Saturday, January 30, 2016

Levi's ONE!

Happy FIRST Birthday Levi! You have been such a dream baby for me. I've loved (almost) every minute of your infancy. So thank you. Thank you for allowing me such a sweet last run as a mother of a baby. Thank you for letting me cherish and enjoy it all one last time. And though I'm sad that it's over I'm so excited to see who you become as a kid. Well, toddler first of course. 

But if I could bottle you up right now I totally would. You have the prettiest blue eyes and the softest blonde baby hair. And your smile melts my heart. You are so happy and easy going. Everywhere we go people mention your good looks and happy demeanor and I couldn't agree more! You aren't anywhere close to walking or talking. And I'm perfectly content with that. It keeps you little a little longer. You babble constantly. Your most infamous babbling sound is "bu-ba" which is how you've come to be known as Bubba around here. And the name fits. I think you will be stuck with that one for a good long time. You also say mama and dada. Dada more than you are turning into quite the daddy's boy. Your eyes light up when he walks in the door and you chase/crawl after him until he picks you up. It's pretty adorable to see how determined you are to get into your daddy's arms. 

It's hard to believe that one year ago we were in middle of a long, cold Minnesota winter. You came home from the hospital in a cozy one-piece fleece outfit. Today it's a nice, warm, sunny Texas "winter" day. Your outfit is still a one piece. Except today it's a light-weight short sleeved romper. We hope to hit up the beach and playground. Two of your favorite places! A year ago I couldn't have imagined life in Texas. Just like I couldn't imagine YOU as a toddler. But low and behold here we Texas on the brink of toddlerhood with you my sweet boy. Though some things stay the same. Just as daddy missed your birth last year, he won't be with us today for your birthday either. And that's ok. We know he wants to be with us. We will save your first cupcake for tomorrow when he is home.  For today he will help the sick and the hurt. They need him more than we do today. 

Enough about daddy. We've got some partying to do. And some sunshine to soak up! Because YOU deserve to be celebrated! 

We love you Levi Joseph! 

And now because my dear wise friend is so much more eloquent than me, I leave you with her (blatantly) plagiarized words in regards to baby's first birthday:

When you are handed a baby you believe it is yours to keep. It's so confusing to my mother's heart and mind to have my children perpetually disappearing and transforming into something else, someone new, mysterious and beautiful. I cry for the void baby Levi has left and I rejoice in the new vibrant toddler Levi that will (almost) fill that void. 

Gah. Exactly that. 

P.S. We didn't need to party all night last night buddy...sleep would have been nice too. I guess you just wanted to enjoy every minute of your first birthday!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

My best mothering wisdom.

The other night Joe and I went to a Diaper Bash Baby Shower for one of his co-residents who is expecting her first baby next month. There were actually two moms-to-be at the party plus another resident who wants to start "trying for a baby" soon. And I was one of only two moms there. All that to say I got asked several times for advice. To pass along my mothering wisdom. And all I could do was laugh and picture myself as I try every morning to get everyone dressed and ready and out the door without completely losing my cool and/or on time. Because this task of getting us ready each morning is HARD. Nearly impossible some days and quite frankly it's enough for me to feel like I am the least equipped mother to be doling out advice. Certainly not wisdom! Instead I feel like I am the one that needs to be receiving the advice. 

But then late last night (when I should have been sleeping in preparation for the morning craziness!) it came to me. My wisdom for the moms-to-be. 

Having a baby will feel like the BEST thing ever and you will LOVE it. Having a baby will also feel like the WORST thing ever and sometimes you'll wonder why you decided to become a mom. It's ok to feel both of those things. It's normal. Because being a mom is hard. But worth it. 

So worth it. Just don't ask me how I feel about motherhood at 7:05 AM as I'm trying to get everyone out the door! Probably shouldn't ask at 7:05 PM either as I'm getting everyone ready for bed. But the in-between times are fair game:) Because these kids light up my world. 

And they keep me quite entertained too...

Hannah: How do you spell your name?
Me: B-E-A-R. Bear. 
Hannah: No! Your regular name. 
Me: Oh. Mom? M-O-M. 
Hannah: Yeah. Mom. 

Charlotte: Look a pine tree!
Me: That is not a pine tree.
Charlotte: Are you sure?
Me: Yep I'm sure. I grew up surrounded by pine trees and that definitely isn't one. 

Try PALM tree my dear:)

Me: If you ever have questions or want to talk about anything with me I'm here. Ya know like about babies...
Isaiah: You mean how babies are SO cute?
Me: Yes! Exactly. They are so cute. 

(Not AT ALL what I was hinting at. But I'll take it. He's sweet and innocent. And I want him to stay that way forever!) 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

My clinic visit.

Since I'm on a residency kick lately I've got to share my favorite residency related story to date. Joe of course has the BEST stories. Oh like the time an emaciated street dog wandered into the exam room in the emergency department while he was examining a patient! Crazy, right? Apparently not all that crazy for where the hospital is located! To put it mildly the hospital is not in the part of town a person would choose to spend time/visit. Which is one of the reasons despite my pre-residency fantasy of bringing the kids to the hospital for lunch with daddy I have never actually been to the hospital. The other reason being that emergency medicine doctors don't actually have a lunch break! They just eat whatever they can as quickly as possible between patients. So all in all it wasn't a very realistic fantasy. 

Needless to say the closest I've been to the hospital is across the street at the clinic as a patient. Joe warned me that the clinic and patient population would be a little rough. But I didn't care. I just wanted labs drawn as soon as possible to rule out any medical causes for my constant fatigue. And yet even despite Joe's warning I was still a little shocked to see all the unique characters I was surrounded by in the waiting room. I kept looking around for someone somewhat normal-ish without any luck. Then as I was leaving after my appointment I saw from behind a tall blond woman in a pretty dress and heels and I thought "there is someone else like me here!"  Then she turned around. And she was a he. 

Yes. That might have been the face I made that day. Yes. Normal might not be the best word to describe me;-) Normal-ish. At best. 

(The ending did NOT surprise my husband or any of the residents that have since heard my story. Hardly anything surprises them in fact.)

Christmas Tree Bonfire

Friday night the kids, my parents and I went to the Annual Christmas Tree bonfire on the beach with Joe's co-residents. 

Joe was working. Poor guy. Because as described by our eight year old it was "AWESOME! And totally worth it!"  

And by "it" he means getting lost and wandering the beach aimlessly until we were rescued by a kind, kind resident and his wife. They then lead us to the correct location. Which ironically is almost exactly where we drove to first but did not stay because...well mostly because the 5 year old was FREAKING OUT and I couldn't think straight. Because who can make smart choices when a child is screaming "GET ME OUT OF HERE! I AM GOING TO DIE! LET ME OUT"? Not I. As illustrated by the aimless beach wandering at sunset with four hungry children. 

I know I gripe A LOT about residency. And there are quite a few things I don't like about it. But that's not the entire story. Truth be told it's good too. We have the awesome opportunity to live here in a whole new part of the country and experience a lifestyle and culture we never would otherwise. My kids are getting a childhood I couldn't have ever imagined. Winter without snow?! It's wonderful! And more than that we are surrounded by kind, supportive, fun-loving residents, spouses and families. The majority of the other residents do not have kids. And yet they have welcomed us with open arms. They have allowed me and my gaggle of kids to add a whole lot of noise and chaos to their parties. They have allowed us to invade their homes without a single complaint. I know it's not easy having a bunch of kids around. Trust me. I KNOW. And they have done it with such love and kindness. And for that I am incredibly thankful. 

Plus these people know how to have a good time....

{pajama & white elephant party}

{diaper bash baby shower}

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Oh the little years.

When your kids are little you feel like they are going to be little forever. I mean FOREVER!  You know it's not actually possible but the days (and nights!) are so long it feels like it is never going to end. Plus you can't imagine them as anything but little. And totally dependent upon you to meet their every need. That toddler and baby couldn't possibly become big and independent, could they? 

But they do! They grow up. At an alarming rate. And they learn how to do things all by themselves. Like get dressed. And use the bathroom (completely unassisted). And make themselves pb&j sandwiches! And play by themselves. They even go off to school without you for EIGHT HOURS every day!!! And you see it all happen right before your eyes. This slow change from complete dependence to independence. But it's hard to notice at times. Even though you are there every step of the way it can sneak up on you. Your babies aren't babies anymore. They are kids. 

So you have more babies. (Or at least I did). 

Which is clearly not the solution. Because dang nabbit those babies grow up too! 

I'm not sure if it's because my baby is almost one (and therefore no longer a baby!) or if it's the fact that my eldest is inching closer to nine years old (and therefore half way to adulthood!!) but I'm struggling. I don't want this stage to end. I so badly want to run up to every first time mom and tell them to "just enjoy it. They grow up so fast". I want to tell them every cliché about these years with littles being the best and just a brief stage with their children. But I know they can't possibly understand. And quite frankly they don't want advice from the crazy lady with four kids who looks like she hasn't showered (or slept!) in days. I know. Because back when I was the mom of one sweet, needy baby I didn't understand. And I certainly didn't believe the moms that went before me and tried to warn me. 

And now. Now that I'm leaving the baby stage and nearly half way done raising my first baby. I want to go back. I want to start over. Not to change things or do them differently. I just want to experience it all over again. I want a chance to slow down and enjoy it. Just one more time. 

But since that isn't possible I'm going to try my darnedest to enjoy this stage. Because while it's hard to imagine these kids as teenagers (or adults!) I know it's coming. And sooner than I think. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

All Day Play Day!

Today the big kids started back at school. And Joe started his (much dreaded by me) trauma rotation. I've decided that the reason it's called "trauma" is because our entire family is going to be traumatized by the end of this six weeks. I'm kidding. I know it's actually because Joe is on the trauma surgery service and responsible for the care of patients after they have experienced real trauma. But still six weeks of 13+ hour work days six days a week with one night shift each week thrown in the sounds traumatic to me! If the schedule doesn't traumatize me the lack of shaving will. It's some weird initiation thing amongst the residents here. No shaving during trauma. Bring on the beard! Blech. 

Enough about trauma. More about our kids...

Because we knew today was the start of what we anticipate to be a long, hard stretch for our kids we wanted to make our last day of Christmas break extra special. Which admittedly is easier said than done with four kids spanning very different ages and developmental stages (and on a budget). Initially we promised the kids a mini road trip to play tourists here in our new state. But then reality set in and we decided we were just too tired to make a road trip happen. Lame. I know. But true. So there we were the night-before-our-last-day-of-break without any super awesome plans! Joe and I literally laid in bed trying to stay awake long enough to come up with a plan. Any plan! We were desperate at this point to not reveal to our kids just how lame we really are. When it came to me...AN ALL DAY PLAY DAY!

I excitedly told Joe my awesome new idea. Stay home ALL day and PLAY with the kids. Start in the morning and play until bedtime. Only stopping to eat or sleep. No leaving the house. No working on projects. Just playing. Joe immediately reminded me that I don't like playing. And that he likes to play but not that much! Both true. But I assured him we could do it even if we didn't enjoy it. Because ITS FOR THE KIDS. 

Monday morning rolled around and we started out strong and enthusiastic. Over breakfast we made a list with the kids of all the things they wanted to play. Isaiah declared it the BEST DAY EVER. 

And then we started playing. Or at least some of us did. I had to put Levi down for a morning nap before I could start playing. And Hannah chose to go to library storytime with her grandparents...which lead to an impromptu trip to Goodwill & Salvation Army. But then we played. We played Legos. And Magnatiles. And pet shop. We painted. And colored. We played with play-doh. We even biked and scootered in the garage. Lots of playing. And maybe a little impromptu napping next to the Legos...

So was it a success? Yes and no. Yes because our kids loved it! They are already asking for a second ALL DAY PLAY DAY. No because we didn't cross all our items off the play list. And mostly no because real life has a way of rearing its ugly head and demanding our attention despite our attempts to ignore it. Things like picking up prescriptions and dance class and return trips to thrift stores to check out potential new-to-us chairs. Playing all day just isn't practical. 

Speaking of real life. I was hoping Joe would be able to get a good night's sleep last night before starting trauma. Ha! A certain teething baby decided midnight until 2 AM was a good time to cry. And cry. And cry some more for good measure. Then again at 5 am. At which point I gave in and brought him into bed with us. Unfortunately this resulted in our heads being attacked repeatedly by said baby. It felt more like a wrestling match than sleeping! And then during one of these attacks our curtains fell down and landed on Joe's head! So pretty much the exact opposite of a good night's sleep. 

Oh. But looking on the bright side...we bought the chairs! Our living room feels so much cozier now. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Pallet Art

Sometimes I feel like a character right out of a Laura Numeroff book. You know "If you give a pig a pancake, he'll want some syrup to go with it. Etcetera. Etcetera. Etcetera." Most days I start out with a fairly clear plan or idea of what I need to accomplish. And then I get sidetracked and sidetracked again. Over and over until I hardly remember my original goal. Joe thinks I should keep a written list. So I can stay on task. And I sorta agree with him. But typically I don't get much crossed off these lists. The lists become painful reminders of how little I accomplish with my days. I'd rather not have a visual reminder of that! 

But enough of that. All of THAT was not my main point tonight. I just got a little sidetracked. No pun intended. 

The real story goes a little something like this. Joe has four weeks off a year (which is pretty amazing for a resident!). He took his first week back in September. Much of that week was spent laying sod in our back yard. Lucky guy. This week is his second week off this year (medical years are July through June. NOT calendar years). He has spent it doing exciting things like cleaning out and organizing our garage. Which unearthed a pallet from the sod laying. A pallet I just knew would make beautiful wall art for our extremely undecorated guest bedroom.  And look...

It did! It is now a nearly complete piece of art created entirely by Joe and me. We made that!  Ok. Mostly him. I just stenciled the words on after he made it look beachy and cool AND found the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote. 

My poor husband thought laying sod was just laying sod...but if you give a girl a pallet she's gonna want some art to go with it. Or something like that:)