just survive the day

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Probably the best parenting advice I ever received...well actually, it was more like parenting absolution, came from my Aunt Darlene.  She's my Dad's oldest sister and also my confirmation sponsor and also one of my favorite mom role models. (Hi Aunt Dar!).  I always feel like talking to her is within a space of non-judgment which is so very refreshing in this world of mom-eat-mom parenting out there.

There are so many rules and guidelines and expectations these days on what being a 'perfect parent' looks like, and to be quite honest, going into motherhood for the first time with Greyson, I was all about those rules and my own expectations.  My kids will never...., I will make sure my kids always... were thoughts I actually had and believed in as a first time mom.  Aaaaand then I had a baby and hahhahhhha, to those thoughts.  I often wish now that I could go back to that pre-motherhood version of myself and give her a little hug and a kiss on the cheek and say, 'oh honey, you are so young and dumb, but I love you for that ambition anyway.  Hang in there girl, you've got a long road ahead.'

look at that girl, so young and full of confidence.  hahha.  I love her naive little heart.
Anyway, in one of these no judgement chats with my Aunt Dar somewhere along the early part of my 6 year journey of motherhood, I confessed some aspect of parenting with a sideways glance to show I wasn't so proud of it and it certainly was not part of my 'My kids will never...' pre-parenthood goals - and my Aunt Dar replied something to the effect of, 'Oh Tabi, sometimes you just have to survive the day.'

I've been holding that little piece of parenting mercy in my heart since then, and I've needed to lean into it about a bajillion times when this mothering gig seems to crack at the seams and makes me want to hide in the corner from shame and defeat.

Some highlights from those kinds of moments -
  • Greyson woke up in our bed every.single.morning for literally three years. every.single.morning from when he was two years old until he turned five.
  • Because I kepting holding off on kid-proofing the iPad, Gemma, at four years old, had navigated herself to a full-frontal, graphic, live birth youtube video and was casually watching it when I came over and asked, 'whatcha watching baby....OMIGOSH!' 
  • Violet is in the midst of potty training at 21 months (!!), but she still drinks a bubba at naptime (!!?!) 

The point is,
there are things we are 'supposed to do,'
and things we hope to do,
and things we can feasibly do,
and things we have to do.

And the lines between each of those options become incredibly blurred when you're in the actual living of the moment in motherhood with your own kids that each have their own personalities and needs that conflict or mesh with all of the rest of your families' personalities and needs.

It's a tricky business, this being a momma
- especially today when so many people believe they might know better about the distinction between those lines from their outside perspective....but that's a different blog for a different day.

So aaaanyway, the other day, when everything was going to crap around 7:30p, I took our screaming, gassy three week old in the bjorn carrier and put our very cranky 21 month old on my shoulders outside in the warm evening air and did about 27 laps around our backyard.

Oh, this might look like something a great mom would do - Brandon even came out and snapped this picture while shouting out to me, 'Babe, you're a good momma!' - but let me assure you all- this was not about these little cherub children.  This was me just trying to survive the day, just trying to get a few minutes of peace before I went totally mad with the tinny sound of small humans.

Everyday is beautiful, and precious, and exhausting, and bizarre, and both everything and nothing like I ever thought being a mum would be.  Nearly every day I'm thrust into moments that knock me off balance about what is the 'best thing' to do right in this second.  And even then - is it the best for one child - the best for all our kids - the best for our entire family...?  

And so I try to do my best each day, but also I give myself some grace knowing that sometimes 'ya just have to survive the day' and I resolve to do better tomorrow - to try to be better tomorrow; a better mom, a better wife, better daughter, sister, friend.  

And lots of times I am better tomorrow, because the kids are more rested, or I'm more rested, or I have support from our village that day, or the weather cooperates, or some other combination of luck and magic.  Granted, it's only a teeny, tiny, tiny bit better - but definitely in the right direction, and I think it's because of that mercy on myself and the hope that I can do better on the next go-around.

My hope is that each of us mommas (and daddas) can keep that little bit of forgiveness in our hearts for ourselves in those difficult moments.  And if we can all try to remember that - we're all just trying to survive the day - when we see other parents in their own difficult moments...we might just be able to make this world a little more kind.  

good luck out there, mommas.  

we had a no, no, no day yesterday (ahem, Violet), so I'm hopeful today will be brighter, and that's even despite the poop I cleaned up off the floor this morning AND the pull-up she just disguarded at my feet.  #someoneholdme 

Around Here Twenty-Five: 06/17 - 06/23

Friday, June 24, 2016

A glimpse into what it's like to live in our home just this minute.


Intentional Hours Outdoors 228 hours (of 1000)
Boy, I'm not doing so great with this small babe and these early weeks of newborn hood, only up 12 hours this week.  I'm still trying to get a handle on the whole 'while he sleeps' to do checklist...and unfortunately, not often is the highest priority on that list 'get outside' yet.  waah.  On Sunday, we had our first intramural alumni kickball game, and then we were lucky to hang outside at the grandparents' houses though this weekend when we visited -Rustin's first time to both of their houses this week!  I also took the kids to the elementary school parking lot and playground to play for the first day of summer.  It was hot and very sunny and everyone turned out to kind of tired and cranky (including me) so it was kind of a bust - but I tried. 

Reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo the newborn exhaustion has lowered my reading capability severely.  Nursing makes me feel tired already and then when I've been trying to add reading to that has me just drifting off into snoozeland. 

Cheering on Gemmi as she learned to ride a bike without training wheels this week! 

Celebrating how blessed we are in the 'Dad' department.  We have amazing grandfathers in our Chum and Pappy.  We got to spend a delicious brunch with Chum and then he and Greyson had a sleepover having all kinds of fun playing golf and loads of backyard games.  We spent the afternoon swimming and bbq'ing with Pappy and Gigi.  Grey even got brave enough to jump off the diving board. We also are lucky to have four awesome Godfathers for our kids - we love you Uncle Jonny, Uncle Juice, Butter, and Dobber! - and well, our own Daddy is flat out incredible.  (bud, i will never have the words for how grateful i am that you are the dad of our babies.  i love watching you as a dad to them, cheering them on and really appreciating all of their unique little quirks.  you are amazing.  also i think you're very cute and funny. i love you.)

Feeling the effects of the rotten eight in a big way.  Whew, week three is a rough one.  We were all sleepy this week - so bizarre that even the big kids were taking unplanned naps throughout the week, which has messed up bedtimes quite a bit.  We are all keeping odd hours these days as we try to adjust to our new bigger family. Sleepy smiles, seeing his little filled out milk belly, and more eye contact from Rustin this week though is making it all worth it. 

Watching in awe as Gemma shines as a little mumma.  She loves Rustin and mimics me so perfectly that it tends to stop me in my tracks. She's been getting in trouble for picking him up on her own (although I do have to say her technique is safe and neck-supportive, but still...she is only four) and also she is anxious to change his diaper on her own.  She talks to him in a sweet momma voice and says things like, "we're going to keep you forever, aren't we my little sweet child?" and "look at you, buddy, you're growing so much, my sweetheart"

Running to the bathroom every twenty minutes as Violet has decided she wants to be potty trained this week.  She started whining and fussing about wearing a diaper and then comes to us saying, "Potty!" She's been wildly successful (a few accidents though) and feels very proud to wear big kid underpants. She's our youngest potty trained kid yet at 21 months!

Smiling about kindness and friendship after receiving a beautiful bouquet of orange roses from my sweet friend Ashley.  It arrived on a particularly hard day after all four kids were feeling cranky and I was so very tired. It was like a real piece of sunshine on a gloomy day.

Making this chicken cordon bleu pasta one night because I was craving it big time.  These sweet and sour meatballs were so easy and seriously delicious. Gemmi helped whip up some spaghetti one night since it's always a consistent hit with the kids.  For breakfast, Brandon, Violet, and I gobbled up this breakfast bubble-up (although I left out the spicy components).  

Around Here Twenty-Four: 06/10-06/16

Friday, June 17, 2016

What it feels like to live in our home just this minute.

Intentional Outdoor Hours 216 hours (of 1000)
I  did okay this week, up 8 hours (and the kids are getting waaay more outside time than me, but this is my personal count, so I'm only including my own hours) but I'm still anxious to spend more time outside as Rustin grows and my energy increases...ever so slowly.  Thanks to this great tent from Coleman, I've been taking Rust out for short little bursts protected from the sun and strong winds. (thanks to one of my fav friends JP for letting me copy her! heehe) Grey and I took both dogs for an almost 2mile walk one night and they were so very happy about it.  Grey needed it too as he has been totally stir-crazy since school has let out.  I keep saying that between the four of them - Grey has been the most challenging because he has so much energy - he wants to play all.the.time.  Roller hockey in the garage, baseball catch, one-on-one kickball games, bike rides, climbing trees, jumping on the trampoline....it is nonstop with that child.  I keep joking that I'm going to put an ad in the classifieds, "seeking 8 year old very active child to come over and play with my 6 year old son for eight hours a day"  hahah.

Reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and finished Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.  I liked the book and was glad to read it before I see the movie.

Feeling proud that after going back and forth about twenty times about it last Friday night ('if you want to stay home tonight, that's totally fine with me')... Brandon, Rusty and I went for a real life out-to-eat dinner date at 9:45p.  First dinner just the two of us (Rusty slept the whole time so we're counting it!) in about six months; so big time win for us.  We enjoyed a delicious dinner at Yamato (super yum Japanese) and we ate our own food, made by someone else, off of our own plates, with no interruptions and nobody spilling food all over the table or sneaking bites from us.  Magic.

Finishing the regular season for baseball on Monday night.  Grey was feeling pretty disappointed after the game knowing that it was over (or at least until the All star practices and games start later this month) but nothing too sad that couldn't be cured by an impromptu birthday dinner party at Pizza Hut with Uncle Jonny and Ninna! Lucky for all of us!

Enjoying company in a big way.  We had such a wonderful week with lots of appreciated visitors who go to meet our sweet Rusty and entertain our other three little gremlins.  We were beyond blessed to have friends and family visit almost every day this week, bearing gifts, dinner, snacks, and lots of hugs.  So very, very grateful.  It was especially nice since Brandon headed back to work on Monday after his long vacation home with us.  Including, shaving off his 18day beard...to which I almost cried actual tears over.  hah.

Sleeping out on the couch this week while Rusty sleeps peacefully nearby which allows us to wake up and nurse every 3 hours without disturbing anyone else.  It's such a crazy time period as I try desperately to keep my eyes open during those middle of the night feedings.  Such a bizarre blur of awake and asleep - I'm always grateful to find Law&Order SVU on at 3am.  I like figuring out which of my nursing momma friends are up at the same time as Rusty and I based on their social media activity (hahhaa)!

Checking off milestones for Rusty this week.  We headed out to church all together, the six of us, for the first time (Rusty pooped through his diaper and all over Brandon's lap during the homily - niiiice).  He also got his first real bath this week after his belly button stump fell off and he's all healed up! He looked so comfy just lounging in his little bath hammock and the big kids were proud and happy for him.

Making these three ingredient chocolate pumpkin mini-muffins because our family is obsessed.  I used a whole bag of chocolate chips this time and they were.so.yum and so chocolately.  we eat them like snacks, it's actually somewhat disturbing. Also threw together these no bake energy bites because both B and I were dying for some mid-afternoon pick-me-up (we also eat these with incredible speed...we have a snacking problem in this house). Bud made this chicken teriyaki casserole and it was delicious, even if it took forever to make because B forgot to defrost the chicken until he was just about to put it in the oven (hah!)

our Rustin James

Thursday, June 16, 2016

you're here.  finally. 

It was a long time to get you out into the world.  Actually, it felt like a really long time considering I was ready for you to be born at about the 32 week mark.  And then on the day you were to be born, I so hopeful that it would be quick and you'd be in my arms by lunchtime.  Alas, you had other plans and we ended up having to wait all day for you to arrive.  

In my rose-rimmed glasses of my mother's heart, I knew it should be special and cherished, this last go at labor and delivery.  And I really did want to hold on to each little piece of your birthday.  But I'll be honest with you, Rust, there were several times that it was just Dad and I in the room and I looked at him with tear soaked eyes and whimpered, "I just want this to be over.  I just want him to be here and to be done with this."

And then, like all hard things in life, suddenly the enduring part was over and the doing part had arrived...and then...
you were there.  

I cannot tell you the relief that washed over me when you were placed in my arms and I heard you cry.  I whispered over and over to you, "Just cry, Rusty." And, "It was hard for both of us, wasn't it?  But we did it.  You're here." 

It felt like getting to the finish line, Rust.
Like a sweeping feeling of accomplishment and relief and triumph and joy to have you out here in the world.

Not only to just get you here, out and into our arms where you belong, but that we finally had all of us was finally present and accounted for.

We, our family; our team -  we could all be together now. Cheering and encouraging each other, leaning into and comforting each other and facing this world that is sometimes paralyzingly scary, but most times overwhelmingly beautiful too.

And then it was time to bring in the cavalry.
I gave a you kiss and a quick warning, "Your family is coming now, Rustin, we're a little weird and loud and crazy, but they love you.  You'll get used to us."

And then the room blossomed with love and joy and giggles and palpable buzz of excitement.

Rusty, just as I've done at your siblings' births, I have etched the smiles of our family upon seeing you for the first time onto my heart to keepsake for all of time.

These people love you to the deepest pits of their bellies and there is nothing you could do that could ever take that out of them.  You are blessed and loved.  Don't ever doubt that.

And then, Rust, you were lovingly passed around and snuggled and kissed - gosh, how many times?!- and photographed, and admired far longer than the visiting hours allow.  We sang your first happy birthday song to you, snacked on chocolate cake, and hugged and congratulated each other on getting the chance to love you, another one of us; of our tribe, fiercely for the rest of our lives.  How lucky we all felt, still feel, will forever feel - to be a part of your life.

Your big brother told us each multiple times that it was a fact that his team had won their first baseball game this season just a few hours before in honor of his baby brother.  

And your big sister Gemma kept peeking at your face with shy pride and adoration asking over and over if I was okay and when we'd be home all together with her new baby brother.  

And your big sister Violet stomped about the room grabbing everyone's hands and dragging them over to see her "Baby!  Rusty!" giving you kisses on your forehead and taking inventory of your body parts while pointing to them; "eye.  nose.  ear...." 

And your grandparents smiled, and teared up, and hugged each other and passed you and your siblings around like real life baby dolls leaving kisses and tickles on each of your faces.  The gratitude that I feel that you have all four of your grandparents in your life is more than I could ever, ever explain.  You, and your siblings, will never be less than the brightest stars in the whole of the universe to those four people.  You bring a sparkle to their eyes simply by existing.  It is so wonderfully beautiful.

And your aunts smiled and giggled and made your tired mother laugh and smile while they circled the room.  Aunt Uch with her video camera and making sure to snap pictures of all the things I would want to capture for you (thank you), and Aunt Kitty being all weepy eyed over Facetime, weathering motion sickness from all the passing around of the phone and staying on so long that the phone battery died.

And your Uncle Juice swinging in full of life and goofy stories and making us all shake our heads and laugh. And our cousin Meg, also our midwife, who lingered in celebration with us telling everyone that I had done a great job (when really it is always she that does the great job), and letting too many people stay for too much time because to break up a first ever birthday party like that just didn't seem right.

And then because we are so blessed to be surrounded by infinite amounts of love and support; you, dad, and I holed up in our hospital room for two days snuggling up and talking in whispers while all three of us drifted in and out of sleep between the visits from our family and friends who peeked in on us to bestow us with hugs, kisses, and congratulations.  Your big brother and sisters were off having adventures with our family, and so it was just the three of us in what felt like time suspended while we stared at your sweet face and marveled at your big paw hands and tried to guess what it would be like when we were all at home together.

And we knew it was the last time to live in this little bubble of the first two days of a new baby cradled in the security and calmness of the hospital.  And that made it feel special, somehow less like the closing of a book, but more like the start of a new chapter.  

A new chapter for you, obviously, our sweet little darling getting your life started.  Thinking of all the things you'll learn and experience and who you will grow up to be - little by little.  We cannot wait to watch with pride and love - to learn about the good man you will be become. 

But a new beginning for us too, your mum and dad.  This is the part where we grow up with our kids.  We've been doing it all along with your siblings, but always with our foot on the brake because we knew we were holding out on growing our family bigger too.  And now, we've lifted that foot and it feels like a steady cruise into the next part of parenthood for us.  The growing up part.  The part where we watch the four of you turn into your own selves while we get a chance to turn back into our own selves a little bit each day too.  

It feels like we're all here now. 
And you did that for us, Rust. 
You both opened a door and closed one too. 
There will always be a little magic in you because of that.

You are so loved already, Rusty.  You've been so loved since the moment we knew you were growing.  And now that you're out here in the world - we are overjoyed at just the sight of you.  All of us.  Each of us out here that make up a part of the tribe that will surround you and encourage and cheer for you as you turn into whoever it is you are going to be. 

I'll ask, my sweet little darling, that you try your best to extend some grace and patience to your Dad and I as you grow through this life. You will be the last of all the things that mommas and daddas talk about with giddy smiles before they go to bed at night.  You'll be our last first word, our last first steps, our last baby to wear onesies, our last baby in a crib, our last baby to get on the school bus.  Forever, the mere sight of you will conjure up nostalgia, and that is just a blessed curse you'll have to bear because you'll be our family baby from here on out.  
Sorry for that Rust.
But also, thank you.  

my littlest love.
my last darling. 

who I'll love forever and ever. 
even when you get so big.
your mumma.