A full heart

The previous post was written over a month ago. I just published it. That’s how things seem to work around here. I rarely get to finish what I’m working on, and not because I’m absent minded but rather because more important things step in. Writing this, I realize, I’m really proud of how well I step aside from projects to help people. For years a favorite quote from a favorite man was posted by my computer:

“Never let a problem to be solved, become more important than a person to be loved.” – Thomas S. Monson

I’m a focused finisher by nature. I like to start early, end early and think through all the details. These tendencies are often a thorn in the flesh as a mother. Interruptions are continual, and change is the only constant. It’s is why so many Mom’s say they are “loosing their minds.” I never lost my keys before I had kids. But now it’s becoming an all too common occurrence. I’m forever lugging too many bags, holding a toddler by the hand, and balancing a baby on my hip all while trying to finger keys. Too often setting them down for convenience, only to forget where that “convenient place” was. I’ve found them twice in the carseat with Chiara- after looking for 10 minutes.

That aside, tonight my heart is very full. And I have some mothering moments I want to record.

When we decided to put Chiara in the guest room, I was concerned that the room couldn’t fit a chair to nurse in. I guess I’ll just sit on the bed, I’d thought. Looking back it couldn’t have been a better decision. I never nursed lying down with the boys. So, I didn’t realize the luxury I was providing myself by having a queen sized bed in the nursery. It’s become one of my favorite parts of the day, lying there, cozily with my daughter in the morning, her breath on my chest. I run my hands through her thin silky hair, or we play with each others fingers. She’ll break to chat and smile and then continue with grateful contentment. Nursing is a beautiful, beautiful thing. Doing it lying down removes any sense of duty or chore. It’s a time of powerful bonding.  Sometimes Anders will join us, cozying in under Chiara’s “soft blanket”- the quilt I made her with the minky backing. He’ll rub my arm and whisper sweetly in my ear “I love you so much, Mom.”

The woman of focus and finish that I was six years ago could have never imagined the joy of these morning rituals. So while I mourn that girl who rose early to run three miles every morning before studying her scripture for an hour, I’m pleased to be a mother who savors her children.

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I’m trying some new approaches with homeschool this month. In December, Scotter and I were both pretty burned out. There were several rough weeks, and the suggestion to send Scotter to public school in January was discussed. As Tom and I considered the problems I realized I was stripping Scotter of much of the things I kept him home for- more exploration, more free play, more outdoor time. So I’m trying to restart with more playfulness. Last semester, I skipped a lot of the supplemental activities in our reading book, for example- feeling they would take too much time. This week, we had a blast playing the version of pictionary suggested. Instead of getting up-in-arms when Scotter wanted to change the game, I went with it- which resulted in a more writing, reading, and drawing from him (which is the goal!) We had a blast making a book about parties- he dictated a story, drew coloring pages, and proudly added it to our bookshelf “So anyone can pick it to read!” I happily allowed him to pick some 30 early reader books from the library. He began pouring through them as soon as we got to the van.

I’ve approached my new role as “primary educator” like I would a new job. I’ve poured over books, blogs, and podcasts seeking advice and ideas.  It’s had it’s rough patches, but I must say I have been thrilled with how much I have learned these past few months. I feel more confident and fulfilled. Thanks to homeschooling, my boys request “Story of the World” (A world history text we have on audiobook) as soon as we get in the van. Scotland finds ways to teach Anders. Just yesterday he was giving him a tutorial on how to draw people- which Anders quickly followed.  Anders is enthusiastic about “reading” to me and working hard to learn his letters. He’ll often jumpstart our review of famous paintings or start singing the days of the week during breakfast. The boys like to compete over who will finish first the verse of scripture we’re memorizing that month. Most importantly, the boys have bonded in deep and beautiful ways, and their adoration for Chiara only grows.

I’m still trying to figure out the best way to mother an almost six year old. Scotter doesn’t engage the way he used to. He often skips our story time before naps, (a favorite time of mine to cuddle my boys). There is much less physical contact between us now, and I think that might be contributing to the emotional distance I feel from him too. Both Scotter and I like to be in charge, and lead out. That’s why we butt heads. He likes to do things his way. I like to do things my way. I feel justified because I’m the mother. I get frustrated when he won’t just listen and obey and he gets feisty when I direct his life too much. Scotter thrives on a situation where he can teach himself, and only get help if he asks for it. It can be frustrating as his teacher. I worry he isn’t learning enough. Then, the other day I started to list all the things Tom has taught himself: electricity, plumbing, coding, book making, car repair, etc. I see many similarities between the two and it gave me peace that if I provide a rich environment Scotter will do just fine. He’s inquisitive and determined when something captures his attention. The struggle is being willing to go along with his whimsy! (“Let’s build an entire city! We’ll use LEGOS, duplos, magna-tiles, blocks, the train tracks, the play mobile stuff. . . Let’s try to build a bridge from the TV to the couch!”)

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We spent a week in Utah with my family after Christmas. It was a wonderful trip, and the boys were in cousin heaven! I was grateful for the chance to spend some one on one time with many of my nieces and nephews and siblings: building snap circuits with Keiton and Rhyse, painting with Brecklyn, playing water basketball with Landen, Bryce, and Talia; reading to Coleman and Brielle; playing cars with Miles, playing in the snow with Brielle and Sam. I was surprised by how jolly and affection Anders was. He went around giving everyone hugs, would crawl up on anyone’s lap, and clearly felt completely at ease. He’s that way at home, but I guess it surprised me by how completely he accepted that all these people who he rarely sees are “family”- to be loved and cherished. I hardly saw Scotter. He was all too happy to be in a constant state of play. I could hardly drag him away to eat! Scotter said over and over that the thing he wanted most for Christmas was to be with family. (And by family he meant extended family.) I’m SO grateful to my parents and Dantzel who drove us down. Not having to drive and help my children was such a blessing, and it was a treat to get to spend more time with them.

Guard my heart

I’m a pleaser. It’s impossible to please everyone when you’re a mother. This stresses me. A week ago I had a bit of a melt down. It was all too much, I was failing right and left, I needed a break. .  . I cried and cried- gave myself a headache, stressed Tom out, and fell into a deep slumber and awoke with renewed determination to overcome. I awoke early, and spent a good hour in prayer and scripture study. I signed up for a free online parenting course, I prioritized a few things, and determined to let go of some things. Out of it all the most powerful morsel of help was the realization that I need to pray for God to “guard my heart.” I need Him to stand in the way of the emotional meltdowns or accusations of my children and confidently own my thoughtful intentional parenting. Just because my child gets mad and frustrated when I tell him we aren’t having dessert for breakfast, or screams and throws a fit because I tell him that “Yes, today, like everyday, you need to help with a chore.” My natural tendency is to get pulled into the emotion, to get defensive, and, too often frustration, turns into anger. Now each morning I proceed with the faith that God will guard my heart. I’m working on setting realistic expectations, asking respectfully, and then allowing God to protect my heart from the onslaught that so often proceeds. So far, it’s worked beautifully. The emotional melt downs are lessening, as they’re not getting the same attention- nor are they getting fed by my own immature responses. It’s one of the things I find the most challenging about motherhood- the balance of apathy and empathy. For too long I’ve thought it had to be one or the other, but I feel like I’m learning there is a melding that is most powerful. “Oh man! Brownies for breakfast sound delicious. But we strive to eat healthy as a family, so let’s wait and eat a brownie after dinner, ok?!” Instead of, “No, you can’t have a brownie!” or Ignore. And be annoyed he asked a question he knows the answer to.

More often than not I realize after an encounter how I could have imbued my response with more empathy: “It looks like you’re in the middle of some really fun LEGO play! We really need to go, or we’re going to be late. Can you leave your LEGOS just where you have them, and return to them when we get home?” Instead of “It’s time to go, come on get your shoes on quick. . .Anders, please go get your shoes.. .  Anders! We’re going to be late, I need your help! . . .  FINE! I’ll put your shoes on!”

My prayer is that eventually the thoughts and realizations I have after I mess up, will one day precede the events. A girl can hope. A girl can pray.

Quote of the day:

“This is my own baby. My baby’s three months.” -Anders to me as he comes up the stairs carrying his baby doll. (He later asked Scotter to help him carry his baby like mommy (in the ERGO) so Scotland stuffed it down his shirt.

Making a bed

I recently became aware of the fact that I’ve never paid much attention to how beds are made. I’ve always made mine the way my Grandmother taught me-  fold the sheet down, pull the quilt up over the pillows, do a quick karate chop under the pillows to make a line, smooth things out. Call it a day. I’d noticed the abundance of pillows that most designer beds have.  I like the color and character they can add. But I didn’t realize until a few months ago that typically the quilt it not pulled up over the pillows. It’s folded down, revealing the sheets and pillows that are slept on. What?! Who has pillowcases that they actually use to sleep on that are worth showcasing?! Is that normal? Are most people’s sheets in a state worth revealing? Eek.

The fact is NO. Most people don’t have either of those things. It just so happens that the visual minority is misrepresenting the unseen majority. Most are lucky to have a bed to sleep in. (If we’re thinking globally.) My grandmother’s method of making a bed, was orderly, but it didn’t require new bedding be purchased on a regular bases, it didn’t call for an overabundance of pillows, and it certainly didn’t require all parts of the bed to look unworn.

What is it with the mentality that everything look “unworn” “unused.” I sleep in my bed. I drool on my pillow. And maybe because I’ve never spent big bucks on quality linens, but my sheets NEVER look worthy of display. I would never leave my pillow intentionally uncovered. Am I alone here?

I refuse to be pulled into the consumeristic trend to be constantly replacing perfectly usable items in order to maintain “a look.” I recently had this lightbulb moment. I realized that I had fallen prey to this concept, in other areas of my life. I wanted my house to constantly “look” a certain way. And when I was real with myself that “look” was the “un-lived in” look. How absurd of me! This realization has really changed my perspective on my home, my looks, my children. I don’t care that my recently finished floor is resplendent with scratches (though I sure am glad I didn’t stain it!) because each scratch means life was lived on top of my floor. It’s a FLOOR by golly, it was meant to be walked on, danced on, jumped on! I’ve tried to apply the same principle to my body. I’ll admit it’s hard to embrace the “cottage cheese” skin that now adorns my belly. But I certainly have no difficulty embracing the three little loves who caused that state of affairs, and I’m grateful for a body with the transforming potential to give life- despite its scars and changes.

When we focus on looking a certain way, it stifles our ability to live a certain way. I’m less restrictive of my and my children’s activities when we’re wearing our older athletic clothing- “Go ahead and slide down that dirt hill!” When I’m fixated on keeping my house looking perfect I don’t engage with my children in the same way- we don’t lie among the couch cushions on the floor and read stories on our backs- I don’t sit down and paint with them. And yet those are the moments that warm my heart for months even years, when I think back on them. A sparkling house gives me a temporary lift, but it’s fleeting- because well. Dinner must be made.

Things I love. . .

The way Anders says “key-oot!” (cute) anytime he seems something small.

Anders trying to say “Interesting” when we went on our science walk today.

The way Ari holds her foot while she’s sleeping in the Ergo.

How Scotland’s eyes glitter when he showed me his LEGO glider this afternoon.

A direct quote from Anders tonight after dinner: “O.K. Let’s use the potty, brush teeth, get the corn, (he had some corn stuck in his teeth from dinner), get a treat, and get my crown.” (This kids loves lists!)

Anders, intensely: “Mom, show me the bow owen.” (Show me how to shoot the bow and arrow.)

Anders:”Mom, baby wants to hold me.” He gives her a hug, and says sweetly into her ear, “I love you, Baby!”

Chiara giggling as I play with her arms and legs.

Chiara raising her eye browns and full body smiling.

Scotland belting out made-up tunes the entirety of his “quiet time.”

Scotland: “Mom can we get peanuts with shells!” (Gotta love Five Guys for popularizing peanuts in shells with my boys. Talk about a great “snack” if you need to feed and entertain your kids at the same time!)

Scotter asked if he too could get a treat and proposed he clear the table to earn it. (He’s noted the inequality of Anders getting potty treats.) I readily agreed, and he did a beautiful job. When I handed him not, two, but a handful of skittles he looked up at me in complete bewilderment. “Why did you give me so many Mom?” “Because, I’ve really appreciated your help today.” (He ate a few and saved the rest.)

Anders realized this week that he can complete dress himself. I still forget and will start helping him wit his pants or shirt and he’ll giggle and smilingly say, “Mom you don’t need help me. I do it myself!”

I spent time this afternoon sketching the various stages of the blooming fuchsia. Scotland sketched a leaf- noting it’s jagged sides, vein structure, and the placement of a certain dark spot. Anders drew a fuchsia flower. (An oval with lines descending from it.) We collected a variety of interesting flowers, rocks, leaves, and eight insects to “study.” The boys were thrilled to use their magnifying glasses to examine and tweezers to gather various specimen.  Then we played a rousing couple games of dodge ball and basketball. I’m loving this homeschooling gig!

The chance to take a friend to the Frye art museum today! The exhibit by Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershoi was reverential. His attention to the beauty of simplistic interiors, and his appreciation of gray and mist- was a perfect precursor to the approaching Seattle gray. I love how art helps me see beauty in greater abundance.

Three sleeping children- with no fight before bed!

 

 

A mother heart

I first heard the phrase “a mother heart” on a friend’s blog, and later heard it used in this talk. The idea stuck with me. I’ve thanked God for my mother heart at times and prayed for it at others. I’ve been listening to Jim Gaffigan’s “Dad is Fat” over the past month. While in many ways its comforting to realize that there is great commonality in parenting. Everyone’s kids are loud, whiney, messy, forgetful. This morning, I realized that the book hasn’t been good for me. While the book is meant to be sarcastic, and has given me a chuckle form time to time, the negativity has crept into my parental lens, and clouded it. Now to be fair, Gaffigan is certainly not entirely to blame for this shift, but listening to his book has only affirmed feelings of frustration and apathy. I want to return to the days of early motherhood when it was exciting, fulfilling, comical.

Instead of noise- let me hear energy.

Instead of mess- let me see creativity.

Instead of fighting- let me see interaction.

Instead of spills- let me see trying.

Instead of anger- let me see neediness.

Instead of stains- let me see a love of the outdoors.

Let me wonder at the expanse of the human spirit- and teach me how to support it, encourage it, learn from it, instead of stamping it out.

In an effort to convert back to a perspective of positive parenting, I’m going to make a goal to post a few things that I love about my kids each night.

-Last night, as we were tucking Anders in for bed: “I need my phone! I need my keys!”

-Anders: “Baby is my princess.”

-Scotland finding “inner peace” during our sword fighting play. (We just watched Kung Fu Panda 2.)

-Chiara was crying while we were driving home from a friend’s house this evening. Anders started thinking through ways he could help her. “Do we have baby’s passy?” (Nope) “I have a blankie in my pack pack.” (I check and he doesn’t. But find his favorite stuffed animal- Chippers.) “Baby can have my Chippers.”

-Scotland sweetly coming up with a system of turns so his friends could try sliding down the hall on their knees using his tae kwon do pads.

-Doing math with my boys. Building “stairs” with the cuisenaire rods, which turned into building earthquake safe buildings, which turned into watching youtube clips on marshmallow straw structures, which turned into an eager desire to make the same. Too bad we didn’t have any marshmallows!

-Helping Scotland compose a song on the piano.

-Watching Chiara’s long blinks, as she fought sleep.

-Chiara’s combo of wide-mouthed smiles and flapping arms.

-The way Chiara immediately calms and nuzzles into me when I pick her up after she’s been crying.

-Dancing along with the flamingos with Scotland each time he finished a segment on his learning app.

-Marveling at the diversity of animals on this earth as looked through the Animal Encyclopedia Dev and Jess gave us. Anders saying “Look! Cute!”

Too often at the end of the day my mind fixates on the moments of failure- the tantrums, the emotional outbreaks, the defiance (from both my kids and myself.) Those things happen, and heaven knows we’re doing our best to work through them. But when I fixate on them, I tend to escalate the small things, and in so doing- incite further furor.

I’m so grateful I’m homeschooling so far. I feel like I’ve accepted a more demanding position in my line of work, but a position that will bring more fulfillment and joy.

 

My Mommy Marathon in the Olympic National Forest

There are just a few weeks of summer left, I’ve been working on a few different projects that have required me to look back through this summer’s pictures. It’s been a beautiful reminder of what a full and delightful one it’s been. It started off in the Olympic National Forest with my brother Devin and his family, parents, and Dantzel. This was a pretty epic trip for me. I now happily refer to it as my Mommy marathon of the summer. Taking a two and a half month old baby camping and hiking alone with her two older brothers was gutsy, and I’m proud of my grit. I have several whole posts in my head about this trip- hopefully I’ll get to actually type them up someday.

And so it begins- Nothing like starting a vacation on a boat! We drove onto the ferry to Kingston so we could drive to Port Angeles. Seattle is such a cool city!

Atop Hurricane Ridge

Salt Creek County Park- first campsite, tide pools

My nephew Keiton came along and it was such a treat to get to know him alone, and for the boys to spend time with just him. 

I love that my boys have a “young aunt.” I was the young aunt to my oldest nieces and nephews and I LOVED it. My boys thrill in Dantzel’s attention. Here she is showing Anders, Keiton and I a tiny tide pool- there were multiple creatures swimming in this small shell!

This was the first face Scotland made upon waking up after our first night of camping. The boys were SO excited to sleep in the tent that they literally begged me to let them go to sleep. (I should specify that was the first night. It certainly wasn’t the last.)

Just to prove that Chiara was there.

The only reason I had the guts to go on this trip was because I was going to be with my parents, brother and sister and sister-in-law. In the end bad cell service and a disparity of needs and interests meant that we were together only in the mornings and evenings. None the less it was great to see them, and it’s certainly easier to prepare kids for the day, and get them ready for bed when someone else is holding your baby!

The last day we were there, I kept Keiton so the older half could enjoy some longer hikes (and drives). We had a beach day. The boys had a blast running in the surf at Kalaloch. They both were really taken by the sensation of the waves under their feet. Scotland was certain that the earth was moving under him. That he was standing still and everything else was in motion. Over and over he tried to verbalize how strange and exciting it was. This was the perfect beach to experience the ocean, because it was shallow for a long time and the waves were exciting without being too frightening- at least to the 5 year olds.

After beach number one, we changed into dry clothes and headed to beach two (Ruby Beach). (Where they quickly got wet again.) There was the above lake of sorts on the beach, which fascinated the boys much more than the rocky, driftwood laden beach. I helped them push in this driftwood ‘boat’ and they sailed around on it laughing hysterically. (It was such a jolly sight that multiple other hikers stopped to take pictures of them.) It was all fun and games until Anders, napless, fell apart and started to throw one of his royal tantrums. (The screaming-at-the-top-of-his-lungs, I-will-not-compromise, dead-weight, sort of tantrum.) He had been slow to join the boys on the driftwood log, so when I told them that it was time to head out shortly after he’d finally worked up the courage, he was IRRATE. I was, unfortunately, unsympathetic, which of course escalated the tantrum. After unsuccessfully trying to console him. I ended up hauling him all the way up the trail as he kicked and screamed (while carrying Chiara in the Ergo) and encouraging the older boys to please hurry and carry the bags, all while hikers gave me varying looks. (“What a horrible Mother!” “What is she doing to that poor boy. “”Oh that poor Mom!” “What a beast of a child.” “She is not equipped to be a mother.” “Somebody should do something!” ) By the time we reached the van I was in a state of emotional duress. I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I was frustrated that the other part of the group had never shown up at Ruby Beach as was our plan. Surely, they’d be back at the campsite. Well, no. The rest of the evening was rough. Really rough. With four hungry kids (and a hungry Mom) I didn’t do the logical thing and just eat crackers and peanut butter for dinner but insisted on making the tamales and salad I had prepared and brought for my dinner assignment that night. So there I was, Chiara crying in the Ergo, three little boys running around yelling while I tried to encourage them to help me collect firewood. Of course they didn’t, at which point I started to shame them for not helping when it was obvious I needed help- baby screaming at this point. They still didn’t help. And the five other adults still didn’t show up. I can only imagine what the campers around me were thinking. Regardless, I got the fire going, cooked the tamales, prepared the salad, fed the kids, prepped the kids for bed, fed the baby, tried to lull her to sleep, unsuccessfully- while watching three boys in the forest, felt bad that my nephew was chattering with cold since he had no dry clothes (them being in the van with the absent adults), fielded question after question from the sweet cold nephew, tried to force my two defiant boys to stay in their sleeping bags and sleep so I could finally get the screaming baby to sleep, who was shaking with frustration at all the chaos .. I think you get the point. I had lost all emotional control. And in that fragile state I decided to scrap it- and go home. I buckled the boys in their seats. Threw everything in the back of the van, took down the tent- shoved it in, and drove off. The fire still crackling at our campsite. I passed the others in our group at the turn off to our campsite, at 8:30PM. I curtly informed them that I was driving home, jumped out, pulled out Keiton and his stuff, and drove off. I was ashamed, embarrassed. But I couldn’t take anymore. And I knew that driving while the boys and hopefully Chiara slept was a much better plan than driving the following day when she would likely cry most of it (as she had for the majority of the driving the two days previously.) It turns out two near sleepless nights, combined with three days of extensive physical exertion doesn’t bode well on my psyche. I cried much of the way home.

I share this not to point fingers at my totally well-intentioned and apologetic parents and siblings. But to be real. Could I forgo these details (and spare myself the unflattering reveal) and instead tell of the majestic memories we made? Could I give the impression that taking two boys camping with a two and a half month old alone was wonderful, and easy. Sure. And truthfully 90% of the trip was beautiful. But that final 10, was ugly. Downright ugly. I felt so rattled and ashamed I couldn’t pull myself out of it for days. Now, writing about it months later those emotions are still strong, and while the memories of finding sea stars in the tide pools, or having a picnic over a waterfall together, or watching my boys laugh hysterically as they ran through the surf are beautiful and vibrant they are still covered by this hazy film of regret for loosing it in the final round. Ironically, just before writing this post I was studying for a talk I’ll be giving in church in a few weeks on humility and forgiveness. And it occurs to me that there is a way to remove the haze, and that is by humbling myself and seeking God’s grace. I was so proud of my success up to that point. I had so many people stop and comment on how brave I was to take two boys and a new born hiking alone. I had strangers (Chinese) take pictures of me with my three small children in the middle of the rainforest- happily hiking along. I had chosen to go off on my own to prove that I was capable, to impressive others. I didn’t need anyone’s help! So in the end when I came to a crashing halt, I was devastated- my weakness exposed. Forgiveness, isn’t all that’s needful, but repentance. Repentance and humility.

The trip was an emotional marathon. It did what I knew it would do: expose my weaknesses, define my limits, and shed light on my abilities and disabilities. Too often I seek comfort at the expense of meaningful soul-stretching experiences. This was a time when I sought discomfort for the purpose of growth. And I got it- by means of a painful pruning.

 

 

Chiara: 4 months old

I told myself before having Chiara that I wouldn’t judge myself  too much until my baby was 4 months old. I knew from my postnatal experiences with Scotland and Anders that it took about that long to start feeling “normal” again- less hormonal/sleep deprived/crazed. I’d say the pattern held true this time too. While I still have days where I feel like my brain must be marinating in hormones, largely I feel like myself, and the thought of taking on projects outside the general care and feeding of my children seems possible. This upsurge of energy resulted in my front flower bed finally being planted. (Taking advantage of a perennial sale at Fred Meyer I went on light around 9:00pm bought 25 perennials, and called it good!) While it will certainly look better when things fill out, I have been loving the color and texture from our large picture windows.

Chiara, as well, has started to break out of her shell and is adding many new vocalisms, expressions, and movements to her repertoire. Just today we were walking around a museum and she would squeal, kick her legs and giggle- a huge grin on her face every time one of her brothers walked by her. I’d never heard her laugh so much!

She’ll often wake up in the morning and lay their in her bed cooing and sighing. She’s “talking” more. Her range of controlled non-crying sounds has really diversified in the last two weeks. She talks the most when its just she and I in a quiet room, but from time to time she’ll “talk” while she’s around the boys and they’ll excited exclaim, “Mom! Chiara just said goo!”

Her arm and hand dexterity is getting smoother and more intentional. She loves to suck on her fingers (and naw on my hands and arms), and can take her passy out of her mouth.

She continues to prefer being upright. She’ll do a stomach crunch if you lay her in a reclined position and hold it for an impressively long time. We got a bumbo chair from my Mom. She prefers it to her deeply reclined bouncy seat, though she’s still not strong enough to sit in it for an extended period of time.

She rolled over from her back to her belly last week, and can do it quickly now. As a result she can work her way around the rug, rolling, scooching, and wiggling.

We had a few weeks about a month back where she was sleeping from 10:00 to 5:00, but now she’s typically wakes a couple of times a night. I was so hopeful that I was going to start getting consistently uninterrupted sleep. How could I be so naive with a third child!

When I’m really tuned into her and keep her on her ideal schedule she is a happy easy baby. Unfortunately, it’s next to impossible to live a normal life with two other kids and do so. So some days she cries a lot. (Sunday being the worst!) For some reason its hard for me to admit that she’s a “hard” baby. Some people delight in emphasizing how difficult their babies were, how continually they cried. But I’ve always felt like my babies sent clear enough signals that if I was in tune I could assuage their crying before it got out of hand. With Chiara there are plenty of days where I’m so busy with other things that I’m not following her cues. Or I can’t follow her cues because we’re not in a situation where I can, say, rock her in a quiet room, or lay her in bed, and on those days she cries a lot.

Chiara loves her brothers, but prefers them from a distance. She tends to get fussy if she’s sitting between them reading books on my lap for example. Or if they’re over top of her and she’s lying on the ground. But she’ll squeal and smile if she’s in my arms looking down at them. I suppose their constant movement and volume unnerves her.

She’s still a total Momma’s girl. I love her.

Anders has really increased his awareness and care for Chiara. He’s quick to sing his adorable version of “Trinkle, trinkle wittle star” whenever she cries in the car. He loves to find  and give her her passy, and asks several times a day to “hold her.” (Though he only wants to for under 30 seconds.) He’s also taken a renewed interest in our one baby doll. He sleeps with his baby, (As he so often finds me doing with Chiara in the mornings, after her 6:00 feeding.) It’s beyond precious.

Chiara goes by many names, but mostly: Chiara, Baby Jade, Ari, and occasionally Tom calls her Kiki.

I’ve felt a surprising oneness with her femininity. It feels good to have another little lady in the house. I get a kick out of choosing her outfits. Today, at the Viking festival, I found myself asking in depth questions about how this woman was braiding ribbons into a girl’s hair. I’m so curious to see how raising a girl will pan out! I adore her.

Blessing dress

As I mentioned do to a blow out I didn’t get a picture of Chiara in the actual dress she was blessed in on the day of. So now, more than month later, I finally did. Here’s a few picts of Chiara 3.5 months old in her blessing dress.

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