Monday, April 30, 2012

The Gift of Time and Attention

I am home all day, every day. As a result, my kids should never have to worry about getting enough of my time or attention. But recently I have realized that I don't do a very good job actually giving them my full attention. Sure they  have my time; I am their caregiver and I am always here to provide safety, food, a kiss for a boo-boo and love. However, my direct attention is something they that I feel, they get too rarely. Yes, I listen when they talk and respond accordingly. I am always aware of where they are or what they are doing. But am I engaging them? Do I treat them with respect the way I would another adult?

At lunch today, I was sitting with Evan and Maggie at the table eating. But while they ate, I was thinking about, and working on projects for Teacher Appreciation Week next week. Much too often I use this valuable time with them to complete other tasks. I will empty the dishwasher, check email or blog, clean up around the room or do other things that I feel need to be done. I'm guessing in all reality, they really don't care that I'm pre-occupied while they eat, but I should care. I should set that time aside for them and focus my attention on their company. They may only be 5, 3 and a baby, but I'm going to lose this quality time with them all too quickly. So from now on, I'm going to try very hard to forget about the other things going on and sit with them even if I'm not eating at the same time. Maggie may not be able to converse yet, but I'm sure she wouldn't mind making faces at me while she eats. Braeden and Evan always have lots to say and it's time I started really listening.

I find myself caught up in this trap in almost every aspect of my daily life. I've always got a thousand things to do. But I don't think being in the same house with them counts the way sitting down on the floor and playing does. I need to stop worrying about getting the laundry changed over or typing up a flyer for school during the hours that should be theirs. Obviously there are always exceptions. I can't wait and do everything at night after they go to bed, but I will try to manage my time during the day so that I am either getting my stuff done or being the best mom possible. When it is their time, it needs to be only their time. I don't mean at all to sound like I neglect my kids; for sure I do not. I am hands-on a lot of the time and always willing to stop and play or do an activity at their request, but I feel like my focus is a little off kilter, and I'm out to create more of an even balance. After all, as the song says, ...they're only this way for a while.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

First Day of T-Ball

Thank goodness Stacy took pictures of Braeden for me. She as a great eye for photography and takes amazing pictures. I am very grateful to have some from Braeden's first day. Thanks Stacy! 

The kids have been asking for weeks when T-ball was going to start. For one reason or another we weren't able to get practices scheduled until this week. Yesterday was the day! No more waiting impatiently for the little guys who had seen the older kids practicing the last few weeks. It was their turn to take the field. They all did so great. I was a little surprised, but thrilled to see how quickly they picked up the skills we were working on, and the majority of them had improved at one thing or another by the end of practice. The only real downfall was the weather. It was cold and very windy. It sure didn't dampen the enthusiasm though. Only a few kids even noticed it was cold out. The others were too busy running around, hitting, throwing and fielding. 

Warming up with a run around the bases

Batter Up!

Ready to field

Charging the ball

End of practice run around the bases

So proud that it's finally their turn to play

I think I was as excited as they were to finally get started. I loved being an athlete growing up and I'm glad that Braeden has become so excited about playing. Hopefully next week the weather will be better and Evan and Maggie will be able to come watch. Nothing says spring like quality family time at the baseball field!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Is It That Time Already??

Tomorrow marks a bittersweet day for me. The time has come to pass some of our baby essentials on to others who need them. While we can't give up everything just yet, we will be clearing our house of bouncy seats, our baby swing, and one of our two cribs. Bye-bye baby tub, bye-bye bassinet. I can clearly remember my baby showers when I received several of these items and I'm blown away that we are already through this stage of life.

Braeden - 2007

Evan - 2009

Oh my goodness, I almost forgot about the Boppy and the infant seat for the car. I'm pretty sure those two items alone make this a permanent decision. 

Maggie - 2011

I'm finding the reality of all of this difficult. I know in my mind that we are done having babies, but my heart cannot come to terms with that information. It is time to move forward and begin the next phase of life, but I'd be lying if I didn't say I will miss those newborn moments. I am having trouble adjusting to the idea of not seeing the baby swing sitting in our basement, even though it hasn't been used in months. To admit that I will never need to install a car seat base in the car again, or heave a 20lb car seat around with a baby secured snugly inside.

Tomorrow will come whether I'm ready or not, and it will be time to let this baby gear go. Hopefully some other family will get some quality use out of it. For our family, it is time to move on and have new experiences as our children continue to grow. I'm guessing that soon enough, I will be glad to have three kids who walk, talk, and have various levels of independence. But until then, I will likely shed a tear or two as we pass our things along to new homes.

Wow, it really is that time already.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Fun With Fish!

We took a quick overnight trip to Mystic, Connecticut this week to go see the new Titanic exhibit at the Mystic Aquarium. Braeden has become very interested in the Titanic since he took the Magic Treehouse book about the Titanic out from the library. What a fortunate time to gain interest since there has been limitless information available recently with the 100th anniversary this month. Since Roman's school vacation was a week behind everybody else (New Hampshire likes to be different), he and I decided to give the kids a fun little getaway.

We were there right at opening and it felt like we were having our own private experience. One of the workers told us that last week had been the busiest week ever for them. We were right up front for everything and could stand and look at things for as long as we wanted. I could have watched the beluga whales all day. I love how they swim right up to the glass and play with you.

Evan's favorite was the penguins. He got excited when he saw them and we had to go back and see them again before we left. They were also performing for the crowd.

We tried to see all of the outdoor exhibits before going to the Titanic, but Braeden couldn't wait a second longer so we ventured over to the indoor exhibits to check it out. He was just looking around in awe at the iceberg and the pictures and the computerized replica of one of the boiler doors. He sat and watched the video about the discovery of the ship on the ocean's floor for a few minutes, but then he was back to exploring.

I thought it was pretty sobering, especially the replica of the stone with the boots and shoes that hadn't disintegrated over time.

Evan and Maggie were more interested in all of the fish. Maggie loved staring at the tanks and seeing all of the colorful fish swimming around.

Evan, always our adventurous one, even touched a shark! He wasn't as willing to stick his hand in with the sting rays. I wouldn't have touched either, so he's way ahead of me in the willingness to try new things.

We had such a great day there. The aquarium has so many wonderful fish and plenty of hands-on activities for the kids that it's impossible not to enjoy yourself. The kids all loved it there and I'm sure we'll return again in the future.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Family Picture

I am very grateful to the nice woman who was wandering around Mystic Village last night and offered to take a family picture for us. I think this is the first one ever of all five of us.

My heart is happy and full looking at the beautiful family that Roman and I have created. ♥

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Hardly a Sanctuary

When I watch HGTV or glance through magazines, I always see designers discussing how a bedroom should be a sanctuary. A place of peace and tranquility where the rest of life's chaos can be left behind. I don't know about everyone else in the real world, but mine is the polar opposite of that. It is the place where things with no other home land. The room where all laundry both dirty and clean and folded lives until it is washed or put away. Soon, at least the kids laundry will be in their own rooms because I'm getting an Initials, Inc. tote for each room so they have a place for their own dirty clothes. That should at least lessen the laundry pile.

One of the biggest problems with our room cannot be changed - it is a small square room. Each wall has a door or a window and we have too much furniture for the space. We can't really remove any of the furniture though because we need it for storage. So what to do? I want to at least like the way my room looks. I don't want to simply use it to sleep and store random toys, books, movies, etc.

I have a small scale plan to make it a little more inviting. I started by finally getting some curtains. I figured after living here for 5 years, it was about time. I got these from the shabby chic collection at Target a couple of weeks ago and I really like them.
Simply Shabby Chic® Embroidered Batiste Balloon Shade - 60x63".Opens in a new window

I also asked for these beautiful pictures from PhotoLadz on Etsy for Mother's Day. I am going to frame them and put them over my bedside table. The purple flower picture is one of my favorite's EVER. I am so excited to finally be getting it to add some tranquility to my room. There is one other purple flower print that I'm getting with the set, but I couldn't find it on the Etsy site. 

Delicate Pink Rain Flower - An 8x10 Photography Print - Rain drops on the pretty pink petals - affordable art- nursery art

Finally, I bought some fabrics on sale last year with the intention of making a quilt or comforter cover for our bed. It's been months and I still have the fabric and the best of intentions, but I have yet to get the time to actually put it together. I'm hopeful that I will love that new bedding so much that it will somehow magically transform the room and draw the eyes right away from the clutter.

I will probably not ever consider the room a sanctuary, but I hope to at least make it less of an eye sore. I can live with that for now. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

My Book List

I love to read. I have been an avid reader since I was a child reading the Babysitter's Club. I couldn't get enough of those books and waited eagerly each time a new one was being released. I would spend every Wednesday afternoon at the local library looking through books and deciding which ones to read that week. I remember getting so excited when I was old enough to move on to the Sweet Valley High series.

While I don't have nearly the same amount of time to read anymore, I still value books a great deal and read whenever I get a chance. I have always tended to read more fiction than non-fiction, but in the last few years I've found some really fascinating people whose books are interesting, entertaining, and sometimes, as in the case of Angie Smith, very inspiring.

What I've read recently:

What Women Fear - by Angie Smith
What Women Fear: Walking in Faith That Transforms   -     
        By: Angie Smith

This book was life-changing for me. Angie is a real woman with real problems and a very similar past of fear and anxiety to my own. She spent much of her childhood with cares and worries that should not burden a child. I can so relate. This book is based in Christianity and the love that God has for us all. It may not be for everyone, but it is probably one of the best books I have ever read. I am so grateful to Angie for helping me to find a way to deal with my insecurities and anxiety that is powerful, uplifting and very freeing. After all, if God is taking care of it, why should I worry?

The Long Journey Home - by Margaret Robison 

This book is most relevant to those who are familiar with Running With Scissors and any other books by Augusten Burroughs. His brother, John Elder Robison also wrote a book about their life from his perspective, including finally realizing that he has Asperger's Syndrome. Margaret Robison is Chris Robison's (Augusten Burroughs) and John Elder Robison's mother and it's so interesting because it is her story of how she became the woman that they describe in their books. While she defends herself saying that of course, she wasn't as bad as Chris describes her, she certainly wasn't, and probably still isn't, all there. I'm not quite to the end, but I'm enjoying learning more about the mother in this bizarre family. I also love that she eventually ended up in Western Massachusetts raising her boys. It's a good read if you are familiar with the books by her sons. Otherwise, it wouldn't really mean much except for an unknown woman recounting her bizarre and troubled life.

Mini-Shopaholic - by Sophie Kinsella

This book is the latest in perhaps my favorite book series of all time. I can't get enough chick-lit that is set in England. From the first moment I was introduced to Becky in Confessions of a Shopaholic, I was completely hooked. The trials and constant missteps that poor Becky continues to put herself through never cease to entertain me. I will undoubtedly finish any Sophie Kinsella book in one week or less. I end up staying up way too late reading them, but I can't help it. She also writes under her own name (SK is her pen name), Madeleine Wickham, but I don't like those books as much. If you haven't read the Shopaholic series, but have seen the movie, don't judge! I didn't even watch the whole movie because it was so different than the book. 

If anyone has any recommendations for me, I'd love to hear about them. Happy Reading!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

My Babies Make Me Smile

Even on days when I don't feel like it... babies make me smile. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Eric Carle Museum

Every now and then I become that parent who feels as if I'm not doing an adequate job of showing my children the world. Not really the world, but something other than the walls of our house. I feel like we are at home all the time. We go to Target and the grocery store, but I'm quite sure that they aren't getting a lot of enhancement out of those activities. When these moments of realization strike me I tend to act impulsively and pack them up and take them somewhere new. If I think too much about it, I find a reason that it's probably not a great idea to go to whatever place I'm thinking at this particular time. Tuesday was one of those days when I thought, "we've never been to the Eric Carle Museum and it's so close to where we live. Maybe that's what we could do today". Well, we didn't go on Tuesday, but we did make it there yesterday. What a great place for kids! Even Maggie was happy because she could crawl around in almost every area. The kids were really excited about going and were not disappointed at all. 

The Museum

One of the highlights of the day for Braeden was the puppet show where they did The Emperors New Clothes. I saw the first few minutes, but Maggie wasn't having it and Evan was having trouble sitting still too, so we went outside to the beautiful grassy patio area while Braeden stayed for the show with Jean, Abbie and Abbie's kids. 

Maggie loved being able to crawl all over the grass

Evan posed with the big red elephant

Once the show was over, everyone else came out and joined us for a few minutes of picture taking with the elephant, snacking, and hanging out in the beautiful weather. 

The girls

My boys 
(I don't think I can even bribe Evan to look at a camera for a picture)

The museum is really great because it is so kid friendly and most of it is hands-on. There are two galleries of art, but the rest consists of an auditorium (where the puppet show was), an art studio, library, and gift shop. 

Our next stop was the art studio. This weeks project was creating an animal out of shapes. Every child was given a piece of paper and a large shape to use as the body of their animal and then they could create whatever they wanted. There are lots of fun paper supplies available as well as markers, glue and scissors. 

Serious animal creators

Braeden working on his giraffe

Evan using lots and lots of glue to make a lion

While Abbie's kids continued to work diligently on their projects, I took my three down the hall to the library to read some books and play. The library has lots of books and toys that are age appropriate for all of my kids so we planted ourselves there for quite a while. Before we went in, I tried to get a picture of the three of them in front of the big caterpillar. As usual, Evan wasn't overly cooperative, but you can see a glimpse of him jumping from bench to bench inside of the caterpillar. He was very proud of his success. 

We hung out in the library until it closed, much to the disappointment of all of the kids. There was 15 minutes left until the museum closed so we headed to the gift shop to see if there was anything we had to have. The kids were so good and each picked out one thing they wanted. Our "Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What do you See?" book even came with a poster. I love a bonus!

I feel like a broken record when I say how grateful I am to have such wonderful people surrounding us, but I don't think I can ever express enough how much I love having amazing family and friends to spend time with and do such fun things. I'm sure we'll all be together again soon on another adventure. I can't wait.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Chatty Maggie Stands!

As we were sitting in the living room after dinner tonight, I looked over to where Maggie was and she was standing next to her big cube playing with it! Braeden noticed it right when I did and got so excited. "Mom, she's standing all by herself!" She's been able to stand unassisted for a while, but this is the very first time she pulled herself up. Way to go baby girl!

Chatty Maggie

Maggie has started "talking" lots. Everyone told me she would talk sooner than the boys did, but I really didn't expect it to start at 8 months. I'm debating about what her first word really was. She's been making sounds for a long time. Dadadada was one of those sounds, so is Dada her first word even if she wasn't saying it to him? It's either that or the word grab. In the beginning of February we were at Jean's birthday party and Sara taught her to say grab, grab, grab. There was no mistaking that she was clearly repeating the word. But she let that go after a couple of days so I think it was more of a fun sound to make for her.

Some of the words she says now are: mama, dada, grampa, yes, nigh-nigh, bye-bye, hi. I'm sure there are more that I'm forgetting at the moment, but I'm amazed at how many things she is trying to say already.


 She is usually trying to get the camera these days

 The curls are making a wild comeback with the humid weather

Her "smile" face

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My Brain is like a Fun House

I don't even know where to start to explain it clearly. It's like everything in my head is just wandering around looking for a place to settle, but all the weird turns and illusions keep it constantly shifting and confused. No, it is not my usual state of mind, but right now I am in the process of weaning off of my anti-depressant (hopefully for the last time since Maggie is our last baby) and like the two times before, I am not enjoying it. After Braeden, I don't remember the side effects being nearly as bad as they have been after Evan and Maggie. I attribute that to getting pregnant again so quickly after I finished the medication that it was all combined with morning sickness. So maybe I did experience the same problems but they were masked by vomiting and constant nausea and headaches.

I thought I had a better plan this time around. I would cut my dose in half for a month and then half it one more time for another month and then be done. That way I would have next to nothing in my system for a longer period of time before I was done all together. It might be helping some, but not nearly enough to stick to that schedule and stay on any dosage until June. I made the decision yesterday to do two weeks at each lower dosage and then be done at the end of April instead of the end of May. The doctor's recommendation is to do one week at half, then one week every other day, and then be done. I knew that would make my head more like a tilt-a-whirl so I opted to try and lengthen the process thus minimizing the effects and maybe stay away from the carnival all together. Nope. The fun house it where I have landed this time and the sooner I can get out the better.

When I was weaning off after Evan, I experienced lots of dizziness and an inability to keep up with my own head as it was moving. It was like I could turn my head, but my vision would be a just a hair behind it and create a really weird sensation of my head not being able to keep up with itself. When I looked it up, I found a forum where people were describing exactly what I was feeling. It was great to know that I was "normal", but it didn't make it any easier to deal with. My head hurt all.the.time. I was always dizzy and just couldn't really function successfully. Thankfully it only lasted a couple of weeks, but that was a seriously long two weeks. After a month or so, I felt better than I could remember feeling in years. I had energy, was happy and enjoying life so much. Then I got pregnant with Maggie and started the whole cycle again... And with her I was sick for almost 20 weeks. But believe me, I would do it over and over again. Except that we've decided not to, so I don't have to, which my head truly appreciates.

Hopefully in a couple of weeks I will feel like myself again. I pray that I can go back to that place I was in between Evan and Maggie because my kids deserve that mom. My husband deserves that me. And I deserve that life. But for now, the half of me that is functioning will have to do. For the next couple of weeks I will lay low and try not to get too dizzy looking in the mirrors and wandering around looking for the exit.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Ready, Set, Blow!

We celebrated Evan's birthday yesterday afternoon. The weather held on so that the kids could play outside. There is really nothing I enjoy more than the sounds of kids laughing and having a good time outdoors. The new truck went around and around the house along with the gator and a parade of bikes. Maggie slept through some of it but woke up soon enough to enjoy trying blueberries for the first time. She was definitely a fan! Evan not so patiently waited all day to be able to have cake. Presents are great but in Evan's mind, cake is better. He only managed to get one piece of Twizzler off of it before the party despite his many efforts to eat it all as he waited for guests to arrive.




Time came for presents and Evan was a little overwhelmed, but did a good job getting through the gifts and saying his thank you's. He got into the spirit by the last couple of bags.
What's all this tissue paper for anyway?

A new bowling set!

The present that will last a lifetime - HA!

Maggie waited a little while, but soon enough she had to check out the gifts. 

Evan got a little time to play before bed.

I hope Evan has lots of great memories from the weekend. He was so excited for his birthday this year and was delighted by all of the celebrating. I can't believe he's three!!