Archive | January, 2022

2022 Goals: Consistency

31 Jan

Wait, what is this? A blog post that isn’t an update about a child? Yes!

With the turn of the calendar to a new year, I have felt God enabling me to do more than just survive. Because that’s what I have been doing since Neola was born last May—simply surviving. Part of doing more than surviving for me is reconnecting with the things that bring me joy. My husband and kids bring me joy for sure. But writing… writing has always been the thing that gives me the “I was made to do this” vibe.

So here I am. I have dreams of coming to this space (still, after starting this little ole blog back in 2008!) from a coffee shop table with a hot caramel latte, complete and coherent thoughts whirling from my fingers to screen via full-size keyboard. But in reality, I’m chicken-pecking and constantly recorrecting it on my phone while nursing a baby with a lukewarm cup of home brew, and my other 3 kids are watching screens. Because that’s my reality right now.

And that’s what I’m learning: to make my dreams, goals, desires work with MY life, with my REALITY.

It seemed that no sooner had I written down my goals than they were jeopardized by lack of sleep or a baby who wouldn’t go to sleep when she normally does. And I was reminded of why I haven’t made goals for many years. Really, since laying down my dream of writing a book.

Because I am not in charge of my own time. My family owns it right now. And truth be told, having goals or plans outside of being a mom and wife often leads me to resenting the fact that I am a mom and wife. I’m sure most moms have had the experience of planning to turn over a new leaf of getting up before the kids only to have them in turn randomly wake up earlier than normal.

I don’t, however, think the antidote to that uncanny conundrum is to just give up trying to do things. That’s what I had been doing, and also why I was burned out. And when I’m burned out, I hold on to my husband’s free time with a death grip. He has been trying to do more than survive for several months, and I pretty much told him that I just wanted him to acknowledge the ship was sinking, and to go down with it (and me) instead of trying to rise above. How ridiculous is that?? But when you’re underwater, breathing through a straw, you just. can’t.

I see in myself this pendulum, swinging from the extreme of determination on one end to the other end of giving up. I desire consistency, but it can so easily become a measuring post for failure. Like so many other things in the Christian life, only God can enable me to live in the middle, to hold it all in gracious balance. To pursue those things that give me life, but to not despair, wallow, or get angry when life happens. To hold desires in my heart, but not let them despotically rule my will.

What does that look like practically? One of several things I’ve learned from a mom on Instagram named Phylicia Masonheimer has been to have several slots during the day or week when something can be done. If Neola doesn’t go to bed until 9:00 on the night I was supposed to do the budget, it can slide to a different night that week, because I only have 2-3 things to do each week after the kids go to bed (instead of allotting a different thing each night so that if life happens, the wrench thrown in is a big one). (The other things I learned are: when you’re making a routine for your family, don’t add new stuff in, just arrange the stuff you’re already doing; and instead of following a schedule based on the clock, follow a routine — an order in which you do things.)

I also just read two great books by Dana K. White called How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind and Decluttering at the Speed of Life. I’ve always been an organized person, and have done quite a bit of purging, but over the last year or two, I’ve let the things coming into our home greatly outpace the things leaving our home. Dana writes that anything that I can’t keep under control is clutter, and that habits are the way of routinely keeping that clutter under control.

We’ve had a good system down for dishes and laundry, and right now we hire a cleaning lady. But the areas in our house/lives that routinely get cluttered/neglected are: the kitchen counter (specifically, the paperwork that I shove into a big pile so that it doesn’t appear messy); the wall cubby/shelf area in our master bedroom (it’s out of the reach of the kids so it ends up being a dumping ground); our budget; and our photo memories. So far, I’ve determined to do the budget or work on a photo book once a week (alternating every other), and to sort through paperwork once a week.

And when life happens (like it did this week), I will type out blog posts on my phone, in the dark while waiting for my kids to fall asleep, which is what I’m doing now (nursing the baby only lasted for about half this post).

I will end this blog post with a thought I’ve had about why people like the feeling of a new year and resolutions. There’s just something about the feeling of a clean slate, right? God created us this way, to thrive on being made new, and experiencing His new mercies every morning:

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

“[See] that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” (Colossians 3:9-10)

Even if the goals and plans I typed out here lose steam or morph over the course of this year, I am thanking God for a constructive, motivated start to 2022. ❤️

Neola Bethany: 8 Months

13 Jan

Golly, I feel like I was just writing Neola’s 7-month post. Time is going so fast! This little girl is so fun.

Size

Neola is now wearing mostly 12-month clothes, though some 9-month things still fit. She’s still wearing size 3 diapers, and doesn’t really wear shoes yet (we do have some little boots that fit her right now, but not sure what size they are)!

I haven’t mentioned this in a post yet, but with Neola (#fourthchild), we have pretty much gone the completely practical route in terms of dressing her. She will occasionally wear a dress to church, and a cute, more practical outfit when we go to homeschool group or BSF, but most of the time, girlfriend is in fleece footie pajamas. It’s just so easy and warm!

Sleeping

Nothing much has changed in the sleep department. Neola takes 3 naps a day (while I either hold or nurse her), the first about 2 hours after she gets up, and the others 2.5-3 hours after she wakes up from the previous nap. She naps for 30-45 minutes usually. Every once in a while, she will sleep for 60-90 minutes (but that requires her not getting interrupted, and she gets interrupted a lot).

She typically goes to bed between 7 and 8. When and how often she wakes up during the night is constantly different. Some nights, she first wakes up before I even go to bed. Other nights, she doesn’t wake up until 3:30. And she’s still in her Rock ‘n’ Play (but we’re going to start trying to get her to sleep in the pack ‘n’ play in preparation for our month in Florida in February). She usually wakes up for the day between 6 and 6:30.

I have been hesitant to let her squawk/fuss in the Rock ‘n’ Play, just because she’s getting too old for it, and I don’t want her to get too upset in there. But there have been a few different mornings when I hear her happily cooing a little around 6, and I wait to go into her room until she gets upset, and she actually ends up going back to sleep for another 45-60 minutes!

I have also gotten Neola to take a nap in the Ergobaby outside a couple of days (in 30-degree weather!), so that bodes well for Florida when we’ll be out and about more (but then we won’t be wearing snowpants and winter hats)!

Eating

Neola is still doing well eating solid foods. We’re sticking with the purees right now. She seems to like them better than small chunks of food — I gave her little bits of strawberry and cheddar cheese, and she didn’t seem to care for either one. But she does really like teething wafers, and she also enjoys the challenge of getting puffs in her mouth (she can kind of do it, but it’s tricky still!).

Her favorite foods are whole milk yogurt (blueberry, peach, and pear flavors); baby cereal; and fruity purees, like Pear, Banana, Apple blends, etc. She’s not a huge fan of the vegetable purees, though she will eat some.

One potential explanation for Neola not sleeping great at night is that she is getting her two top front teeth. I just noticed them poking through this past week. I’ve been giving her ibuprofen every night before bed, and try to remember to give her some before we put in the church nursery or BSF. That seems to help when she’s tired and with other people. Otherwise, she seems to be fine, as long as she gets plenty of things to chew on.

Development / Personality

Neola did roll over from back to belly a few times this month, but now she would much rather just sit up to play with toys — she gets upset spending much time on her back. She wants to see all the action (and not be stepped on, or have things dropped on her, probably!). She still tips over a decent amount, so we definitely have to sit behind her, or surround her with pillows, but she made a lot of progress in just the past couple of weeks. I also tried having her stand up and hold on to the side of the bathtub the other night while Corbin was taking a bath. She could stand for 5-10 seconds before her knees would buckle.

Neola seems to be getting tired of the same old baby toys. We are definitely in the phase of “What other random thing would be safe for me to give you to chew on?” Like this bottle of lotion. Or that marker. Or this Ziploc bag. Or an empty disposable water bottle (cap and ring removed). She, like most kids, is most interested in the forbidden things, like my water bottle or protein shake cup — especially when they have water or shake in them! If I take a drink while holding her, I have to pin her arm down so that she doesn’t reach up and grab it, causing me to spill.

Neola still enjoys her jumperoo, but we are getting rid of her playmat and swings. Even though there’s a tiny tinge of sadness in saying goodbye to those things that we’ve had since Emma was a baby, there’s more freedom! So glad to be freeing up more space in our home! Since our kids are 8 years apart from oldest to youngest, we have a decently wide swath of age-appropriate toys. And babies in particular just need so. much. gear!

This past month was Neola’s first Christmas. We spent it in Nevis with Travis’ family. I had pajamas for Neola that matched her siblings, but they weren’t fleece footie pajamas (they were out of them in that pattern 😭), and I was only about half alive because Neola slept terribly over Christmas, so I never mustered up the energy to put her in the matching pajamas.

Neola also went in her first snow fort this month (we have SO much snow!).

She also got blankets, pillows, and stuffies dropped on her from the top bunk (Annabelle); swung outside in her pink swing without being able to see anything (oops); and tried on swim goggles (hilarious). She didn’t cry at any of that! Such a good sport.

She also sported matching pigtails with her sisters. ❤

Corbin has taken much more interest in Neola the past month — maybe because she’s more interactive? Regardless of the reason, it’s adorable!

And that’s Neola at 8 months!