Dec 31, 2014

She is the Light of our Year

It's the last day of the year, which, for many bloggers, brings about the whole "year in review" post. And while there are plenty of things about our year I could review, the highlight was, quite obviously, welcoming Nora May into our family.

The nine month wait for Nora was physically without incident, but excruciatingly full of fear and doubt and emotional ups and downs. She entered into our world with quick determination, bringing with her a peace and calmness to a family desperate to feel comfort after a broken heart. I know that I am a different mother with her than I was to either of the older girls, partially because she's the third baby I am parenting, but also because I am a different parent after losing her older brother. But even with the change in me this time around, the ease she has fit into our family comes from her alone.

Her smile is light and her wonder-filled eyes are joy. With her I have a new appreciation for sleepless nights, diaper blowouts, and afternoon fussiness, which wasn't the case with her older sisters. She is a one hundred percent perfect fit into my arms. She is our shining star out from darkness, but the wholeness she brings to our family is completely her own.

2014 has, in so many ways, been kinder and gentler to us than the previous year was. And I am incredibly grateful for that. Every year is filled with highs and lows, stresses and joys, comforts and sorrows. There have been hard days and easy days, and there are many more of those to come, but I am determined to look through it all with a positive perspective. I am content with the journey this past year has taken us on, and am looking forward to filling up our blank pages of the year ahead.

Wishing everyone shining lights of joy and silent quiet peace in the new year!

xoxo, christine

Dec 25, 2014

And to All a Good Night

Another Christmas in the books. We celebrated the day with my husband's family. With four kids, two teenagers, and one baby it was a little crazy. And loud. Of course, sometimes the adults are just as loud (or louder) than the kids.

It was chaotic, overwhelming, and sometimes even stressful, but I love it. I love it because within the chaos there is so much laughter and love. The smaller families come together to make one big boisterous group whose wit and warmth can be felt when you walk into a room.

It was a sweet Christmas, made extra special with the presence of Little Nora. Even though she slept through church yesterday and opening Santa presents this morning, most of the time she wanted to get right in the middle of the action. And if she wasn't, well, she made her displeasure well known with a shrill, disgruntled squeal, which was satisfied only by the attention of her sisters or cousins. (And maybe milk, too.)

It was a relaxing Nora's First Christmas for most of us, with plenty of delicious food, lots of playing with new things, and only a few tears shed between the cousins. For part of the afternoon there was a marathon Lego building shop set up on two tables followed by a session of pass around the doodling book, where they each took turns coloring a page or two.

I am quietly enjoying the last of Christmas Day, in front of the twinkling tree, basking in the left-over glow from the day. I am happy and content, thinking of the day, our families, all the Littles asleep in their beds.

Happy Christmas to all!

xoxo, christine

Dec 15, 2014

So They All Rolled Over

I can see the chaos at the end of the tunnel. We are almost to the end of our quiet and low key mornings while Big Sisters are in school. Nora is flipping over like a hot pancake, fully cooked on her back and ready to go on the belly. Except, just like her sisters did, she tires of her tummy fairly quickly and lets the house know with her frustrated cries. It's only fun if someone's there entertaining her, and I have come into the room to find her flattened out, exhausted from all that hard work of holding up her head.

We didn't think we'd have to worry about Nora getting into the Christmas tree until next year, but more than once she's rolled herself right under the tree, reaching for the ornaments above her head like a little baby floor mat just for her personal entertainment. Pretty soon she's going to be rolling across the floor and scooting herself under the couch, also just as her Big Sisters before her.

I am in no rush for Nora to grow any faster. Even with some sleepless nights still, I am just enjoying my baby as much as I can. But Nora, she is ready to keep up with her Big Sisters. Her eyes follow them around the room in awe, and the smiles she gives them make my heart grow about three sizes.

She is ready to rock and roll. Me? I'm just hoping she still likes to snuggle too.

xoxo, christine

Dec 9, 2014

A Christmas Ornament for the Book Lover

Prepare to be shocked.

I got my crafting pants on and actually made a gift. (I will pause for you to pick your jaw off the floor.) Clearly, if you didn't already know, I'm not much of a crafter. I love the idea of crafts. In fact, there are many creative crafting things I would love to be able to do, but I don't. I don't know if I don't have the patience, or the skill, or if it's just too overwhelming to try something new, but whatever it is, as I've gotten older I've become less and less crafty. And since I never was all that crafty, well, you get the idea.

Something came over me last week though, perhaps some sprinkles of magic from Santa's elves, or a little too much holiday cheer, but I decided that making something was exactly what I needed to do. First, I needed to decide just who would benefit from my lovely creation. Decision? Members of my book club. I found an idea online, bought myself some Mod Podge, and proceeded to create my masterpiece(s).

The girls were pretty much in love with the whole idea, probably because they love art and I so rarely actually do projects with them when we're at the table.

So, without further background on my oh-so-lacking arty talents, I give you:

Christmas Ornament: For the Book Lover 

(Just make sure the book lover you are making this for will not be totally appalled that you had to cut a book to make this. ::Sorry Papa.:: I had a mini heart attack trying to get my courage up to rip a page out of a book, so my four-year-old did it for me.)

Here's what you need:

Cookie cutter (choose the shape you want the ornament to be, I used a tree and star)
Heavy duty paper (I used this, but any thick card stock would do)
Mod Podge
A book you don't mind destroying (I used a copy of A Christmas Carol because, Christmas.)
Colorful twine
Four-year-old to rip the book for you (optional)

Trace the cookie cutter onto the card stock. Cut out. Trace the cut-out card stock onto two pages of the book (ripping the pages out of the book first obviously work best). Glue the shapes cut from the book pages to each side of the card stock. Cover with mod podge. Dry. (Repeat as many Mod Podge layers as you'd like. I put three layers on.) Punch a hole at the top of the ornament. Tie a loop of twine through the hole.

Voilá! Homemade Ornament.

As you can see, I am pretty happy with myself, and how these turned out. I foresee many other Mod Podge crafts in my future... Clearly, I'm a natural. Watch out Martha Stewart.

xoxo, christine

PS. I got all my supplies either from my kids' art supply at our house or at Target, but I'm pretty sure these supplies are available at any craft store and on Amazon.

Dec 8, 2014

When It's Not Always The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It's that time of year. The Happiest time of year. Except that it isn't. At least, not for everybody. Especially not for grieving families.

This year does not feel nearly as hard as last year, our first Christmas after losing Calvin. This year we have a beautiful five-month-old daughter to focus on and distract us. We are lucky. But even though I know our family is exactly how it is supposed to be, I can't help but also know there is someone missing. I can't help but think about how there is a little boy who won't be in any of our Christmas pictures. Again. Or ever.

Holiday cards in general poke vigorously at my wounds. Especially last year (although this year I'm surprised how some of my pain has resurfaced). It perhaps seems hypocritical, because our family did end up sending out a holiday card last year, except that had it been up to me we wouldn't have.

Last year, sending out a card with our smiling family felt like a lie. It felt like I was dishonoring Calvin or trying to pretend he didn't exist. And while I couldn't stand the thought of sending out Christmas cards, to my husband it was very important. I viewed it as part of his grieving and healing process, which is why I allowed him to do them himself. Even though I couldn't do it for fear of ignoring our loss, I know that by sending them my husband was not doing anything wrong. He was not forgetting about or dishonoring our son in any way. But I still could not take part in it.

Still, I was surprised by just how few people acknowledged our loss that first Christmas. Of course, there was a wonderful outpouring of love right after we lost Calvin. And I know that God has reserved a special place in purgatory for me to finish out those Thank You notes I never wrote after receiving so much love and kindness after Calvin's death. I am so thankful for all those people, yet I was still taken aback by how little support was offered to us during the holidays.

I promise this is not a guilt trip. My intention is not to hurt anyone. It's just that the holidays can be so hard. They can be incredibly difficult, especially for us parents who are thrust into a season of happiness and joy when we're feeling anything but those things. And we need to know that we're not forgotten. That our babies are not forgotten.

Here's the thing. I don't expect you to sit with me in the depths of despair. I don't expect you to spend your holiday season in the sad, foggy state of a bereaved parent. I don't expect you to stop smiling or laughing or living. But would it be too much to jot a little note acknowledging someone's loss? Would it be so hard to let someone know that you remember that for her this season might not be so happy?

Please, if you know someone grieving this holiday, find a way to let her know she's not alone. Write a quick note on the back of the Christmas card, send her a short email, or even text a couple of lines. Just let her know that you're remembering her child. I promise you, your effort will not go unnoticed. In fact, it will be very much appreciated.

Although sending out holiday cards was happier for us this year, they are still a little place of soreness for me. Which, because it was a more joyful experience, surprised me that much more that my wounds reopened. Yes, this year our holidays are not nearly as difficult as last year, but there are still some difficulties. Different difficulties. Unexpected difficulties.

Maybe holiday cards will always be a little bit painful for me. Or maybe after a few years they won't. I imagine it's just like anything else in grief, just when you think you're getting the hang of it, something new comes along or something old resurfaces.

Some days the holidays will feeling like the hap, hap, happiest time of year, and other days they really won't. And that's okay. I will hold my family close, and dream of visions of a little boy, wrapping his arms around us all.

xoxo, christine

Dec 4, 2014

Feed Me...Or Not

Given my sweet baby's deliciously rolly thighs and her love of nursing almost as often as a one-month-old, I was kind of expecting her to delight in being offered the next Big Thing in food. Rice Cereal.

We've been in no real rush to start her on solids, but the past week or so she's seemed particularly annoyed with us at meal times, which started us wondering if perhaps her irritation was that we were eating things she wasn't.

Her reaction to the rice cereal was less than pleased. Perhaps she was expecting to get some turkey tetrazzini like the rest of us.

I remember that her sisters had a difficult time getting the concept of eating something off a spoon. This was not Nora's problem. She just really didn't seem to like what she was getting.

Which was confirmed by her facial expressions and gags.

Sorry, Baby. You're stuck with rice cereal for a little while yet.

xoxo, christine

Dec 2, 2014

Tis' the Season

Thanksgiving is over. It is officially the holiday season. You can safely turn on the Christmas music without facing the disgust from others that it is "too early". You can admit that your Christmas shopping is started, if not well under way. You can Griswold out your house, get your tree up and decorated, and bake those sugar cookies LOUD and PROUD.

I did not get my Christmas shopping done before the first of the month, like I was kinda hoping too. (But next year I am all over that. I will be done, done, done by December 1st.) What I don't love about the season? The stress of gift finding and buying. I love to give gifts, but I hate that I think about it non-stop until I've gotten everyone on my list checked off.

I am trying really hard this year to take time to be mindful and Be Still. To take time every day (or at least a few times a week) to sit in the quiet and listen. I desperately want Christmas to be more about making room in my heart for God's son and less about commercialism and consumerism. I'm sure I feel this way every year, but I want to simplify. I want to let go of what is not important. Instead of wasting time and energy on what is not important, I want to use my time and energy on what is.

I want more singing along to Christmas music and snuggling on the couch in front of our glowing tree. I want more silliness and laughter and soaking up the look on my baby's face when she sees her sisters. I want more glasses half-full and silver-linings and rainbows with pots of gold at the end.

Happy December! Wishing everyone lots of snowmen and cocoa with marshmallows!!

xoxo, christine

Nov 28, 2014

"While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about."    -Unknown

xoxo, christine

Nov 27, 2014


I had a post all planned out to write about all the wonderful things in my life I am thankful for.

Because I have many things to be thankful for.

I am thankful that instead of writing that post, I spent that time laying in bed with my baby, listening to her babble, and staring into her big, blue eyes and happy, gummy smile.

Happy Thanksgiving!

xoxo, christine

Nov 26, 2014

I Could Look Away, But I Won't

I just... I can't.

I am sad for our community, our country, our world.

I know that there is a lot I don't understand. A lot I don't know. I tend to avoid the news because I just can't handle all the sadness, fear, and negativity. But of course, there are some things I can't avoid. Some things I shouldn't avoid.

I am sad for Michael Brown's family. And I am sad that this has led some people to vilify all police officers. I am sad that people don't understand that the protesting is about so much more than this one incident. That there is something incredibly BIG and deeply rooted in the history of our country that is still negatively affecting people. People whose skin just happens to be darker than mine.

I know that I don't know. I don't understand. I can't understand. But I can certainly try. I can certainly open my eyes and heart and try my damnedest to see where all these people are coming from.

I can not explain just how much my heart hurts when I hear about the pain and struggles and misunderstandings due to race. But, I know that I have no idea.

Most of the time I feel like I just can't handle it. But see, the thing is, if I feel like I can't handle it, I can just turn off my computer and look away. I have the luxury of not having to live it. My beautiful friend, even if she wants to look away, she can't. Because she lives it. She raises her son in it.

So I refuse to look away. I refuse to pretend I don't see it.

My heart hurts and I feel angry and I want to cry. I don't want to live in a world like this.

But. BUT. As my husband points out, we are talking about it. And I suppose, that can give me hope. I can hope and pray that people's ears open. That people's hearts open. That somehow, we continue to move in the right direction, further away from the I Have a Dream speech, but closer to the actual Dream.

xoxo, christine

I know that I am not eloquent when it comes to this topic. At all. Here is a wonderful post from Girl's Gone Child, if you feel so inclined. I love how she decides to explain some of Ferguson to her children so that they can understand. Also, this clip from John Stewart is a must. It's pretty long, but oh-my-goodness YES. Just, yes.

Nov 25, 2014

Four AM Snuggles

I am awake at four in the morning again, except this time it isn't with a jolt -- what was that noise? did I hear a noise or was it a dream? -- it is to the sound of my baby, rustling in her bed, talking with her little voice. Aaaaoooowwww. Ahhhhehhhhoooooo.

I smile, picturing her mouth as it works out those vowels she "talks" with. I imagine her feet up, where they are almost always when she's on her back, in her hands. I doze in and out as the minutes tick by, hoping that she will just talk herself back to sleep, but unsurprised when her talking turns to fussing turns to crying.

We snuggle into bed while I nurse her. Once she seems fully asleep I return her to her rightful nighttime place, her bed, where she promptly begins to fuss herself awake. I scoop her up and settle in the rocking chair where she falls back to sleep immediately. But when I try to put her into her bed she again fusses, demanding more snuggles and rocking in the chair.

This pattern is repeated several more times.

When it is almost two hours after her sweet noises first woke me, I sigh, but not in frustration just from fatigue, and decide that it is time to change my approach. I tuck her into my arm, cuddle into bed, and let her nurse again.  She falls asleep between her daddy and me. A perfect baby sandwich.

Shortly after we are all asleep, it is time for her daddy to get up, so I gingerly transfer her into the warmth of his spot. She and I sleep together the rest of the morning.

xoxo, christine

Nov 24, 2014

Make-Believe and Zoo and Being Together

This morning while Nora and I drifted in a out of sleep, snuggling on the bed and sporadically nursing, the older girls buzzed around the bedroom playing an elaborate make-believe something that involved setting up sleeping bags, pillows, phones, jewelry, and plastic food.

While they occasionally needed to be hushed, Nora was sleeping after all, they giggled and whispered and sometimes squealed with whatever stories they were weaving. Every so often a conversation would register with me, like when they were ordering their food from my pile of sweatshirts.

When we finally moved out of the bedroom and filled our tummies with food and, more importantly for me, coffee, new toys were taken out and animals were lined up on the floor so that we could all play Zoo together. Dolls Anna, Elsa, and their little sister Barbie (wearing Cinderella's dress) have been visiting the zoo every day for the past couple of days and apparently they were in need of several more visits today. The tigers wanted petting and the dogs were having a puppy, neither of which could be missed.

Of course the day was not without a few sister squabbles here and there. And I might have shouted once that the bickering needed to stop, but in all fairness that was before my daily dose of caffeine.

Having Hope home today felt like a gift to us all. I got to sleep in a little later than usual and Paige had her playmate available all day. Their morning request to watch TV was even delayed well into the afternoon, which I can only attribute to the two of them having each other to entertain and distract.

I have no idea what tomorrow will bring, if they will enjoy another day of having a sister to play with or if they will be needing a little space from each other, (or perhaps a little of both), but I can only stress (again) how grateful I feel to have all three girls home this week.

Looking forward to several more days of the chaos of three girls full day.

xoxo, christine

Nov 21, 2014

Taking a Break and Being Thankful

My kids are off from school this whole next week. I jokingly say I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but the truth is, it's a good thing.

Although Hope has started to enjoy school again, she still doesn't joyfully skip onto the bus like she used to. She claims the length of her days are difficult, she misses being with me for more of the day. Her adjustment to full day school after half-days in Kindergarten has been tougher on her than expected, and she has been needing more from me than I've been giving lately.

We are all adjusting to having a new family member quite well, but it is still an adjustment with a baby in the family, and I forget sometimes that Nora hasn't always been here. And sometimes it is difficult juggling three kids, one of whom is extremely needy at this point in her life because she's a baby and that's just how babies are.

Both Hope and Paige absolutely adore their sister, and they are pretty much the most understanding big sisters ever. When Nora cries they are quick to give me advice on what she might need, and if I try to make Nora wait they will often tell me to "go get Nora!" or "pick up Nora!" even if it means their time with me is interrupted.

Because of the ease in which Nora was welcomed into our family, I do forget that it is still an adjustment, my attention being mostly focused on our baby, so it isn't strange or out-of-the-blue that sometimes Hope or Paige act out in ways they never have before. Or that Hope and Paige are perhaps feeling more needy than they were because they aren't getting as much from me now.

I do not feel stretched thin, because my older children are not showing their neediness often, but I am trying to be more aware of their (unasked) needs, and giving them the attention and time they want and deserve.

All this to say, it will be good to have Hope (and Paige) home all week this next week. They won't necessarily get one-on-one time with me, but there will be plenty of time for us to do things together. Which I think Hope has been feeling left out of while she's at school.

So I have big plans of hot chocolate from the coffee shop, reading a gazillion books together, playing some games, and maybe even messing up the kitchen with some cookie baking.

Or maybe we'll just cuddle on the couch and watch movies all week.

Either way, it'll be nice to have all three girlies with me for a few days. I am most definitely thankful for that.

xoxo, christine

Nov 20, 2014

Throwing It Back to One of My Favs

Looking at old photos can be fun, and light-hearted, and harmless. And it can also be very dangerous. While it's fun to relive happy moments from the past, it also stirs up overwhelming nostalgic melancholy. (Is that a real thing? It is now.)

As I was scouring through photos from the past couple years, I found myself wistfully reviewing our time in San Diego. Especially this time of year, when cold and snow and winter are just starting and we have a good five months with more of the same ahead of us, looking at those warm, beachy photos brings out a deep and desperate longing.

Ah, to have a warm weather destination vacation planned...

I'll just have to reminisce.

San Diego, March 2013

(Look at that beautiful wind blown hair and squints from the sun. Sigh.)

Hoping for dreams of sand, surf, and sun tonight.

xoxo, christine

Nov 19, 2014

Which Crayon is Your Favorite?

Today my daughter brought home, "The Day the Crayons Quit" by Drew Dewalt.

There are so many great books out there, especially children's books, that choosing a favorite almost feels blasphemous. But, I definitely have some favorites. Many favorites. There are those that our family always enjoy and come back to again and again. And our list of favorites is always expanding.

"The Day the Crayons Quit" has most definitely been added to my list. In fact, we need to get it for our personal home library, I think. My first grader was so excited about reading this book she could hardly keep from spoiling the end. My preschooler laughed uncontrollably.

The premise is that when a little boy opens his crayon box, he finds letters from each of the crayons. Each crayon has a certain grievance he wants the young boy to address. You have to read this book. Adorable.

(My favorite is the peach crayon. Read it. You'll know why.)

I promise, you will not regret this book.

What are some of your favorites you're reading to your kids?

Image source
xoxo, christine

PS. I was in no way compensated for this post. These thoughts and enjoyment from this book are completely my own. I am just a mom with a love-affair of all books. Or at least, good books.

Nov 18, 2014

Simple Gifts

I'm supposed to be writing. Or at least, that was my intention when I got this time away while my mom is with the girls. Yet, here I am, almost two hours later and I am just starting. The problem with having internet connection anywhere is that it's easy to get distracted. Email, Facebook, Huffington Post, Christmas gift ideas... you get the idea.

There's Christmas music playing, which I suppose with Thanksgiving only next week, isn't too premature anymore. In fact, I just learned there are people who do all their shopping in November so that December can be devoted to fun and family. I have to admit, I pretty much love this idea. Getting all the shopping and shopping-related stress out of the way so that December can be the picturesque winter memory making I always envision? Yes please.

As it comes time to think about ideas for Christmas gifts (specifically for our kids) I find myself struggling every year. I desperately want to make sure my kids feel the magic and wonder and excitement of getting presents, because, well, they're kids, but I also am equally desperate for moderation and minimizing the things they are getting and what is coming into our house. I know that they can feel magic and wonder and excitement without having piles of things. Of course, it's not that I don't want them to get anything, but I don't want them to get everything. There is more to Christmas, much more, than getting new toys.

Every year it's a struggle to find balance between showing our kids what's really important during the holiday season, and making sure they feel like they were on Santa's Nice List.

I know of people who do four gifts: Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read. I also know people who only do three gifts because Jesus got three gifts (from the wise men). I love both these ideas, I'm just having a hard time figuring out what works best for our family and how to put it into practice.

And then, of course, I want to make sure each of the girls gets a gift for both sisters. Which is important to me because I want to emphasize giving to others, but adds several more "things" each child is getting.

And then I feel guilty that all this is stressing me out because this is not what Christmas is about! I shouldn't be spending time anxious about gift-giving stuff, I should spend it thinking up activities and memories to make and share with my family.

Which is why I just might adopt the idea of getting all my gift-buying done before December.

How about you? How do you decide Christmas gifts? And do you wait until December until you start? Or all you already done by Thanksgiving?

xoxo, christine

Nov 17, 2014

Rockabye Baby

It is three in the morning. We rock back and forth in the glider. I am getting her back to sleep. Just like I did an hour ago. Just like I did three hours before that when she (finally) went to bed.

Our eyelids start drooping, both hers and mine, with every swish of the chair. The pacifier in her mouth wiggles as she periodically sucks at it. It is our rhythm tonight. Swish. Swish. Swish. Suck. Suck. Suck. Swish. Swish. Swish. Suck. Suck. Suck.

I wish she was sleeping better, I think. But then I stop myself, because I do not want to wish away time and while, yes, I'd love for her to be sleeping better right now, she's not. But some day in the future she will, and I don't want to look back from that time and think, I should've appreciated those middle-of-the-night moments more.

So instead, I think, I am grateful for this moment. I am happy to have this quiet snuggle time, even if it means that right now, during this period in our lives, I am not getting as much sleep. I will never gets these nighttime moments with her back.

Thank you for this exact moment. Even if it is the third one I've had with her tonight.

It is difficult to do this though, because about a week ago she was sleeping great. Going to bed shortly after the girls, waking once for a feeding, falling right back asleep, and the not waking again until it was time to get up in the morning. It is hard to feel like we're going back in time, regressing back to those sleepless nights. But, I realize this is how infanthood/parenthood/adulthood/LIFE is. One day everything feels like it's progressing in the right direction, and then suddenly it isn't.

So, maybe for a month Nora seemed like she totally mastered the whole "sleep schedule" thing, but now she hasn't. And that's okay. And that's normal. And instead of freaking out about it, I'm going to try to change my perspective. It just gives me a few more peaceful and personal moments with my baby. Ones I'll never get again, especially as she gets older.

xoxo, christine

Nov 14, 2014

A Limerick

A lady, her face was so red,
Frustration exploded her head.
Her husband was sure,
That sleep was the cure.
So he sent her straight to bed.

And the next morning she felt better, I hope.

xoxo, christine

Nov 13, 2014

What Ails Me

The day is quiet, lazy. The bug that's been circulating through our house has finally landed on me, infecting me with ickiness. I'm not sure yet if it's just joined me for afternoon tea, a six-month sabbatical, or (most likely) something in between.

I'm grateful that Nora has been content to eat and sleep the whole day, still recovering from her doctor appointment yesterday. She seems groggy, napping more frequent and longer than usual, something that today feels particularly like a luxury. We have spent the majority of the day snuggling in the chair, our warm bodies comforting each other in our yuckiness.

Paige has been understanding, playing in hushed tones in the corner with occasional requests for lunch and snacks. She has also been more than happy to watch one or two (or three or four) shows while I baby myself with reading and dozing.

I am worn down and exhausted from both lack of sleep and the achiness that comes with illness. I need a good twenty-four hour of uninterrupted sleep (my self-prescription) to regain some energy. The problem with feeling sick and sitting in the living room most of the day is that I look around and see everything that should be getting crossed off my To Do list. I have a terrible habit of thinking of the cleaning that hasn't been done recently, the clothes piling up in the laundry room, the organizing of everything that I want to happen, the multitudes of To Dos, while I sit around not feeling well. It makes me particularly overwhelmed as I can't actually accomplish much but I have plenty of time to sit around and think of all that I am not accomplishing.

Which is kind of how I feel in general lately. I am looking at my life from the outside, not particularly happy with what I see, yet paralyzed when it comes to making changes. I should probably clarify, it's not that I'm unhappy, I am quite happy with my life in regards to my family and relationships. I love my husband and daughters. I feel wonderful about the life we are building for our family. The discord comes from within. I don't think I'm an unhappy person, but I'm also not particularly happy either. As I've mentioned before, there is a stirring of discontentment, an urging that I am becoming more and more aware of. But it's not yet clear to me what exactly it is all about. I feel like I need to make changes to myself, but I'm not entirely sure who "myself" is so I'm not sure what those changes are, or what they might mean.

It is all getting quite exhausting as I ruminate in circles, feeling disconnected from myself yet wanting (desperately) to feel the deepest connection to the world around me.

I am trying to sit with my feelings. To be okay with whatever it is that is ailing me (figuratively, that is). But I'm not sure if it's working. Mostly I'm just feel tired right now. Which maybe means that when one is sick it's okay to take a break from deep thinking and processing.

Which is what I'm going to do now. Snuggle my sleeping baby, close my eyes, and let my mind still into sleep.

xoxo, christine

Nov 12, 2014

I Guess Now With Snow It's Time to Think Christmas

I started thinking about Christmas presents today. Twelve days into November. Two weeks before Thanksgiving. I'm not sure if this is incredibly premature, or if I'm completely behind. (I kind of feel like it's a bit of both. On the one hand, I feel embarrassed that I'm already thinking Christmas when it's hardly past Halloween, but on the other hand, so many people I know are already Christmas shopping that I almost feel I need to catch up.)

Plus it snowed here, so that guarantees to add a little Holiday into the season. Even though it's technically still fall. (I'm not bitter at all, why do you ask?)

My husband was actually a bit surprised that I only just started thinking about gifts because usually I am all over getting a head start, at least on having ideas for the girls. See, I'm kind of a planner. And an organizer. So the thought of adding more Stuff to the already accumulating Stuff (especially Stuff like toys that seem to multiply like rabbits behind my back), leaves me anxious and overwhelmed. This is why I like to have a firm hold on what and how much is going to be coming into our house. The reason I start thinking about Christmas gifts so early has little do with getting ahead or being in the holiday spirit, and more to do with control.

(Yes, I realize control is really an illusion. I'm pretty sure I need more than a few minutes, and several visits with my therapist, to investigate that any further.)

So, we're thinking Christmas. At least, ideas for Christmas. And although I am currently in the stage of stressful thinking, I have a sneaking suspicion that the Christmas spirit is slowly trying to eek it's way in, and it won't be too long before I'm pulling out the Christmas music and searching for it on the radio.

What do you think? Is it too early for Christmas? Or having you already started shopping (and even decorating -- it's okay, you can admit it to me)?

xoxo, christine

Nov 11, 2014

I Had to Parent Three Kids Alone This Weekend

I was solo parenting Saturday through today while Adam was away hunting. (How a vegetarian married an avid deer hunter is still a bit of a mystery to us all...)

It was not the first time I was parenting without my partner since Nora's birth, but the first time he and my mother were gone at the same time. Have I mentioned recently how much my mom does and helps out? It really is a blessing having her so close and available. But, alas, she and my dad left on Sunday, so I was without my two primary supporters for two whole days. Gulp.

I realize that there are many people who do this by themselves all the time, and I have to say, WOW. You are amazing. Parenting alone is hard. It is HARD. There is no "can you handle this", no "I'm just running out to the store quick", no "I just need to take a breather, can you take over for a minute". The only alone time I had were the precious moments after all three girls were asleep.

Which, by the way, was not at a decent hour because why would it be easy to get the kids to sleep? It's never easy. So of course it's going to be even harder alone. Bedtime was, by far, the most painful part of Adam being gone.

So, even though I was exhausted from the days and the getting three children to go to bed, stay in bed, and fall asleep, and I should have gone straight to bed myself to get the maximum amount of sleep, I'd stay up late because I was desperate for some Me time.

But, we survived. Children got fed and dressed and taken care of. Laundry got washed (just not folded). Dishes got cleaned and put away. Garbage and recycling was taken to the end of the driveway on the appropriate day. I even pulled the vacuum out once.

We got annoyed with each other, and even yelled at each other a bit, but we also laughed, snuggled together, and watched several movies. Overall, I would say it was a success, although I will quickly add I am in no hurry to solo parent again any time soon.

And I'm kinda looking forward to my weekend to hunt. Which is never. Because I don't hunt. But I might be tempted to take it up just so that I can get away for a few days and sit by myself in the quiet...

In any case, it's nice to have my husband home.

xoxo, christine

Nov 10, 2014

Already Four Months

Over the weekend, Nora became a four-month-old, and I just can't believe it. In some ways, I can't even remember what life was like before her -- like she's been here all along. But in other ways, it feels like she can't possibly be four months already -- she was "just" born!

Adjusting to life with a newborn/infant is never easy for us, but the change from two children to three has been significantly less difficult than when we went from one to two. Mostly I think it's because of the bigger age gap. The older girls are a lot more self-sufficient at six and four than Hope was as a two-year-old when Paige was born. That being said, four-year-olds and six-year-olds are still children with a lot of needs and there are moments I find myself completely overwhelmed with the neediness and noise of three voices at once.

But all the stress I feel vanishes when Nora gives her big sisters a big gummy smile. And after a middle of the night feeding when she's sleeping against my shoulder, I sniff in her baby head and life feels incredibly peaceful.

It is hard to imagine what our lives will look like as the girls get older. I can't picture having a ten-year-old, fourteen-year-old, and sixteen-year-old. I can't even picture having a two-year-old, six-year-old, and eight-year-old. But even though I can't imagine the future, I can see pretty clearly right now, and it is good. It is very good.

For as much as I find to complain about (hello snow and ice on November 10th, I am looking at YOU), I am feeling incredibly grateful right now. This family? This is my family. These three girls? These are my three girls.

It certainly has been an amazing four months.

xoxo, christine

Nov 9, 2014

Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?

Because you probably can tomorrow.

It's November. Which pretty much means it's practically winter. It might sound a little pessimistic, but if you live in Minnesota you know. We pretty much get Summer, Spring, and Fall for two months each and the other six months are winter.

We're definitely on the down slide of fall.

Although I am a lover of the Christmas season, I am so not ready for winter. My anti-winter flag is flying high right now. I'm afraid Mother nature hasn't gotten my memo though. Apparently we're supposed to get 74310387410 inches of snow tomorrow.

Yeah, I'm not really looking forward to getting Hope on the bus and driving Paige to school, all while lugging Nora in her car seat, in first season snow. On the plus side (is there a plus side?) the girls will probably be thrilled to see snow tomorrow morning, so I can attempt to piggyback off their excitement.

I keep peaking out the window to catch a glimpse of the first flakes. I'm kinda hoping that the meteorologists got it totally wrong and we end up getting nothing. Or just a light dusting.

Or, we'll just be able to build a huge snowman tomorrow.

xoxo, christine

Nov 7, 2014

Sanctuary! Give me Sanctuary!

I am in the bathroom. Hiding from my baby.

Who does that?

With guilt above and beyond, I am sitting on the side of the tub, listening to my six-year-old and four-year-old successfully entertain their baby sister.

There is little time left for this day to redeem itself, and with the toilet as my current view, it's not looking promising.

I'm not sure what happened, but exhaustion hit me hard this afternoon and Nora decided to make this one of her Cat Nap days. Which maybe wouldn't be so horrible except that she cries bloody murder for about twenty minutes straight before she falls asleep. And then she sleeps for about five minutes before waking up and screaming again.

The emotions of this day came out of nowhere, and I'm feeling the shame and guilt like a big weighted winter coat.

But it's okay. (Right?) I am getting a few moments to myself. And my children are playing happily on the floor together. Maybe Nora needed a break from me as much as I needed one from her.

Perhaps I'll give myself another minute or two. I'm in the bathroom, I might as well pluck my eyebrows or something.

::deep breaths:: xoxo, christine

Nov 6, 2014

There's A Storm Brewing

I am sitting in a coffee shop. Writing. By myself. Enjoying an occasional sip on my sweet mocha. The place buzzes with conversation. Men in business suits type furiously in the corner, two women embrace before settling into their table to catch up. A man whose long white beard is suspiciously familiar, bobs his head to music, his eyes and concentration focused on his laptop. Perhaps he is making a list. Even checking it twice.

The hum of the espresso machines and the hiss of froth coming from behind the counter provide the percussion to the orchestra of noises in this busy place. But it is not distracting. As I settle in to this Me Time, it feels invigorating to be here, alone, yet full of people.

The energy radiating here takes me by surprise. Crowds and too many people usually give me pause, increasing my anxiety, and deep deep desire to be home curled up on my couch. It is enough for me to wonder if I am maybe not getting out of the house enough.

I am currently on a quest, propelled by this unsettled and cloudy feeling I've had lately. I detect the distant roll of thunder, perhaps a glimmer of lightening too, but I can't quite make out where the storm is coming from... or if it is a storm to be feared or eagerly anticipated.

As a girl I loved thunderstorms. I remember laying on our living room floor, staring upside down out the window mesmerized by the bolts lighting up the sky. Somewhere between that adventurous child and this frazzled mom, thunderstorms became less of a wonder and more of a worry. They bring me more fear as an adult than I ever remember having as a kid.

And I wonder, where did that audacious girl go?

Is her loss a natural consequence of growing older? Or is my memory of her distorted by distance and melancholy?

Have I completely lost that wonder and excitement for adventure? Can it be rediscovered?

I don't know exactly where to start this expedition into who I am and what I want with this life, but there is an urgency settling in, tingling my toes as it makes its way up, encouraging me to move, explore, investigate.

Is it a mid-life crisis? The battle cry of the frazzled mother?

Perhaps it is the wisdom that comes with time. That surly there is so much to this life to be explored. So much to enjoy. So much to seek out and discover. So much that I can contribute.

So let it begin. Let me begin. Here. Right now. Alone in a coffee house.

xoxo, christine

Nov 5, 2014

Another Set of Empty Arms

My heart is breaking. I received an email from a friend asking for prayers for a family member who just lost her baby. She was thirty-nine weeks pregnant. Her scheduled C-Section was just hours away, but she went in because something felt wrong. Her daughter had already died.

I just feel sick for what this family is going through. My heart hurts for the mother. I have spent the day vacilating between heartache and numbness, trying to wrap my head around another baby lost. I don't understand why these things happen. I don't understand how so many babies are born healthy every day, and this sweet baby was not.

I want to take this mother in my arms and give her warmth and peace and strength, and yet I know that is impossible. I can not do anything to help her. Only be available to sit with her in grief, if she wants. Only offer up prayers for everyone. Painful, tear-filled, sobbing prayers.

I think about how her pregnancy innocence is lost. I think about the devastation she must be experiencing. Reliving those moments over and over and over again. The painful love and adoration she had for her daughter when she held her in her arms.

I think about how terrible it is to leave the hospital with no baby. How horrifying it is to see everyone going about their business when you feel like the world should stop. When you feel simultaneously numb and completely shattered. When your life and world will never be what it once was.

I think about feeling angry and lost and terrified. I think about wondering how I could survive the loss of a child. I think about the terrible guilt I had, feeling like as his mother I should've been able to protect him. I was supposed to keep him safe.

This mother will probably feel many of the same things I did. And many things I didn't. I know how difficult it is to be on the receiving end of condolences, yet how helpless friends and family must feel when they give it.

It is hard and heartbreaking all around.

I am thinking about sweet baby Reese in heaven, and praying for her mama, who's arms are surly aching with their emptiness.

xoxo, christine

Nov 4, 2014

On Complicated Grief and Love and a Little Boy

Our toilet got clogged last night. Then, in the process of trying to get it unclogged, it, of course, overflowed. And you know that water isn't "fresh" toilet bowl water. It is yucky, ucky, stinky, crap-filled water. Spilling over onto anything in its path.

Our nighttime bathroom mishap pretty much feels like a metaphor of... today? Life? The grief of losing our son?

Today is the first anniversary of Calvin's due date. I'm pretty sure my emotions are all clogged up inside of me until they aren't anymore and they just kind of seep into anything surrounding me. (Yes, I totally just compared this all to an overflowing toilet.)

Although not every day, I think about Calvin a lot. It is mostly in passing, in casual conversations with Adam and the girls. He is included when the girls do family counts and in pictures they draw. Paige has designated her old green blanket his. We talk to him and pray to him when snuggling into bed at night. And his blue blanket is still tucked under my pillow. I'm still waiting for a dream from him.

Truthfully, I don't spend much time imagining how our lives would look if he had lived. If things had been different. Oh sure, when I see a random baby boy around Calvin's age, I usually get a little flutter in my heart. Or when I see a chunky baby in blue with his daddy, my heart aches for Adam not to have the experience of raising his son. But mostly I don't let myself think about "what if" or "if only" because it is just impossible to know.

I can not imagine having a one-year-old son right now. I can not imagine what it would look like or feel like to be chasing after a toddler who goes from room to room finding every tiny toy the girls leave on the floor. I can not imagine the "Mo-oms!" being called when he, once again, ruined whatever his sisters were playing with. I can not imagine shopping in the little boys section full of blues and greens and clip-on bow ties. I can not imagine what adjustments our family would have made. How we would interact with each other, how we would feel. I can not imagine who our girls would be if they hadn't lost their brother.

Mostly, as much as I wish Calvin could be here. I know he can not. And he never was going to be. And I'm okay with that. It is why I can love Nora without any guilt toward Calvin. There is no "it could have been" with him alive in our lives. And I miss him, of course I do. And I love him, of course I do. But I know that things are Right with us. Calvin prepared the way for Nora, because without losing him, we would mostly likely not have her.

And having Nora here is definitely Right. (It is important to me that Nora grow up knowing that, even though we miss her older brother, we would not trade her for him. It might be hard to imagine or understand, but I know that he is where he is supposed to be so that Nora could be here with us.)

And I can't imagine our lives looking any different that what we have right now. The blessed experience of carrying our son for six and a half months. The joy and utter devastation of cradling his little body. The fear and hope of another baby. The hesitant excitement of a healthy pregnancy. The abounding love of welcoming Nora.

I am terribly sad that Calvin didn't get to stay with us, but I am incredibly grateful for the gift he gave us. And I will shed tears of love as we remember him today and the gift he was for our family.

xoxo, christine

Nov 3, 2014

Bye Bye Bye

We got rid of our baker's rack.

Well, it is actually sitting in our garage right now, but the idea is that it is out of our house and does not have a permanent spot here anymore. It's transitional home is parked next to our car, but it's next permanent home is not here. Not ours.

I realize this is hardly news. Did you even know we had a baker's rack? We did. And now we don't. It served a great purpose for holding some of our kitchen stuff in the tiny kitchens with minimal cupboard space we've had. But lately I've been feeling overwhelmed by all our Stuff (yes, with a capital T) and I as I glared around our house, (oh yes, it was glaring, I was not looking around or anything so pleasant. I was on a mission of get crap OUT), I realized that we could consolidate and donate and then not need that extra shelf anymore.

And oh-my-goodness it feels so good that I am sizing up everything right now to figure out if we could get rid of more. I am ready to go through this house room by room, shelf by shelf. I want to be brutal right now. I mean, we don't really need a table to eat at, right? It would totally free up our dining room.

Okay, so that might be going a little overboard... but I am in a serious clean-this-house-out mode. So much so that it is keeping me awake some nights as I visualize our belongings and debate their worth and whether or not I could bring myself to let them go.

I totally want to let them go.

I'm not always all that good of getting rid of stuff. I mean, I'm not a hoarder or anything, but if I've started to attach some sentimentality to something it's pretty hard for me to say goodbye. So when these Let's-Get-Rid-Of-Stuff moods make an appearance I want to make sure to take full advantage of them.

Which means I'd better focus right now because they don't always last long.

Anyone need a couch? (I'm kidding.)

xoxo, christine

My sweet babe, who has nothing to do with this post, yet everything to do with my heart.

Oct 29, 2014

Be Still

Lately I am feeling the pull of meditation or quiet. I'm not sure if it has something to do with the blahs that I've been sloshing through this past month, or if I'm just hitting a point in my life (all thirty-three years of me) where inner reflection and stilling my mind feels like an important aspect of a fulfilled life. Whatever it is, there is a pulling deep within me toward sitting in the quiet, just being, and listening.

I watched this video yesterday of Glennon Doyle Melton (from Momastery) talking about How Stillness Can Empower You Every Day and it left me with a new resolve to find some time to get my Stillness in each day.

My problem is finding a moment in the day to sit in stillness. I'm so not a morning person that getting myself up at six o'clock is out of the question and once my kids are up finding even five quiet minutes is nearly impossible. In the clip though, Melton mentions women talking about getting great ideas in the shower, which she believes is because there are (mostly) no distractions so we are better able to Be Still and listen for that little voice that speaks to us only in the quiet.

I'm not sure if I've ever been Still enough to hear that little voice. Melton believes it is the voice that tells us to do the Next Right Thing. And I desperately want to be in tune to the whispers from that voice, so yesterday I decided to attempt some Stillness and Quiet in the shower. Here's what it looked like:

Okay. Be Still. Be Still. Visualize the words. B-E S-T-I-L-L. Hm, that women said that in the winter we need to use a better moisturizing shampoo. I wonder if the one I'm using is okay. FOCUS! Be Still. Be Still. B-E S-T-I-L-L. I feel the water drip down my back. Be Still. BE STILL. B-E S-T-I-L-L. That's a weird feeling in my head. I wonder if that's the Quiet. Crap. I'm pretty sure thinking about the quiet isn't how this works. Be Still. BE STILL. I wonder what the little voice would tell me. I should really hug my husband. that the little voice telling me to hug my husband? FOCUS Christine! B-E S-T-I-L-L. I need to write. I should really sit down and write. Oooh, this would make a good post. I should blog about this. would I start it? Wait! STOP! FOCUS! Be Still. BE STILL. B-E S-T-I-L-L. Why can't I hear this voice? How do I know if I hear the little voice? What if I never hear the voice? My mind is so busy and chatty that I'm sure to never be able to tell the little voice! Be Still. BE STILL. --

Bathroom door opens and my shower is ended.

Clearly I have much work to do if I want to Be Still and sit in the quiet. It is really hard to turn off my mind. But even with my not-so-successful attempt yesterday, I'm committing myself to continually trying. This feels incredibly important to me right now, and even if I never hear a little voice or I don't see God or enlightenment never occurs, I will at least be getting a few minutes for myself. A few minutes to just sit quietly and be peaceful. Even if that's all that comes out of my Be(ing) Still, that is certainly reason enough.

xoxo, christine

Oct 24, 2014

A Blanket of Yucky

I don't know if there's something in the air, or it's the change of season, or the planets' alignment, but something is going on, because I have talked with and read about several other people who are feeling the same things I am right now.

Basically, there's a lot of "Meh," "Yuck," and "Blech" going around.

I am typically not one to dislike turning a year older, but I was starting to wonder if I was having some weird adverse reaction to my upcoming birthday. I suppose it's reassuring to know that I'm not the only one who's feeling beaten down right now.

Somehow I am off, one step behind the dance that's happening around me. Or even two steps. I am struggling to find the beat and smile and keep up. Actually, it's less of a dance and more of an intense workout that I seem to be involved in. I signed up, yet I am unable to keep up. I am huffing and puffing and wishing it would be time for a water break. Instead of the endorphins kicking in, the sweat and high intensity is kicking my butt.

I wish that my analogy was real. Well, sort of. (I'm no fitness person, after all.) At least then I would be working out and getting the benefit of those good endorphins instead of just hiding in my house and curling up with my big blanket of yuckiness.

I wonder if it is lack of sleep. So I take a nap and feel more groggy than before. I wonder if I need to get outside or connect with a friend. So the girls and I meet friends at the park. And I feel better for those few hours, until I am home and exhausted all over again.

Something feels off, and in my current state, and my worst-case-senerio-itis, I am starting to have a sense of foreboding. Maybe my feeling of not-quite-rightness is a sign that something terrible is lurking around the corner. Even though I have no idea what it is, the universe is telling my body and my body is attempting to communicate with me by feeling yucky and off.

I'm kind of hoping that a few extra baby snuggles will cure whatever's going on, but I suspect that it's a little more complicated than that. It's hard because I don't know if this is some weird phase of the moon that's going to pass, or if there's something shifting in my mind that I need to explore further, or if I just need a little more therapy and to readjust my medications.

Perhaps it's a little of everything.

Perhaps I'm just overthinking.

I suppose one way or another I'll find out.

xoxo, christine

Consider this my Flashback Friday
October 2011
(Might as well include a random photo to bring a smile to my face.)

Oct 20, 2014

A Few of My Favorite Things

After recently writing about my difficulties with parenthood and grownuphood I feel compelled to document some of the things I love about being home with my family. Partially because I'm feeling guilty about my struggles, partially because I'm feeling kinda "meh" and I wonder if pointing out some happier things will get me out of my funk, and partially because I really do love being home with my kids and it's good to remind myself of that every now and then.

I love that I can spend part of the day snuggling a napping baby, her warm body tucked against my chest.

I love that I am (most likely) here to witness that wobbly first step, complete with wonder and bewilderment on the baby's face as she falls back to the ground.

I love that I am the one who gets Hope onto the bus in the morning, and am here to greet her when she comes home in the afternoon.

I love that I get to take them on adventures to the park, the zoo, the mall, or just a walk around the block.

I love that if I've had a particularly rough night, I can find a moment (or two) to nap the next day.

I love that if one of the girls is sick we don't have to worry about who will stay home and miss a day of work. I am the one who can provide cuddles and movies and sips of juice for an aching tummy.

I love that if an urge to bake arises, I can invite them into the kitchen with an afternoon of making a mess for the sake of goodies.

I love that if an appointment needs to be scheduled and attended, I am here and home and able to be a part of it.

I love that I get to hear the older girls when they're playing nicely together. That I get to witness some of the best of their imaginative games and make-believe.

I love that I get to listen to long-winded stories and baby coos and breathless accounts of school happenings.

I love that I am here to kiss boo-boos and shush fussiness and apply band-aids to scraped knees.

I love that I get to be home, even on the days that I don't love it.

And I always, always, love to be their Mommy.

xoxo, christine

Oct 14, 2014

An Apple a Day

So, Paige. The way to get an apple off the tree is to yank really hard like this, right?

No, Mommy! You twist and pull down gently. She scolds me as she delicately turns her wrist and lowering her hand. She has been practicing proper apple-picking technique for days.

There are some family adventures I imagine in my mind, some moments and scenarios that play out as a beautiful happy family movie montage. There are twinkling eyes and mouths grinning uncontrollably as inspirational music swells in the background. We are all glowing with joy as we twirl around with our faces lifted into the sun. It is perfection.

Most events, of course, don't actually play out the way I've scripted them in my mind. Some are better, some are worse, some just different. Taking the girls to the apple orchard started out a little rocky, making me wonder if it was going to be a flop, but things turned around quickly and ended as a heartwarming Family Classic. (In fact, I'm kind of hoping a pick-your-own-apple adventure can become an annual tradition for our family.)

The best part of our apple orchard outing was, by far, watching the girls dance up and down the rows of trees, enamored by the bright red fruits everywhere we turned. They were on a treasure hunt to find the perfect apples. We went home with our treasure glowing shades of red, yellow, even a little green, with aching legs, dusty shoes, and bellies full of sweet and tart apples.

Our movie moment was filled with magic. It had the exact right proportions of sweet apple aroma and sun streaming through thick branches and smiling faces to leave us walking away with the warm fuzzies of a feel-good classic.

xoxo, christine

Oct 9, 2014

I'm Not Always Feeling the Rainbows and Unicorns

This has been ruminating on and off for awhile now, but I've been too scared to post it. See, I care a little bit too much about what other people think and I'm afraid people will think I'm a terrible mother and horrible person. But, on the off chance I'm not alone, I've decided to test the waters. Of course, instead of dipping my toe in, I'm gonna just cannon ball into the deep end.


Can I be totally and completely honest here for a moment? Sometimes I just feel done. Not with life or anything, but yeah, kinda with life.

(I realize that given my history of depression this could come across as a very concerning thing and all, but I assure you I have no desire to ::whispering quietly:: die, and I'm fairly certain this has nothing to do with depression. Just, you know, being a responsible grown up.)

Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed with things that are always needing to be done and are never done, and the constant noise and chaos going on around me that the energy needed to avoid Shut Down Mode is almost too much.

It's like those movie scenes where the character is standing still in the middle of a room and they do some sort of fancy camera or editing work where the room and people in it are just spinning around that one character. I am frozen in one spot and everyone's voices turn into Charlie Brown's teacher. "Waw, waw, waw. Waw, waw."

Can I be real here and admit that I am so incredibly tired of repeating myself 71582398 times that dirty clothes go in the hamper and garbage goes in the garbage can and please clear your dishes and pick up your toys and get in bed and no you can not have a snack right before a meal.

I can not stress enough how much I love my daughters, and how my heart explodes and cries and hurts with love for them. I would run in front of a speeding car for them and wrestle an alligator for them. I love them to the moon and back a million times. But arguing about what I've made for dinner for the three-hundredth night in a row kind of makes me feel all crazy.

I am not Suzy Homemaker. I do not find it rewarding scrubbing soap scum out of the bathtub. I do not find it comforting to spend time cooking a meal from scratch. I do not find satisfaction in getting stains out of the laundry.

But I love to be home full-time with my kids.

I just suck at all things house related. Of course, I don't mean "suck" as in I can't do it. Unfortunately I am very capable of swiffering the floors, not burning down the house while cooking dinner, and keeping clothes in decent shape going through the washer and dryer. I just stink at keeping up with any of it. Because it's never done. NEVER.

And some days, it feels like too much.

Am I alone here? Please reassure I'm not alone here. Because it feels like, in today's world, it's not okay to admit that sometimes parenting is not fun. It feels like if there is even a whisper of frustration or unhappiness or doneness, that this somehow means we don't love our children, or we don't deserve them, or we aren't appreciating them enough.

Trust me. I'm perfectly capable of piling on guilt over how I should have unlimited patience and appreciation for all moments and times with my children (especially after losing Calvin -- oh how the guilt when I'm frustrated can pull me under like the ocean's waves).

But having to be a grown-up? It's hard. And sometimes, it's not fun. And sometimes, as rewarding as parenting can be? Sometimes it's just not rewarding.

I don't want to give off the impression that I don't like motherhood, or that I can't handle it. I just... I'm just not an everything-is-sunshine-and-rainbows-and-happy-happy-all-the-time kind of person. Believe me, I wish I was. I feel like life would be so much easier if I could always see it through some rose-colored glasses. (Someone tell me where I can get a pair of those!)

It's not all hard, no it most definitely is not. But sometimes it is hard. And I guess I wanted to get this out of me, and share it, and hope that maybe I'm not alone? It would be nice to know that when I'm having one of those days, nights, moments where I just want to throw my hands up and shout, "I QUIT!" that I'm not the only one, that instead of feeling like an isolated leper, there is a larger community of moms out there who (at least occasionally) feel the same way.

Perhaps then instead of dying to crawl upstairs into bed, I can imagine the solidarity with other moms. I can pour myself a cup of tea, clink with an imaginary glass or two, and know that no matter how many more hours there are until I really can be done for the day, there's another mom out there who's clinking an imaginary glass with me.

xoxo, christine

Oct 6, 2014

I Will Keep My Arms Open

I hate that we live in a time and place where Lockdown Drills are a part of my children's realities. But I understand the need, and am glad that my daughter goes to a school that has policies in place to help keep her safe. But that doesn't mean I'm happy about it. That doesn't mean I'm not left with a sick feeling in my stomach when she comes home with a report of a Lockdown Drill at school that day.

(But I digress...)

Last week my first grader's school had one of these drills. Her class was not in their regular room with their classroom teacher, which is kind of unfortunate in itself, but still good to get practice in any situation. There were a few boys who were not staying quiet (a requirement in Lockdown Drills as much as lining up quickly and quietly is for a Fire Drill) and finally, in what I'm assuming was frustration and exasperation on the part of the teacher, the teacher said, "We would be dead by now."

Of course, when I heard about this, I immediately felt outraged and yet I completely understood what (could have) brought her to say this. Perhaps these boys weren't grasping the importance and seriousness of the situation, so they needed a reality check. Unfortunately, for a sensitive someone like my daughter, it is pretty much the worst possible thing to be told.

When Hope came home and shared with me about this particular part of her day (thank goodness she shared with me about her day!), and how she cried and felt afraid, I just wanted to hold her and tell her nothing bad would ever happen to her. Ever. Ever, ever, ever. She will be safe and protected and the world is a wonderful happy place forever, amen.

But of course I can not lie to my six-year-old, not when she already knows that there are bad people in the world, which is why they practice these drills, in case one of these bad people decides to visit their school. So, we talked about it as much as she could handle, but Hope is a child who gets more anxious the more stressful things are discussed, so after awhile she just wanted to stop. And we did.

But I keep thinking about my baby. I can feel her pain and fear so acutely in my heart, and it hurts. It hurts. I can feel her shock as she heard the words spoken about dying. I can picture her face and her posture as she sat at the table unsuccessfully holding back her tears. And with every beat of my heart, I can sense her discomfort and fear for the rest of the day.

I don't know if this is part of being a mama, or if it's just my own personal sensitive heart, but, damn, it hurts to think about and know that my child was hurting. It is SO HARD to know that she worries and stresses about life things, already, at just six-years-old. I want to be able to protect her from feeling anxiety about the horrible possibilities in life, because I have those anxieties so I know how hard and distracting and unhelpful they are. I don't want my daughter to struggle with that, too.

And, the thing is, I don't know what to do. I don't know what to say. I don't know if my words are helping her understand and cope and handle stress, or if they're making her worries worse. I don't know if we should talk and talk and discuss and discuss, or if I should just drop it.

But oh, as I think about my sweet and sensitive little girl, I just want to squeeze her tight and curl up on the sofa under a warm blanket and never let her go. I don't want the world to touch her and hurt her. I just want to homeschool her and keep her home and live in a little bubble.

Except that I don't. Because I know that school is such a wonderful place. She is learning so much and getting so much out of it. And the world is a wonderful place. (Except when it isn't. Ugh.) And she has to experience life and live and feel things and try things and have hard experiences and I have to stick up my shoulders (and overcome my desire to hunker down and stay in bed and cry and cry) and be strong. I have to be the person that she can come to, with arms open and heart open and love overflowing. So that when she does get stressed out or kicked down or terribly worried, she has a safe place to come back to. I want her to know, that she always has us, we are always here. And we will do our hardest to help her and give her the tools she needs to manage whatever feelings she has.

It is okay to be sad. It is okay to be upset. It is okay to feel scared about a Lockdown Drill. We are here for you, Hope. We will talk with you and hug you and wipe away your tears whenever you need us to. And when you need us to not talk about it, and to distract you with happy thoughts, well, we're hear for that too.

xoxo, christine

Sep 26, 2014

The Rhythm of the Night

I peek into the room. The glow from the hallway casts a wedge of light on them. He is gently unbuckling her, extracting her arms from the harness. Her loud cries turn to whimpers as he tucks her securely into his arm, learning his face close to her head. I can not hear his words, but I imagine them, warm breath in her ear, "Shhh. It's okay. Daddy's here. I love you."

He begins the evening ritual, the hardwood floors creaking under his feet like the beginnings of a strange percussive song. Down the hall, circle the living room, up the hall, circle the bedroom. Repeat. Repeat. His footsteps thumping and whispered "shhs" accompany the rhythm of the creaking floor. With every loop around I see her body relax until she is limp with comfort, and sleep.

Her relaxation is mirrored in his shoulders, his posture visibly falling as he makes his last loop. When he kisses the top of her head I catch a glimpse of the love in his eyes. His love for her.

All at once the percussive rhythm is replaced by her quiet breaths and squeaks from her sleep. He settles into the chair with her snuggled against his chest and it is the most at ease he has looked in many days. Her rest and comfort radiating to him. His comfort and love radiating to her.

It is his turn to tuck the big girls into bed, but I do not want to move her, so content she is with him. So content he looks with her. I usher the girls into their room, whispering and tiptoeing down the hall to keep from interrupting his moment. Their moment.

Soon she will wake, ready to play, ready to fuss, ready to eat. But for now she is quiet. Peaceful. Sharing her peace with the one person who needs it most right now.

xoxo, christine

Sep 22, 2014

'Cause I Am Living in an Extrovert's World

I am a shy introvert in an outgoing extrovert's world.

I know there may be a few of you who are surprised to hear this because after having my first child I worked extra hard on my fear and shyness in my desperation to find and make some mom-friends, thus having broken away from some of my shy tendencies. At least occasionally. I think.

But truly, I am shy. I have always been shy. As a child I remember cowering behind my mom's leg, in high school, unless I was with my friends, I felt awkward and uncomfortable and terrified to open my mouth lest I say the wrong thing and embarrass myself, and through college my shyness contributed to a difficultly in finding a close group I felt a part of.

Even today there are days, moments, social situations I struggle with mightily.

Any type of large group setting gets my heart racing and my palms sweaty. When I am in a big enough group that I can remain anonymous, it's not quite so painful, but if the group is small enough to be noticed in, well, I want to stick my head in the ground like an ostrich. But, actually, people could still see the rest of me if only my head was hidden, so really what I want is one of Harry Potter's invisibility cloaks. I want to disappear. I want to be home with my sweats and a piece of cheesecake and good book.

The nice thing about today is that I dread social situations a little bit less than I used to, and I have kids. Yes, kids are the perfect crutch to any shy and/or socially awkward person because 'Oh! I can't make small talk because my children need my undivided attention.' They are the perfect excuse as to why I can not manage a simple "hello" or "how are you" to an acquaintance.

Ugh, it's the worst with acquaintances. Really. It's like in high school when out in public and I'd see someone from school who I sort of knew, but not really, and I'd pretend that I didn't see her and she'd pretend not to see me but really we both knew the other person was there but neither of us acknowledged the other person and instead of feeling like 'whatever' I just felt sick and yucky and like I was acting like a jerk.

It's horrible, I know. And it still happens TO THIS DAY. I am well aware of what type of person I then appear to be to those I am avoiding. And yes, I am pretty much avoiding them. I look like a snob, I know. I hate that anyone would think I was a snob, and you'd think my fear of being judged poorly (because trust me, my fear of how others perceive me has chased me my whole life) would keep me from staying silent, but it doesn't. Instead I behave the same way (but this time with the handy dandy kids as an I'm-so-preoccupied-with-my-kids-that-I-haven't-noticed-anything-around-me excuse) and then kick myself over and over because surly these nice people now think I'm a terrible snob.

Which they do. At least some times. Thanks to several commenters I know that when I am thinking or quiet or just taking in a situation (ie. I am not talking), I look like I am either pissed off, bored, or just not having fun. Apparently my blank face also gives off an air of rudeness. Also? In high school I was told, flat out, that I seemed very standoffish.

Nope. Sorry. I promise I am nice and friendly. I am just also PAINFULLY SHY.

I would like to believe that the "painful" part has diminished as I've gotten older, and, for the most part, I think it has. But there are still certain situations that bring out the worst in my old ways, where the anxiety takes over, my feet are frozen, my voice reserved for people I feel comfortable with, and it feels impossible to interact with any one else. Of course, I leave these times wishing I could act like someone else, be someone else, because surly my husband deserves a wife who is chatty and friendly and makes an effort to say hello.

My sister assures me that change is possible. Which I suppose it must be because after having children I made a minuscule step towards Less Painfully Shy.

It only took twenty-some years for me to be able to speak up in a small group setting without wanting to vomit afterward. So, you know, maybe in another twenty-years I'll be able to say hello to those acquaintances. Maybe.

xoxo, christine