Zzzzzzz

In the mornings I shake out the comforters and blankets from my bed after the girls have run their feet to their room to check on the dollies. I feel that last of the nights heat in a wind over me. And I can’t help but smile. These are the days.

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Somehow in the space between “My baby has a room. And she’ll sleep in it. ” and “should we start sleeping side ways to fit them all in?” we became co-sleepers. Nolie was in her crib from week four on but has now turned the cozy corner and comes to our bed around 2am and falls deep to sleep curled up to my back. Ever has been in our bed from birth. We started laying her in her own little floor bed around 11mo and she took right to it and sleeps the first half of the night there and then I wake when I hear her little footy pajama feet pad out her room, through the kitchen, and into my bed. I love it. The best of both worlds. Our room and bed is our own till the world is asleep, and then the comfort of hearing the chorus of my deep sleeping family till the sun starts to flood around the shade.

I have found peace in our nights. The times I am awake, and they are many, nursing-cuddling-back rubbing, I pray through our family in thankfulness (have you tried this? Instead of praying for change/people/ease/stuff/whatever I have been just working through a list of family and friends and just thanking God for the attributes and love they just pour out. It always leaves me lighter, and it helps me fall right back to sleep) and try to turn my “OMG YOU CANNOT WANT TO NURSE AGAIN!!” into “This will pass. Meet the need and this will pass.”

It’s been nearly 5 years (next week! What?!) and I have yet to consistently sleep through the night. And, I am okay with that. I am expectantly and excitedly dreaming about that time, but I am staying quiet in the moments now. The time when I can realize; I have easy nursers, loud gigglers, great eaters, and lame sleepers. You win some, you lose some. And each morning I wake up with a snoring husband, a latched on toddler, and a murmuring “loveyoutoooooebberever” preschooler, I feel like the overall is win.

 

Nolie is 4(ish).

“Nolie! How do you feel today? You are four!”

yes. And, I feel four…ish. But just a little four.

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 She’s a gift to everyone she meets. Her infectious laugh, her quick smile and easy friendship, the way that she asks “are you good? are you feeling okay? being a mama is hard.” of me most days, the way that she talk to Evie “Ever, it’s okay. You aren’t quite ready to share yet, you are my baby!” and the way she loves Charlie “Papa, I’m your girl, huh? I miss you so  much. I wish each day was a weekend.”

Nolie is hitting a developmental stride that is killing me with it’s sweetness. She gives, understands empathy, and has a grasp of what it means that Ever is “the baby” “a baby” in ways I never could have dreamt. We are seeing some of the pay off of our parenting choices and it’s helping me stay the gentle course with her spunksy sister. Nolie gives me the gift of perspective every day, and I don’t have words to express how thankful I am for that, especially on the hard days.

She made everything new again with her birth, changed everything in my heart and mind, and rocked my world in gigantic-plate shifting ways. She is the coming to fruition of the dreams I had just beyond my minds ability to grasp, the “what will I be when I grow up” question answered. The “what is all this school for?” given weight and the “how big can a heart grow?” shattered-exploded-grown into a love I couldn’t ever fathom till she was here.

Nolie girl. You are very four’ish, and I can’t wait to keep getting to know you. You are everything and more. The world is yours and your loving hearts, take it.

1003941_10100715704788920_849223463_nNolie and some of her friends, and ours, around the fire at the end of her birthday party.

The number of smiles she brought, friends she made, hearts she grown is innumerable.  I am honored to know her, let alone carry the intimate and amazing job of Mama to Nolie.

{somewhat odd} things I am thankful for today.

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watermelon seeds in my bed.

long grass clippings in the yard, they make a perfect play nest for play babies.

rumply baby bed head.

sweaty neck rolls and fat tiny toes.

coconut oiled girls all covered in grass and sand and sun.

tan lines showing up in the gritty bath water.

big huge giant play-date turned parties turned deliriously (sleepy) happy babies.

my responsibilities.

coconut cake and a baking buddy.

a baby in my bed.

party dresses everyday.

long long hair and how good it feels when it’s all brushed out.

the resolution pull.

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I have felt drained. Aimless and quick to anger.  A friend posted a status about the things we do for others, and what have we done that day as a gift to someone else.

I was stumped. Because in my day it was all me focused. How can I get a break? How can I do what I want? How can I …… ME?

And I felt that gut pull. That resolution tingle. That need and call for action. Then later that night a sweet Mom posted in our local Mom group, she posted about her baby having GERD, having a long hospital stay, crying for hours upon hours, her sweet little one who shares a name with my daughter, she reached out and put everything aside for love. She asked for milk. Milk that is dairy free, soy free, sugar-caffeine-gluten light, she asked for a tall order. And so many Mamas answered.

Mom’s with liquid gold frozen in the deep freeze from the days of elimination diets, and sensitive newborns. Mom’s with babies who fall into the same intolerance’s, Mom’s who are stretched and willing to bend just a little further. And Mom’s who are willing to make some diet changes to start to pump for this baby. Basically, this Mama reached out and there were hands to meet her.

This weekend the Internet seemed to be extra… internetty. Like, people were even more bold behind their screens than typical. That words were slung without thought even more aggressively, that people were just… extra… mean.

Her post was the reminder I needed. These groups do good. The people in them want to do great BIG things. The Mamas are there. The Mamas answer. And we all just keep giving, because we have been given too.

On that note; send me your favorite dairy/soy free recipes please. Stuff that is easy! What blogs should I be reading? What recipe books are best? Who has a pin-board FILLED with this stuff? How can I make it financially feasible? Help this Mama out. Cause we are embarking here.

Embarking into a new food world, a new outlook on giving in this new year (Give, just give. Don’t question it, just give.), and meeting some heart resistance- as always. This will be my year of Embarking. of Hold On Tight. CHANGE.

Leaping into the unknown

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Last year, and almost every year, I start January and feel like God is really pulling me back to him. To routine. Regime. Consistency. Last year I knew that my ‘word’, focus, goal, resolution,  whatever, was Contentment. And that really did mark my year. We fell more in love with our marriage, our kids, and our “lot”. We weren’t aching for change or grasping at new job opportunities (like the previous year). We were setting into a new normal (heyo baby #2!) and remembering and being washed with a new understanding of contentment with where we are and what we have.

This year I expected the same. A call to read through the bible, or to have a very set quiet time, or to… something. Instead? I feel the need for that relationship to grow (obviously) but the calling that seems the loudest? I feel like God is telling our family to Hold On Tight. This is a big year.

I have no idea why. I have no idea what that could really mean. And, I hesitate to put it out there because… well, what if nothing happens?

But thats where we are. And it is uncomfortable. I feel as though I am leaning and tipping, lurching and catching balance; Just getting ready to hop on the biggest roller coaster.

So, whatever it is. Here we go.

 

Giving Tree 2012- the tree that grew

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.

-Fred Rogers

 

After the shooting that quote sprung up everywhere, and I couldn’t read it without tears. I found peace and comfort in looking for the helpers. But I also find hope and joy in choosing to be a helper. Having a cause to fall into during the wake of this tragedy, a time of year that is rife with the reality of others poverty and struggling, and a time where the need to get pulled out of my own selfishness is huge. The giving tree has been a lifeline; a project to put positive effort into, a way to take the weight of sadness for the grief and robbery of joy from those families and try to give some joy back into the family community.

Last year a giving tree sprung up organically from the Mama Network I help to moderate in my town. This year it grew, and grew, and grew. Last year our tree served 33 kids. This year? 95. Last year we raised $400. This year? We raised $867+ and the Black Drop Coffee House (who was instrumental in the whole endeavour and housed the physical tree!) matched this donation and in total we raised $1735. That money went directly into gift cards for the Mamas of the kids on the tree. It is obvious that the needs are huge, but the piece of this tree that is so epically beautiful is that the desire to help is even bigger.

Today I walked down a long set of stairs and into a cozy basement. White Christmas played, mimosas and bloody Mary’s were mixed, and Moms who previously only knew each other’s profile pictures went from “friends” to friends. The room filled with bags (and bags and bags) of gifts and warm bodies, tiny babies, and huge smiles. This room was bursting with Helpers. Bellingham, my town, is overflowing with Helpers. These Mamas wrapped bags and bags of toys and donated their time, energy, and tape to this cause.

95 kids worth of gifts were given, and these gifts were sweet. They weren’t generic, they weren’t used, they weren’t junk. These gifts were thought about. Bought by awesome Moms, sweet kids, incredible people who choose to give out of their poverty instead of clinging tight to possessions. They were given by customers who dropped in, city counsel men, loving baristas, thoughtful 20-somethings who picked their tag off the tree carefully. They were given by loads and loads of Helpers.

This year our tree grew. Tonight 19 families came and picked up their gifts, tomorrow 30 more will  come. And Christmas morning there are going to be some very merry children.

A dear friend told me she had picked up a tag from the tree. A 9 year old girl. She chose her gifts carefully, cute clothes she would want to wear, headbands that would go with each outfit, and books that she had treasured when she was 9. I wrapped those gifts today and nearly lost it thinking about how incredibly special this wholly unknown bond would be. This girl will never know my friend. She may be old enough to know these gifts didn’t come from Santa, or her Mom, but from an earth angel who took the time to care, give, indulge, and pour over her.

This little (not so little) tree is giving me a place to be a Helper. A place to look and see that there is so much good. That there are countless people who want to help. That there is huge need in this community but that it can be matched by huge generosity.

Thank you Bellingham. Thank you for being packed to the gills with the good ones. The Helpers. I love my community.

Foolish Designs- Welcome!

Well. . . big news about whats growing at our house. (NOT a baby, better not be a baby.)

Charlie is opening up an online shop! He has long been making me whatever I see on pintrest or cute boutiques and it is time we share the love around. He has pretty much given up all side fun projects, alone time, or hobbies for the past three years (duh, kids!). But  we have recently had this just laid out in front of us and it seemed more than foolish to turn down the opportunity ( he has 8 orders already placed and can’t wait to get started)! We are SO excited about this budding little family business.

For now we have a facebook page where you can message us to place orders or post a picture of something you would like and we will give you an estimate. New items will be photographed, priced and added often and keep an eye out for some awesome Holiday Gift ideas too!

Come and give him a “like” and you will then be privy to new shop additions, giveaways, sale items and be able to help us get an idea of what you would want to buy for your family.

Everything in the shop will be made from reclaimed or locally sourced materials and will be handmade by Charlie.

Come checkout our little space!

great expectations.

So, when we decided we wanted to have kids I knew that there were lots of things that would die along with that choice (and tons of new life too, but some death would accompany that). I knew that I would lose out on sleep, ‘me time’, my ideal body, time alone with my hubs, etc. The reality? It was a bigger slap in the face than I could have imagined. I had been told about the sleepless nights but experiencing them was a new kind of unimaginable hell (my first was a terrible sleeper from 4mo on). The new body? completely caught me off guard and is taking a ton of work to change and love. Lack of alone time? It shocked me with the first and feels almost normal now with baby number two.

But, I am happy. Really, exceptionally tired, and happy. Thankful. Filled. Loved and focused on my kids first, for now. They rocked my world and reshaped it, as well they should have! They are tiny, needy, helpless infants in the grand scheme of things. Even now that one is firmly rooted in her kid’ness and the other into her ‘babyhood’ they are both SO. young.

All that to say. My expectations were stupid and the idea that you SHOULD sleep through the night, have time alone (with yourself or your husband), that you DESERVE to keep your own body, etc. etc. etc. Those are all expectations that I needed to let die for at least a few years (seems like three or so). They are rife with entitlement and don’t take into account the dying to self that we need to do for God, love and our kids.

There will be endless time to sleep, workout, date and be alone. For now, I am giving it up and letting those things fall in where they may (a Saturday morning break here and there, a run alone in the evening, an hour long date because that’s as long as that baby can be happy without me for, etc. The time is there even if I don’t schedule it.)

I am finding love in family dinners. Romance in a family date. And relationship, love and long conversations, can be forged even when there is a nursing baby between you.

This time is short. So, so short. Ever is a tiny (itty bitty, brand new) baby. And her needs should trump mine. So for now, (and likely for always but it won’t be such a draw), she is the trump. Nolie is the trump. Boundaries are set, limits are there but the default? yes! the default is an emphatic, Yes!

Will you play this? Yes!
Will you rock me? Yes!
Will you help me sleep? Yes!
Will you nurse me? Yes!

Yes, my darling girls. When you can articulate these needs in words and when they are only cries (the one way you have to communicate sweet Everbee), Yes!

Be my friend.

Hey, did you know my page has a facebook? And I post lots (maybe too much?) there! You can click the link to the right or just go here.

You’ve missed stuff like this. . .

butternut squash soup + a recipe!

real life tandem nursing pictures (can you spot Nolie?)

no heat curls are back! Holiday parties and all that jazz- momstyle for the win!

Come and “like” me to see more!

bruised- The Mama Support Network

The Mamas got me through one of the hardest times I have had. With advice, support and emails with ideas and experience.

I am a part of a big Mom support network on Facebook. The group is full of women I would call my tribe. I know I can put the call out and get advice, help, commiseration, meals, support, hand me downs, a reality check and lots of strong opinions.

There is the safety of editing and being able to see your words in black and white before you hit enter- with that, typically, comes a more thoughtful response. But with that also comes anonymity. . . supposed anonymity. There is space between you and the person you are talking to, safety in a screen between you, and a whole lot more bravado in an online presence than an in-life one. And sometimes, that means we get hurt. I know this is a pretty big problem in the blogging world too. I have been lucky enough to only have had a handful of mean comments thrown my way, and I typically can get them deleted before they hardly hit the screen. But on Facebook it isn’t quite as simple.

Lately the words have been hitting me harder. I am not only a member of this group, I am one of the two creators of it. The group was born out of a genuine want and need for support- tangible real support from women in our town. But as it grows so does this group’s ability, knowledge and scope. This group is close to my heart and, maybe embarrassingly, really important to me. I am dedicated to not deleting content that I don’t want there if the sole reason is that I don’t agree with it. The point is for Moms, in any parenting style, to find informed support and ideas, tangible help and, often times, light hearted photos-memes-inspiration, etc.

This is a group that can DO stuff. Like, provide gifts for 25 families. Bring a huge group of PP Moms together to spread body love. Cover Moms in meals, clothes and childcare. This group does good.

But it also can be really hard to be a member when 1200 women means 1200 opinions. And it means, for me, moderating all those opinions. And, I fail often. I lean one way (duh) and it’s hard to remain impartial. I am also a really sensitive person and peoples words about how they feel about this group hit me hard “I only use it to find clients” or “I wouldn’t post there because I am scared of the responses” or ” I left it long ago because there is no support” . . . they are all valid feelings, have lots of truth to them, and are personal opinions (shared with the collective Facebook). And all of them have bruised me.

I know this group offers support. I know that Moms of every parenting variety have found it there. From Babywise or Weissbluth to Sears and Cohen there have been  Moms getting love, support, and answers. Even if it means wading through a debate. And I don’t think debate is wholly evil or that we should all just ‘leave well enough alone’ in parenting. I want people to challenge my choices, I want to defend them and learn more- I know I don’t make the best choices 100% of the time and I need that debate in order to be a better Mom. And to be a Mom who is willing to change. I think the biggest lesson I have learned in the past three years is that if I think I know it all and don’t need to change, I am doing my girls a disservice. I can always be doing better and I need the love, encouragement, gentle suggestions and accountability to make that happen.

I don’t have any pretty way to wrap this up. I didn’t plan to write this post, or about this group, at all. But I have  been feeling pretty bruised by some of the talk about it. For all of its debate, opinion, and “judgement” I think it is pretty damn successful. And I needed to process this, get it out there and feel it. And writing it out is how I do it.

I will say this, if anyone on it is using it solely for clients, or feels like they can’t find any measure of support there (be that giving it or receiving it)- then click to leave the group. One of the most beautiful things about this Support Network is that is has born many, many branch groups. There is a place for everyone on this huge internet, find it and be kind in it.