Archive for the ‘Norah’ Category

  • Singing for Joy

    Date: 2016.03.14 | Category: Family, Life, Love, Norah, Sarah, School | Response: 0

    Around the time the twins were born, Sarah started asking me to let her take dance classes. She seemed to have an aptitude for it and I was excited about letting her try. Then the reality of life with two new babies set in. It was tough just to get out of the house, never mind the juggling to get everyone to school and back each day. Throwing another place to be, especially in the evenings, on our plates was starting to look grim. I know we can’t give our children everything they want, but I knew she wanted this badly and I wished I could do it for her.

    The deadline for registration was approaching when we got a note from school saying that K4 could sign up for Angel Choir if they so desired. It would require staying after school one day a week and several performances over the course of the school year. Ever the performer, I wondered if she might be interested. We sat down and talked about dance and what it would involve and we talked about choir and what it was. I let her make the choice. She could choose one. And to my utter surprise and relief, she chose choir.

    Angel Choir has been one of her greatest joys these past few months. On Thursdays, Sarah will wake up and say, “Mama! What day is it?” When I say, “Thursday,” she cheers and says “Yay! I have Angel Choir today!” and then tells me all about her teacher’s beautiful voice. She skips through our house singing songs and constantly asks me about her next performance.

    One of the most fun parts of Angel Choir is that performances are not just for parents. They regularly sing at church, for special lunches and, my favorite, for nursing home residents.

    Yesterday was performance day at a local nursing home. The kids, ages K4-2nd grade, put on their best green “Irish” clothes and prepared for their St. Patrick’s Day themed singing. We all crowded into the common room and took our seat next to the residents. The choir was fantastic. There were hand motions, scarf waving, show tunes and even Irish dancing.

    The kids had a blast, performing with enthusiasm.  I was impressed with how many songs they had learned and even a little teary as they belted out songs from The Sound of Music. And while I loved watching my daughter truly enjoy her performance, my gaze kept wandering to the elderly guests in attendance. Together they leaned forward, hands clapping, smiling brightly and singing along with familiar tunes. They cheered with gusto after the kids finished a song and even offered up a few of their own takes on some of the songs. Mom and Norah came with us, and Norah enjoyed dancing right along with the choir to the delight of the many guests there. I can honestly say that watching the glowing faces of the old people there was one of the purest forms of joy I’ve ever seen.

    When the children finished performing, one resident stood up, cheered and said, “Oh please do come back!” Another ran off (and I do mean ran – she was quite spry) to grab a basket of St. Patrick’s day goodies they had made for the children and they invited them to stay for juice and cookies (some of the gooeyest and softest I’ve ever had).

    My girls didn’t want to leave! When one old lady asked for a hug, Norah joyfully ran into her embrace. The same lady insisted on high fives and had stuffed her pockets full of quarters to hand out to the kids. If ever there was a more appreciative and captive audience, I don’t know one.

    And while I hope that Sarah can still do dance one day if she wants to, I am so grateful that Angel Choir has turned out to be such a joy and blessing for Sarah, for the audience and for myself.

  • Why It’s an Ordeal

    Date: 2016.02.26 | Category: Baby, Family, Home, Life, Love, Luke, Mark, Me, Norah, Sarah, Toddler Time, Twins, Vera | Response: 0

    Our lives are super crazy. Of course they are – you can’t manage four children four and under without some chaos. And in the 10+months Mark and I have been juggling it all, things have gotten better and, in some ways, easier.

    I have very sweet people tell me all the time that I “make it look easy,” but most of the time it’s really not.

    I also have so many very sweet and well meaning friends and family who want me to occasionally “do things” outside the house – to get away or be present for some event. And while the intention is always good, I find myself clenching internally at the prospect. How do I explain to them why this is a big deal without sounding whiny?

    Most kids have a “witching hour,” that time in the evening where they sort or lose their minds in some form or fashion and it makes everything a little more difficult. That time usually falls around dinner/bath/bed, at least in our home. Everyone starts to get hungry and reacts in different ways. At our house, the babies start getting fussy. They scream, crawl to wherever I am, pull up on my legs and scream some more. Norah makes trouble. She steals toys, dumps out bags of pretzels on the floor, dumps dog food into the water bowl, colors all over herself with markers, etc. Sarah, for the most part is pretty good. But when she’s really tired and hungry, she will start crying over things like, “I don’t ever want to move out of this house,” or “Mama, you said four days ago that I could wear my pink jacket and you didn’t let me.”

    And then there are the physical mechanics of getting everyone to use the bathroom, changing diapers, washing hands, cooking dinner, cutting it up, serving it up, getting drinks, bibs, spoons, baby food and everyone into their seats and eating. It’s tough with one kid, but with four it’s a juggling act. At least the babies can’t crawl out of their high chairs yet, right?

    Anyway, then there is the feeding of babies while we try to scarf down our food between screaming and ordering the big girls not to leave their seats or that they need at least TRY what they’ve been served. Then, when it’s all over, there’s the dishes and putting up of things and getting pajamas out and towels, wash cloths, diapers, etc. while four very mobile children continue to be very tired and run amok. There is bathing (we’ve finally figured out to get them on alternating schedules so only two are bathed any given night), the dressing, the teeth brushing, the nursing, the book reading, and the “DO NOT GET OUT OF THAT BED AGAIN” routine that starts.

    When all that is finally over sometime around 8:15, we move onto finishing the dishes, prepping bottles, stuffing diapers, signing folders and trying to get extra work done before we crash into bed and end up staying up until 11pm to cram in some much needed self and couple time.

    What I’m saying is, that evenings at our house are very much a two-person job. Mark and I have a pact not to leave the other alone during that time of the day without recruiting an extra set of helping hands.  Now I know some parents have to do this alone all the time and they have my UTMOST respect, but there is a reason we have a pact on this, and it’s mostly so that if one of us crumbles under the pressure, the other person can pick up the pieces and keep everyone moving. Or, someone can tame the babies while they scream and the other gets bed things out. Or, someone can clean up whatever mess Norah has made while the other keeps everyone “out of it, get out!”

    And so one of us just leaving the house between 5-8 is not possible without help. It’s just not. I know that we have to take care of ourselves (no lecture needed there), but that usually happens between 9pm and 11pm. I would love to throw my hands up some nights and say, “Sorry! Not tonight! Mommy is taking her wine to the back porch,” but Mark would cut me with the daggers he threw from his eyes, and honestly I would do the same to him if he tried such a move.

    All this to say, I’m sorry, really I am, that I can’t hang out in the evenings right now (or really do anything until after 8:30p.m., including talk on the phone). And unless I can bring at least two kids with me, even daytime breakaways are tough. Eventually things will get better as everyone grows up and becomes more self-reliant, but right now we all need each other most of the time, especially in the evenings. The babies are still nursing and Norah and Sarah need that extra little bit of mom and dad time after they go to bed. I love my family and I’ve learned to embrace the chaos in a way my mostly-introverted self never thought possible. I’m so grateful for their sweet faces and nighttime hugs and kisses, but there is always a whirlwind of chaos and Mark and I are in together. So really, it’s not you, it’s me. It’s us. And I’m ok with that.

  • But Wait, I’m Not Ready…

    Date: 2016.01.13 | Category: Family, Home, Life, Me, Norah, Sarah, Toddler Time | Response: 0

    With our oldest child, some things came easy, but many things were a struggle. Any time we got ready to make a big change for her, things always seemed to go disastrously wrong. Maybe we forced her into things too soon, or maybe we didn’t enforce things hard enough, but for whatever reason, so many of these things were hard. The transition to a big bed from a crib? So much screaming and running out of it. Potty training? I don’t even want to walk down that dark road of memory (though it did involve peeing on the chocolate chips I attempted to bribe her with). I mean even getting the kid dressed was an ordeal. She wore nothing but dresses for YEARS because I just got tired of fighting the pants battle. And trying new foods is STILL an issue.

    In comes child number two. Our child I often refer to as “our challenge.” She is strong willed, determined, stubborn and quick to anger. And we have two other little ones that take up so much of my time. I decided, then, not to stress too much about pushing Norah into any big changes. After all, I barely have enough energy most days to just make it through; fighting a two-year-old onto the potty was at the very bottom of my priority list.

    But Norah, ever the child of her own ideas and schedule, has always had other plans. We had a c-section scheduled for her on September 23, so of course she decided to arrive 9 days early on September 20 of her own accord. Food? Will it fit in her mouth? She wants to bite it. It won’t fit in her mouth? She’ll tear it apart with her hands and teeth until it will fit in her mouth. Broccoli? Sure, why not?

    We are in a small house, and when the twins arrived, we had them sleeping in the living room because I could not deal with moving Norah out of her normal sleeping environment: her crib in her room. So, of course, she figured out how to climb out of the crib and began hurling herself to the ground. With her track record, we couldn’t allow this, so she got moved into the big girl bed in a shared room with her sister on her own timeline. The transition was a little shaky, but she got it down pretty quickly.

    And now potty training. Oh how I have DREADED potty training her. My past record with Sarah was so utterly miserable, that I had decided to wait until she was 2-and-a-half and past the sick season to even begin trying.

    So, of course, two days after her surgery, Norah told me she wanted to sit on the potty. “Not the little potty,” she said. “I want to sit on the big potty.” Well… ok then. I took her. And what, do you know, she went. And since that day, she’s barely looked back. It’s been less than two weeks and she may have one accident a day, and has an almost perfect track record at school.

    I am absolutely astounded. I had prepared myself for such a miserable battle, one that involved long periods of sitting and waiting and screaming. So when none of that happened, I felt like I was being pranked. Yes, we still have some issues when she’s playing and doesn’t want to stop to go to the bathroom, but for the most part, she’s totally got this. She, it seems, is much better prepared to tackle the next stage of life than I am.

    So many times with Norah, I have thought, “But wait, I’m not ready for this. I’m not ready for this next stage in her life.”  And every time I feel like she’s thinking, “Oh let’s just get on with it mother,” and takes the lead. I have a feeling she’s always going to throw a kink in my plans, but that’s ok. For all the strong willed battles we have, I’m so glad that she can turn that determined mind to do good and great things as well. As she so aptly loves to tell me, “I’m Wonder Woman, Mama!” Yes you are, baby girl, yes you are.

  • The Wailing of Ears and Gnashing of Teeth

    Date: 2015.12.22 | Category: Family, Health, Home, Life, Mark, Me, Norah | Response: 0

    I haven’t felt much like writing lately… or maybe it’s just that there is no time.

    Our kids have been falling to illness like dominoes: one gets sick, starts to mend and the next falls victim to the illness, until at least three of them are sick at any given time. Yes, I knew this was coming, but it still doesn’t make it easier to bear.  We go to the pediatrician’s once a week when we’re lucky, 2-3 times a week when we’re not. We’ve battled raging high fevers, puffy, goopy eyes and coughs that keep the whole house up at night.

    Nearly every day, Mark and I look at each other and say, “Do you think it’s their ears or just teeth?” Because we certainly couldn’t just be sick without 3 of our 4 also getting new teeth.

    And Norah (of course it’s Norah, it’s always Norah) has had it the worst of all. After nearly two months straight of ear infections, fever, coughing, middle of the night screaming, and now our fifth antibiotic, our pediatrician sent her to the ENT. He took one look inside her ears, cringed, pointed to the second to worst picture on the ear infection chart and said the word I knew was coming: “tubes.”

    That, in and of itself, really isn’t so bad. I had prepared myself, know lots of moms who have had to get tubes in their kids’ ears and I know that this will bring welcome relief for her. But it didn’t stop there.

    You see, our poor girl also has a snoring problem and it turns out her adenoids are pushing in on her ear tubes, her nose, eyes and even her teeth, so those have to come out too. Her case is bad enough and she’s suffered so much that the doctor wants to do the procedure as soon as possible. He first mentioned the Wednesday before Christmas, but then amended it to the Monday after to let the newest round of tough antibiotics have time to attempt to clear things out.

    I know, logically, that this is a very common, quick and easy surgery, but a little edge of panic still creeps in when I think about her having to go under.

    I am so thankful that I was already off work for the surgery and recovery time – a little silver lining. Trying to balance working full time and being a mother is something I constantly struggle with. There’s so much guilt when I’m at work away from my sick kids, but then there’s guilt when I’m home and missing so much work. “What must people think?” I often wonder. But I have to put that behind me and do the best that one person can do (or really two, Mark stays home with the kids when they are sick as much, if not more than I do).

    And so, as Christmas comes and we get ready to celebrate, please keep our Norah Bean and her very anxious momma in your prayers. Here’s to hoping everyone’s teeth all come through, the fevers stop and everyone gets a little bit of rest.

  • “How Do You Do It?”

    Date: 2015.11.09 | Category: Family, Home, Life, Luke, Mark, Me, Norah, Sarah, Toddler Time, Twins, Vera | Response: 0

    Next to, “You have your hands full!” And “Are they twins?”, “How do you do it?” is probably the most common thing people say to me. And my most common response is, “I don’t know!”

    And I feel like that often, especially on mornings like today when we’ve been battling back-to-back illnesses with the kids, repeated 4a.m. wake ups, coughs, kid nightmares and my own lingering congestion I can’t quite kick because I can never get enough rest.

    But, the truth is that we do manage to “do it” most days, thanks in large part to the following:

    1. Coffee. I mean a lot of coffee. One morning I made coffee and Mark actually said to me without joking, “Why did you only make six cups?!” The struggle is real.
    2. Consistent early bed times. I have finally learned that Norah needs to go to bed early so she has enough time to settle and go to sleep before Sarah joins her in the room for bed. That means bed time routine starts at 7p.m. And I’m strict about it. We can hedge a little on the weekends, but if we get off by too much, everyone has a melt down at the same time, including me.
    3. Preparation. After everyone goes to bed at night, I set about getting ready for the next day. Bottles are made, folders are signed, snacks and pump bottles are loaded into the car, diapers are stuffed and folded. I learned the hard way that trying to do this while all the little people are awake takes roughly three times as long and adds an hour to our morning routine.
    4. Learn to let some things go. My house is a disaster. I felt terrible about this for a really long time and I still try to fight it from time to time. Here’s what we manage to accomplish most days: dishes, trash, some laundry and picking up one area of the house. Here’s what we fail at: keeping the bedrooms picked up, SOCKS, wiping down things, organized closets, cluttered vehicles and dog hair in general. This past weekend I spent time cleaning our hallways, laundry room and living room. Norah and Sarah destroyed most of my work in under 10 minutes.

    5. The village. People ask me all the time, “Who helps you?” Mark and I do a lot ourselves – we have perfected the two person juggling act it takes to keep things rolling along. But, we also have our families in town who help with watching the kids, and an amazing nanny who helps on afternoons and Fridays while Mark and I work, and a long list of  amazing mom friends I text and call on a regular basis for moral support.
    6. Patience and understanding from other people. I work for an amazing place – a place that has been flexible with my schedule with my children and has always allowed me to be where I need to be for them. I know this isn’t always easy, but I am thankful for it every single day. I don’t sleep much and forget things all the time. When I dropped the kids off at school this morning, I had forgotten a number of things and the teachers quickly reassured me not to worry, they would make it work. Bless you people!
    7. The grace of God. I pray for patience and strength and to be a good mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, co-worker and person every day. I fail a lot, but I keep on trying.
    8. A strong marriage. Mark and I have been handed a lot. Our children are amazing blessings, but they demand a lot from us. It’s so easy to lash out at one another – and it happens, especially when we’re exhausted and frustrated. But being able to realize that it is just the frustration and exhaustion talking helps us overcome these things quickly, and we remind one another that “united we stand, divided we fall.” I really could not do this without him.

    Despite all these things, we still have a lot of pitfalls. Just this morning we couldn’t find anyone’s shoes; Sarah’s uniform sweatshirt disappeared into some dark corner of our house and has yet to resurface; Norah put up a great and mighty protest against wearing pants and hurled a plastic shoe at my head that found its mark; I forgot the diapers and had to turn around once we left the house; I discovered that several ounces of my preciously pumped milk had spilled when we got to school; I realized that I forgot wet bags for the diapers when we got to school; we forgot to get juice when it was our turn to bring snacks for school; oh, and I’ve been awake since 4am with a little boy who is adjusting to his new crib and room and a 4 year old who accidentally saw part of daddy’s zombie show last night and had nightmares and panicked the rest of the morning until we talked about snow angels and unicorns.

    Life is crazy. I feel like every day I must look like someone dragged me behind their car. But, despite all of this, I am really and truly happy. I love my kids. I love my husband and we all manage to make it work.

    This past Friday the director of our kids’ school said another parent came up to her and asked who that mom is who pushes the twins in the stroller and carries a toddler on her back every day (ha!) She told her who I was and the mom said that my kids are always happy and I always have a smile on my face and I inspire her every day. Wow! Talk about humbling. That was exactly what I needed to hear. We ARE happy and, really, that’s the crux of how we’re “making it.”

  • Nighttime Parties and a Giveaway!

    Date: 2015.10.28 | Category: Family, Halloween, Health, Home, Life, Me, Norah, OMG YAY!, Sarah, Toddler Time | Response: 0

    Over the past six months since the twins have come into our lives, I’ve struggled with ways to dedicate time to my older girls. Mark and I constantly “divide and conquer” though, and at night while he bathes and dresses the babies, the big girls and I move to the back of the house to begin their bed time routine – which is always a challenge as I constantly find myself physically wrestling an overtired two-year-old into the bath tub while her older sister screams, “SHE IS SPLASHING SOAP IN MY EYES AND HITTING ME!”

    One night Sarah asked me if we could have a “Halloween Party.” I was hesitant at first, because one more thing, but she looked at me pleadingly and melted my over-tired heart.  Her imagination is boundless and I knew that anything and everything could easily be transformed into a Halloween Party. I agreed and she cheered!

    I began to think of the things I could do to turn bath time into Halloween party time. What does any good party have? Music of course! So I turned on the Pandora “Halloween Party” station. Then I dimmed the lights, but that was a little too spooky, so I got a fall-scented candle and lit it in the bathroom. Perfect. Now as “Monster Mash” and tunes from The Nightmare Before Christmas flood our bathroom, we dance and laugh. Sometimes we add extra fun things like bath foam to make “costumes” or bath bombs to fizz and turn the water different colors (yellow, blue, red!).

    Now, when 7:00 rolls around, there are no more battles to get into the bathtub. Norah enthusiastically yells, “Tub time!” while Sarah says, “It’s time to party!”  and wiggles her hips. We rush to the bathroom, set up our party, shut the door to close out the babies, dance and play and they get mama’s full attention.

    It’s not elaborate, but it is fun and it’s the joyful time we all need together. Now I look forward to getting everyone ready for bed, and the only protesting that happens is when it’s time to get out of the tub (but even that is minor because we keep the music going while they dry off and get dressed).

    One of my favorite parts of all this are the things we use to create our party. The only thing I love more than shopping local is buying things that I know are safe and healthy for my family. My friend Kate owns Zombee Candle and Coven Co., and sells both products at her new store in Shreveport, The Sleepy Hollow: Books & Gifts. For our tub time parties, I’ve been lighting up seasonally appropriate fall scents – L’Automne and Bitches Brew (though the girls call it Witches Brew). Bitches Brew is purple and smells like apple cider, so it usually gets Sarah’s vote for party time. The candles are made with soy and don’t release any kind of nasty toxins into the air.

    Coven Co., is a line of natural and organic beauty products, including bath bombs and body butter (and the body butter even comes in the falltastic Hocus Pocus scent). The girls love waiting to see what color their bath bomb is going to release when we toss them in the tub.

    I am so excited to have the opportunity to share a little bit of our Halloween party joy with my readers! I’m teaming up with Kate during the week of Halloween to giveaway some of these locally made products from The Sleepy Hollow: Books & Gifts.

    You can win this awesome little bundle of healthy, Halloween goodness which includes:

    • 3 x small Coven Co. Aura Bombe bath bombs in Grove [lemon & sage] or Mandarin Royale [vanilla & orange]
    • 1 x 14oz Midi Zombee in your choice of Bitches Brew [mulled apple cider], L’Automne [orange, clove, black tea], Hocus Pocus [vanilla & pumpkin], or Hallowed Ground [tobacco, patchouli, cedarwood].

    Here’s what you have to do to enter. Make sure you complete all the steps – we’ll check!

    1. LIKE The Sleepy Hollow: Books & Gifts on Facebook.
    2. SHARE this post with your friends.
    3. TAG a friend in the comments.
    4. PROMISE to have your own personal Halloween Party, even if it’s just lighting up a spooky scent and relaxing in the tub with your very own bath bomb.

    The last day to enter is this Saturday, HALLOWEEN! We will announce a winner on Saturday. Good luck!

  • All Thumbs

    Date: 2015.10.06 | Category: Family, Health, Home, Life, Mark, Me, Norah, Toddler Time, Whoops | Response: 0

    Last Friday I had Norah at the pediatrician’s office for her two-year-old well visit.  I had Luke in tow as well. His fussiness and sleeplessness was reaching critical level and his cough was enough to scare me every time it happened.

    Norah, when she and I go places together without the entire crew, tends to be an angel. She readily got on the scale, let them measure her and check her temperature. Put up a small fight at shot time, but didn’t even cry during her finger stick. Our pediatrician, who we have gotten to know well enough that we now call her, “Aunt Monica,” and I discussed and sort of laughed at Norah’s ability to find accident and injury and her ER history, but we were relieved that she had gone a stretch without anything significant happening.

    Luke, it turned out, had a double ear infection, so we got an antibiotic for him and we went about our merry way.

    Fate, though, reared its ugly head that evening.

    I got it into my head that night that I wanted to make one of the girls’ favorite dishes, “yellow soup,” (ie potato and veggie and cheese soup). I knew I had all the ingredients, so I got to work. When I grabbed the chicken broth, however, I discovered that Norah had gotten a hold of it and tried to open it with her teeth in a fit of rat-like hunger, thus opening it and letting it go bad. I grumbled as I tossed the unused box into the trash and dug around in my pantry where I unearthed a still-good can of chicken broth. I decided to use that to start the soup while Mark ran to the store to get more.

    As things often happen at dinner time, both babies started crying, so I went to them while I waited on the soup to cook, not thinking about all the things that were still sitting on the counter top.

    Mark got back, and while he was busy adding the rest of the ingredients and I was tending to babies, Norah decided she very much wanted that open can of chicken broth still sitting out on the counter, so she reached for it. The lid was still attached, so when she stuck her thumb down in the can, it got stuck, she panicked and then she yanked… HARD.

    Mark starts yelling that Norah is bleeding everywhere. I panicked a little and asked if she needed stitches, but he couldn’t tell because there was so much blood. I pinned her down and looked and the gaping wound on her thumb. No doubt, there would be stitches.

    Mark would have to drive while I held my toddler with her gushing thumb, which Mark ingeniously wrapped in paper towels and electric tape, so we quickly began seeking back up help. My mom had my sister’s kids, my in-laws were out of town, my sister was at work… “Call Debbie,” I said, and our wonderful neighbor immediately rushed over to help.

    We darted out the door and made for Quick Care. They took one look at her thumb and sent us immediately over to the Emergency Room.

    When we got there, the ER was empty, thank goodness, and one of our friends was our nurse. In short order they brought out our old friend the papoose board and put Norah in her straight jacket.

    We tried all kinds of distraction techniques while they numbed her up the doctor started cleaning and stitching. The ER doctor encouraged us to sing, “Wheels on the Bus.” I can just imagine the joy and horror anyone walking by would have experienced as they watched a little girl strapped to a blue board getting her hand stitched up while her parents, three nurses and a doctor sang “Wheels on the Bus” complete with hand motions. Norah, however, did not find it at all entertaining.

    Still though, three stitches later we were out of there, but not before our ER doctor commented that we looked familiar. Yes, this was her third trip to the ER in a year, but, I said, “ I swear we’re good parents!”

    It was when we got home and started to get her ready for bed that it dawned on me that it was the thumb she sucks to soothe herself and go to sleep. Oh hell.

    It was a bad night. She had trouble going to sleep without sucking her thumb, and then couldn’t settle herself as she woke up multiple times in the middle of the night, both in pain and in general anger at the thumb situation. When I told her to suck her other thumb, she just looked at it and screamed. Combine that with the babies waking up with painful ears and it was rough.

    That was a Friday night. Monday morning I had a phone call from dear “Aunt Monica,” who could not believe what she saw when she got her files from the weekend. She left me the sweetest and most encouraging voicemail that said many things, but included the phrases, “Oh my gosh it never ends,” and “I firmly believe God only gives you what you can handle and He knows you are a stronger woman than I.”

    It’s now been over a week and things are getting better. She’s missed a lot of naps over the thumb sucking issue, but she had the stitches taken out yesterday and hasn’t resumed thumb sucking… so maybe in the silver lining of things she broke that habit? I’m not ready to swear by it yet, but maybe, just maybe.

    And also, this birthday gift from Cassie showed up in our mailbox last night, and I have to say, it’s perfection.

  • Turning Two

    Date: 2015.09.20 | Category: Birthday, Family, Home, Norah | Response: 0

    As a parent, it’s easy to say that we can’t believe our children are however old they happen to be. Time moves so quickly and before we know it, another year has passed by.

    But I can 100% believe Norah is two now. I actually feel like she’s been two for a long while now. I’m not sure if having the twins has forced her to become independent, or if she’s always just had that in her, but she makes up her mind to do things a certain way and just does them.

    Yesterday we took Norah to a birthday party and I was talking to another mother there. I was pointing out my children to her and when I told her Norah was about to be two, she was surprised. She said, “Wow, she’s so independent and unafraid, I thought she must be three!”

    And that is Norah in a nutshell: independent and unafraid with a hot temper and a sweet hugs.

    This year has been a hard one for Norah. Being booted from the baby of the family to the middle child by not just one, but two babies when you’re still a baby yourself is just kind of mean. I’m sorry about that kid. You didn’t take it well. The first three months of having new siblings were particularly hard. When you couldn’t get mom and dad’s undivided attention, you would attempt to hurt the babies because you knew you would get that attention right away.

    But as much as I lament the trouble we had with you those first few months, I am so proud of you now. You are constantly kissing on your brother and sister and calling them “Uke” and “Baby,” which works fine for us.

    Oh my Norah bean, you are a child of extremes and you want to do everything on your own terms. I attempt to hand you a graham cracker and you hurl yourself to the floor and scream, and when I turn my back you BEG for the same cracker you loudly just rejected. I usually end up just leaving it on the table so you can get up and get it on your own terms. You can throw the loudest, most obnoxious temper tantrums and then snuggle up with the biggest kisses and “I love you mommy.”

    Speaking of, you are an amazing talker for a two-year-old. You have been speaking in full sentences for a while now and I still get tickled every time you tell me, “I excited!” You are so good at saying “Please” and “thank you.” Your vocabulary is so big that it surprises me, but “shoes” and “Sarah” are two of your most favorite words, oh and “Kiki,” which is the lovey blanket that goes everywhere you go. Any time we have to wash Kiki, it’s two hours of crying and begging for, “Kiki! I want Kiki!”. But since you drag Kiki through the mud and bathroom and car and school and garage, Kiki has to have a bath fairly often.

    You know you’re not supposed to hit, but you still do it anyway, but then follow immediately with a kiss. Earlier today you got mad at me, thwacked my arm and then immediately kissed it to try to avoid your time out in your room. It didn’t work, but it still softened up my heart.

    You, my dear, are always the child to get hurt or have some crazy injury or illness. I don’t know if that’s integral to being a middle child, or if it’s just part of being Norah, but you regularly scare the living daylights out of all of us. And even minor scrapes and bruises are an ordeal. “Bo bo!” you cry and dramatically point to your scraped knees that never quite heal before being scraped open anew.

    But oh my Bean, your hugs and kisses and snuggles are my favorite things. At night we read books together, just the two of us. You excitedly proclaim, “Seat!” before plopping into my lap and repeating every word I say. We pray together and your attempt at making the sign of the cross looks like a poorly executed attempt at the macarena – and I love it! To get you into school so you don’t run into the streets in the morning, I put you in my ErgoBaby carrier on my back and you love that too. We’ve figured it out so that once you’re on my back you hold my neck or shoulders until you’re secure, then you hold your kiki and lay your head on my shoulder as we walk in. You love being on my back and snuggled up so close. I’m so glad that even though you’re two now, you still love to go “up up” and let mama wear you.

    You are simultaneously our biggest challenge and our biggest heart. Your daddy and I can go from being so frustrated with you to belly laughing at your antics in the blink of an eye.

    Norah Bean, my sweet sweet two year old, you are so incredibly special and I am so glad you are our daughter. Happy second birthday my love.

  • Doubt

    Date: 2015.08.19 | Category: Baby, Family, Home, Life, Luke, Mark, Me, Norah, Sarah, Twins, Vera | Response: 1

    No one ever said being a parent was easy, and I know that. It requires strength, sacrifice, patience and a force of will I never knew I had. And as we’ve added more children to our family, I’ve found that all of those characteristics need to be amplified: patience, discipline and even a listening ear for four children, instead of just one, is much harder.

    I feel like so many days we are just surviving and it is so hard to actively do things for my kids. We react to what’s presented instead of proactively planning things and doing them. Most of the time, I’ve learned to relax and go with it, but then here lately, I feel like that’s not enough.

    I doubt myself all the time. At the twins’ four month check up, we went through the list of milestones they should be performing. When the nurse asked if they reach for toys placed in front of them, I paused and with great embarrassment said, “I don’t know, because we don’t really do that.” I felt guilty and immediately felt compelled to start explaining myself. “It’s not that we leave them unattended all day, but they are usually sitting in chairs and kicking at things attached to them, or laying on blankets while Sarah dances in front of them or being held and nursed.”

    I don’t consciously think, like I did with my first two, “Oh, I need to be presenting them with things so they can practice reaching and grabbing.” Most of the time, when I’m home, I’m trying to do dishes, pick up, fold laundry and attend to my two very active older girls who demand my attention, and so the babies just kind of hang out for the ride.

    Vera was also not rolling over yet and is having some head and neck problems that I didn’t even realize were going on. Yes, we take them to the doctor regularly, so she caught it, but I did not even realize it was going on. I felt like I was failing her. (On a positive side note, she did roll over the very next day after the appointment, despite her loud and screaming protests to tummy time).

    My doubts creep in with Sarah and Norah too. Norah watches Mark and I intently, and as soon as our attention deviates away from her, she makes a break for any and all forms of mischief: throwing things in toilets, grabbing and throwing cat litter, grabbing bags of food and emptying their contents onto the floor.  All these things make me feel like I only say negative words to her. “Norah!!! Why?!” I find myself saying all the time. And I know why. She’s an attention-starved almost-two-year-old who wants her mama’s attention.

    She has also put up the great and mighty protest against easily going to sleep in her new big girl bed. We can’t let Sarah in the room that they share while we let her go to sleep or Norah will scale our well-placed barricades for the bunk bed stairs and jump on her sister repeatedly, playing a game instead of sleeping. As such, Sarah is kept out of the room until her sister falls asleep, often keeping her up well past when she should be sleeping and making her exhausted for the school the following day. Another failure for Sarah.

    Between the four kids tag-teaming me throughout the course of the night, I have had exactly two decent night’s sleep in the past six months or so, and it’s taking it’s toll on my patience with my children and my husband. Instead of answering their questions with love, I feel like I bark out quick responses. I feel like I’m failing my family all the time and that they must only see me as a mean, grumpy monster.

    But then things will sneak through to make me realize that they don’t feel that way, at least not all the time. This morning, after being up most of the night with Luke, Sarah and Norah, my tiniest little Vera woke up well-rested and all smiles and coos and giggles. While the rest of the house finally slept, we had about 20 minutes together, just the two of us to laugh and smile and just be.

    Before I left for work, Norah yelled, “Mama! Mama!” “Yes, Bean,” I said exhaustedly. She looked at me and said, “Hug you,” and wrapped her little arms tightly around my neck.

    In the midst of the morning breakfast and getting ready chaos, Mark and I shared a look of exhaustion and I walked over to him and we wrapped our arms around each other in comfort and shared understanding.

    On the way to school this morning Sarah chirped up, “Mama, I have something to tell you.” “Yes?” I inquired. “You’re so beautiful and I love you,” she said, before telling me all about her nightmare that woke up half the house at 4:30 this morning (it involved  unicorns, a prince and a pink potion that turned everyone into frogs).

    To be honest, I still don’t feel like I’m doing it all right. I forget things all the time and fly by the seat of my pants. But it is so nice in the midst of being so full of doubt that my family shows me and tells me how much they love me. I may not be doing it right all the time, but we do manage to laugh and smile and love one another, so we must be doing something right.

  • In Transition

    Date: 2015.08.02 | Category: Family, Home, Norah, Toddler Time | Response: 1

    Someone talk me down from the ledge.

    We have begun the process of getting Norah to sleep in her big girl bed instead of the crib… and sharing a room with her big sister. Go big or go home, right?

    The past two nights have been rough. I sort of want to kick myself for starting this process now with the two babies we’re still wrestling to sleep at night, but Norah can now hurl herself out of her crib, and as prone to accidents and ER visits as she is, it’s time we minimize the risk. And so, our plan to start her big girl transition has been moved up a month.

    I have to keep telling myself this is a good thing. It gives Sarah a full week of adjusting with Norah in her room before school starts, and we will hopefully eliminate the late nights soon. Plus, the sooner we get her adjusted to sleeping in her new bed, the sooner we can move the twins into her old room and out of sleeping in our living room (hey, you do what you’ve got to do).

    I tried to prepare myself for this. I’m part of a really good and supportive sleep learning group on Facebook. Granted I joined to get help with the twins, but when I asked for help with this transition into the big girl bed, they stepped up wonderfully with some great tips and ideas.

    The first night Norah thought it was a game. We put her into the bed, she jumped right back out again. Over and over and over. Sarah tried to boss her from the top bunk and then was constantly running to tell us Norah was out of bed again. We finally took Sarah out of the room and let her watch tv while we put up a pressure gate to keep Norah in the room and blocked off the bunk bed stairs to prevent her from toddler base jumping.

    There was a lot of protesting. We tried laying down with her. She was fine until we got up. We tried standing and watching, but then it became a game to jump up as soon as we left. I wanted to give up and put her in her crib, but Mark kept me strong. I grabbed a beer to help me power through. Finally, she wore down at 9:30pm and Mark put her in the bed and she didn’t get back out. She did pretty well and slept through the night, but woke up at 5:30am crying. This is my baby who usually sleeps until 8:30 or 9.

    The next day was HARD. She was exhausted and refused to nap. I thought she should nap in her crib. One transition at a time, right? This was not a good idea. She spent most of the day screaming her head off – both in bed and pretty much any time we looked at her. She was a grouch and kept screaming for her “kilkies,” ie her blankies, all. day. long. And of course we were all exhausted. Norah kept Sarah up quite a bit during the night and early morning, and I was up with the babies at night, and then again at 5:30 with her.

    Second night was even tougher. It was Mark’s turn to want to give up. We were all so exhausted and she was overtired. We went through a two hour repeat of her constantly getting out of bed. I finally caved and went to sit in bed with her. She stayed put, but spent the entire time singing to her Raggedy Ann doll and playing peek-a-boo with her. That would have been adorable if I wasn’t so exhausted and still had crying babies to attend to.

    Sarah loudly declared that she thought it was high time Norah moved back to her crib because she was keeping her awake. I was so close, so close, to granting her wish. But I knew things would just end with hours of screaming. We had started this awful process, and we needed to stick to it. The first three days are always the worst with any kind of sleep training. We were half way through it, we couldn’t stop now.

    Finally, we had to leave her in the room screaming. Poor Sarah. Poor Norah. Poor us. I felt awful for her, but I know her personality and how well she manipulates us, so I had to. Guess what? Less than 2 minutes of protesting and then she crawled back into bed and passed out. She slept until 6:30 this time, a huge improvement I think.

    Today, we decided we needed to commit to the big girl bed for nap time too. It was too confusing going back and forth.

    My new plan of attack included wearing her out and filling her up. I let her play outside all morning, made her favorite for lunch (shells and cheese), and then Mark put her in her bed, put the gate up, turned off the lights and walked away.

    I steeled myself for the screaming that would probably fill our whole afternoon… and it never came. I checked on her five minutes later and she had passed out!

    I don’t know if this will translate into success tonight, but I hope it at least shaves an hour off our protest time. If we can get her sleeping easily in the big girl bed, it will at least grant me the patience to forgive her new habit of putting all the things in the toilet. Maybe.