Carly at 2 years, 1 month

An Ember of Hope:
Tonight as I went to lay Carly down for bed, we sat in the rocking chair together, her in her ridiculously long 24 month footy pajamas (is it just me, or does it look like a six year old could fit in them when you fold them?), and me in a pair of jeans, and we sang songs from JJ Heller's I Dream of You album, which is also the album I listened to every night after my first miscarriage, rocking three year old Wyatt to sleep.
Tears streamed down my cheeks tonight as I remembered the deep hopelessness I felt during the cold, dark nights in Alaska after my baby had been scraped out of my abdomen.  I didn't believe that another baby was possible.  After three healthy boys, I didn't think I deserved another baby.
And yet.
Somewhere deep inside, there was a spark of hope.
A tiny ember that kept burning through that winter.

By spring I had agreed to give God another chance at hope.  And oh my holy goodness can you imagine my life now if I hadn't? Can you imagine our lives without Carly? Without that sweet, joy-filled rainbow baby?  Our whole existence would be so dim.

Just last week Wyatt said to me, "Carly is so much fun."  And tonight Logan's bedtime prayer-gratitude was for taking a bath with her. He washed her hair and played with her water pipes and made her laugh. 

She was worth every tear and every heartache.  And let me tell you, two miscarriages, suffered in rural Alaska, away from family where medical care is two airplanes away, there was plenty of tears & heartache.  And yet.

She was worth it.
Worth it.


Now on to all the ways she delights us at 2 years, 1 month:

I cut her hair recently, just a little trim, and she looks so fresh. I love it.
But, now I am terrified she will cut her own hair!

At meals:
She wants broccoli and noodles. And she loves rice.
She puts ketchup on everything.  It grosses the boys out.
She yells "I need-" about everything:
"I need ketchup!"
"I need Molly McButter!"
"I need milk!"
She likes to get down IMMEDIATELY upon finishing.  She's a demanding creature!
When she is naughty, like pouring her food out or making a mess, as I'm cleaning it up, she tells me, "That a no-no."
For breakfast she likes toast and peanut butter and sausage.  Sometimes cereal.  And god forbid you give her what she did not want that day.

At bedtime:
She prefers mommy over daddy.  And we go in and get her three taggies, her blanket and her little stuffed animal Chase and sit in the rocking chair in the dark.
She requests songs specifically, and sometimes sings with me.
After a few songs, I lay her in her crib.
We usually sing one more song (Sunshine, typically) in her crib.
When we say I love you and I ask how much, she'll choose a number. Usually twenty four. Ha!
She says when she wakes up she's going to say, "Mommy, come get me!"
Then she will go over what we will do in the morning.  "Get up and play, and eat breakfast with brothers."

When she wakes up from naps she says, "Mommy, come get me!"

Funny Girl:
When she can't find something she will ask, "Book are?" or "Chase are?" instead of "Where is Chase?" or "Where is my book?"  I told Josh the other day that I will be sad when she asks where things are the right way. 

She always wants to do what brothers are doing so if Logan says, "I'm going to play Legos" or if Wyatt says he's going to go outside, she will run after them saying, "My play Legos, too!" or "My go outside, too!"

When she falls down, even if she's crying, through her tears she will get up and say, "My okay!"
I just adore the way she talks.

She gets the cat treats out out of the pantry and then calls the cats and shakes the cat treats to try and get them to come to her.  She makes little noises with her mouth like she hears me make to try and get them to come to her.

Her favorite books are the Llama Llama books, the David books, Paw Patrol, UmiZoomi books and The Quiet Book currently.

She plays mostly with Paw Patrol and her Miffy playhouse.  She also really likes the sand and magnetix.

I Can Do Hard Things:
Carly's favorite lovey is a dog named Chase, from the TV show Paw Patrol.  It's a stuffed animal which she commandeered from Wyatt when he got home from the hospital back in December. My mom bought it for him at the gift shop while he was suffering from severe asthma in the PICU.
As soon as we got home, and Carly laid eyes on the thing, she fell in love, and Wyatt let her have it.  (He's such a selfless big brother.  He constantly blows me away.) 
I will admit to you here that I was so sad when she fell in love with that stupid dog.  Before this, she had started to love the cutest little (noncommercial) bunny rabbit.  But I have come to realize that for Carly Chase represents "I can do hard things".
She went from having her mama around 24/7 her entire life, nursing 4x/day to not seeing me for four entire days.  She had no idea where I was, where her brother was, or why her dad was home and taking care of her instead of me. 
Her sudden, intense attachment to Chase is equivalent to the sudden absence of her mama for that week in December when Carly, contrary to what all of us imagined would happen, adjusted beautifully to Josh laying her down for naps and bedtime, had no problem not nursing to sleep.  Where Carly showed us just how resilient children can be, and she played and laughed and was her merry little self, despite the sudden change in caretakers. 
The only souvenir of that hard time in our lives (other than the medicine Wyatt now takes at bedtime) is the little brown dog Carly takes to bed at night.  Her "I can do hard things" bubba that reminds her she's gotten through tough things before, and no matter what life throws at her, it's not gonna keep her down!



Around Here: Week Eight {2018}

(Carly's meatball machine)

(tumbleweeds that blew in our garage)


(Talking to my mom like a big girl)

(Jack's socks...like on the daily)

Pouring... myself into motherhood as I nursed two very sick kids to health over the last week.  First Logan, then Wyatt came down with terrible sore throats and other symptoms.  Wyatt's symptoms also included headaches and vomiting, whereas Logan suffered super high fevers. Wyatt ended up with an ear infection in addition to whatever was causing his sore throat and missed school all week.  We are all exhausted and ready for him (and Logan) to be fully well.  The nice thing is that Josh was around a lot thanks to Presidents Day weekend and was cheering me on.

Making... homemade chicken and dumplings (from scratch) for the kids this week in hopes it would help them feel better.  I made a huge batch and we've all been eating leftovers for days.  They loved it, and I'm so glad to have the recipe, which was handed down to me from my mom.  (Thanks mom!)  I was chatting with her as I made it, and Carly was so cute, talking to her (she was on speaker phone) and sitting at the bar like a big girl.  She cracks me up so much these days!

Finding... about 100 pictures of my mom on my phone after the twins facetimed with her this weekend.  They sure love their Nanny!  Thanks for always making time for them, mom!

Grateful... Logan's medicine is now controlling his seizures and his antibiotics seem to be taking care of his sore throat (that we're pretty sure was strep throat), so he is on the road to recovery and even went back to school Thursday & Friday this week.

Freezing... with lots of wind, but no more snow this week.  It has been super cold, which means lots of bundling up for Jack, who is the only one who attended school all week.  I'm glad we enjoyed the snow when we had it!

Laughing... last weekend when Jack had the big garage door open and three huge tumbleweeds blew right in.  I'm still not used to tumbleweeds being part of my everyday life.  Growing up the only time I saw tumbleweeds was on morning cartoons! Now they regularly roll into my car as I'm driving, or my garage if it's a windy day.

Working... on my puzzle a lot this weekend as we were all homebound with Logan sick and Josh out of town.  It's a beautiful puzzle, and I enjoy working on it, but if I leave it out for too long, Carly and the cats take it apart.  (George will pull pieces out with his teeth!) So before I go to bed at night I have to cover it up with books or board games so they don't play with the pieces when I'm asleep!

Thankful... for good friends who checked on us (Barb! Leah! Amanda! Thank you!) and sent us food (Kori!) to get us through the weekend while Josh was away and I was caring for sick littles.  My village is amazing, I tell ya!

Participating... in an address-based census reading that lasted two weeks and required a LOT of specific note-taking on my part about where we spent money over the last fourteen days.  It ended yesterday and I'm so glad.  What a pain in the rear!  Especially the weekly grocery shopping trips!

Being... at my best during this hard time of parenting.  It's funny how the hardest things can sometimes bring out the best in us.  It was nice to end these last few days feeling awesome about myself, not doubting myself as is often the case.

Finishing... Happier at Home and Purple Hibiscus while the kids were sick last weekend.  Happier at Home has been somewhat inspiring but nowhere near the level of The Happiness Project.  Purple Hibiscus was an entertaining book (that's the wrong word... but I can't think of a better one), but it ended quite darkly and was kind of a downer, honestly.

Reading... instead of sleeping.  I started The Great Alone after my mom sent it to me last week and I have not been able to put it down. It's so good.  It's about a family who moves to Alaska and it is bringing me back to the five years we spent in rural Alaska as a family.  It's been a fun time reminiscing.  It makes me want to write a book about our adventure there!
I'm also listening to The Wisdom of Sundays, which is so good. I just love Oprah.  It's offering me so many insights, like this nugget: anxiety & depression are caused when we believe our thoughts. So much food for thought!

Focusing... on the present moment, and trying to stay in it, no matter what emotion it is currently eliciting.  For instance, this morning, the neurologists office called me back to discuss Logan's one year check up for his seizures.  The appointment is in May and I was wondering if they wanted an EEG since his seizures have changed from grand mal seizures to petit mal seizures.  I would like to have one to see if we can figure out why/how they have changed. 
The nurse got right back to me and said the doctor agreed that it would be prudent to have another EEG and that the team would be getting back with me shortly to schedule the EEG and follow up appointment.  Once we hung up, I jumped in the shower and promptly burst into tears. 
Is it the end of the world that Logan has epilepsy? No.  Is it the end of the world that his seizures are changing? Or that we've had to increase his dose twice this year? No.  But sometimes, the weight of all his medical issues is heavy.  And it hurts my heart.  And worries my mind.  And I wish it didn't exist for him.  And for me.  So I let it all out.  I cried.  And I prayed.  And I cried some more.  And then I felt better.  Because in that moment I had been sad, so I had cried. 
In the next moment, I had a nine year old who was just like any other nine year old, fighting with his brother while he unloaded the dishwasher, me threatening to ground him as I pulled on yesterday's jeans and wondered how we were going to make it to drop off on time.  And that's how staying in the moment works.  You take life as it comes.  If you stay in "right now", you really can handle just about anything that comes your way.  I'm not perfect at it, but each day it's getting easier.

Loving... so much Carly's little personality.  She answers the TV when she watches Team Umizoomi.  She plays so intently with her little toys (this week she was using her cooking toys to make a "meatball machine") and she says "sorry" to her animals when she drops them.  I am loving her post-nap snuggles (she finally quit waking up angry. woo hoo! praise the lord!) I can see, now that the twins are nine and Wyatt is six, just how fleeting this time with Carly really, truly is.  So I am working hard to cherish it.  I am also working hard to cherish bedtime with the boys.  Because the time with them is fleeting just the same. So I am taking the time to tuck them in, listen to their little stories, their worries, their prayers and their hearts because I know if they share the little things now that they will share the big things later.  It's so good for all our souls.

Accepting... (with deep resignation) that one of every two pair of socks the twins owns has a hole in it.  And they will never (ever) throw them away on their own. Ever.  Why is that?!?  These are the mysteries of life people. Seriously.  It's ridiculous. I think I have had Jack throw away at least one sock a day for the last week. We keep all the mates and are just wearing mismatched socks because at this rate we are going to go broke buying new socks.
In all seriousness, though, mamas.  What socks do you buy? Is there some amazing sock brand that can withstand the wear and tear of a set of rough & tumble twins? Or should I just give up and let them wear the holey socks? The thing is, I just don't think I can. It is driving me bonkers!

Adoring... Wyatt's constant amazement at life.  This morning after we dropped the twins off at school he opened the sunroof cover (just the ceiling part, not the actual sun roof) in the car, and saw the fern frost that had collected on the glass above our heads and was completely mesmerized.  Yesterday he asked me how long numbers went on, and when I told him they went on forever, he thought about it for a while, and then responded, "Wow, really? Cool."  Then at bedtime when I said, "I love you one hundred thousand." He responded, "I love you forever. Actually. I love you as long as numbers go."  He's always thinking, taking in the world around him, and it's so fun to see the world through his perspective.  He's just my favorite.

Feeling... ready for summer.  Is that ridiculous to say? I am so tired of being cold.  And having sick kids.  And being cold.  And talking about gloves.  And being cold.  And having the kids in the house all the time. And being cold. Did I mention I am tired of being cold? Hah!



Boyfriends & Girlfriends

I've written here about my leaving the church for a boy, about my talking to the twins about sex, and about a million other things in between.  So I thought I'd pop in to also share my recent thoughts on fourth grade dating.

From the time the twins were born, I had planned on letting them date when they turned sixteen, which was how Josh was raised.  He was not allowed to have girlfriends until then.  That was my plan.  Then the twins started the fourth grade and I was constantly hearing talk of girlfriends and boyfriends and crushes and heartbreak among all the 8 & 9 year olds and I started to have a feeling that my stance on dating was not right.

I don't know why I felt that way.  I don't know why it wasn't right, but I knew that my rule wasn't how I really felt, it was what I thought was the right answer.  It's not what I really wanted for my kids.  So I had a heart to heart with Josh, telling him that I wanted to let our boys date now and have open communication with us about it, as opposed to saving it for later or having them hide it.  He agreed that that seemed like the right thing for our family and we told the boys.

Since then, the twins have each had a couple of girlfriends and different crushes, and both have individually confided in me about handholding, which I would have missed out on if I had forbidden them.  We have even had one situation where one twin wanted to date a girl that the other brother *adored* and we let it ride knowing the boys would figure it out.  Sure enough, they did, and Josh and I discussed how grateful we were that they are figuring this out now, so that at sixteen, when there is so much more on the line, these are waters they've already navigated together. 

Them being twins muddies the waters in so many ways.  Dating, birthday parties, playdates... And the struggle is, I don't always know what the answer is.  Do I forbid them from hurting each other? From dating someone their brother likes? Do I call parents and request that the uninvited twin be invited to a party? Do I force the twin who invited a friend over to let their brother play with their friend? Some answers are obvious (only the twin whose name is on the invite gets to go to the birthday party) but other things (like playdates at our house) are less obvious.  So a lot of it, I'm making up as I go along.

But this dating thing is something I feel really good about.  I am happy to be walking our boys through all this slowly, naturally, as it happens, and without shame.  I will admit that I am probably overthinking it, because I had so many restrictions placed on me by my church when it came to dating relationships when I was a young woman, but I want to approach this part of parenting very thoughtfully.  So I'm okay with that. 

This morning on the drive to school I was talking to Jack about a girl that he was dating, but is no longer dating but he said that they were still friends.  I told him that was good because the cool thing about friends is you don't have to break up.  He said, "Well, that's not exactly true, mom."  I asked what he meant and he said matter of factly, "You kind of break up... if you end up on my "Dead To Me" list." Then he burst out laughing.

Oh man!
These kids keep me on my toes, that's for sure.



A gift in sickness

I've had some sick kids the last few days and it's been so sad.  Logan, who was recovering from a concussion (in addition to recent changes to his seizures & a subsequent dose increase) has had an insane sore throat and hadn't eaten anything since Friday until yesterday when I finally forced him to eat.  He's been either sleeping or wincing as he swallows pain meds. It's been pitiful and the saddest thing ever to watch.  It was especially a bummer over the long weekend when we had to cancel super-fun plans with my sister and her kids which my kids had been super excited about.

I finally got him in to see the doctor on Monday afternoon and even though his rapid strep culture was negative, his doctor felt that his symptoms were strongly matched with strep, so he gave us a penicillin prescription anyway.  As a precaution they also tested him for influenza and that was negative, which was a relief.

Monday mid morning, Wyatt started feeling lethargic, complaining of a headache and sore throat as well, so I called to see if they could squeeze Wyatt in too.  Luckily they could.  And just before we left for his appointment, Wyatt threw up and hasn't stopped since.  I don't think I've ever had a kid throw up for three days in a row.  It's bizarre cause he's able to drink, take medicine, even eat a few crackers.  And he'll seem fine for a while.  Then he'll get an upset tummy again and throw up.  I'm at a total loss.  I'm currently waiting for results of his long strep test.  I guess some kids will throw up with strep. So it may be that.  But my gut feeling is that he has something different from Logan because their symptoms are quite different and Wyatt never had a fever, whereas Logan's got as high as 103 on Saturday.

In addition to being up all night with sick kids the last three nights (needing comfort, needing medicine, sore tummies) I taught classes at 4:00am on Monday and Wednesday, so I was up for the day at 3:30am twice this week.  Brutal!  (And did I mention I am no longer drinking coffee since the new year?!?)

Thank goodness Josh had a bit of a mid-winter break for President's weekend and was off Friday, Monday and Tuesday, so he was able to pick up prescriptions, go grocery shopping and take Jack to school yesterday and watch the healthy two kiddos while I took the sick ones to the doctor.  After the first night of sleeplessness, Josh woke me up rubbing my feet, telling me what an amazing, patient, kind mama I was.  He said he was blown away by how I handled the kids in the night.  I yawned sleepily and said, "Really? I wish I wasn't grossed out by the smell of vomit."  He laughed and said that based on how I acted you would never know it bothered me.

The penicillin (taken on an empty stomach) had made Logan's stomach unexpectedly upset, and he had barely made it to the threshold of the bathroom before doing a "sprinkler-style" vomit session, covering the bathroom floor from the sink to the toilet to the tub, splashing puke everywhere.  As I tiptoed in my bathrobe, attempting to clean it up with Clorox wipes without dipping my toes in it, the cats started lapping it up, and I thought for sure I was going to lose it, so I hollered for back up, shouting Josh's name into the dark abyss of the hallway, praying he'd hear me and get the cats out of there before I starting throwing up myself.  We laughed as I cleaned the floor and we gently led Logan into the shower, finding him clean pajamas and steering the cats out of the bathroom.

Later when Wyatt awoke, he was in tears, his throat and head hurting so much. So I snuggled in bed with him, despite the tiredness in my own eyes, and the awareness that in less than two hours, I'd have to be up myself, teaching English to a bright eyed Chinese student in my virtual classroom.  I told Josh the following morning that what I really wished when the kids were sick was that all my needs (sleep, hunger, going to the bathroom even) could be shelved temporarily.

It was nice to feel that in those "in the trenches" moments I was truly at my best and it was especially nice to have Josh see me in those moments and recognize the beauty of what I do as a mom.  It was such a gift to be seen and acknowledged.



Around Here: Week Seven {2018}

{"No one except mom"}

{2003... When it all began...}

Finding out... Logan has a concussion from his fall last weekend.  So we've had to try to keep him laying low this week as he is recovering.  In addition to a concussion that's left him with a pretty bad headache off and on, he's adjusting to a medication increase for his seizures, so he's also been extra tired and dizzy.  We're hopeful that next week he'll take a turn and start feeling more like himself.
In terms of additional seizure activity, he did have one absent seizure this week, on Sunday, where he couldn't answer me for about twenty seconds.  Afterwards he was really sleepy and passed out for about two hours.  He went back to school Wednesday following the concussion & doctor appointments and has been feeling a little better each day since then.

Waking up.... to surprise snow on Valentine's Day.  We got about three inches, and the kids were overjoyed!  We had two hour late start and got the chance to play out in it before heading to school.  It has since melted and Wyatt is heartbroken.

Celebrating... Valentine's Day in all the ways.  Josh got me flowers, yellow roses, which are my favorite. My mom surprised the kids by sending a box of goodies for them (and me)!  In the afternoon, Carly and I joined Wyatt's classroom for his party.  It was so much fun.  His little classmates are the sweetest.  The whole day just had me feeling so thankful for my loved ones, near and far.

Loving... that I am still one of Wyatt's favorite people.  In the last two months, I have definitely lost my cool factor with Logan and Jack (unless I have Carly with me, then I am still allowed to hang around) so it's really nice that Wyatt still wants to be with me.  He drew a picture with chalk in the driveway of me in the sunshine and then wrote that no one was allowed except mom. Sigh. Love that kid!

Reading... all the books to Carly.  Especially Mr. Panda books and The Quiet Book.  Thank goodness she has three brothers who can read as well!

I'm still working on three books myself.  Phantom Illness (about hypochondria) is going well.  Lots of insight.  It's hard to read at times, but I know it's important that I get a grip on what's going on with me so I can better handle those episodes when they happen. I'm about halfway through Happier at Home for The Inspired Readers Book Club.  We are all finding ourselves inspired to organize our lives; be better wives & mothers; and pursue happiness on purpose.  It's very exciting!  And lastly, I am listening to Purple Hibiscus which is very captivating. 
I need to wrap these three up so I can get started on the The Five Love Languages for my local book club and I also chose The Immortalists for The Inspired Readers' Book Club for March which I am super excited about as well! 
Oh! And! Today when I got the mail, my mom had sent me The Great Alone. Gah! Talk about GOOD MAIL!!!

 So much to read, so little time!

Waving... goodbye to Carly as she departs for Grandma's Carol's house.  She got all loaded up in her Little Tykes car and told me she was off for Vancouver to see Grandma.  She's so cute!

Feeling... more and more like myself after last week's hypochondria episode and subsequent anxiety.  I'm still a bit shaky (especially in the mornings), and not quite 100%, but I'm so much better, and so, so grateful. Feeling normal after feeling so off feels like the biggest blessing ever!

Enjoying... how helpful the big boys are these days.  On mornings when we're running late or I have a lot to do, it's awesome that they can load the dishwasher, fold a load of laundry or make lunches. I love that they have the ability now to lighten my load.

Watching... Wyatt stress over the sweet new girl in his class (who I believe is from Honduras) who doesn't speak any English. He is obsessing over learning Spanish now so he can communicate with her.  He is just such a tender heart.  So we've downloaded a Spanish app and each day he's doing lessons so he can start learning Spanish and communicate with her.

Sending... the boys off to school today with Josh for Donuts with Dads.  They had so much fun! I'm glad he was able to go.  Our boys are so lucky to have him.