Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

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A little while ago, I told my husband that I felt like I was going through a third life crisis. Much of my life felt completely out of my control; having a newborn baby will do that to you. I was suddenly plunged into an unpredictable on-call state of being,  responsible for this little creature’s care 24/7, plus the added responsibility of remaining a kind, caring, and capable parent of my first born. Oh yeah, plus the necessary task of maintaining some semblance of a relationship with my husband, whom I saw less than ever and the extent of our romance was mumbling a sleepy and unenthusiastic “love you…” as we handed off the baby from night diaper changes to feedings.

Many of my previous priorities and goals felt stale and no longer resonated with who I wanted to be, or what really mattered to me now. I felt I had outgrown my previous identity that I clung to for so long. A shift was in the air, it was palpable and it was uncomfortable. I had ideas and figments in my minds eye of new, budding aspirations, but they were all disconnected and disjointed from each other, and from my current reality. My life was in upheaval, unsettled, and seen through a lens filtered through the murky state of sleep deprivation.

It feels like I’m starting to come out from the other side. I’m starting to see little glittering and dazzling dreams and possibilities and skins to grow into now that I’ve shed my old ones. I needed to let go of ill-suited expectations and goals, people who weren’t positive influences, and shit tons of mom guilt and just regular old guilt for being an imperfect human. In letting go and becoming starkly aware of the vulnerable openness in my life which consequently freaked me out, it made way for the discovery of new interests, approaches, friends, methods, ideologies.

I’m not “on the other side” yet… Everything still feels a little disjointed, and I’m wondering how my gajillion interests, huge stack of books to read, and long list of personal goals will somehow come together. I’m wondering how incorporating all these things into my life will make me a better or worse parent, person, friend, spouse. I’m wondering if I CAN incorporate all these different aspirations into my life without feeling like I’m taking on too much change all at once. But it’s exciting. Exhilarating, really, to give myself the freedom to try new things, and have the courage to try without fearing failure to the point of paralysis.

A lot of what’s allowed me to think more and start considering my life more is tuning out social media. It might be an extreme approach to completely shut it out of my life, but I feel like it’s been a real service to my well-being and mood. I’m spending more time reading, cooking, exercising, and spending real time with real people, instead of virtual interactions with virtual friends. I’m attempting to be more present for my family, which is a daily struggle. There are so many distractions in this day and age, you have to fight for what matters to you. The older Isla gets the more I know that I can’t shield her from all the screens around her, all the processed foods, all the foul language, and all the sad parts of life (and death). (I.E. She just witnessed her first bunny slaughter courtesy of our cat this morning, looking out her bedroom window). But I can determine what morals and lessons our children learn from witnessing how I interact with them and the world around us. I need to concentrate on what I can do, and let go of the rest.

Big things ahead, guys! Well, a bunch of little things, really. But I can sense that there is a lot of good in our future, and I’m stoked.

 

July 2016

You know that feeling when you haven’t slept for about six or seven months (because let’s be honest, no one sleeps those last few months of pregnancy) and everything you say turns into trailing sentences? And you just hope everyone knows what you’re… yeah? Even my two and a half year old has started finishing my sentences for me because she knows if she doesn’t, my words are left hovering there above us, completely unresolved. Which makes her uncomfortable. Two year olds thrive on dependability, structure, and … some other word that is escaping me right now. I hope that when I fail to express the right words and I’m stretched so thin that I’m physically, mentally, and emotionally falling short, my daughter knows that I love her and am there for her and on her side. Because that’s way more important than me trying to convince her not to pick her nose, or that we need to try to keep the water INSIDE the bathtub. I hope she knows that when I’m digging in stubbornly to these “rules” that I think need to happen, it’s just me grasping for some sense of control over this circus, the same way she digs in about not putting her pants on or going to bed.

These little daily struggles seemed to have cropped up a lot in the past few months… and it starts first thing in the morning. I don’t know if it’s a two year old thing, a sleep deprived two year old thing, or just an Isla thing, but it’s tiring. It’s also amazing, the amount of independence, resolve, and dedication to her goal this little girl has. Her personality, vocabulary, and ideas are so far beyond her two years it amazes me. She is an astonishingly sharp, kind, giving, caring, observant, and insightful person. Each day more facets of her personality are unfolding and showing themselves and our jaw is constantly on the ground.

Clive is now five months. Already. He’s becoming more vocal, teething more, and smiling like the happy little camper he has been since day one. He is a very content little dude, and very calmly enjoys observing what’s going on around him. Clive’s favorite past time is watching Isla. He smiles goofily at her when she starts to pee in the potty and claps in glee that she did it. He squeals when she gives him a tight hug, and clutches at her hair anytime she is in reach. It’s already very evident that Clive worships the ground she walks on and will soon be attempting to keep up with her every move.

This weekend Isla got her first scooter. In one day she went from cautious attempts in the living room, falling over sideways, backwards, and forward, to whipping around our local park path with long, confident strides. Clive has been mesmerized, watching her on her scooter. He’s also mesmerized with food… this boy is drooling and lusting after our meals! I’ve been trying to hold out until he turns six months, but couldn’t help but to share some watermelon rind with him yesterday. He was completely concentrated on the experience, holding the rind himself, and gnawing thoughtfully on the red, juicy fruit while drool dribbled down his front uncontrollably.

I’ve had a lull in taking photos… in part, due to taking a photo editing course online, ironically. It ate up all my “spare time” and energy, rendering me too spent to pick up my camera after concentrating on photo edits every nap time. But I took a few mediocre photos here and there, and so I’ll share them. To let you know what we’re up to. To witness the relationships our children have in their lives, and how lucky we all are to have each other.

We celebrated Jake’s birthday at his parents house. It was his most tame birthday party yet. I apologized that on the actual day we didn’t go out and see fireworks, watching them late into the evening. But he assured me it was alright. He’s had plenty of birthdays like that. But this was the first one as a father of two, and that beat all else. I’m so glad that my children have such a wonderful, loving father and that I have such a dedicated partner, readily helping out with all child-rearing tasks. Cheers to the year ahead of us, Jake! I hope that for what it lacks in crazy, wild adventures it makes up for in love, slobbery kisses, countless stories breathlessly shared on the toilet by our potty training daughter, and lots and lots of morning snuggle sessions.

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Seaside, OR

We managed to sneak in another family beach trip: This time with the May family to Seaside, OR. We were graced with one unexpected gloriously sunny day, little wind, and blue sky. We scored a day of cloudy but dry weather, and a third day of quintessential beach downpour and wind (aka horizontal rain that just about knocks you sideways; that’s the beach I know and remember!). Basically, we got the beach weather sampler, and it tasted great.
Isla got to hit up her favorite Seaside haunts: the carousel to ride the bunny (which apparently is incredibly fast, as fast as papa drives home from work, she tells me), and the Seaside Aquarium to feed the seals. She was disappointed we were not able to also consume fish at the Aquarium, but we promised her higher quality, less rare fish afterwards.
Clive was full of smiles and had no shortage of attention and snuggles, between two doting grandparents, plus adoring aunt and uncle. Clive seems to sleep better when we are away from home. Maybe it’s all the busyness, maybe it’s because he knows his mama needs all the sleep she can get. Either way, it’s very kind of him.
In other news: we’ve discovered one of our chickens is a rooster. He has started practicing his awkward crow in the morning, something that resembles a malfunctioning siren or a cat in heat. He’ll get the hang of it. Until then he’s safe, but once that crow is in full gear… well, there’s no room for roosters in our neighborhood, so we will have to re-home him or consume him.He’s almost too pretty to eat, so let me know if you want a good looking white Crested Polish (pictured below).

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Practice

….makes perfect. I’m making attempts to take more photos with my big girl camera on the daily. I can’t commit to a 365 project (a photo a day of my children), but I might give a 52 project another try (a photo a week for a year). Here are some of my favorites from the last few days. I can find faults in each one, but I love the beautiful moments and faces they capture. IMG_5173IMG_5181IMG_5195IMG_5209IMG_5210IMG_5222IMG_5229IMG_5293IMG_5295IMG_5298

Clive- 3 months young

Our baby is three months today; The fourth trimester has come to a close, and Clive is showing increasing adjustment to the world outside the womb. Indulgent smiles that are undeniably charismatic, hilarious shrieks and chatter pepper the landscape of this sweet boys personality. He is very social, patient and sweet, and like his sister, knows what he wants. Sweet baby Clive, we are so fortunate to have you in our lives!

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Parks and rec

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Since it’s been unusually warm spring weather and since being outdoors is always better than in, we’ve been hitting up the park scene lately. We’ve also been home a lot, which goes hand in hand with the having a newborn and a toddler thing. Luckily, Isla finds ways to make our same old house and the same old toys and the same old routines interesting and fun. A lot of conversational input is required on my part for the day to go smoothly, but otherwise, Isla is a pretty happy camper.
Clive has started teething (Joy!). Yes, already. My children always seem to be ahead of the game. Clive is barely out of the womb and he’s working on teeth, while Isla isn’t even two and a half and is working on being a teen. Yikes. Needless to say, there are lots of tears, drool, screaming, shrieking, giggles, and blowouts around here. There is no shortage of excitement, things to do, or love. And it’s the love part that gets us all through those long days when Papa works late.
Finni? Well, he’s still here. I’ve been getting questions about how Finni is doing lately, which almost makes me laugh. Oh, yeah; I have a dog. I guess that makes me an inattentive dog owner at the moment, but Finni is hanging in there. He’s definitely playing second or third fiddle and seems grumpily resigned to his new place on the totem pole. He knows baby and big girl come first, and sometimes the petulant cat, only because he’s more of a nuisance if his needs aren’t immediately met. Finni is definitely a mature dog now, which fits in with this stage of life just fine.
Jake is working a lot, as mentioned above, but working on fitting in time with friends again now that the intensely time and energy consuming months of the newborn stage have passed.  He’s constantly hustling, and doing so with a smile on his face, like he always does. Jake is the family’s rock, and for that I’m grateful.
I’m somewhere in between a post oxytocin high crash and regaining some sense of normalcy in the rhythm of life. I was riding pretty high after Clive was born with all my lovely mama hormones in full gear, and things are definitely leveling out. It’s a hard transition, but you can’t appreciate that intense joy without all the other feelings in the spectrum. I’m starting to slowly integrate home workouts and more photography into my days, carving out what time I can for myself in little spurts.
We are embracing the slower pace of our life right now. Despite the hustle and sometimes sheer exhaustion that accompanies raising little people, we are so incredibly happy and proud. Proud to have committed to doing this whole family and kids things to the best of our ability. Proud of the person Isla is becoming, and the confidence she displays in herself and her abilities. We are smitten with the newest addition to our family, and enjoying getting to know him and interpret his shrieks, coos, and many facial expressions.
I’d love to hear how you are doing. If I haven’t reached out to you in a while, know that you are likely in my thoughts. I wouldn’t say no to a coffee date with you to catch up, as long as you understand it could entail some spit up (or lots and lots of it), a tantrum or two, and may need to be located near a jungle gym or play area or outdoor spot to run free.