Life with Two

My baby was born just a few weeks ago, right? It sure feels like it. I don’t know where this year has gone. It’s a bit humorous to me, the last time I blogged was when I came back from maternity leave, and here we are at my baby’s first birthday. Levi turned one just last week, and even though I remember every little stage and how each one felt like an eternity, it still feels like he just joined our family.

Before we had kids, someone once told us that the hardest transition is from one kid to two. I’m only speaking from my experience here, but I would have to agree. When Ava was born, we had all the time in the world to get to know her, rest when she rested, and soak up every precious moment during those newborn days. When Levi came around, I expected the same, but I was so wrong. I had this grand idea that I would be able to binge-watch Netflix (which I didn’t have when Ava was born), and hang out with a sleepy baby snoozing in my arms all the live long day. I could just hang around and not do a whole lot.

Well let me tell you. I was so, so wrong.

I hadn’t taken into consideration the toddler we would have during those newborn days this time around. One who would need fed, cared for, taken to the potty/changed. One who would need some one-on-one time and some sort of consistency. It’s really dumb that I hadn’t realized that. Newborns are exhausting in general, but this was a new level.

There were other differences between my babies that made it a little more difficult the second time, like having a tongue-tied baby who couldn’t nurse without making me want to scream, and the fact that I kept comparing my babies. I kept expecting things with Levi to go just as they did with Ava, and that was a mistake. But I definitely think the biggest adjustment was learning how to care for a newborn, toddler, and myself (and still keep the house at a level of cleanliness I was comfortable with). And it’s not just me–Caleb felt this way too.

A few months into having two kids though, something clicked. We fell into a groove with caring for both kids. I stopped comparing experiences and babies (which helped a ton!) and life became much smoother. I don’t know what did it, but there was a significant change around month 3-4.

Now a whole year has passed since we brought Levi home, and I can’t imagine life without him! He has so much personality–still very reserved, much like his sister, but he’s opinionated and knows exactly what he wants. He’s got the cutest little eyebrows that go up when he’s being sneaky, and pair that with his smile (complete with two crooked teeth) and he’s the cutest little boy I’ve seen! He’s starting to take steps with his short little legs, but he prefers not to have an audience, and therefore we only see him at the end of his path rather than his whole journey. He’s noisy, catches on to games quickly, and knows more than he lets on.

I’m so thankful that rough transition stage didn’t last too terribly long, but I do feel like it helped me evaluate what was going on. Maybe someday I’ll share some of those memories in detail. I am so very thankful for both of our babies, and look forward to watching them grow up into their own little people.

 

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Back From Maternity Leave

A couple weeks ago, I had a bit of an emotional meltdown.

And then, of course, following the emotional meltdown, I had an epiphany.

I started back to work at the beginning of the year, and I haven’t had the easiest transition coming back. I love my job and the people I work with, but it doesn’t feel right that I’m spending my days away from my babies. It’s been a very emotional return, and fortunately the Lord has blessed me with many friends (old and new) who have been so understanding and have reassured me that I am not alone in this. Being a working mom is hard enough without my own pressures, guilt, and longings to be with my kids flooding my mind most days.

To make matters worse, when I get home, I am overwhelmed by the amount of “stuff” that needs to be done. Housework needs to be done, dinner needs to be cooked and eaten, kids need to be bathed, and it all needs to be done the moment I walk in the door. This is in my mind, of course. Caleb is a wonderful husband and is more than supportive and helpful–but he can’t change the things that sneak into my mind every evening.

We had a night of prayer at youth group a few weeks ago, and everyone shared the things in their lives that needed prayer. Some were needing physical healing, some were struggling with things, and I shared that I needed help managing my time. That was the only thing I could come up with to describe my constant dilemma, but it’s more like I feel the need to try and control my life, when I really don’t have any control at all.

I can’t clean my house every day. Not the whole thing… that’s so unrealistic. I need to be smarter in the way I do things so I’m not running around doing a whole lot of nothing. In the midst of trying to clean (or saying “I’d really like to get THIS done before going to bed”), I’m trying to spend time with my kids, but sometimes I get so distracted that they get even less of my attention. I’m already gone all day, and I come home and try to get a bunch of other stuff done. I can’t do it all. I hate that it bothers me, too.

I am going to try to not stress about some things in my life. If the laundry doesn’t get folded, it doesn’t get folded. I’d rather spend my energy on my kids. Until our life circumstances change, I will make the most of what God has blessed us with.

I know I’m not alone in this. I know many other moms who feel the same way. I’ve been reading Esther recently, thanks to the SheReadsTruth app (which I love, by the way), and one verse really stuck with me.

“…And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

Mordecai was talking to Queen Esther about how she could be the one to save her people. Basically, no one knows why we’re put in the positions we are in, but we need to be brave enough (or strong enough, or humble enough, etc…) to accept the task God puts before us. I need to remember this as well. I may not have the role I want to be in, but God never promised I would be perfectly happy in life, based on my definition of happiness anyway. This may still very well be where God wants me, and until that changes, I need to be joyful in my position and make the most of my time with my kids. And until then, I need to pray for contentment and that I would desire his plan over my own.

 

Conversations

“I like to start my notes to you as if we’re already in the middle of a conversation.” -You’ve Got Mail

I love that movie. You’ve Got Mail is one of those movies that is extremely dated in its entirety, but it’ll never get old. It always makes me feel warm and fuzzy, and makes me long for a pen pal. And books. And New York City. Although I’ve never been, so it’s more like the idea of NYC.

It makes me wish I could have the lifestyle of a writer, who spends her days in a coffee shop, or snuggled in at home in humongous socks and a large mug of coffee. While the babies are sleeping, of course. Because I wouldn’t actually change anything about my life except the being at home with my kids more and writing parts.

Another reason I love that movie is the quote above. And the daisies. And the fact that Tom Hanks has the shiniest fingernails ever. And just everything.

I feel like I am too random to follow a schedule. I love order, but I get too caught up in trying to stick to it, that I usually blow it. I have this Bible devotional app that I try to use daily, and for a while there I would occasionally get behind and try to catch up before reading “today’s” reading, and I get overwhelmed and give up. The same goes for blogging. I set a schedule, I claim I am going to stick to it, and then I panic and quit. Or I get busy and feel guilty, and then I panic and quit.

So, I am going to just start my posts like you know what’s going on in my life, as if we’re in the middle of a conversation. No pressure, just life.

Disconnected

I’ve been disconnected for about a week and a half.

And only partially. Social Media is one of those things that seems harmless and fun, and you go along with it for years and years before you realize that it’s actually adding a lot of stress and anxiety to your life. And by your life, I mean mine.

There are obviously many wonderful things I’ve shared with Facebook… things that I am able to look back on and feel the flood of wonderful memories rushing at me. Things like my engagement, my wedding day, the day we announced my first pregnancy, and the day Ava was born. I love being able to look back and see what we did, what others said, and the overall feelings I remember having come right back.

But at the same time, I feel like more of my memories live on in those pictures and comments than in my own head. I haven’t really kept a journal since joining Facebook either. It’s a problem. The positive turned into a negative.

Strike one.

The anxiety and stress (an obvious negative) is a problem too. When we were trying to get pregnant with our second, it took much longer, and was much more stressful than it was with Ava (umm… she wasn’t planned. TMI? I don’t really care). Yet every time I signed on Facebook, another friend was announcing a pregnancy, or even worse, complaining about a pregnancy. I cried a lot. Even now, there are constantly stories on Facebook that upset me. Or comments. Comments from well-intending people who phrase it just right so it’s unintentionally insensitive. I don’t need that in my life. I don’t need other people commenting on my life. I have enough positive encouragement, and I don’t need the negativity–intentional or not.

Strike two.

I know it’s not just my family… Have you noticed how often you or the people around you are on their phones? And I’m not talking about communicating with people. I mean just sitting on their phones scrolling through the various social media apps. Like, what are you looking at that’s more important than socializing with the people around you? Or what are you replacing with these hours of time spent on Facebook? I was particularly convicted when I realized that I was unable to find time every day to read my Bible, but I spent any free moment I had on Facebook. And it sickened me when I realized that so far, my daughter knows my phone is important because it’s always in my hand… on or off. And also horrible realizing that my husband and I spend our evenings sitting on the couch together on our phones, rather than sharing intentional conversations. It was the worst realization ever.

Strike three.

Those three strikes made me realize Facebook, although a great way to socialize, cheapens the relationships that are most important. It was then that I decided to remove Facebook from my phone. However, this decision took longer than I’d like to admit to follow through on. I shared my convictions with Caleb, and he actually agreed with me. I logged out of Facebook. He deleted it. About half a week later, I deleted my app too. It’s been such a freeing decision, I don’t regret it at all.

It’s now been about a week and a half that I’ve been disconnected, and I don’t miss it. I read a whole book. We’ve had conversations. I haven’t carried my phone around the house. I still have Instagram, due to the photos I enjoy editing with the filters, but I have cut down the list of those I follow, so there’s not much to look at.

*As a side note, I did not deactivate my account. I still use it occasionally for work purposes, and have given myself the option of checking Facebook if I’m on the computer (not during work), but it’s been a week since I even did that. I feel like I’m breaking ties, and soon I’ll be one of those people who’s “never on FB anymore” (which is something I used to say to people when they had a long absence).

Social Media doesn’t have to be bad, but we cannot let it take over our thoughts and lives. If it’s a problem, address it.

And to be honest, Social Media isn’t how I connect with the people I really care about and want to talk to. It’s just a means to keep track of the people I don’t.

Unexcused Absences

It’s been awhile.

I tried coming up with another way of beginning this post, but it’s a bit difficult to pick up where you left off pretending you never left. It’s like a friendship that is only in need of catching up because one person has blatantly neglected the other.

There are many reasons why I haven’t been as public these days, several of which I’m just not ready to share, but one of them has to do with my work schedule changing, and another has to do with feeling some sort of disconnect and need to figure out who I am and who I want to be… at least in the blogosphere.

My initial reason for wanting to blog is that I wanted to be some sort of voice. Some sort of source that people would find useful, much like the blogs that I turn to for tips, ideas, or solidarity. It’s so nice knowing I’m not alone, but in a way, I am. In the blogging world. It takes a lot to become a voice. One that’s more than just talking to a void, but one with an audience. Still, I think that’s something I would like, but it shouldn’t be the reason I write. I can’t do it for other people. I will get burnt out (which I did), and I will run out of topics because it’s no longer what comes naturally to me.

Over the past few months, I’ve looked back on my blog from when I was pregnant with Ava, and also this blog, and it’s fun being able to see what we did at certain times, and what Ava was doing and how she was growing and changing. It was nice. And now, I find myself almost 7 months pregnant with our son, and I haven’t documented the pregnancy at all. How’s that for an announcement?

I miss writing, and I think I just need to get back to the basics. I don’t care who is reading it, or about the numbers of views, or if it’s deeply reaching anyone out there. Even though I still kinda hope it does. I just can’t focus on that.

Spring Fever

ahhhh, back at the blog!

it’s seriously been too long since my last post. four whole months! it’s not that i haven’t wanted to write, i just haven’t had the motivation. there are things in every day life that i need to be recording, but it takes so much effort. i’m hoping to get back into it, but i need to look forward to it, not just do it to check it off my list.

i wish i could say i’ve been super busy doing all these projects, working on documenting our lives in some fashion, or not spending 3+ hours a day watching our current tv shows on netflix (Once Upon a Time is our obsession right now), but i can’t. besides watching our shows (which we do after avie goes to bed), i’ve been spending time with the girl, playing castles, and teaching her to bake. she really really loves stirring, and starts giggling because she’s so proud of herself! she’s got quite the personality these days! HOWEVER…. even though i haven’t been “busy”, i do have a lot of things on my list that we are going to start working on here soon. take a look:

1. paint our kitchen cabinets
right now, our kitchen cabinets are a lovely wood color from the 70’s or so. i would love love love to paint them a nice off-white, and replace the hardware. just to update it a bit. if it were up to me, i would start priming them today, but the doors need to be taken off and sanded first. therefore, it must wait. no surprise projects for my husband, which are my favorite kind.

2. paint the window and door trims throughout the house
that same glossed-over wood that makes up the kitchen cabinets is in every room of the house. the doors, door frames, and window frames are all this color. i do not like it. out house would feel much more open if we painted these off-white as well. this would have to be done around the same time as the cabinets. maybe this spring!

3. paint the spare room, and maybe Ava’s room
spring just seems to be the time to get projects done. winter is too cold (-20ish yesterday… have i mentioned i am ready for spring????) and summer can be too hot. so here’s what i’m thinking for ava’s room and the spare room. first of all, i’m not sure if i want ava to stay in her room or to switch to the middle room. there are pro’s and cons to both. i would like to paint the middle room a mint color, and do chevron stripes on the left wall. there are no windows or doors on that wall, so it’s perfect. i would like to paint ava’s room as well, but i am not sure what color. maybe it will wait awhile. in the future, ava’s current room will be the nursery for another baby. if our next is a boy, the gray can stay, and we can accent with lime greens or teals. i think it will look better than the pinks did. if our next is a girl, then the walls will probably be a biege color, and accent with peaches.

4. hang our deer head
you read that right. i’ve allowed caleb to bring his deer head into this house. i told him i’d agree to let him hang it in the living room if we could find a tasteful way. so we looked on pinterest, and found a cute pallet idea. so he’s working on building that, and when it’s done we’ll hang it above the couch. then i haven’t decided if i want two symmetrical photos hung on either side of it, or if i want one large photo, and a collage of pictures on the other side.

5. move the dining room
we have a room in the back of the house that is just off the kitchen. it leads to the laundry room/garage, and has a nice door to the patio. it’s currently a playroom/catch all room. we don’t spend a lot of time back there because the living room has comfortable seating, and we can’t see ava and be comfortable if she’s in the playroom. our current “dining room” is the little nook between the living room and kitchen. it has windows, but is really only big enough for the teeny tiny table we have. we are hoping to get a table that seats 6 soon, so it makes sense to move the playroom to the nook, and move the dining room to the back room. i think it will look very nice once we get the table and add some decor. i’m very excited about this!

6. replace all blinds
we are still using the blinds that were in our house when we moved in. i would love to get some nice pull blinds (not the slats, but the fabric), but that’s lower on the list than all the hard labor jobs.

i really hope to get working on these projects very soon, and i’ll definitely post progress pics as we go! wish me luck as i dive into blogging again!

Happy Babies Have Tears Too

Dr's Visit

Yesterday was Ava’s traumatic 15-month checkup. Traumatic isn’t even an exaggeration. Nothing happened out of the usual… she just knew what was going on.

She knew she didn’t know this lady. She knew the crinkly paper was loud and not nice. She knew she didn’t like the cold stethoscope on her chest. She knew it wasn’t normal when mama held her head still so this lady could stick something in her ears. She knew this was not fun.

And then the shots happened, and that didn’t help her trust the Dr any more. Three shots, to be exact. MMR, chicken pox, and flu. One of those they said really hurt, and even left a bruise. Poor thing.

The nurse practitioner we saw today explained that this is completely normal, and most kids even go through phases of trusting/not-trusting the doctor, but that this age and 3-year-olds are the worst. At least we made it through the first “worst”.

Long story short, Ava is “perfect” weight-wise! I guess we no longer need to fatten her up, huh. We were actually told to “keep doing what we’re doing” and not worry about her weight. She’s found her new curve at the 10-12th percentile, and she’s 20lbs 4oz. She’s 30.5″ long, at the 50th percentile. She’s walking and talking (31 words!), has 6 full teeth and is working on her molars. She likes reading and picking out hair bows and shoes to wear. What a big girl.

Just for fun, I wanted to share Ava’s list of words. She says these on almost a daily basis, and it doesn’t include the words she repeats just because we say them.

  1. Zorro (or ZorZor)
  2. pancake
  3. highchair
  4. mama
  5. dada
  6. hi
  7. bye
  8. cat
  9. dog
  10. milk
  11. up
  12. hotdog
  13. baby
  14. stir
  15. cupcake
  16. ball
  17. bow
  18. shoe
  19. hat
  20. no (“nooo nooo noooo” while shaking her head)
  21. book
  22. nose
  23. toe
  24. eyes
  25. knock (she says “knock knock” while knocking on her head. Thanks, Granny!)
  26. head butt (Daddy taught her this–she actually bumps heads with him)
  27. sock
  28. Hey Jack (yeah… Daddy is a Duck Dynasty fan)
  29. night night
  30. bath
  31. star

Avie’s also working on using tissues, and it coaxed a smile out of her after her tear-fest at the doctor’s office. Enjoy your day! May you have someone this adorable to wipe your tears, too.

tissue

Encouragement for the Gloomy

This week has been a bit rough for me emotionally. You know that overwhelming feeling where things don’t go exactly as you hoped? Big things and little things both defeat me. I have so many verses I try to focus on pretty much on a daily basis to keep my thoughts, expectations, and control problem at bay, but some days it defeats me anyway (usually because I let my guard down and let my mind wander). It can be the smallest thing (ahem, today was the fact that the house is dirty again. Come on, I just cleaned it) that sets me in a gloomy mood (and let’s face it, hormones only make it worse!), and I feel like I’m starting at square one in trusting God. It’s a good reminder that I’m human and I’ve never done learning.

The coolest part is that I usually don’t have to go searching for comfort or answers on my own; today, my peace came from my facebook page. I saw the photo that K-LOVE posted this morning. Click here for the picture.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Philippians 4:6.

I immediately made it the wallpaper on my phone. I definitely needed this reminder–nothing is too great to ask God for. You may not receive the answer you want at the time you want it, but He wants us to ask, and for us to be thankful about what He has already given us and done for us. So even though I may not ask for my house to miraculously clean itself, I can ask that it won’t overwhelm me, and won’t make me overlook the important things I should be doing today, like spending my day off with Ava, teaching her new things, and observing the things she absorbs on her own.

During my Quiet Time this morning, I continued in Philippians and was further encouraged by verse 7:

Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Um. Yes please! I so desire to have that peace–and not just when I’m feeling happy with how life is going and in a good mood. I want to feel that way when I know I’m about to feel stressed or overwhelmed. I want to beat myself to the punch, and not even have the chance to try to take control myself! And it’s possible! This is what I strive for.

And then the next few verses are a good reminder for the road about how we should strive to conduct ourselves in our thoughts. Here’s 8 and 9 for ya.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

There ya have it folks. That’s what I have been thinking about today. Hope it helps someone else out there too!

Baby Steps

I have some big news regarding our little Avie….

 

She’s walking!

I had a feeling that once she figured it out, it would be sayonara to crawling, and I was totally right.

Here’s how it happened:

Last Saturday morning, Caleb, Ava and I were all playing in her playroom, and she was just standing around. So Caleb moved her across the room from me, and told her to go see mama, and she totally wobbled across the room to me! Repeat this about 4 times, all trying to get it on video, and you have the next 20 minutes.

Then we changed things up a bit, and I prompted her with a toy fork (I alone was no longer exciting enough) and we caught her in the video above.

It was a great day. She is so proud of herself. And Ava has been walking ever since.

Oh, and that little personality is really blooming; she’s fascinated with her hair bows now, and says “ta-da” after I put one in her hair. She is absolutely precious.

14 months old!

If I told you I was on vacation for the past month, would you forgive me for not writing?

Well, regardless of whether or not I have your forgiveness, I wasn’t actually on vacation. I don’t actually have a good excuse for not writing. This month, I’ve been trying out a new work schedule, which leaves me with a shorter lunch hour, and that’s when I used to get some blogging in. And poor excuse #2 is that we’ve been blazing through the first two seasons of The Walking Dead. Let me tell you. It’s hard to do anything else when walkers are out there.

And now we’re stuck because we can’t find Season 3.

Anyway, I feel like I need to update my faithful readers on some of the topics I started but have left you hanging on:

Insanity: Yes, it really is insane. We lasted a little over two weeks (actually, Caleb lasted a little longer than I did). The program overall is really effective, but I particularly found difficultly giving 40 minutes of my day to working out, when I work full-time and prefer to spend my evenings with my family. I would fall into bed exhausted, and frankly, it’s not worth it. There is a new workout program by the creators of Insanity that’s only 25 minutes long, and I think that would be much easier to stick to, but the results wouldn’t be as fast. So really, I would love to do it again, but I’m not motivated enough at this time.

Ava’s weight: We saw the doctor at the beginning of August (yes, I know, such a bad blogger!) and she’s doing well! She gained a pound, which I honestly thought wouldn’t be enough to please this guy, but turns out that’s exactly the amount most babies gain between their 12-13th months! He said she should be good as long as she continues to gain consistently. Now we are trying to reintroduce healthier eating habits, but make sure she snacks and drinks a lot of milk as well. I don’t want her to have weight issues on the other end of the spectrum in 5 years because the doctor had me eating everything smothered with butter.

Those are the two biggest updates I have at the moment. My new goal for blogging, since I have been so focused on not blogging recently, is one post a week. If I can muster up more, I will. But by golly, I’m going to post at least once a week! And I better get grief if I don’t!

Now, onto some pictures of my beautiful 14 month old!

14 month Collage 2

 1. Ava not only still loves playing in her kitchen, but she’s more expressive than ever! She’s starting to talk more, and says “stir, stir” as she stirs, and makes noises like water is running when she washes her dishes.

2. Reading is one of her favorite things to do. She will drag a book across the room, or even from one room to another, hand it to me, and climb up on my lab. (In case you caught it, yes she’s still crawling. She has taken steps, but prefers to grab my hand and walk with me than do it by herself. That or she crawls, because it’s faster.)

3. Ava has not allowed anything to be on her face until last week. She finally will wear her sunglasses, but she holds her head very still, like she’s afraid they will fall off. It’s so cute.

4. Occasionally, we wear her out to the point that she falls asleep. I don’t remember exactly where we had come home from, but she fell asleep in her car seat and didn’t even wake up when we brought her home!

5. Daddy, Ava, and I went to visit my grandma last weekend, and she brought out all of the really old baby toys she has from (I think) when my mom was a little girl. I remember playing with them as a kid, and it’s awesome that Ava gets to play with them now.

That’s in for today! Hopefully I have redeemed myself at least a little bit. My plans for upcoming posts include my thoughts on the new car seat we got Ava. Let me tell you… she LOVES not being so crowded like she was in her infant seat!