Beach Therapy

>> Sunday, September 28, 2008

Caden's 1st dip in the Gulf of Mexico

My soul never feels more at peace than when I have my toes in the sand and the sound of the waves hitting the shore resounding in my ears. Although a bit breezy, the air temperature was perfect and the water was warm and it was therapy for my somewhat-frazzeled soul. Lucas LOVED the sand and tolerated the water once the initial wave crashed on his toes. We dipped Caden's little toes in the water and then snuggled him up to protect him from the wind. Hubby and I held hands and walked for a short bit on the beach with Caden sleeping soundly in the sling. Lucas built/destroyed a sand castle with his Mimi and Pa and loved every minute of it. And so did they. All seemed calm, peaceful... just right. It was heaven - a calming end to a long day of travel with kids and frustrating football. Oh how I love the beach!!!



>> Monday, September 22, 2008

Today was a good day. We needed it, for sure. After a week of sickness and sleep deprivation and emotionally traumatic moments, today was carefree and easy-going and without any major tears (by anyone). We got out, we managed lunch and nap with relative ease, and we even took the dog for a walk to feed the ducks. I got some good sleep last night and that made all the difference in the world in my ability to mentally manage my boys and the day. Lesson learned: Get good sleep. We are all a little better today. Less snot, more sleep, less drama.... better.
And with that, I leave you with some of my favorite pics from the last few days and I am going to bed. :)
My precious "nakie" boys!
Lucas looking at the bunnies at our little local zoo this morning. It was the first day of fall today and the weather was perfect!! It felt good to get out and enjoy the morning with some friends.
Sweet kiss (Don't you love Lucas and Hadley in the background... We played outside for quite awhile today trying to soak in this gorgeous weather. )
Daddy giving Caden his 1st bottle this weekend. Lucas took forever to learn to take a bottle so we decided to start earlier this time. Caden did great!! He took it right away and drank 3oz. Hooray!!
Oh, my sweet little Caden
(Doesn't he have the sweetest little face and the most beautiful baby eyes? I am a bit biased, I guess.)


Emotions of Transition

>> Friday, September 19, 2008

Lucas "reading" to Caden this week. "He loves this book, Mommy!" Can't you tell? :)
This has been a challenging week to say the least. Both boys got colds and although neither progressed beyond snot and coughs, there was (and still is) a significant lack of sleep around here. Lucas has always had sleep issues. He fights it even though anyone can see he is on the verge of exhaustion. If you can ever get him to lay still, he falls asleep within seconds. He has gotten much better at bedtime, but naps continue to be a battle. They have been particularly bad this week due to sickness and just the overall complexities of learning to manage two kids.

We usually start nap time routine sometime between 1 and 1:30. After a few stories and the inevitable "one more," I kiss him and tell him I love him and that he needs to take a nap now. I usually throw in some enticing reason to nap, like something fun we can do after he wakes up. I leave the room and normally he goes to sleep within 15min. or so. But not this week. This week he cries and says things that cut to a mama's soul. He has said things like this to me before, since Caden has been born and almost always at nap time. But this week it has been every day and WAY more intense. He begs to be put in the sling. He hasn't asked for that in months until this week. He always asks me to hold him, but the sling is something new this week and it is my own doing. I wore him on my back several times when he was so sick and put him in the sling to help him fall asleep a couple times earlier in the week. Now, he wants it every time which just isn't practical. If Caden is crying, I cannot manage holding and soothing him with Lucas in the sling. But it isn't just Lucas wanting the comfort of being cozy with mama in the sling. He feels unloved, uncared for. That is why he is asking for sling-time. He says to me "I just need someone to come over... someone who loves me" or "I need someone to hold me." He cries for Daddy. "I want him to be here with our family," he said today. Does Lucas really think that I don't love him? Is there a part of his little heart that is feeling neglected and uncared for and that is coming out in these moments of tired emotion?

Today I physically held him against his will after he had cried hysterically for over an hour and asked about 20times to be put in the sling. I had tried EVERYTHING else- massage, singing, reading, patting, etc... The past two days I did let him fall asleep in the sling and, although it was precious time for me too, I just don't feel like that is a good precedent to set. So today, I sat in the rocking chair with a kicking and screaming toddler in my lap and a FINALLY sleeping infant on a blanket next to me. I was failing to compassionately mother either of them. This is just too emotionally hard. Now granted, we are ALL tired this week so it makes it even worse. But the issue still remains. How can I be the mother that both of them need when I am unable to be the mother that either need?

I held Lucas for a good 10 minutes and he eventually fell asleep once he lost the will (or energy) to fight. I then laid him in his bed, totally defeated, and picked up Caden (who woke up just as Lucas fell asleep) and nursed him back to sleep. Then I just sat on my bed, Caden on my chest, and had a good cry myself. I whispered words of apology to both boys... sorry that I let Caden cry and sorry that I wasn't able to focus on either one. Sorry that I let my frustration take over and bring words and actions that I regret. Sorry that despite my flawed attempts, both boys probably felt abandoned and like my second priority. I eventually closed my eyes, realizing that a nap would make all the difference in my mental health. Lucas woke up crying and coughing about 10minutes later. After all that, he slept for less than an hour. Swell. For those of you reading this saying he is obviously giving up his nap, you don't know my toddler. He is tired. Very tired. He woke up today at 5am and has always been an early riser. He needs this nap still, whether he thinks he does or not. And for those of you reading this judging my mothering decisions, I am doing the best I can to parent and love and nurture my boys in the best ways I know. I want there to be no question in my sons' hearts that I love them above all else. Lucas is my world. I adore him. I think he is possibly the world's greatest and smartest and cutest and most amazing child. And Caden has stolen my heart too. And that is why the depth of this sense of failure is so intense. The emotional aspect of parenting two kids is really starting to catch up with me. I anticipated that I would grieve being able to give Lucas my full attention. I knew it would be tough to balance the needs of two kids. But I never expected my 2 year old to say things in moments of intense emotion that make me feel like I have completely failed him.

It actually makes me feel like I am failing both. Giving one what they need means neglecting the other. Caden has very physical needs. I need to be engaging him, stimulating him, nurturing him so that he and I continue to bond the way a mother and child should and he hits all the right milestones. I can't just let him cry by himself. I won't do that. (Even though there are WAY more times with Caden the I do let him cry for a few minutes if I am in the middle of something. ) Lucas' needs are much more emotional. He does have physical needs but I am not having any trouble meeting those. I make him meals, I change his clothes and diaper, etc... But when he says things like he has said this week, it truly crushes me. It takes me down to zero. I have failed. If any part of him feels that I don't love him, I have failed as a mother in general and for sure as a pseudo-attachment parenting mama. If his little heart feels that my leaving him in his room to fall asleep for nap means that he "needs" someone to come over... "someone to love him," well that just breaks my heart into a million pieces. I don't know how to fix that.

It is hard to imagine that Caden will get bigger and a bit more self-sufficient and able to fall asleep better on his own. And that parenting two kids won't always be this way. But he will and it won't. I do still feel like we are adjusting fairly well. Lucas is very affectionate with Caden. He understands that mommy can't always play with him (although he says "mommy, please play with me" about 15times/day- he has always been a mama's boy) and that sometimes I have to take care of an immediate Caden-need before I can take care of something that he needs/wants. It is mostly this one area of the transition that I have not managed well.
I need a new solution, a new approach to nap time. I need to deal with my own emotions of so deeply loving two boys before I can ever expect Lucas to know how to manage his. I need to know how to distinguish between true emotion and toddler-manipulation. Both are probably in play here. I need to learn how to not hold a grudge with my 2 yr. old and be able to lovingly embrace him and show him compassion even after I have been so beaten down. I need to remind myself that we are only a month into this new journey and I need to give us all a little more time. But mostly, I need to find a way to patch whatever feels so broken in his little heart so that mine stops breaking.


Kiss your Babies

>> Monday, September 15, 2008

After much recent contemplation on God's higher plan and some whining about my hard day, I heard some very unsettling news today. Someone we know lost their baby today. He was 3 and had a long battle with a very rare and horrible cancer. I didn't really know them. Hubby knew her (the mother) in high school and I maybe met her once. We never met their son. But this still affects me deeply. I heard the news and just cried. It makes my day pale in comparison. I leaned down to kiss Caden who was sleeping in the sling. Later this evening, I kissed Lucas' head as he fell asleep in the sling too. I have felt that depth of sadness and know that heartache. And tonight, my heart aches for this family and feels grateful for my own.
So tonight, y'all, kiss your babies and say a little prayer for this family as they grieve.


Babywearing is Good Medicine

Today has been one of the longest days so far since Caden has been born and it is only 1pm. But, when you get about 4hrs. of sleep between 10pm and 7am it makes for a long day.

Lucas has a cold and goes into these coughing fits. Hubby spent over an hour getting him to go to bed and Lucas finally settled down around 9. He slept until around midnight but was then up for a loooong time before he finally settled back down and slept for another couple hours. After I got Lucas back down (I was trying to let Hubby get as much sleep as he could since he had to work today), Caden took awhile to settle into sleep since he was up with me and Lucas for awhile. I think I finally fell asleep around 4 and woke up at 6:45. Not enough sleep for me.

The morning was ok. I actually got a few needed phone calls made and Lucas seemed to be feeling better (aka- no more fever). But around 11am, the you-know-what hit the fan. Lucas started to melt down. He wouldn't eat any lunch, he only wanted to play and cry. I did convince him to take one bite of mac-n-cheese but no sooner had he swallowed it than he started one of his coughing fits (he gets himself really worked up) and he threw up all over me and himself. Lovely. At this point, he is crying and Caden is crying and I am frustrated and wanting to cry. I think at one point I even said out loud that this felt like hell. Screaming kids all around, I am covered in vomit and really don't know what else to do.

So what did I do?.... the only thing I could think of (no, not drink but that may have helped). I strapped on my kids and starting walking. I walked up and down our hallway until Caden fell asleep and Lucas got quiet. After about 10min. I stopped and started to sit down. I heard Lucas from behind me whisper, "Keep walking, Mommy." So I got back up and walked some more. I started singing any and every praise song that came into my head. Partly because Lucas loves "Jesus songs" and I thought he might go to sleep and partly because I needed a shift in my perspective. I was so frustrated and could feel myself falling into that "why me?/poor me" mentality. That leads to mommy-guilt faster than anything else for me 'cuz it makes me say and think things that I don't like or want to be true about me.
So we walked... well I walked and the boys came along for the ride. If it wasn't chilly outside and I was wearing more than a tanktop, I would have gone outside. After another 20minutes or so, I put Lucas down and we all went upstairs to nap. Lucas sat next to me in his bed and we read books for 20min. while Caden nursed. Finally, at 1pm, I sit here and all my boys are asleep. Even the dog is asleep after pacing with me for half the time just 'cuz he was a little confused about what I was doing.

It has been a long night/morning to say the least but I have to say that I feel a little proud of myself for
wearing down both my boys and using babywearing to calm us all. Now I am off to catch a few winks before we have to do it all over again this afternoon. Hopefully, a little rest will do us all some good.



>> Saturday, September 13, 2008

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:9-10




There is an old Garth Brooks song about being thankful for Unanswered Prayers. I'm not much of a country music fan, but that particular song rings pretty true for me these days.

Have you ever prayed so earnestly for something, thinking that surely God will answer your prayers and give you whatever it is that you are asking for? I think we have all been there. Both in good and bad times, we ask God to shape the future into something that we, in our limited perspective, think is what we want and what would be best for our lives.
I used to sit on the steps of my dorm as a college freshman and pray that God would arrange the current circumstances so that I could marry this particular guy from high school. I didn't even really like him. And I for sure didn't like the me I was when I was with him. But I was still convinced I was supposed to marry him and I didn't understand why God wasn't working that out for me. Obviously I did not marry him, and am SO SO grateful that I didn't. I just heard from an old friend that he is still single, living with his parents and working for a well-known television evangelist. Can you imagine me as Mrs. "tele-evangelist assistant"? Ummm.... not so much.

I have mentioned before that in December of '07, I came to a place where I felt personally content for the first time since before we moved back to Chicago (August '02). Life felt comfortable, stable... content. Then boom... I'm pregnant. Life is again uncertain and my path unclear. I struggled with why God would do this to me. "I don't want this, God. I was happy where I was. What is going on?" Fast-forward 9 months of emotional roller-coaster and here comes this perfect little baby, unexpected and yet just what I need. Here he lays on my lap, nursing a little each time he stirs but mostly just content to sleep all cozy next to mom. I look at him, I smell him, I place my cheek on the top of his head as I cuddle him in the sling and I am once again in a place of thankfulness for God's higher wisdom. He knew that what I considered contentment was not true. For now I truly feel complete and not just content. Now I can say to all that I am the mother of boys, and whether you know my past or not that makes sense. Most people just know the two boys, but in my heart I mean all three and it feels good to acknowledge it out loud in some way. I don't expect anyone to understand why that makes me feel more whole. I don't fully get it myself. I just know that having Caden gives me even more of a glimpse of what it would have been like to have Micah and that is a gift that I never expected. And God knew. He just knew.

I don't think I would call them unanswered prayers. Redirected, perhaps, but not unanswered. Just different answers than I expected. There are still circumstances in which God choosing to take life a different direction than we pray for will always seem unfair. Why did God choose to take Micah despite all my (and other people's) prayers for healing? But if I believe in his sovereignty in not making me "Mrs. tele-evangelist" and blessing me with the adventure of Caden even though I prayed for level-ground, then I have to trust that all His other answers are true and good despite my feelings. There have been moments when I have caught glimpses of God's higher plan in my particular journey, but I don't think I will ever see fully this side of heaven. I guess I don't really need to.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:9-10


Happy one month, CLB!!!

>> Thursday, September 11, 2008

My little baby is already one month today. Before I know it he'll be driving. :) Two of my favorite things about him are that he squeaks when he's nursing and that if he's fussing, he quiets down when I hold him up by my face and kiss his neck or whisper in his ear. Enjoy some pics of the many faces of my little CLB.

Just chillin'

O.K. Now I am hungry!!

Post-milk nirvana

Sleep is coming... (don't ya' love the mouth open sleeping of a newborn!)

...and he's out. So sweet!!

I love you CLB. You have deepened my capacity for love. You joining our family has broken down the facade of me being able to do it all on my own and reminded me that, just as you are dependent on me, so I am dependent on God for all things. You are precious to me beyond words. I am forever grateful and changed by the unexpected blessing of you.



>> Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Life is full of adjustments these days. Learning how to nurse a babe and read stories or play cars or do stickers at the same time.... how to fix a meal while soothing a newborn and entertaining a toddler and managing the pup... how to be a good mom/wife to all my boys and not lose my mind in the process.

Lucas is doing great, I think. He is more emotional these days than he used to be. He comes and kisses his brother's feet and makes up songs to help him "not feel sad." But, he also starts to cry and throw a tantrum when I try to pull him away from his cars to feed him breakfast or lunch. Part of it is just being 2 and part of it is adjusting to this life change. Mommy can't hold him as much or cater to him as much as before. He still "mommy, play with me" about 20times a day. And I do whenever I can. But we are both having to adjust to the reality that I can't drop everything to play trucks anymore like I used to. His adjustment is most noticeable in his naptime routine. He now asks to "fall asleep on my pants" (aka-lay his head on my lap) or for me to hold him as he falls asleep. "Mommy, snuggle me" he says. And I gladly do, when I can. Mommy is adjusting too.
Caden is amazing. You may not be able see it in the picture, but he is starting to get those "Brown-boy cheeks" that both his brothers had from day one. I love that he looks more like me but yet has those cheeks that make him undeniably his father's son. (Actually, I think you can see the 'cheek resemblance' between the boys in this picture). He is so strong. He has been lifting his head since the day he was born, literally. When laying on his tummy, he can push himself in a circle with his feet. He loves the sling, which I am so grateful for. I love the cuddle time and the easy, go-to soothing technique. He is the most easy-going of us all. :)

We are getting out, resuming life. Today was the first day of my ladies' bible study (9-11am) and Lucas' music class (11:15-12). We attended both this morning and took it all in stride. It was a little crazy but we did both and enjoyed both. It is certainly easier, in some ways, to manage everyone when we just stay home and not venture out. But that is not how I want life to be. I am a home-body by personality. Left to myself, I would probably stay home and keep to myself most of the time. But I also love the satisfaction of having gone out and had a great time. So while I may not want to leave the house, I am usually glad I did. That is the same about me whether I am alone or with one kid or two. It is just the process of getting out that has gotten harder. But we are adjusting.

Hubby and I are having to adjust in our marriage too. Our collaboration as parents and partners has been very smooth so far, much better than right after Lucas was born. Hubby has grown so much as a father in the last two years and it is awesome to watch. We have been in counseling for about a year now and we both can see how our communication patterns have completely changed. There is much more sharing of duties and thoughts and ... just about everything. And it makes all the difference in the world. Our biggest task now in adjusting to two kids, is to find time in our week to just be together. It is a challenge, but oh so important if we want our marriage to continue to grow.

Overall, I feel really good about how we have made the transition so far. I have my moments of insanity but there are less of them than I expected. So far, at least. Adding Caden to the picture has changed our whole family structure. No longer can we just fly by the seat of our pants. Even though I think we were/are very intentional in our parenting decisions with Lucas, having two kids to parent shakes everything up. No longer are we "a couple with a kid." We are a bonified family and it feels like a big shift. A good one though. It feels more natural, like I am finally settling into motherhood instead of making everything a big deal. I still get a little flustered when Caden is crying and Lucas is whining and I am trying to get something done and nothing seems to be going my way in that moment. I pray everyday that God would help me to fully and intentionally parent both boys and not just get by or coast through. But this is all part of learning how to manage my new reality...adjusting.

I feel like I am rambling so I will stop. I will just say that life feels more right now than it has in a long time. A bit sleep-deprived, but right.


A Morning with Friends and Elephants

>> Friday, September 5, 2008

Lucas (on the left) with his friend Asher by the circus tent

This morning we went with our best friends to watch the elephants raise the big top at the circus in our little town. Admittedly, it was a bit anti-climactic but the boys loved it and that is all that matters. Caden slept the whole time in the sling (hallelujah!!) and I held Lucas on my other hip so it was kinda a workout for mommy too. Lucas was actually just as enthralled with the little forklift they were using and all the big rigs and campers around. He didn't understand why we couldn't walk right up to the elephants. I have to agree with him that it would have been way more exciting that way. But it was a fun little outing none-the-less.

Boys laughing and playing and having a grand ol' time!!


Flying Solo

>> Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Today is my first day alone, all day, with all my boys. I say "all" instead of "both" because I also have my 3yr. old beagle Hadley to manage and tend to. He sleeps most of the day (as long as no one rings the doorbell) but still has occasional needs and crazy times so he counts as someone I have to take care of. I was admittedly a little nervous about my first day by myself but also excited to start living normal life with Caden part of it.

The day started well. Lucas is in that stage where he would rather play than eat so getting him to sit at the table for any meal is a challenge. I chose not to fight that battle this morning and I brought him occasional bites of oatmeal and strawberries as he played with a sticker book on the kitchen floor. I then sat and nursed Caden while playing cars with Lucas and "talking about" where each one was going and what they were doing. Lucas and I also played while Caden took his post-breakfast nap. Around 10:30, we were all getting a bit restless. I made the risky decision to shake things up a bit. When getting into a cold pool, the best thing to do is jump in and get your whole body wet at the same time. Shouldn't mothering a toddler, a newborn, and a dog be the same way?
I loaded all three in the car and drove to the vet... yes, the vet. We had been needing to get Hadley's nails trimmed for awhile and there is no time like the present, right? Call me crazy. I called myself that a few times, including when we got stopped by a ginormous freight train and Caden was screaming in the car seat so I pulled into a church parking lot to give him some "nursies" and the dog starts going insane thinking we are getting out there and Lucas is asking 5 million questions about said freight train.... o.k., maybe I am a little crazy. But all other outings from here will seem calm. That is my logic anyway.
We picked up lunch on the way home and came home to eat. Lucas actually sat in his chair without a fight. We had some good Mommy-Lucas time reading stories before nap and he went down relatively quickly. All marks of a good afternoon.

Overall, I think the day has gone well. It is 4:30pm. Lucas is just waking up from his nap (apparently he was worn out by our outing too) and a friend is bringing us dinner. We have yet to live through the toddler twilight zone of 5-7pm but hopefully hubby will be home for a good chuck of that. Tomorrow, my mother-in-law is coming to help out a bit in the morning and we have a play date in the afternoon so we are set. The rest of the week, we will take as it comes. At least the first day is under our belts. And we all survived. Better than that, we did well. I was some-what productive (did I mention that I cleaned the kitchen and had time to blog), Lucas and I had some good play time, and I got some good time with Caden while Lucas napped. No shower or nap for mom, but we are working up to that. Can't do it all the first day!!
P.S.~ NONE of this day would have been possible without my sling. Seriously! Caden lived in it for at least half the day. I made breakfast, I played with Lucas, I nursed Caden, I cleaned the kitchen, I managed a crazy pup at the vet.... all because of my beloved sling!! This is not s plug for my business. This is real life and it would have been 10x the crazier if not for my sling. Do you need one? (ok, that was a business plug! :) )


Why I Love My Scar

>> Monday, September 1, 2008

I guess I have always known that life is a journey. That the way life looks today is not how it looked yesterday and not how it will look tomorrow. It is part of maturing, growing up... just part of life. But the older I get and the more of life that I live, the more real this becomes to me. I am 31 and have walked through things already in my life that I would never want to walk through again but yet am grateful for. For instance, I watched my dad go off to war and lived the better part of 2 years with him in the Persian Gulf. A scary time, but it helped me become more independent and was crucial in the development of my own personal faith. Like many, I struggled in high school with trying to find my identity in what others (one boy in particular) thought of me. One part teenage angst, two parts God beginning to teach me important lessons in finding my worth and identity in Him alone.

I have been thinking a lot lately about life's journey that has led me here. As I got out of the shower this afternoon, I paused in front of the mirror for a second and looked at my scar. It is long and tender and still looks kinda gnarly. Recovery has been a bit slower this time around and I have had a few hiccups along the way. Even now as I sit here, my precious Caden is laying across my lap sleeping. Laying across the aching scar that is the result of him being here and being healthy.

Many people try to hide their scars, disguise them or get rid of them. Me, I love my scar. I am proud of it. It is part of my life's journey and it represents so much growth and love and sorrow and joy and... oh so much more.

I look at that scar and I see God's provision of healing in my body. The first cut- the tumors could have been cancer but miraculously were not. I see life not following the path I prayed for but learning to trust in God's perfect love and plan. The second cut- my firstborn son with the most perfect baby cheeks and golden hair. I see God's faithfulness and abundant mercy as He rescued me from the depths of sorrow. The third cut- the love and joy of my life, my precious Lucas. Finally, I see God once again teaching me that His ways are higher than mine. Fourth cut- unexpected, but oh so treasured little Caden.

My scar tells me a story. It is the story of my journey to motherhood and all the bumps and turns along the way. But more than that, it is the story of God taking my hand and leading me through life's journey. Through the lowest lows and the highest highs and all that is between. It is a scar, the physical evidence of the pain. All of it. But also the evidence of the redemption of that pain. And that is why I love my scar. Without it, I would not be the mother of three boys. My journey would not be the same. True, it is ugly. But all that it represents is very dear to me. It is my rainbow, my reminder that no matter what life throws my way, my God is by my side.

There is a song by Sara Groves that I love and conveys this sentiment better than I can. It is all about God's faithfulness to take those things that may cause us despair and turn them into things that take us deeper with Him. That is my scar for me. As the song says, " in Your hands the pain and hurt look less like scars and more like character." If you have never heard the song, I encourage you to listen below.

We all have scars, whether physical or emotional. But God is faithful to take those scars and make them a powerful part of our journey. He redeems the pain and uses it to build our character. But it is still pain. Even though my heart is flooded with love for all my boys, it still aches at times. Just like my scar.

I praise You, oh Lord, for all of life that my scar represents to me. Help each day to be "less like breakdown, more like surrender; Less like haunting, more like remember." Help me, Lord to be faithful to You and your leading as I live the journey You have given me.


Baby Love Slings


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