Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Memorial Day Weekend (A Little Bit of This 'n That)

We don't often (or ever?) do anything extraordinary over these long holiday weekends.  We don't camp, or have a cabin, or even have family close to spend extra time with them.  Sometimes it's a bummer, especially when the question "So, are you doing anything special over the holiday weekend?" is asked.  Sometimes I wish we could take the extra time to do something extra special, but I have no idea what that would be...instead, we save our pennies and Brad's vacation time for when it really matters - summer!

So we do what we can with what we have.  And what do we have?  Great kids, a wonderful town, good friends, and extra time to enjoy it all!  

 Our long holiday weekend included enjoying our neighborhood with long walks and bike rides.

 We spent a lot of Saturday morning (it was gorgeous outside!) working in the yard.  The kids played as we trimmed some bushes and pulled some weeds.

 We grilled some hot dogs and had lunch outside too.  She liked it.

 Some new friends (a classmate of Drew's and her family) invited us to their home Saturday afternoon to see their baby chicks, jump on their trampoline, eat snacks, and enjoy conversation.

Brad preached on Sunday morning and later that afternoon, Drew went to a friend's house to spend the night.

 That meant a special treat for these two: ice cream cones at McD's!

Monday morning we picked up Drew and headed towards the parade route for Midland's Memorial Day parade.

 And as Brad said, what better way to start a parade that gives out way too much candy but to eat donuts for breakfast!

She loved the music best.

So, did we do anything special over the long holiday weekend?  Well, we played and ate and laughed and danced and enjoyed and relaxed and loved.  I'd say that's pretty special.  

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Ruby at 18 Months

Reading Hokey Pokey Elmo.  And dancing a bit, too.

Playing with her purse, especially the phone.  Which, oddly enough, is currently MIA.  It's not a fancy music-playing, button-pushing toy phone like the others that we have.  But it's just a little box that does nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  And she loves it.

Drinking from her Camelbak water bottle.

Eating mini club crackers.  All.the.time.

Wearing size 4 diapers.  I likely should have bought the larger size one or two boxes ago, but opted to suck every last penny I could out of the size 3 (more diapers per box, ya'll!).

Working on puzzles.

Crafting with sidewalk chalk.

Loving to lounge on a pile of blankets and pillows on the living room floor (usually while watching Sesame Street).

The biggest change this month is a milestone for both Ruby and Brad and me.  We've started to allow Ruby to fall asleep on her own at night.  We began sleep-training (putting them to sleep drowsy but awake so that they learn how to self-soothe and so that we don't have to still rock them to sleep when they're 12 years old) the boys around six months -ish but for whatever reason, never attempted to do the same with Ruby.  Well, there are likely several reasons.  1) She always fell asleep so quickly and easily after her bedtime bottle.  She ate and was out and there wasn't much time to get a routine established to sleep-train.  2)  I always value whatever time the boys are asleep (ha!) so to disrupt that made me anxious.  Our bedrooms are all right next to one another and I didn't want her waking the boys with her cries.  And 3) She's Ruby.  Our last and our sweet girl.  I cherished those nights in her rocking chair, snuggling her tiny, soft body and was in no hurry to give that up.

Until of course she got bigger, the weather got warmer, and her body wasn't near as still!  One night about a week ago, Brad was doing her regular routine (jammies, kisses, books, prayers, music box, snuggle and rock to sleep) and when it came time for the rocking, she just wasn't sitting still on his nap.  It was warm and humid in the house, so he wasn't in the mood to snuggle.  It was obvious she was tired, just antsy, so I told him to go ahead and lay her down.  Now's as good a time as any to get this done!  She cried for about 30 minutes before she finally gave in.  It was rough.  And loud.  Thankfully, though, she didn't wake the boys and she was asleep before I went to bed!  The next night, she cried for less than a minute.  As the week has passed, her average crying time is about five minutes.

Whew!  Hurdle attempted and soon-to-be mastered!

Things just keep getting better and better.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

One Year Later

A friend texted me this morning to let me know that they were taking their elderly dog into the vet to be put down.  While I had been thinking about how the one year mark for Luci's death was approaching, it didn't dawn on me until later this afternoon that today was, in fact, that anniversary.

One year later.  One full year without our sweet Luci.

Quite honestly, we miss her, but life is a lot easier without the responsibility of her.  It's nice to have the extra money in our pockets that used to be spent on food and vet bills.  It's nice to not have to clean up after her or worry that she's puked or peed in the house without our knowledge.  We can leave the house and not think twice about having to get back home in a reasonable amount of time to free her from the gated kitchen.  I do miss her in the kitchen, though - I have to sweep a lot more often without her around.

I really miss her just being here.  It took a while to get used to that.  I miss her companionship and her love.  There's really nothing quite like it.  I still yearn a bit for her whenever I see another beagle.

We reminisce quite a bit about her.  She'll come up in conversation, and it's especially fun to hear Reed and Drew share a "remember that time..." story with us.  One of the things that makes me especially sad is that Ruby won't have those stories, about Luci or likely any other dog, for quite some time.  The boys had the opportunity to have a dog when they were so little and I love that it has cultivated in them a love for dogs.  I hope Ruby feels the same way even without having that experience.

I believe we will get another dog, at some point.  I'd like to wait a while but I wonder if the longer we wait, the less chance it'll be that we actually do get another one.  Just the other day, though, we talked about seeing if our local humane society has a foster dog program.  I feel like that would be a good option for us, to open our home temporarily to a dog in need.  It'll benefit us and the dog and that sounds pretty great to me.  We'll see.

On a much lighter note, we've decided what the name of our next dog will be, thanks to Doreen Cronin's Chicken Squad books.  Whatever her breed, whenever we may get her, her name shall be Sweet Coconut Louise.  Read the books.  Or at least the first chapter.  I don't think the boys have ever laughed so hard while reading a book.

*To read Luci's full story, click HERE.*

Saturday, May 16, 2015

That One Time I Ran a 5K

While I consider this blog a family blog - stories focused on all of us, and obviously all coming from my perspective - I don't regularly write about myself or Brad.  It's really all about the kids.  That should be pretty well established by now.  I couldn't not write this post, though, because it's really kind of a big deal for me.

Because I ran a 5K today.  For real.

Whoa, right? I know.

Without going into a tremendous about of emotional and mental detail about the whole thing (because that certainly is not what this blog is for), I will share a few of the nuts and bolts.

I'm beginning to finally take the time to help myself out a bit; take better care of myself, do for myself what I haven't been able to do for a long time, for a variety of reasons.  Of course, the most obvious is that I'm a mom and like most moms, I put myself last.  Not trying to be a martyr, not at all, but that's the reality for so many moms with young kids.  There's just a lot going on and a lot to keep track of that by the time there is time for me, the only thing I want to do with that time is sleep!

But I also wasn't feeling well...heavy and lazy and tired.  My body needed better fuel and more energy in order to do what I wanted to do - which was, primarily, to keep up with my kids!  It was beyond time for me to get my poop in a group and just do it.

So, last fall, after school started, I began getting up early to spend time on the treadmill.  I began the eight week Couch to 5K program and finished it up sometime after Thanksgiving.  I'm telling you, that program works!  Anyway, I stuck with the treadmill through the next couple months, and at some point in there, a group of us girls from church decided to work towards participating in the Dow Weekend of Races Event, some running the 5K, some the 10K.  In February we began meeting on Saturdays to run together on one of our trails, and come May, we were ready to go!

Most of these friends are runners.  They do this sort of thing all the time.  Best support system ever.

I had been running enough to know that I could finish the race in under 35 minutes.  When I ran on my own, I was hitting right about 34 minutes.  I hoped to get under that, but wasn't going to be upset if I didn't.  My official race time was 33:40.  Super happy with that.

It helped a lot to have my cheering section there along the race route, cheering me on.

I needed them there more than they know.

Overall, it was an awesome experience.  I'm so glad I did it, and pretty darn impressed with myself that I did!  Athletics has never been my thing; I've always considered myself awkward and untalented in that department.  And while I know that I look absolutely ridiculous when I run, I actually enjoy it quite a bit.  Never in a million years would I have thought that I'd say that!

So I hope to keep running.  I know that setting goals for myself works, so I'll need to set a new one in order to keep at this running thing.  *UPDATE:  New goal - run 40 miles in June!*  And just in case you're curious, there are a handful of other self-care and self-improvement goals that I have for myself, too, and slowly but surely I'm working to integrate quite a few into my routine and habits: making myself a reader again; cutting back on social media use; investing more time in my creative interests; getting out of the house more during the day; making sleep a priority.  Shoot, I may even start flossing soon!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Drew & Reed Go to the Doctor

For no other reason than to record the facts.

Drew weighs 67 and a half pounds and is 52 and a half inches tall.

Reed weighs 53 pounds and is 47 inches tall.

All of these numbers are settled within the 75th to 85th percentile range.

We've been a bit concerned about Drew's ears (read: his hearing) lately as he very frequently employs the word "huh?" after almost every phrase or question spoken at him.  He has very waxy ears, so it occurred to us that perhaps he was plugged.  Rest assured, his eardrums are clear.  So this just means the kid doesn't listen.

Reed is currently the victim of spring allergies, and has been since we've moved to Michigan.  Regularly dosing with children's Zyrtec should help.

Also, very routinely, Reed suffers from a cough that can be so significant it wipes him out.  In trying to play back to the doctor the accompanying symptoms and duration of these fits, I learned that I need to be a better record keeper of these things.  In any event, he isn't the "classic case" for anything, but perhaps he has something like occasional obstructive airway disease or something else big and fancy sounding.  She even mentioned asthma.  A pulmonary function test (to be scheduled) will help determine the current state of his lungs and if they are at all to blame.

Overall, both boys are healthy and strong.

And both boys found those paper gowns equal parts hilarious and humiliating.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

What I Love About Motherhood, Right Now

I have been a mom now for over eight years.  Eight years, three kids, and more loads of laundry than I care to think about.  It is the single greatest thing I have ever done, and brings with it unending joy and immeasurable love.

I shared with Brad last night, though, that recently I've been feeling a bit weary.  Just tired, I think, in general, of the daily grind.  A bit worn out by my everyday routine and the boredom I experience with all the household tasks I'm responsible for.  More than that, it's emotionally and mentally exhausting raising children, and I'm really quite exhausted from the current stage we are in.  Brad asked me, quite sweetly, "Well, what else would you like to do?"  And it took me all of .2 seconds to answer.

"Nothing."  Because there's no where else I'd rather be and nothing else I'd rather be doing. 

Yes, I'm tired.  Yes, it's currently wearing me out.  Yes, I'm having some trouble finding joy in my current everyday experiences.  But oh my goodness there is absolutely nothing else I want to do, than to be here, right where I am, taking care of my family and raising my children.

This is my dream come true.  Even in the weariness.

So, in honor of Mother's Day, and of eight years of motherhood, I wanted to gather my thoughts a bit to record what I'm loving about motherhood, right now.  Because I know the list will change as the kids grow.  There is so much to remember about the "right now" (I wish I would've done something similar five years ago) and I want to eek out every smidgen of goodness I can.

Without further ado, here are the top 8 things (eight years, eight things) I'm loving about motherhood, right now...

8) I get to experience both the joy of toddlerhood and the joy of the elementary years at the same time.  I feel like I live in some sort of duality.  Lately, I have found myself yearning for Baby Drew (especially), wanting to remember what it was like then.  I think I'm going through a phase of sadness at his growing older (even though it's pretty darn sweet to see him maturing).  While at the same time, I get to experience all that is baby and toddler with Ruby, which allows me the best of both worlds.

7) And on that note, while it wasn't our "plan" to have such a gap in years between the boys and Ruby, it has turned into the greatest gift.  Watching how the boys adore her and care for her and make her laugh and want to play with her - their relationship as big brothers to their baby sister is sweet and honest and so wonderfully beautiful.  Having a front row seat to that - priceless.

6) Regardless of my current feelings (referenced above), I continue to count my lucky stars that I am able to be at home.  Who knows if/how things will change in the future, either when Ruby begins school or if (hopefully not) there is a financial need for me to return to work, but for now, for these days, I consider myself incredibly fortunate to be able to take the boys to school and pick them up everyday; to fold laundry with Ruby as we watch Sesame Street; to eat lunch with my hubby every noon; and the countless other things, big and little, that I'm afforded because of my current job title.

5) I absolutely love having a daughter.  And I know that those of you that know me and know my kids - and especially those of you that have both sons and daughters of your own - know that it takes absolutely nothing away from Drew and Reed by my saying so.  I am loving this time with her, just Ruby and me, throughout the day.  I love our mother/daughter moments.  We're beginning to build up what will hopefully be our own little traditions and experiences together, just the two of us.  Daughters are special.  Ruby is special.  This time with her is incredibly special.

4) I love elementary school.  This is likely because if I were to go back and get to re-live a portion of my early years, elementary school would definitely be it.  I love the discoveries and the growth and the knowledge and the light bulbs that go off when something finally clicks.  I love hearing the boys read to me.  I love reading to them.  I love their art!  I love that Drew and Reed have this shared experience.  I love that they get to be a part of each other's days in a way that the rest of us are not.    

3) I love my soccer mom status.  I mentioned to someone the other day that before I became a mom, one of the images I had in my mind of motherhood was sitting on the sidelines, rooting my babies along in whatever sport or activity they were involved in.  It's sorta iconic, that image of motherhood.  And I totally dig it.  And I don't give one hoot or holler that I drive a mini van, either.  I kinda like it a lot.

2) I love that my snuggles can take the fear of a nightmare away and that my kisses can heal a scraped knee.  I love that they still believe that I can do anything.  I love that there is special Mama magic in that.  I love the way they need me, right now, at this age, because it is sure to change.  It will be different as the years pass.  I'd like to think they'll always need me (I still need my Mama!) but I know that the ways in which they will need me will change and mature, and likely won't be as sweet or sentimental.  They may need money or advice or space.  I pray to God they don't need their laundry done or bathrooms cleaned...cuz this Mama ain't doin' that!

And 1) I love that I am their Mama.  It is them that make this whole experiment worthwhile.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

I Think She Missed Him

Brad arrived back home tonight after being at a conference in Atlanta since Tuesday.

She was really really happy to see him.

She loves him.  A lot.