Archive | May, 2018

{6-Month Update} 2018 Focus: White Space

24 May

I just emotionally vomited on my husband. It’s my last day at home with Corbin while the girls are at school and daycare before I go back to work, and I feel this intense pressure to at once enjoy my fleeting time with him (why do all the moms with newborns on Instagram seem to do this so well?!?!) as well as get stuff done during his naps. Except that he decided to not nap today unless I was holding him, and then only in the swaddle, not the Baby Bjorn. So I’ve accomplished exactly nothing today.

I wish deeply that I was ok with that. Why can’t I just enjoy holding him, even if it means I accomplish nothing? Why can’t I be ok with not having planned dinners for over a month? Can’t I let a dirty kitchen floor and dirty bathrooms go for just a few more weeks? It’s not that bad wearing dirty clothes, right? I don’t need to exercise, shower, write blog posts, finish thank you notes, or drink another cup of coffee, right?

Part of the reason I’m not ok with those things is that I’m a Type-A neat freak who is literally stressed out by a dirty, messy house.

Part of it is that I love accomplishing things and checking things off my to-do list. Getting to the end of a day and not being able to say I did anything but survive is a major killjoy.

And part of it is that I’m overly ambitious, always wanting to do 500 more things than I have time for. It’s sadly ironic that the days I’ve had either without kids at home or with just the baby at home have been some of my most stressful days because I feel pressured to do all the things. I almost always pray in the morning on those days, “Lord, I know that only about 2 things out of the 50 I want to get done today will actually get done. Give me wisdom to know what I should do, patience when I don’t get everything done, and trust that You’ve got the things that are undone under control.” That prayer helps, but I’m obviously still a basketcase.

I felt like this even before Corbin was born, and now it’s exacerbated 1,000%: I don’t have time for the things I want to be doing because I’m spending all my time doing crap I have to do. To solve this dilemma, I either have to A) Stop wanting to do things, or B) Decrease the amount of things I have to do. I choose Option B.

Enter Minimalism. I first really started reading about it during the winter of 2017, and that following spring, I spent weeks decluttering our entire house, getting rid of things that we had been holding on to from our college days thinking we would use “some day.” (And I’ve been a declutterer my whole life, so this was even a deeper level of getting rid of stuff.)

But that alone wasn’t enough. The week that Corbin was born, Travis and I had a tense discussion about a familiar problem: Too Much to Do and Too Little Time. The house where we live is in many ways our dream house. It’s in a mature woods, with no neighbors for two lots on one side, and a neighbor with just a garage and a garden on the other side. Our driveway is long enough that we can barely see the road leading through our quiet neighborhood, and our backyard leads to the river, all combining for a very idyllic, serene setting.

The house itself has four bedrooms–three on the main level and one in the walk-out basement, which my husband uses for his office, since he works from home. It has a lofted ceiling and big windows that look east onto our backyard and the river, filling our living room and kitchen with morning sunlight. In the summer, sometimes the sun even reflects off the water onto the wall in our living room.

We love living here. We love the space, the quiet, the water. However, we don’t love the required maintenance. You’ll encounter house maintenance in any house. But as I’ve told Travis, if I had known how much work it would be to live here with these woods and this lot, I would’ve seriously reconsidered buying it.

In any given season, there’s at least 2-4 hours of weekly maintenance that need to be done. In the summer, you have to pick up dog poop, mow the lawn, and deal with the large areas of landscaping the previous owners created (if you don’t want to look at beds of weeds). In the winter, you have to blow snow off the long driveway. In the fall, you have to pick up leaves (though thankfully, because we have the use of my inlaws’ Cyclone Rake, this takes a fraction of the time it would otherwise). Then there’s the cleanup after every storm, and at least a dozen 50-foot trees that need to be cut down.

All things that young kids cannot help with, which means Travis ends up doing these things by himself while I take care of the kids on my own.

Two to four hours a week may not sound like much, and it isn’t really, but it’s just enough to cause an imbalance in our family life. Travis works full-time, and has in the past traveled a decent amount, so the weekends are usually the only time he has to get things done. Even when he’s home, the evenings are all business with the kids–dinner, bath, bed.

That leaves a day and a half (half of Sunday is taken up by church) for him to squeeze in chores, family time, his own hobbies, and hopefully a break for me. Newsflash: those things rarely all happen in a weekend. Just like I don’t get done what I’d like to get done on my days without kids, we don’t get done what we’d like to get done in a weekend. It may work on paper (and honestly, as I’m typing this all out, I’m wondering, “So what’s the problem again? This doesn’t sound so bad…”) but it doesn’t work in reality. And it’s not working for our family.

(For a period of time last year, Travis only worked four days a week, and let me tell you, it was AMAZING. Even though we lost 1/5 of his income, the balance it brought to family life was priceless. He had a whole day to get his chores done and do his hobbies, we had a day together as a family, and then a day to go to church and relax. I wish it could have stayed like that!)

Which has led to us half-jokingly, half-desperately suggesting to one another that we sell this house and move into a town home, where all the maintenance is done for us. 95% of me says that’s crazy, there’s no way we will ever sell our dream house! 5% of me says yes it’s crazy, and it just might be the crazy move that will save us from a lifetime of the rat race.

Because the breakneck speed of life seems to be universal. This is just the way life is, people say. It doesn’t slow down as you get older. You’re just as busy, or even busier, as your kids get older. (Insert mind-blown emoji here.) So ever since I started my minimalist journey, I’ve been wondering, How do you get off this merry-go-round? How do you put your foot down and say ENOUGH to all the busyness? 

I honestly do not believe that God intends for our earthly lives to be lived this way. For us to only have time for the stuff we HAVE to do, and not the stuff we WANT to do or FEEL CALLED to do. I lost my marbles today because I have not actually played with my girls since Corbin has been born, and even before that, it was sporadic. I am barely keeping my house clean, failing at feeding my family (why is that always the first thing to go?), not exercising, and falling into bed after the kids are asleep with only the energy to watch a 20-minute show.

I know the season of life with a fussy newborn is even more taxing than normal life with kids, and having three kids is NO JOKE. And even though I’ve gotten a lot better during this year of White Space at stepping back from being the responsible person, and the person responsible (even when I wonder if other people think I’m dropping on the ball on something I should be doing), I am still learning to respect my limitations, and to operate within them–at least, as much as I can with three kids.

But there’s got to be a way to carve out even more margin, more time for doing the things we want and feel called to be doing. Joshua Becker, author and blogger at Becoming Minimalist, writes,

“Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.”

That is what I want for my life, and for my family. To promote the things we most value and remove what distracts us from those. Selling our house is one of the most radical things I can think of (and I’m only about 10% serious about it at this point in time), but if selling it would free up more time to be together as a family, serve others, and make a bigger impact for God, then it would ultimately be worth it.

We’ve given ourselves until next spring to make a decision. I’m interested and excited to see how and where God leads us during that time.

Have you or your family adopted a minimalist lifestyle or mindset in any area of your life? Any books or resources you would recommend?

Corbin Travis: 8 Weeks

18 May

Corbin was 8 weeks old yesterday!

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He will be 2 months next Tuesday, May 22, but his 2-month well-child checkup isn’t until June 1, so I decided to do an 8-week update, and will do another update at the beginning of June (since babies change so fast in so little time!).

Size

Corbin is starting to outgrow his 3-month shirts and sleepers. He has short little legs though, so 3-month pants are still kind of long on him. And he switched to size 2 diapers when he was about 5 weeks old.

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Eating & Sleeping

Similar to Emma, Corbin is pretty much all over the place in terms of how long he goes between feedings, and how long he naps for. But in general, he goes 2.5 to 3 hours between feedings during the day and has at least one 4-5 hour stretch at night. The night before Mother’s Day, he slept from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. He knew just what I wanted! A few nights, he has slept so well that after nursing him at 5 a.m., I’ve stayed up to go on a run. What a great way to start the day! (But that doesn’t happen very often yet.)

Corbin can stay awake for about an hour between naps (including the time it takes to nurse) and then he naps for 1.5 to 2 hours, sometimes 3. His fussiest time of day is actually the morning. He’ll nurse between 6 and 7, and then be just generally unhappy. Travis has tried many times at that time of day to get Corbin back to sleep by swaddling and bouncing–unsuccessfully–so we’re conceding that it’d just be easier to put him in the Baby Bjorn in the morning (because he has come around on that, and is usually fairly content in it for at least one nap). I usually nurse him again around 8:30 or 9, and then he’ll take a decent 2-3 hour nap.

Usually he’ll nurse around (give or take an hour) 12 p.m., 3 p.m., 6 p.m., and sometimes when he falls asleep at 7 p.m., he’ll sleep straight through until midnight or 1; other times, he’ll wake up again between 9 and 10 p.m. for another feeding. For some reason, after his nursing session between 4 and 6 a.m., he’ll usually go back to sleep for only about an hour, then he’s up for his morning fussing. Good thing Emma taught us how to go with the flow!24398D94-2AD9-4BAE-B626-F1FE8AD4AC73

After my last post on Corbin, our neighbor offered that we could borrow their Rock ‘n’ Play with built-in vibration, and I think that has been a huge help with getting Corbin to sleep longer. We just leave the vibration on the whole time he’s sleeping and have white noise from a fan in his room. He still loves to be swaddled and bounced (or carried around while I make lunch, get the girls dressed, etc) while held horizontally. He can take or leave the pacifier, but he loves sucking on his hands (which he does often in the Baby Bjorn to soothe himself). He doesn’t like being rocked in a chair and he’s not a huge fan of the baby swing (though he does really enjoy swinging to sleep in the chair swing we have outside!).BE0AEA23-6DDF-4112-AFEC-1EFD2071416266DAE0E8-A7B7-4E25-B45B-FDAE93FF71A2

Also since my last post, we met with a dentist that specializes in treating lip and tongue ties in infants, and found out that Corbin does have mild lip and tongue ties. But because he can still breastfeed without causing me any pain, it’s not necessary, and they can’t guarantee that treating his lip and tongue ties would solve his fussiness/swallowing air/spitting up a ton. So we decided to wait and see if things improve as Corbin gets older before going that route.

We did, however, start Corbin on acid reflux meds just to rule that out as a potential issue. For the first few days of giving him the meds, it didn’t seem to be doing much so I contemplated stopping them (since I don’t *love* the idea of giving him meds in the first place) but over the past week, his fussiness has decreased considerably (though he still hates his carseat unless he’s swaddled in it), his periods of being alert and content have increased (he’s even started cracking some smiles!), and he is overall easier to get to sleep. So for now, we’re going to continue the meds because they just might be working!

Development

Like I mentioned above, Corbin has started smiling. Those moments are just so precious! It’s so fun when you can tell that your baby sees you, and likes you. (My baby likes me!) Corbin has also made a few babbling noises, (baby noises are the best!), and started to enjoy looking at the star on his playmat that blinks and plays music, and batting at the dangling toys (by accident).AB1E08BC-EFFB-4BB1-A2BD-F9ECCDD332C96D61CF01-6B59-4635-9D6F-3D2CB32B03DA

Corbin has also stopped pooping so much–thank goodness! Now he’ll poop every couple of days, but his toots are super smelly! Before we figured out it was just gas, we changed his diaper expecting to see a blowout, but only found little skidmarks.

A few firsts for Corbin in the past week were his first walk in the woods (at 8:14 a.m.), first road trip (to the Cities), first night in a hotel (he didn’t know the difference), and first time at Cabela’s (one of Daddy’s favorite places). And he has finally taken a bottle from Travis! The girls got to help feed him too when Nana was down here the first weekend of May.

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And that’s Corbin at 8 weeks!2939D48F-C1C4-474D-A03C-17E86284047D4A4C0C62-6329-4985-A748-185DA89CCA77979D8651-C5C8-4B0A-B7E8-5816A73F2F94

Pregnancy #3: 6 Weeks Postpartum

10 May

I’ve posted postpartum updates with both of my other pregnancies so why stop now? I’m technically 7 weeks postpartum today but kept this as my 6-week update because it sounds better. Anyway…

Physical Recovery

This pregnancy was my easiest physical recovery by far. The afterpains of uterine shrinking were a b!tch (Tylenol with codeine was a lifesaver) but that was really the only issue. My bleeding was much lighter with this recovery than the first two (though it lasted slightly longer) and I made sure to be diligent about taking a stool softener for about the first month, since I learned the importance of them the hard way after having Annabelle. I didn’t even have the abdominal pain that made it hard to be up walking around after giving birth this time.

Nursing has gone well overall, despite Corbin’s swallowing a lot of air. The fact that he has a weaker latch because of his lip tie means that I haven’t had any nipple discomfort or pain. TBD on whether we do anything about his lip tie. It’s unique in the sense that breastfeeding is going well and he’s gaining weight.

Weight / Body Image

I’m about 5 lbs from my pre-pregnancy weight.

It’s all concentrated in my stomach, but this time I started doing ab exercises at 2 weeks postpartum so I can actually fit into several pairs of pre-pregnancy pants. I did also buy a couple new pairs of jeans though so that I could put my maternity clothes away (and even though the weather is warmer, it’s still jeans weather).

I also bought three nursing shirts from Latched Mama. They are awesome to use, though I have mixed feelings about the fit and fabric. I plan to do a separate post on the nursing tops and bras I bought in the next month or two.

I’ve gone on a handful of runs so far and done some strength training (squats, lunges, pushups) a few times. I’ve been fairly consistent with my ab exercises, only missing a few days (it helps that they only take 5-10 minutes). I’d like to get out biking soon too! It feels good to be active again, and with Corbin starting to sleep longer stretches at night, morning workouts are starting to be a possibility.

Emotional

The first week postpartum was rough. Life just changes so. much. when you’re the mother of a breastfed newborn. The father gets to more or less go back to life as normal (sleep for a full 8 hours, go to work each day) but the nursing mother is now tied to a child 24/7 (even those who use bottles still have to pump). So I was having a hard time with once again staying home full-time and not being able to “accomplish” anything besides caring for children all day. And between nursing and trying to sneak naps in, I was feeling isolated from my husband and girls too. I still feel that way sometimes–I love family time more than anything so when they’re having fun without me because I’m sleeping in or going to bed early, I feel left out and a little lonely. But I know it’s just for this season, and even a little more sleep will help me be a nicer person.

Because I was struggling so much, I re-read the book Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic. I had read it when Emma was a baby but now I have more parenting experience under my belt so I can relate more to what she writes. Her book was the change in perspective I really needed. It’s so easy to let the challenge and mundanity of parenting glamorize other roles and convince me that having ambitions bigger than parenting well is necessary for me to feel fulfilled. This isn’t the first time I’ve struggled with feeling like parenting is preventing me from doing other, more worthwhile things with my life. But Rachel’s book encouraged me to fully embrace parenting as being the absolute best way for me to spend my time, seeing as God has made me a mother three times over.

The recurring theme of my life over the past 8 years or so has been “The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the LORD” (Isaiah 29:19). What that verse means to me is that joy is not found by demanding my life be a certain way, but by embracing the life and circumstances God has allowed. I will never find joy if I am “one foot in, one foot out” in my own life, if even part of my heart is lusting after How Things Should Be or What I Want Instead.

And what I’ve found to be true is that ironically, when I give up dictating what my life should be like, instead of feeling trapped and limited, I find great freedom and abundance. Living within God’s limits on my life brings freedom. Denying or begrudging those limits leads to bitterness and resentment.

These truths have proven to be very helpful and I call them to mind often, especially when I feel like I’m completely in over my head, have absolutely no idea what I’m doing, and fall so far short of the kind of mom I want to be (which is every day). Because parenting well is hard. Frankly, without God, it’s impossible. The last thing I need is a bunch of unrealistic, guilt-producing expectations about What I Should Be Able to Handle and What I Should Be Doing Besides Parenting.

In this season of my life, parenting is all-consuming. That’s ok. God knows that. He sees me in the midst of it. And He empowers me to keep on sacrificing my life and my desires for the good of my family. I have full confidence that I will look back on these years, from old age or heaven, with absolutely no regrets, but instead joy and gratitude to God for strengthening me to persevere. It will all be worth it because Jesus is worth it.