheese at our safe little kitchen table.

Surviving childhood with their innocence in tact seems impossible. Letting Abigail listen to "Shake It Off" involves diligence with the volume button - "Hella good hair" is not a line I want to hear her in her cute little voice. Darting down the cereal aisle when I see a couple of teenage boys coming up the center aisle, "Like, fuck that shit, she's such a bitch." I cringe and say a quick prayer that the girls didn't just hear what I did.

Keeping the radio on the local Christian station, not letting the girls watch television, and prescreening all movies - even the innocent sounding ones (Minions was too crude for my taste for young kids) are easy enough tips, but so much slips in during regular, normal, "safe" daily life, like simply driving to Theodore's next wellness visit.

I know some really awesomely devout Catholic moms whose adult children are living very openly sinful lives. I also know lukewarm Catholics who produced grace-filled pillars of faith. Before I even have to think about Facebook and sleepovers and shorts that are long enough, there is still so much to worry about.

My mother-in-law, a women whose five children are all still practicing Catholics, responded to my question of "how?" with "prayer and fasting." So I do. I fast from electronics on Sundays, Facebook on Mondays, and chocolate during the day on Fridays. I pray St. Gerard chaplets during my morning walk and say specialized bedtime prayers at night. I pray for grace. I pray that I'm doing enough.

15 July 2016

Kids

I had my first energy drink yesterday. Normally, I'm like, "Your body is trying to tell you something. Don't substitute energy drinks for a good night's rest." But Theodore had barely slept at night for three nights. I would get 2 hours of sleep, then nurse Theodore, then another 3-4 hours of sleep, and then he's up. It's 3:30 in the morning, and he's as chipper as can be. I could nurse him and put him back in his crib with some toys and he'd play for a bit, but then he'd start crying. Rocking, walking, bouncing. Useless. I'd set him up on the floor with some toys and curl up next to him and fall asleep. He'd give me another little bit, then start crying. He wasn't hungry or in pain and nothing had changed during his daytime naps. But he was awake and wanted to be entertained. Around 6am, he would finally fall back asleep. At 6:30am, my alarm would go off. I was literally falling asleep mid-sentence while reading Abigail a book on Wednesday.

By Thursday morning (the morning after the third night), I was almost in tears. So after equine therapy, I dragged all three kids to Meijer and bought two 5 Hour Energy shots. I tried pink lemonade and it tasted like chalk, but it worked. I drank 1/2 of a bottle in the early afternoon and two cups of iced coffee (ie, leftover morning coffee) in the late afternoon. I had enough energy to tidy the house, make dinner, play with the girls, and lug Theodore around without feeling wired or shaking. I used up the last of the energy grocery shopping that night after the kids went to bed and was able to fall asleep without a problem.

There are many reasons not to become dependent on energy drinks, including that I shouldn't ignore my body's memos and they are expensive, but I'm glad to have an ace in my back pocket. Thankfully, THANKFULLY, he slept last night, only waking up twice to nurse and then falling back asleep. My fingers are crossed that he makes it a new habit.

* * * * *

I'm getting a little wore out with all the clickbait online that runs with the theme, "18 Things You Swore You'd Never Let Your Kids Do - I Laughed So Hard at #8!" Most of them are annoying the way that false modesty is annoying - #4: I would never let my kids watch tv! Okay, we get it, you wanted your kids to eat healthy, organic food and now they eat chicken nuggets while watching Paw Patrol when you've had a long day. It's like a contingent of mommy wars has become a contest of who can be the martyr-est martyr. "I let my kids play on the tablet! I don't provide my kids with constant structured activities during the day!" And let me guess, your biggest weakness is that you try too hard?

We've all changed our course from those preconceived ideas and that's good because we should be flexible and tailor our rules and goals to best serve our families. And everyone's are going to be different, as they should be. So let's flip the negative to a positive. Before I became a parent, I swore I would never become ignorant about current events. And I haven't! I follow the elections, I watched Brexit, I know about foreign affairs. I also vowed that I would keep reading (check!), stay active (check!), and own cats (I really like cats).

* * * * *

The other day a woman came up to me when I had Theodore in the ring sling to admire it. "Wow, this looks so handy! I wish they had something like this when my kids were young!"


Apparently she's never seen a picture of a Native American. Or...a history book.

11 July 2016

Post Pregnancy

In reference to the comments on my last post...
Actually TB, I thought your comment would make for a great new post topic and planned to write this today, Monday. I have no problem blogging about body image and weight loss while breastfeeding as I find other people's journeys very fascinating!

I have kept track of exactly how much weight I gained for all three of my pregnancies (full term ones, anyway, I didn't gain weight with the baby we lost) and how long it has taken me to lose it. I lose almost nothing the first week. Seriously, I lose the same number of pounds as the baby weighed and that's it. When I get home from the hospital, I'm furious. What about the placenta, the amniotic fluid?! This is so unfair! Then over the next three weeks, 20 pounds falls off without trying. Trying to take the rest of the weight off is like trying to move a dresser across a carpeted bedroom by myself: it takes all my energy to make practically no progress. With an easy-squeezy pregnancy like the one I had with Eleanor, where I only gained 29 pounds, it's not a big deal. But things are so hard post-Theodore.

I weigh the exact same now as I did when Theodore was four weeks old. The exact same. So when he was about five months old, I got serious. For weeks, I was diligent about counting my calories, I walked Roxy two miles every morning, I did an hour of Zumba (my sister-in-law and I go together) once a week, and I clocked 20 minutes on a rowing machine a few times a week. My blood sugar was always bottoming out, I constantly had a headache, and I had no energy. I had lost several inches around my waist and was out of my maternity clothes, but when I weighed myself, the scale had not budged one half of a pound. So I flipped out and rebelled. I ate whatever I wanted, the whole family got sick and I missed several weeks of Zumba, I only walked Roxy a few times a week, and I forgot about the rowing machine. After a few weeks, I sheepishly got back on the scale. The same damn number greeted me.

I'm way heavier than I want to be, but soooo many fellow breastfeeding moms have told me that they retain the weight when they are nursing and it drops when the wean, so that's where I'm pinning my hopes. I have no idea what my body does when I stop nursing because I got pregnant with Theodore the very week my milk dried up with Eleanor. I am trying hard to stop worrying about how I look and just focusing on building up muscle tone and making good exercise habits. My goal is to take a daily 2 mile walk with Roxy, work out weekly at a Zumba class, and mix in a few other workouts at home (rowing machine, kettlebell workout, etc) when it's convenient.

Ugh, it's very frustrating, especially after I bounced back so quickly after Eleanor. It's definitely a lesson in learning to love myself! Anyway, Theodore has just woken up from his nap, so I guess this is goodbye for now!

08 July 2016

Theodore Hates Food

Mini blog post! Since I have lots to say, but no time, I'm going to shoot for lots of short posts. Maybe one per day?

Theodore, at 7.5 months, is still exclusively breastfed. He hates solids.


I give him a little bit every other day or so, sometimes fruit, sometimes baby cereal mixed with a bit of breastmilk. He hates it all, but I would say we started at a -5 and now we're up to a -3. I don't mind other than the fact that nursing a 20 lb baby turns me into a bottomless pit. I'm always hungry. When I restrict my calories below 2300 (or even stick to 2300 for a few days in a row), I'll get headaches from my blood sugar dropping too low. I'm always hungry for meat, especially beef. Nothing ever sounds as good as a big, juicy burger. I don't want any measly side dishes, I would rather have two burgers than one burger and some fries.

I'm also constantly thirsty. Beef, beef, beef, water, water, water, beef, water, coffee. Coffee, coffee, sleep. These are the only things I crave right now. And Abigail has just run downstairs with something she stole from Eleanor, who is now screaming at the top of her lungs and I just put Theodore down for a nap, so I must run.



07 July 2016

Lately

They say, "If two kids takes up all your time, three kids can't take up any more!" Or one to two. Or three to four. Or four to five. And that's true, on the one hand. But on the other, three kids do take up more time. Or maybe it's that a baby takes up more time? Or maybe I'm spending my time doing other things? Matt got a subscription to the Wall Street Journal and the National Review and I'm totally loving it. I'm not sure.

Life is good, but full, ya know? Like going for a walk in the morning air - before it gets too hot and humid - slather all four of us in sunscreen, strap Theodore into the Ergo, get Abigail's shoes on (Eleanor puts on her own now), get both girls strapped into the stroller, grab sunglasses for Eleanor and I (Abigail refuses to wear sunglasses), load up water, doggy poop bags, keys, cell phone, garage door opener, get Roxy's leash on, get my shoes on. It takes about 20 minutes to get out the door for a walk. And it's gorgeous - the sun is shining, the air smells amazing, there's bunnies and chipmunks and robins and pretty flowers and the girls are stoked to point them all out. Theodore is so content I think he's asleep, Roxy defends us from a squirrel she is certain was about to attack. It's lovely and we all come home in a better mood. But it took me 20 minutes of work to get us out the door. And then I was pushing nearly 100 pounds, holding back 85 pounds, and wearing 20 pounds. It's a lotta work. It's good, and it's worth it, but it's still a lotta work, ya know?

I do have lots of things to blog about, like how I'm terrified it might be time to talk to the doctor about weaning off my antidepressents. Or how Theodore outgrew his bassinet - one of the only two places in which he would fall asleep - and I had to transition him to the crib. And how he's become a very, very clingy baby, maybe even my clingiest, but he's so gosh darn cute and gives me this adorable smile all the time.


And I crocheted these fun little ice creams to go with Eleanor's favorite book and she loved them with her whole little heart for, like, 3 hours, and now she totally doesn't care.


Or the story behind this little baby bunny I found on a morning walk with Roxy.


Or how we got to see our city's fireworks display from our backyard and Roxy was barking her protective bark at the fireworks. And we started back up with equine therapy for the summer and the instructor thinks Abigail is really bright and will do amazing things in life.


And even really little things, like how I took the kids to Meijer for a few things and I let the girls pick out horse figurines. Abigail held on to hers and imaginative plays with it in a way that she doesn't with any other toy. And Eleanor fed hers popcorn and carried around the two horses and their two pieces of cheesy popcorn all day because "Horsey eating popcorn, Mommy."


No news is good news in this case. Long, full days of hard, but good, work.