Tuesday, November 17, 2015

hey, you

Hey, you over there.
Who used to make me feel like a failure,
Who made me question myself and wonder why we weren't friends...

Here's the deal:
I don't need you to like me
For me to like you.
I don't need you to be my friend
For me to be friendly to you.
I don't need to be promised a future with you
To enjoy being together this moment,
I don't have to understand you
To show you compassion and worth.

I'm learning.
I'm defining *friendship* more loosely.
Not demanding exact reciprocation.
The promise of more,
Of deep,
Of loyalty,
Of validation,
Of unanimity.

I've stopped seeing friendship as
A game of tennis ( equal parts give & take)...
Or chess ( something to be analyzed )...

Now, I'm seeing it more as a walk among a field of flowers;
That we are social beings,
And that sometimes it's ok to just enjoy being social...
Without it "meaning something" or "going somewhere".
Being social for social's sake:
Sometimes that's enough.
I'm learning to enjoy the flower
Whose blooms are only with me for a day or two....
As well as (*I cannot yet say "As much as..."*)
The tree in my backyard
Who I know I will see from my window
Each morning and night.
Who I know sinks its roots deep into my land;
Upon whom I rely daily for shade, beauty & life.

So, really... it's this:
You don't define me any more.
You don't determine my thoughts or my responses.
You don't decide my worth.
You are a part of my life,
Not its summation or measure of worth.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

gabriella is one.

You know those mornings that just seem so perfect...they are almost too perfect? That was today...and it seemed fitting that to celebrate the day our little bundle of joy arrived one year ago--the weather should cooperate with an amazingly beautiful morning.

I determined that simpler was better for this birthday, and for every idea I had, I kept asking myself two questions: 1: Is that simple? & 2: Will it really be enjoyable for all? So, with that in mind... we crossed off many ideas, until we landed on just wandering around downtown for a couple hours...and doing some presents/cupcakes after birthday girl's naptime.

And, so that's what we did. Splendidly.

And, even though it was simple... we ended the day bone tired. But, that good kind of tired--where you wouldn't have changed a thing.

It seems only right to now share about the birthday girl herself.

Ok, so this kid is just fun. She loves engaging, being playful and finding a good joke to share. She loves things like rolling a ball back and forth, playing hide and seek or just making funny noises for us to laugh at. She will often be sitting across the room, catch my eye and do the cutest thing she can think of for no reason (clap, rest her head on something, make a raspberry, giggle, bounce up and down, shake her head emphatically). She literally keeps me laughing all day long with her clever games.

She also believes it only fitting that when she is in a room, people notice. Whenever she comes into a new place, she will look around and wave-- like a big, cross-body, sweeping Miss America wave. Like she's saying, "Hey everyone Gabriella's here!" She is social, alert, observant & studies people intensely until she decides to turn on the charm. She also is completely confused by people who don't notice her. If we are at the store or somewhere, and someone near her is not gushing over her, she stares at them with the most probing look a baby can make.... until they begin interacting with her. Then she's like, "Ohhhh! Now everything is right with the world!"

Words... she talks gently and sweetly all day long, with inflections and volume changes. However, actual words are down to "Bye!" & "Dog-doggy." Sadly, dog won out over mom and dad. She even randomly repeated, "Hubba Bubba" quite a few times to the kids the other day...I think she's on to us.

Gabriella is quick to size up a room and decide what she is going to do and do it. She is very decisive, and quick to find solutions... She is strong. logical, and it's always easy to understand what she's thinking. Even from the time she was a new born, she has seemed to have this uncanny way of making plain exactly what she wants... and typically what she wants makes sense. (Ask me again on her second birthday if this is the case!) She definitely has strong feelings about things and resists if I need to take something away from her, but generally she moves on quickly. She is also just now entering the land of dramatic sadness in response to a "no", or momma being unable to pick her up right away. She will freeze, her eyes will widen in suprise... Then she will gasp, her shoulders will fall, and oh-so-slowly she will bend her head down to the ground and begin weeping very convincingly. It is both sweet and comical. (How can I resist that?) ;)

Ok, so this girl loves music. I mean loves loves it. She tries to sing along if she hears us singing, waves her arm dramatically along to the rythym, bounces her behind to the beat. The cutest. Can't wait to see if that develops into something more!

Unlike big sister, she really enjoys baby dolls. It's so cute to see her picking them up, looking at them intensely, and hugging them. She also loves putting hats and sunglasses on (which neither of her older siblings liked).

She is quick to learn. Since she is usually my grocery shopping sidekick these days, when it comes time to check out... she gets very excited. She insists I give her the wallet, she opens it, pulls on the debit card and tries to swipe it in the machine. She gets very frustrated if I try to do that without her. She also has figured out how to turn things on and off with the wii remote, which drives the kids crazy. And, I'm going to pretend I just told you she knows how to read in Latin and cross-stitch--so it doesn't sound so much like she lives with shopaholic couch potatoes.

Gabriella is social, alert, observant. studies people intensely until she decides to turn on the charm. if they ignore her, that seems to make her focus in even more intensely until they notice her and engage--then she's like "NOW everything is right in the world"

Little Miss Thing is crawling everywhere. Unlike big bro & sis, she never did the army crawl. Our house is now a series of gates, and everything is shifted to a higher shelf in this new series. She already has checked "Falling All The Way Down The Stairs" off her bucket list. So sad. I was racing down the stairs behind her, and she would roll down 3 stairs and stop and I would yell, "Oh, good!", and reach for her...and then she'd roll again... She is a TORNADO. She tears things out of cabinets, rips pages out of books, empties an entire container of qtips (during my shower) and generally leaves a room destroyed wherever she goes. I told Rey that I feel I may slip into a depression over the whole thing... she's quicker than I am! ;)

Where we live now means that G & I spend at least two hours in the car a day, driving big brother and sister two and from school. She is pretty patient with all the running around she has to do with me.

Can we talk about her hair? Shoot, she's had two haircuts already in her first year of life... and it still looks like she doesn't have a momma most days.... I promise that I really do "do" her hair almost every morning! Even if it doesn't look it.

Also, she a pretty tough little girl about most falls/scrapes unless it's a real "ow"...

And, I think that is most of our Gabriella news! We don't know what we'd be without her--our life is so much better with her in it!!

Friday, September 25, 2015

your changing body...

Have you ever seen a momma dog right after she's given birth to a litter of puppies? How her belly seems to sag to the earth, and she walks slowly and gingerly? How it appears that her body has been emptied in one swift moment and left her limping along with the aftermath?

I remember distinctly feeling as though I were that momma dog. Lovely comparison, I know. I had given birth to Gabriella on Friday at noon... and here it was, Monday morning--and it was business as usual. Rey was back at work, and Noe was to go back to school. However, we lived in a 2nd floor apartment... and just envisioning hauling the baby carrier in the crook of one arm and the necessary bags on the other arm out to the van--down those stairs--was giving me qualm. Actually, envisioning just the stairs was giving me qualm. Walking itself was a "as-needed-only" activity (like, "I'm starving", "Baby's crying", or "I can't hold it anymore" kind of necessity) at this point... For some reason, even driving was sounding overwhelming. And, how would the baby do on this drive? I'm so tired... let's just skip it...

But, no. It was mind over matter time. Since I knew I didn't have the energy to keep the three of them entertained all day... I knew I needed to bite the bullet and just get Noe to school. I vehemently hoped I wouldn't meet any neighbors on the way out. I just felt so war-torn, so in-pain... I was still oozing liquid out every pore of my body it seemed. It was a very hot, bright morning... so, I covered the top of my 3-day-old baby's carrier with a light blanket as we scooted out the door. I had almost limped to the van when the voice of two neighbors sounded behind me. They were excited to see the baby, who was sleeping and I wished her to stay that way. I pulled the blanket back a bit for them to see her and thanked them for their compliments. But really, I just wished I had been invisible.

I share this moment because it is so seared into my memory. How my body felt...

It was maybe two weeks later, when I found myself at the grocery store alone for the first time since Gabriella's birth. What coursed through me was the realization that it was the first time I had not had her "in or on me" in the last 9+ months! I suddenly felt a pang of loss, and I felt naked. Alone. I also suddenly felt to urge to cover my post-baby belly with the shopping cart or whatever was near. I knew I still looked like I was pregnant, and didn't want to field those questions...

When I was pregnant, I felt cute. I felt powerful. Yes, I felt large and awkward... but there was no feeling of a need to hide or camaflouge. No need to suck in, or be ashamed.

I took this picture 10 days after Gabriella was born:

I was honestly elated. I had heard the whole loosing weight thing got harder with each baby, and remember... I was looking like this just weeks before:

I also wanted to document what it really looks like to recover from birth. Each of us recovers differently... but, there is a definite recovery. Everyone needs to know that.

I took this picture about 3 weeks after G was born. I was proud of myself... because I was actually getting my butt out the door to take the girls on a walk. Must document!

Can I tell you something? This gentle treatment of myself, this tender self-encouragement ended about the time Gabriella turned 3 months old. I think before that point, I could always say how old Gabriella was in weeks, and always be assured a "You look so great!" kind of response. However, the older she got, the more shame began to creep in. I started to feel like my time for just taking it easy was running out. The less Gabriella began looking like a newborn, the more I felt as though my appearance was being judged, and the less comfortable I began to feel with myself. With the first two babies, I felt like the weight came off pretty easily. With this last one, it's been more of a journey, and I've had to accept that.

This picture: Gabriella is almost 4 months old, and I'm reminding myself to take pictures in every day mom mode. I'm not just about documenting my babies or getting myself back in shape--there's a lot of life happening in between! 

Why share this? Why document? Because I know it's not just me who feels this pressure. Who daily struggles between the reality that we birthed these babies, and now we are in charge of keeping them alive... and also are somehow expected to "look good" (whatever that means) in the meantime.  

Do you remember taking a course called, "You and Your Changing Body" (or some similarly titled book) when you were around the age of puberty?? I really think there needs to be more openness and more dialogue about the post-pregnancy body. It's like the new puberty. All the same awkwardness, all the same uncontrollable hormones & chemicals. All the same breakouts and body changes. But, none of the same openness, understanding. We have to make a home in a brand new body, figure out how to dress it... all with zero time. Or energy... Oh, and yes! Your body will keep changing--maybe every 3 months or so after pregnancy--as it morphs into the new thing it's going to be. You didn't have hips before? Ah, well, now you do! Did you used to have a curvy backside? Well, now it's flat. Enjoy. Your chest region will go from painfully large, to knows what??-- over the coming year. Let's throw in loose joints, hair breakage, and a good dose of post-baby acne as well. AND--now, we'll pile on the expectations of how quickly you should loose that baby belly... and baby thighs... Or, we'll pile on the guilt if you loose it "too fast"....

When I look in the mirror today, I still see a changing body. Thankfully, it is becoming stronger and--in some ways-- more like the body I remember, recognize. In other ways, it will never be the same. And, I don't really think I want it to be. I actually enjoy being able to feel the scattering of little vertical scars along my lower belly. They are the life-long proof that these 3 amazing lives running around my house today did--really--at one time, make their home inside of me. One side of my stomach is actually lower than the other side. That reminds me how our last little darling spent most of her incubation time hanging out on one side of my belly--which really made my back happy. Even as my belly shrinks and the rolls on my back become fewer, there is still a small mound of extra skin camped out in front. It may eventually disappear. It may not. But, for now... When I see it--whether in the mirror, or perhaps in my own shadow--I try not to wish it away. I try to see it for what it is, was. A cradle. A safe, soft place for three lives. Their beginning, their home. Some of the last remaining evidence that it really happened...

All this to say. Let's be gracious, ladies. Let's not become so focused on loosing the baby weight that the whole deal becomes a kind of curse. If weight-loss is coming easily, let's remember to season our words with grace--for perhaps our easy feels like condemnation to our sister. If weight-loss is not happening as we have hoped and we aren't liking this new body... let's take some of that love and grace we show others--and direct it towards the reflection in the mirror.  Let's be motivated, let's take care of ourselves... But, let's be real, and kind. Being a mom is hard. That identity stretches us in so many ways. We must remember that we are mind, soul AND body. You see?? Our bodies are only 1/3 of who we are! Our bodies house us mothers.... They do not define us (for good or bad). Our bodies are homes, safe places, love in motion, servant hood, emblems of grace and mercy poured out... Let us see them as such, not just as something to be controlled, dominated or used for competition.   

Thursday, September 24, 2015

I am a tree.
I am a butterfly.
And, my home is on the Mountain.

From here, where my roots go down deep
I can see far
I can see valleys, I can see higher mountains
My bark is rough, scarred by those who have cut it and pierced it with their sharp carvings.
But, my rings are many.
They circle around within, telling the story of the days I've marked,
My life pressed out in diameters white,
Even more to be made.
But, they don't tell it all--
The rings speak of years, but they don't tell about the fruit,
The nests,
The branches snapped in the storms... the weight of the ice, the bending of the wind.
My roots go down, while my arms stretch out high;
They reach up towards the heavens, scratching at it,
Longing for it.
They stretch wide, giving home and protection.
I am a tree.

My colorful, delicate wings carry me high over these ridges.
They, perhaps, make you think that there's not much there--
Not much substance, not much strength.
But, my wings have carried me far. And up.
Don't judge me by the soft flutter of my wings,
As I worship with my twirl and my swirl.
Maddening in unpredictability, unsteady perhaps.
But still, this is my dance.
I am a butterfly.

This is where I make my home.
To some, this Mountain may seem formidable and unapproachable.
But here....
I have found my stability, my strength
The mass of this Mountain fills me with its grandeur,
Even on days that leave me feeling small.
It's height takes me up, where I want to be.
The crags and valleys give road to the sparkling eddies of water,
The trickles of small streams,
The rush of towering waterfalls.
The sparkling, the fragrance, the music of it.
It is life to me.
My home is on the Mountain.

Friday, September 18, 2015


On a gloomy, sticky morning... this flower decided to open its petals. While all the flowers around it remained dry, brown, withered.... this flower lifted up its head and shone yellow. In a not-much-visited corner of the world, among browness and dirt and mud.... it bloomed. It soaked in the small rainshower that came to it the previous day, and did not hoard it--anxiously imagining the heat and dryness to come. It didn't wonder "What's even the point, no one's going to notice?" It received the water, it released its effect. Smiled, nodded, and spread beauty & light to all who passed by.

Sometimes I struggle...sometimes I'm more like the brown withered stuff around the flower. Soaking in the rain, feeling the hurt of scarcity--wanting to keep it to myself. Sometimes, I feel too tired to shine. Sometimes, I want other flowers to provide me with their beauty; sometimes I wonder if my efforts are even worth it.

But then I'm reminded: Beauty is no less beautiful when it shines alone... And, it shines most when it shines in a hard, dark place.

Friday, September 4, 2015

summer lessons

Summer's over. And, it kinda makes me sad. Oh, no. I'm not harboring any silent wishes to be in charge of schooling my kiddos--but, I did feel like we were getting to a great place of synchronization. Or, maybe...I felt like I was just opening my eyes to a big "mommy-ing" revelation. 
Throughout the summer, I felt like I was getting bits and pieces of a bigger lesson (ever get that feeling?)... and the week before school started--I felt that many of the pieces came together, so I grabbed my phone, and began furiously typing thoughts as they came (in between dinner prep and cleaning up and....). Here are those thoughts, which I think I need to post somewhere in my house, to keep them fresh in my mind. I'm so good at forgetting.

Being a good mom means learning to live in the tension of constant companionship. Learning to lean into it--to feel the prickle of annoyance or desire for solitude... and just sit with it for a while. Until you are used to it. Learning that this thing--this having new appendages, being wanted at every moment--though draining, is not meant to be escaped from, sighed over or bemoaned. Mothering is not our suffocation, stifling or suppression. It is our wings, our roots, our legacy.

I cannot do "checked out" mothering. Going through the motions, while my heart, mind and soul are somewhere else. Community--companionship--is only right and healthful when I am fully God-dreamed, God-formed self. When I am fully alive, fully living, fully accepting, fully giving. When I can not only laugh at the future--but at the messes and the bodies all tangled together on top of me...just wanting to be closer. When I lean in, seeking to sow love, perspective and security--while tenderly exploring the souls doing life with me. Seeking moments to bring them along side of me in my quiet times, my work times--rather than always retreating into my own mind and space, Avoiding the "I deserve this time away from the leeches" mentality... knowing I have sometimes found that "me time" can be the unhealthiest thing...especially when accompanied by martyr-like moans and groans.

I am the woman of the house. I am powerful. I create the spaces, I set the tones, I build the home. Learning to "do" community comes easier to some of us--thanks to differences in the home culture you were brought up in and/or your own personality. Whether or not you are naturally a "people-person", I am coming to believe that we can only truly learn to do deep, authentic community when we first practice it in our homes... and in this setting, I am the initiator. My tone makes or breaks the moment; my tempo nurtures or prods; my inward focus can miss the life marching by--or can be turned outwards and bring joy-filled focus to those around.

Being the woman of your house, the mother of your children is a hefty calling. It is hard and sometimes heavy--but I believe it can also be our salvation, when we embrace it and allow us to mold us. When we choose to shine our brightest light, be our best selves, in our homes. To strangle those dark whispers in the background of our minds that swear to us that we are poor, suppressed, down-trodden individuals... being sucked of our life and our potential. When we realize that these little patience-needers also help shine the light on areas within ourselves not fully yielded to God, not yet relinquished to His kingdom. When we believe that each child in our home has been divinely "matched" to us by God... we can open our hearts and souls to them, to this "job", and dive into sharing life--really living--with these kids. These wonders. These disciples.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

what you didn't know about the 3rd child.

So, I'm going to write this post as if I am sharing something that is true to all of us. I'm going to say "you" a lot, so it makes me feel like this is a common thing, and not just me! And, these are things I am learning with #3-- perhaps for you you learned them on #1... or won't feel this until kid #5... But, at some point, I think all mommas of multiples get these feelings! Also, my third is 6 months old. I'm sure I'll be writing a whole 'nother post when she is six years old!

People probably tried to tell me these things, but some things must be experienced to be understood... so, without further delay, here are "20 Things To Know for #Three":

1. No matter how many children you have, a new baby is still a new baby. Somehow people will think you're this child expert by number three, and will back away from you. "Oh, you already know this... Oh, you don't need any help... Oh, you're a pro..."

Um. No. Actually, no matter how small the human... he or she is still a human, having arrived with their personality already present... The first weeks are not only weeks of recovery, they are also weeks of getting to know this new little person who arrived to your home. The baby is getting to know you, too... Getting to know your cues, your touch, your ways... It's a lot! So, no matter what number, we are all still starting over. And it's still overwhelming!

2. With the third, you will feel pressure to get it all perfect. You won't. Somehow it seems that the pressure/guilt is more with the third... Even when people say things like, "Oh, honey. Don't work so hard. Just relax and soak in this time with your babies"--it can feel like a guilt attack... Because, yes. That sounds really nice. But, hello!? Who's going to keep things going if I "sit and soak"? (PS: If you really want a new momma to feel relaxed and joyful, please don't say that line to her. Say something like, "Hey, can I swing by and hold your baby for you for a while? Or order you a pizza? Or take your big kids to the park?" That will actually alleviate some pressure, instead of adding some.)

3. There will be a season of time (let's say around week 4 of life--right when the baby is getting really needy)... that you will lay awake at night. Panicking. How will you do this? You didn't even get a shower today! Did you even talk to your oldest? Did we do dinner? What's happening???!

4. When people talk about how easy/great it is to have large families--they often smile from a lofty pinnacle of wisdom and say: "Remember, love multiplies... It doesn't divide." Uh, yeah. But, they forget about that whole time thing. Love multiplies... but, time on the other hand. It breaks, fractures, dissipates.

I remember that with Noe and Aleni, I felt like time dragged on and on... I often doubted if I had the fortitude to make it to lunch time--let alone until the end of the day. Now, I felt like I woke up... did a lot of things while accomplishing nothing... and then, five minutes later, the day was over. The days literally flew by, leaving me blinking and wondering what had just happened? And, breathless knowing that another day loomed ahead of me, just hours away.

5. You now live in the land of the "trade-off". You can't do it all anymore. So, activities become divided up into tiers. The activities shift up or down to different tiers as time changes... for now, my tiers are shaking out a bit like this:

Tier One: Necessary for Daily Life
-Feeding hungry tummies
-Generally straightening our living area
-Laundry (Washing/Drying)
(and, most days, especially at the beginning--THAT takes ALL.DAY. Doubt me if you will.)

Tier Two: Possibly get done Every Day
-Fun times with kids
-Actual time with Rey
-Putting laundry away
-Preparing good food (not just whatever I can grab/order pizza)
-Kid's homework

Tier Three: Would Love to Get to Every Day
-Organize/deep clean anything

Tier Four: Fun Extras (aka: Insert Giggles Here)
-Date Nights
-Find clothes that don't smell like poop/spit up
-Chat/correspond with friends

So, eventually you learn to only expect tier one from yourself... to pat yourself on the back if you make it to tier two... to feel like supermom if you make it to tier three... and to think you won the lottery if tier four happens.

6. Not the same, but related: You will find you have a fast-forward mode you now live in. Slow and steady no longer wins the day. You also possess a turbo mode, for special occasions.

7. Again, the time thing. I'm telling you: Don't get behind! (snicker) I know, right? But, really. Try to pick up as you go, stay up late to get those dishes washed, wake up early to get the clothes laid out. You will thank me.

8. Also, equally but seemingly impossibly true: There's no such thing as "Getting ahead on your chores" or "Getting a jumpstart" on tomorrow.

Here's an example.
I recently stayed up way late, waiting for the last load of laundry to finish drying so I could put it away. I felt I had accomplished to impossible that day: I had really cleaned EVERY room in the house and was moments away from having washed, dried, folded and stored every piece of dirty laundry in the house.

I fell into bed, feeling full of happy thoughts and big hopes for an awesome day to come. Of course, that night one child wet the bed, the other crawled into bed with us after a bad dream and the baby decided to be awake from about 1-3 am... and then to be up for the day a little after 5 am.

So, kiss that notion of getting ahead goodbye. Just focus on #6. Whisper to yourself: "Keep on swimming" and that's about the best you can do!

9. Milestones will fly by. You will hear yourself saying, "How is it possible that you are already rolling over/scooting/ready for solid foods...? I just birthed you yesterday!"

I remember with Noe and Aleni, I was glued to the "What to Expect" book and analyzing their every "shortcoming" or seemingly advanced ability. I haven't even checked those lists this time. Oops.

10. You will become more choosy about "mom events".

With the first two, I was all, "Get me outta here! What? You have something for moms.... with childcare?? I don't need to know you. It's ok. I'll just sit here and stare at the wall!" Now, I'm more like, "What? Get everyone out to the van by a certain time? Pack up all the gear, get them all dressed and out the door--hopefully between spit ups and blow outs?? No, thanks. We're fine."

I'm even, sadly, more picky on just mom outings... "Fondue? When I could deep clean the front closet? Or even...." *sacred whisper* "...sleep????"

11. I used to think that the more kids you have, the more mellow you become. I now think that the more kids you have, the more it shines a spotlight on your natural tendencies and your personality. And, that either you will like what is now magnified for all to see, or you will be forced to re-evaluate and tweak what comes natural to you into what works for now.

Just for fun, let's use me as an example. I tend to be a more spontaneous, wait-till-the-last-minute, meandering type. It may surprise you to learn that it is not working out to well for me to stay that way now that I have 3... with 2 being in different schools with different schedules... and with the baby needing her naps and feedings to happen also. This momma is having to figure out a more planned-out, quick-moving existence. For now. ;)

12. There's a reason "The 3rd baby is always so laid back". Because they have no choice! From day one, they are dragged anywhere and everywhere... at the dictate of the older siblings. They have to learn to sleep when and where they can, put up with loud noises, crazy play and lots of time in the car.

13. Perfect family/sibling pictures are a thing of the past. For some reason, you can get perfect pictures of two children. Something about having more than two in a picture just guarantees that at least one will have an expression suggesting the need for an immediate intervention by a trained therapist.

14. Second-guessing what works for your family or letting yourself settle into mom guilt will rob your now of its joy.

15. Remember this: Nothing you do today will have any permanence (think: cleaning floors, feeding hungry mouths, organizing closets). . . EXCEPT for the time you took to stop and love on those closest to you.

16. You will--perhaps for the first time ever--amaze yourself.

There's something about doing everything the third time that really presses it into your memory. You see yourself getting down on the floor with your older two during your last weeks of pregnancy, and marvel at your resolve to be present and show love even though your body is screaming at you. You see yourself birth your child--again--and are amazed that, even though you knew what was coming, you did it again. You see yourself taking on the housework... getting kids to school... when just days ago you were in a bed bringing life into the world. Yet, you are able to do it because you want to be strong for your husband and be strong for your family. You see yourself pulling yourself out of bed time and time again to quiet a screaming infant, although you have not once rested throughout the day, and are amazed at the power of your will. You are amazed at your strength, your resolve, your love, your capacity--the richness of your life. And, maybe--for the first time ever--you will start to be okay with admitting your own amazingness. (*Yes, that's a word...*)

17. When you find out you're expecting your third, do yourself a big favor: Run out and pick up a box of this. Seriously. Not even being cute. I just used it yesterday, and I heard little birdies singing while butterflies fluttered around my head. And, it literally took all of 20 minutes. Start to finish

 Something about the third seems to bring in an abundance of some things... and a scarcity of others. (In the abundance column, let's say I'm referring to gray hairs. In the scarcity column--review #4-8. And add.... hmm... I'll whisper it in Spanish so you don't think I'm being impolite: *dinero*.)

So, yes. Don't delay. It's happiness in a box. An attitude adjustment for $6. And it comes in every shade.

18. Sanity is not found the schedule... it's all about the rhythm, the dance.

Women in general are called to live in flux. Throughout our lifetime, we fill many different and diverse roles--our bodies go through unparalleled changes, bear pain, carry, hold, embrace, nurture, heal... And, we must find beauty in the changes. Must find the grace and tenderness there. If we hold on to what used to be, to what could have been, should have been, we will see the joy begin to crumble. But, if we can lean into what is, hear the rhythm of the time and sway to it's beat... we will find our way!

What does that mean in daily life? For me now, it has been finding what works for today... trying to notice what the baby seems to be wanting and needing today... realizing it could all be different tomorrow... and trying to be okay with that.

19. If you don't like what you see in the mirror, find one with a more flattering light source. For real.

20. You will survive. You will find your new normal. Because... you are a mother. Or, in other words: you are amazing.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

baby g is 6 months old...

Oh. I have written this post in my mind multiple times. The first time, Gabriella was 1 month old... then 2, then... Well, you get the idea! Time slips through my hands like sand these days--and my absence here is testimony to that.

But, I must sit myself here and record all things Gabriella at this point in time, before the details fade... even if it is an a scattered manner.

Gabriella is a love. She has brought sweetness and laughter into our family. She has followed the pattern of our other two: Being "small-ish" at birth, and then quickly stretching out to a long-for-her-age size. By five months, she was in nine-month clothing. She sits at a happy, chubby 16 pounds and is a constantly moving, squirming, grabbing, back-scooting bundle of girl. She has the softest, fluffiest hair you ever did see.

She has been my snuggliest, most social baby. Since birth, she preferred to fall asleep with her hand wrapped around my finger. *Falling asleep holding hands. Swoon.* She is quick to burrow her head in my chest when she's getting sleepy. She likes it when I roll her back and forth on the bed, or gentle tickle/rub her back and legs. She just melts and smiles....I love seeing her little, chubby body sleepily draped over Rey's shoulder when he gets to snuggle her to sleep in the evening. Usually, when I am getting her out of her crib when she wakes up, she kind of squeals, grabs my cheeks and pushes her head into my face. Baby hugs. The best. She often drapes her arm around my neck when I am holding her.

She cannot be out and about and not be seeing what's going on. She has to be up, facing outward--her eyes darting all over the place while she figures everything out. She especially likes to keep tabs on big brother and sister.

She's a chatter. Often, we will hear her around 2-3 in the morning in her crib, babbling sweetly to herself. When I am talking to Rey, she gets very intense and starts "talking" very determinedly, with vocal inflections and forehead furrowed. So cute. If she's in a noisy room, she begins squawking and trying to shout over the noise. She also will squeal with great excitement at different things, which always makes us all laugh.

She generally is not afraid of/shy with new people. She studies them intensely at first, but is usually quick to warm up and start winning them over with her myriad of facial expressions and big grins. She knows how to work her audience!

She is just starting to realize she can make us laugh, and she has great comedic timing. She'll do whatever it was that made us laugh, stop to look at everyone's reactions, and then do it again. So fun.

Not so fun: This girl can grab, scratch and pinch like no other. (Rey's "awesome" nickname for her is "Grabby"). So, keep your hair and face away from her!

(Feel like I have to explain, this was after Rey had arrived home from Sweden... 
so this is his "I haven't slept in hours face". Not the best pic, but the most recent
 I could find of both of them. Sorry, babe!) :)

Speaking of nicknames: No "official" ones yet. Unless you count Grabby. I usually just call her angel girl, because she is. Also, her name is easy to revamp. Some that have come up: Stinky-ella, baby-ella, pretty-ella... you get the idea. She also tends to get called "Gabby" a lot when we are out and about. We will see what ends up sticking! :)

This girl seems to be basically fearless. She's the first baby I've had that has never freaked out when I turned the vacuum cleaner on near her. I've even vacuumed with her in one arm, and she just interestedly watched everything going on. Aleni seems to think it's a lot of fun to trying to scare her (which gets her in trouble)... but, even if she is startled, very rarely does she cry from it. Rey can lift her up in the air, I can swing her low and fast--and she either giggles, grins or just kind of experiences it.

She's pretty good about putting up with how much we have to get out and about most days. Even if she's tired and grouchy, she doesn't generally cry too much... Or if she does, she can be calmed pretty easily. (Huge sigh of relief). That being said, after our little trip to the border this past weekend, I told Rey: "Ok, I think we've officially entered that window of time where it's best not to travel with her". She's just at that stage where she is so wiggly and alert, so car time and sleep times aren't as easy. Also, since she's starting into solids, there's the whole "transporting the feeding things" deal now. Hotel room sleeping isn't as easy, napping on the fly doesn't happen as easily... and, it's just a whole lot of work! So, you may not see all of us out for a while! ;)

My brother stayed with us for several days, and asked if I felt like she was just an unusually good baby. I said I think she just falls in the range of a "typical" baby (maybe what I envisioned babies were when I thought I wanted a bunch of them??). Noe was so needy and determined to only be with me ("People and new things are scary, hold me!"), while Aleni was pretty stoic and independent ("I don't need mothering, just feed me and let me be!")... so, I think I got a baby right in the middle this time. :)

Speaking of the siblings... ahh. It's so fun to watch how differently they relate already. Noe is like the cool big brother, since he is at school most days. When he talks to her, Gabriella lights up like with no one else. She is in love with big brother! Aleni has been my right hand helper with her little sister since day one, and it's so cute to see how she dotes on Gabriella and wants to snuggle with her. Gabriella seems to take it like it's her due. ;)

She is tip-toeing into trying out baby food. She tolerates a few spoonfuls here and there. Since we switched her to goat's milk, she has been wanting less baby food, which I guess means the goat's milk is making her more full! She loves the bouncy chair and enjoys the exersaucer. We are just starting to break in the infant swing outside, and she enjoys looking around. And, goodness. She slobbers like none other. No teeth coming that we can see, but everything goes straight to the mouth, and we go through multiple bibs/shirts a day in an effort to keep her somewhat dry!

What makes her cry? Hmm. Being tired, bored, hungry or in a room by herself. (Hey! This girl sounds like her momma! Ha!) Oh, also-- car seat = nooooo! :) Poor thing spends a lot of time in it too, with running big bro and sis around. Being #3 is not all fun and games, you see!

So, that's our girl G for now.... we are so thankful she is ours!

We love you, darling girl!!