30 September 2016

Before and After: The Girls' Room

I don't think I ever tire of rearranging furniture. And a little autumn rearranging is just what I needed today!

So Eleanor and Theodore are not very good roommates. They keep each other up until 9 or 9:30pm most nights and are complete grouches the next day.

I moved their beds together because otherwise Eleanor will just sleep on the floor next to his crib.
Abigail had her own room because she wakes up at the crack of dawn. Then then proceeds to empty, overturn, and clear out everything she can get in to and shove it all either under her dresser or under her bed. Toys, clothes in the dresser, blankets and sheets from the bed. As a result, there is a childproof doorknob cover on the inside of her room and the room is mostly empty. I do have a pack n' play in there though, and this is where Theodore took his afternoon nap.



The people who sold us the house did not have a door for the closet in this room, and, as it's an odd size, we haven't gotten one ourselves. Of the two non-master bedrooms, this one is the smaller one, and by a fair bit. It's also weirdly shaped, but since it shares a wall with the living room, I really didn't want to put Theodore in it. I'd prefer him to stay in the back of the house and with all the toys so I don't have to clean every single thing up every single morning.

So I decided to move Eleanor into Abigail's room, a space they haven't shared in this new house. I also decided to move their little arm chairs from the living room into the bedroom and buy a 3-shelf bookshelf. This will give them something to do in the morning before we get up, and it will give Eleanor something to do when Theodore is taking his morning nap in the room with all the toys. (Although there are also toys in the basement for the kids too.) I am hopeful that Eleanor's presence will prevent Abigail from emptying the bookshelf every morning. Plus we really needed the space on the bookshelves in the living room for our own books.

And, voila!


Super cozy! The girls have already maxed out a three-shelf bookshelf and I even pulled out the little baby books to put in Theodore's room!



I put an old crib sheet over two milk crates to form a small night stand. After a night or two to see if this arrangement works, I'll reorganize Theodore's room. I should probably rehang the pictures and decorations on the wall, but I am always moving rooms around, so I probably won't try very hard.

Lastly, I got a $4.50 tension rod to hang the girls' dresses in the closet, and hung up a curtain and rod we already owned to pretty up the closet. Only $30 for this room makeover!


Someday when we are done moving kids from room to room, I'd love to paint the walls. I have a beautiful pink-and-cream Parisian theme I'd love to do in the girls' room...but I really don't want to put the finishing touches on something dainty and feminine only to move Theodore into it.




27 September 2016

PPD

I have been attempting to wean off my antidepressants lately, and it has been a rather terrible experience. The side effects of withdrawing are so terrible I almost don't want to go on medication the next time I am pregnant. Physically they are just awful. Mentally/emotionally, I am suddenly drowning again in overwhelming feelings of failure and worthlessness. It is a tough battle, this depression stuff. I hate it. I don't have anything else to say right now. Writing just this has taken a lot.

22 September 2016

Shopping and Lunching

Now that I'm down to my two "easy" kids, I run errands during the weekday again, and while I don't hear it quite as often, I do still hear "You have your hands full!" a lot. Maybe because Eleanor and Theodore are so close in age? Anyway, I used to respond with a polite smile, but lately I've been trying out the "shock jock" method.

"You have your hands full!"
-"And I have one in kindergarten!"
-"Normally I have three, this is a breeze!"

"You have quite a load there!" to my full cart at Sam's Club.
"And I'm not even done yet!"

I can't believe how much food we are suddenly going through. Part of it is Theodore. He eats like a boy. A hungry boy. His record is 2.5 blueberry muffins. He wants in on every meal we eat and is more than happy to take down a spoonful of Mommy's food instead of his baby mush.

Part of it is school. Abigail eats more because she is more active and has the peer pressure of all her classmates actually eating.

And part of it is that a lunch - and two snacks - that works well in a lunch box is more expensive than lunch at the dinner table. Over the summer, if we weren't in the mood for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I could whip up something special: donuts with smoothies made from the fruit about to go bad in the fridge. If Abigail didn't eat breakfast, I could just let her finish off her cereal for lunch. I could buy a big container of yogurt and scoop some out in little pink bowls for a snack. If we ran out of granola bars, I could just make popcorn or muffins or whatever and in 20 minutes, we'd have a hot-from-the-oven snack. Now I need individual containers of apple sauce, I can't run out of pre-packaged granola bars, I can't send leftover mac 'n cheese in a tupperware with a kindergartner.

I'll find cheaper ways of doing things as time goes on, I'm sure. This is, like, my third week ever of packing a kid's lunch. But it does have me wondering: can I prepackage my own food? Can I make a couple batches of granola bars (these ones are SO GOOD!) and wrap them up individually? Is there a way to make my own no-refrigeration-needed apple sauce pouches? Do I need to buy a thousand feet of cling wrap? Sandwich bags by the thousands? Disposable tupperware? Is there a way to do this without filling up a new landfill every year?

20 September 2016

Waxing

Abigail, who is still on antibiotics for her latest cold-turned-sinus-infection has brought home another round of colds for all three kids to share. Combined with the cough, runny nose, and all-around grouchies, we have diarrhea. For all three. And Abigail got stung by a bee at school today. Her first bee sting. She actually told me about it, pointing behind her ear, "Bee." Said plainly, without pain. Lastly, Matt is working late tonight. Fun times. I'm actually doing really well despite the heaps of crapola. Morning Bible study is to thank, I think.

While most of the new house smell has worn off, sometimes I still can't believe all this space is mine, especially, for some reason, when I'm in the laundry room. I have so much space that I have a whole room dedicated to my laundry. It's been spruced up all nice by the previous homeowners, with a new laminate floor, fresh paint on the wall, lots of storage, a place to hang dry clothes, a laundry shoot, and even the unfinished ceiling has been painted black so as to make the space feel stylish.


It even has a cat door entrance because the previous homeowners had a cat too. I can put her liter pan and food and everything in the laundry room and keep the kids and dog out by closing the door. It's perfect.


Sometimes when I'm in my laundry room I think about what it will be like when we move out. I like to think it happens long after our kids are grown and we need to downsize. There will be so much stuff to go through! Years and years of wrapping paper and extra trash bags and lost socks. The closets will be packed with sheets and towels that we've had since we got married. Kitchen cabinets crammed with stacks of holiday bundt pans and glass Pyrex casserole dishes. I am watching my in-laws go through this process now, box after box emerging from the depths of the basement, bring long forgotten objects to daylight for the first time in years. Sometimes literally. I watch my friends who are done having kids sort through all the baby stuff: tossing, donating, selling, keeping for the memories.

While I, for the first time in my life, am letting things build up. Stockpile. Become a stash. A stash of extra pillow cases in a bin in the hall closet. A cupcake maker with a broken handle (that works just great!) from Matt's white elephant party at work finds a home in the pantry. The entire unfinished half of the basement. Oh goodness, I don't go in there when I'm feeling the OCD coming on. It's so full of extras, hand-me-downs, maybe-we'll-need-this-one-days because for once in my life, I actually have the space to hold on to it. We finally have space to wax. To build. To increase. To grow in space because our family is growing in size. It seems far-fetched now, but I can see it happening: we are filling up cupboards and cabinets and pantries and closets.

But when I stand in my laundry room, I can see the day when I will one day have to wane. When I will have to go through an entire house full of things I used to take care of my family. I am thankful that I can wax in my beautiful house. With my sick little Fox snuggled in his carrier.


19 September 2016

Thankful

A few days ago, Abigail's school called me to let me know that she wasn't feeling well and requested that I pick her up immediately. So I loaded everyone into the car and we drove up to school and brought Abigail home. She's fine, it turns out. But I couldn't help but think about how disastrous it would have been if I'd had a job. I would have had to stop what I was doing at that very moment and take half a sick day. Or I would have had to frantically call around and beg someone else to drop what they were doing at that very moment and pick up my kid. I can't imagine how hard it would be to hold down a job with the unpredictability of sick kids both in school and in day care. I'm really thankfully that I am not a single mother, a divorced mother, or a working-out-of-the-house mother. I'm thankful I can be available to pick up my not-sick kid from kindergarten at a moment's notice.

12 September 2016

Buying a (few) Wardrobe(s)

It's (finally) that time of year when we put away the shorts and the tank tops and the little sundresses and unpack the unicorn sweaters and sparkly jeans.

Did you think I was joking? Probably not, you know how I roll.
Anyway, Abigail - at 5.5 - has finally grown too tall for her 3T jeans.

Home sick from school today. Nothing more nutritious than brownies for breakfast on a day like that.
Eleanor's 2T clothes are too tight or too short on her 2.5-year-old body.

Believe it or not, this was actually the least blurry of all the toddler pics I snapped this morning.
And 9.5-month-old Theodore only has about a month left in his 9-month-size clothing.

He hates the back carry, but as an insufferable grouch, he can either cry on the ground or fuss in the carrier.
After taking everyone's picture, the girls then insisted I take the dog's and cat's pictures.

Hopeful: "Is the camera food? Can I eat it?"
Oooh, crappy lighting. Let's turn on a light and try again.

Blam-o. Secret Agent Cat exposed.
Okay, so Abigail and Theodore need entirely new wardrobes and Eleanor needs about a half a new wardrobe, as Abigail, who is extremely hard on her clothing, hasn't left me much with which to work.

While I might not mind skipping gleefully to the nearest conglomerate of baby clothing stores and throwing everything I think is cute into my basket, Matt - and the part of me that would one day like to retire - will mind, so I'm trying to set parameters and limits and budgets. There exists a lot of different opinions as to how much clothing a baby, toddler, and kindergartner need, so last night, I set out to make my own list.

Such lists need to be heavily personalized, I realized, because every mom runs her house a little differently. How often does she do laundry? How warm does she keep her house? How dirty do her kids get their clothes? Last night I drew up this rough draft:


I reliably do laundry every week, so I only need enough to get me through one week. The house is fairly cool during the winter, but Abigail is active in school, where presumably, they keep it warm. The kids all get their shirts pretty dirty, but not usually their pants. Theodore and Eleanor will certainly have a day or two (or four for Theodore) where they never change out of their jammies. In the light of day (while Theodore naps and the girls play nicely together downstairs) I mixed all this together, then I went through Abigail's 3T clothing to sort out what's pass-on-able. Then I dove into the 12 month and 4T clothing I've already gotten as gifts, hand-me-downs from cousins, and the few irresistible things I've already purchased. 

I put checks next to the things I have enough of. The number in parenthesis indicates how much more I need to get to my ideal total. 
Abigail needs jeans because she's hard on clothes, but Eleanor needs leggings because she likes to move and climb and jeans are too restrictive. I live in Michigan, yet no one has enough sweaters, but I actually have way more shoes than I thought I did, although I better double check that Abigail's church/dress boots still fit.

And winter coats. Freakin' A, winter coats. Last year, Eleanor outgrew her winter coat halfway through the winter and it was practically impossible to find her another one. The stores I normally shop - Meijer, Target, Old Navy, Carter's, Children's Place - already had their spring lines out. Their websites only offered the slimmest of pickings. It was rough. This year I'm buying coats that are a touch big on the girls and I'm getting a 12 AND 18 month size for Theodore.

I'll hit up a used children's clothing store I like (Once Upon A Child), but plan to fill in gaps with new clothing on sale. (I can just never find good shoes, coats, or jammies used.)

The wardrobe lists are one step above bare bones. I want to have some room to buy cute items randomly throughout the winter, room for gifts, and room to buy Sofia the First and Frozen shirts and whomever else the girls randomly decide they love and need a shirt of.

All this has me wondering about my own pathetic excuse for a wardrobe.


What does an ideal winter wardrobe look like for a stay-at-home mom? I need pieces that are really durable, that can fit as my weight fluctuates, that are easy to nurse in but still be worn when I'm not nursing, and I'd love to have something a little more feminine and a little less something I stole from Matt's dresser this morning. Hmmmm.

07 September 2016

School Days Routine

Everyday when the bus arrives and ferries Abigail away for 7.5 hours, my house is plunged into a calm, peaceful stillness that has shown me that Abigail is certainly the "life" of the "party" that is my daily life. Throughout the day, I run back and forth from enjoying how much easier things are to feeling guilty. An odd guilt: I feel like I am failing as a parent in that I don't know what she is doing at any given moment. She's so young and her communication skills so lacking. I am putting a hell of a lot of trust in everyone in charge of her: her bus driver, her new teacher, the classroom aides. I want to become everyone's best friend so that I can know better what her days are like.

Her teacher fills out an extremely detailed form everyday: which therapies she had, what other classes she went to (like gym), how much she ate, what she didn't eat, how many times she went to the bathroom and whether it was in the diaper or potty, and jots a little note at the bottom. I answer her every day. I ask a lot of questions.

Abigail is doing very well at school. After a summer without occupational therapy, she was in bad sorts. She was getting extra oppositional and chewing on her hair and clothes almost constantly. Just a week back in school and she's reversing her bad behaviors. She hugs Theodore, the cat, and the dog, and her blankie (in that order) as soon as she gets home and tells me about her friends. So far she really seems to be hitting it off with a boy named Elijah.

With the disappearance of my energetic, oppositional, can't-take-my-eyes-off-her-for-a-second first born, I am suddenly plunged into a very typically developing life. I put the kitchen playset in the basement play area (I couldn't before because Abigail just rips it apart and throws all the food all over the room). I set up a desk/workspace in the bedroom where Theodore's crib was. My computer sits there, in front of the window, and I plan to write in the afternoons while Eleanor and Theodore nap after the Mom to Mom sale in October. I normally couldn't leave so many tempting things - pens, a computer, files - on my desk all day long because I couldn't be certain that I'd be able to keep Abigail out all day long. 


I can now run errands during the day as well, as Eleanor can put her own shoes on, climb into her own carseat, and walk with me in the store as I attend to Theodore. I also switched Eleanor's carseat around so she is front-facing, moved Theodore into a new Diono Radian, subtract from the mix one kid and suddenly my midsize sedan is feeling way more spacious.


The first day that Abigail was in school, Roxy paced anxiously between me and the front door and Eleanor cried anytime I left her sight. She literally ran up and hugged me when I got out of the bathroom.


But we're all kind of adjusting now. I'm settling into a new routine, Eleanor is gaining some self confidence and tackling more things on her own, Roxy is learning not to bark at the bus, and Theodore - just for good measure - is crawling and pulling up to stand now.


I like the way things are settling, though. And when Abigail gets home, I give her a huge hug, try to get her to talk about her day over her after school snack, and then the noise level shoots back up as the girls run around the house yelling at the top of their lungs.