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Friday, December 23, 2016

Reflections, etc.

I don’t think I could have ever anticipated the speed with which life would move at times as I was growing up (you know, back when a 30-minute TV show felt long and summer vacation was an eternity). Not only is life moving ahead at warp speed, it is changing and evolving and turning in circles continuously x5.

This year, with its (many) moments that felt as though they were going to drag on for much longer than I preferred, is almost over. Our family has experienced heartache, uncertainty, happiness, laughter, adventure – but regardless of the experience I’ve made it my priority to count it all joy.

It was really freaking hard to go through three miscarriages in a row. To feel like, despite the beautiful girls I have, my body was broken and I was weak. It was almost harder to feel confidence that the fourth time would be the charm – I still have my moments of doubt and nervousness but the more this baby kicks from the inside, the better and more excited I feel.

Mike lost his job this fall, that has been hard for obvious reasons. But it has also been a change that isn’t all bad – there is a bit more lightness in our house (job stress can be hard on everyone), a bit more togetherness (for better or worse) and a shifted focus to find something that might fit our family life a bit better regardless of financial sacrifices (it’s all just “stuff” anyway, right?). We are making it work and praying for the next great fit to come along soon!

Gianna has struggled with school but she has never struggled with her desire to try as hard as she possibly can. We have been navigating these waters for 3 years now and I think we are on the right path for her. She might get discouraged sometimes, as anyone would, but she tries and what more can you ask of anyone in any area of life?

Aleesia has some of the biggest emotions i have ever encountered, and I thought Gianna had big emotions (which she does!). Parenting those emotions and making strides with how she can control such emotions has been a challenge this year – we are getting there, slowly some days, but we are learning together what works for her and what doesn’t. Aleesia also has a wicked sense of humor, which makes you forget about those big emotions sometimes!

Vivian has an imagination that rivals Gianna’s – when I watch her play I sometimes forget how young she is! She is at the age where she picks up everything with her spongy brain and observant eyes. She also doesn’t love to sleep, which can make everyone slightly grumpy and irritable. We’re working on it (thank you, essential oils, for giving us some relief in recent days).

Our Cleveland Cavs won the NBA championship and our Cleveland Indians took the World Series to game 7 – those were big deals in this house in 2016!!

We have had other family things to navigate with our extended family, scary and not-so-scary alike. I have yelled too much on too many days. My patience has been used up before 9am, again, on too many days. There have been many moments where I needed to adjust my focus and priorities. There have also been moments that took my breath away because they were so fun, enjoyable, relaxing (okay, only a few of these!), memorable and special to make up for the ones that weren’t any of those things. But it will be alright in the end, the good/happy outweighs the bad/frustrating because I say it does!

Our village of friends and family has supported us through every crazy part of this year and I truly hope they have felt supported by us as well.

There has been a consious effort to cut back on our social “obligations” to focus on what is important and enjoyable to us as a family rather than always doing what we feel like we need to do (because why do we need to do something we don’t enjoy?). That has been a welcome change and one that has changed our social-calendar dynamics – allowing us a little more down time. It’s hard to see and keep in close contact with friends when everyone’s lives are moving in equally changing directions – which is something I need to remember when I’m craving time with my favorite grown ups!

I think my biggest reflection and take-away from this year is this: We all go through things, we all have a storm to weather on any given day – sometimes it might be a drizzle and some days it might be a hurricane – but we have to keep in mind that we are all human, only capable of so much on our own before we need to lean on our village (& our faith) – on those who can lift us up when we need it, make us smile when we don’t want to and just understand that it’s going to be okay even if we don’t know what “okay” looks like yet.

Of course I hope that the next year has a few less bumps in the road, but even if there are more bumps than we’d like, I hope that I can continue to find joy and grace (admittedly this isn’t always easy to do and sometimes it’s a bit of a delayed reaction) in all things – good, bad, scary, exciting, and everything in between.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A letter to my {third} daughter: YOU ARE TWO!

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From the moment I found out you were growing inside me I knew we were going to have a special bond. You came into our lives as the third little girl we would get to raise and love two (short, but sometimes long-feeling) years ago.

Ironically, I woke up this morning at just about the time I knew my contractions were the real deal and I so vividly remembered that morning as I bounced on an excercise ball, drinking coffee by the light of the Christmas tree. The excitement I felt in my heart, butterflies in my stomach knowing I would be meeting you so soon, apprehension at what my (then) baby would be feeling as I sent her off with her Aunt knowing the next time I saw her she would be a big sister. It was a crazy day – so many long moments, so many really really hard moments and then you were here and in the blink of an eye I was rewarded when they placed you on my chest and I looked in your eyes for the first time.

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You were a snuggler and a mommy’s girl right from the get go and not much has changed about that.

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In the past year you have learned to run (and gallop, jump, spin in circles and race “ready set go!”), talk (so much! It is fantastic!), play pretend, and (sort of) sleep in your own room.

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We’ve stopped worrying so much about your peanut-stature since you have finally made your way onto the growth charts.

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You became a big cousin! What fun and adventures you are going to have with your cousins – and are already starting to have. You love to see “baby Lia” and get so excited when Luci comes over. The bigger you get, the more fun you have playing!

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We went on a few out of town adventures – including Columbus, Disney World (you loved it!) and Toledo!

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This year, and really the past month or so, I’ve noticed a big change in your relationship with your sisters. You’ve always looked up to them and wanted to do everything that they do but the more you play and talk, the more they include you in their games adn play time. One of the things that brings me the biggest smiles as a mom is watching you three develop your own relationships with each other – watching them evolve and grow with you.

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And your favorite thing to do, other than watch Snow White, is probably take care of your baby dolls. You are so nurturing and loving “baby need a pillow?” “baby need a blanket?” – you usually have no less than 2 binkies and 1 baby in your hands or within your eyesight at all times!

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This year you are going to put that love for baby dolls and babies to good use when you become a big sister! It is probably going to be a tough transition, with your dislike for sharing your mommy with anyone – including your big sisters a lot of the time –

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but we are going to make it and everyone is going to be alright!

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In a nutshell –this past year you’ve grown in your smart, sassy, smiley, stubborn ways into your own person – a person we are so lucky to get to love and watch continue to grow and change and we wouldn’t have you any other way (except with a few more hours of sleep under your belt each night – that would be lovely!)

Keep that twinkle in those big blue eyes and that sense of mischief behind that toothy smile, my little love, those are things that make you you!

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Love you more than you could know -

xo

Mommy

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Weathering the Storm

I don’t think it was much of a secret amongst our family and friends that we wanted a large family, once we started building our family.

We had our share of challenges when trying to add to our family in 2011-2012 that included two miscarriages until we got our Aleesia rainbow baby.

2016 has turned into a year that I never imagined from a reproductive standpoint.

In February we were pleased to see two pink lines of a pregnancy test – cautiously optomistic and quiet about our new little secret. The day before my first OB appointment I started spotting and I just KNEW in that moment that this wasn’t going to be a positive outcome. After a series of appointments, phone calls, blood tests and so much uncertainty, false hope and a whole lot of tears – it was confirmed that pregnancy was lost. It was a really hard, emotional, period for myself and Mike. But it also confirmed that yes, we with 100% certainty did want to add to our family.

Fast forward to late April/early May, another two pink lines. This time we had a chemical pregnancy – but that didn’t make it any less sad or disappointing.

Fast forward again to the end of June, you see where this is going? Two more pink lines. This time we went through weeks of blood tests, more uncertainty, and ultimately the loss of another pregnancy.  I can’t begin to explain to you the dark places my brain was going at this point and I was back to wondering if this was going to be the path for us to add to our family because, quite honestly, I don’t know if I could handle another consecutive loss.

We decided to go back to the RE just in case – the OB office I have gone to for a long time was really unhelpful throughout this entire year of sadness and hearbreak and confusion. We went through more testing, additional genetic testing, etc. etc.

The biggest surprise of all – is that the same cycle we were getting our ducks in a row with the RE, we got pregnant, again. To say that I was absolutely terrified would be an understatement. But I was also confident that I was now in the most capable hands. I received constant attention, weekly ultrasounds and a lot of “this is going well, we are doing all we can” reassurance – and at 12 weeks, I was released from the RE to regular OB care.

I am still scared and really guarded but that is not to downplay the excitement. Everytime I see/hear that heart beating I cry, a lot. I feel a little less scared and a little more excited.

In April, if everything goes as planned, we will be adding our 4th take-home baby to this crazy happy life. Proving that as a result of every storm, there really is a rainbow at the end.

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Saturday, September 10, 2016

#SharetheLuv–diapers are a necessity! #spon #ad

A lot of our friends are living the diaper-free life, but we are not quite in that boat yet. I spend a lot of time (& I always have) trying to figure out which diapers are a) the best fit and b) the best deal so I feel as though we’ve tried them all many times!

I’ve been given the opportunity to try Luvs again (thanks, iConnect!) – they have made so many improvements since I last tried them.

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Luvs are now softer and more absorbent than ever before and they feature large, refastenable stretch tabs – this is one of my favorite parts because anyone who’s ever diapered a wiggling, squirming kiddo knows that you don’t always get it right the first time! More than that, ensuring that right fit remains through toddler running and baby crawling is important too – the contoured Luvs shape really keeps a great fit adn the softness is gentle on baby’s skin.

The ultra-leakage protection (with Nightlock PlustTM) is a great quality – sometimes we get busy and don’t get to that diaper change soon enough or sometimes (for those lucky parents….) they sleep a loooong time at night, so that extra protection is key to a dry wakeup!

In the spirit of keeping life as affordable as possible, Luvs is offering a $2 off any diaper pack coupon*. Print this coupon at home and use it any mass, discount or grocery stores where Luvs Diapers are sold –they come in size newborn to 6 with fun designs.  (you might even find some other useful coupons on coupons.com, too!)

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Don’t just take my word for it, though – Luvs has the Luvs Money Back Guarantee – if you aren’t satisfied with the leakage protection of Luvs, they’ll refund your money – visit www.luvsdiapers.com fo rmore inforamtion. I had no idea they did that!

 

Find out more about Luvs Diapers at their website (www.luvsdiapers.com) or the brand social media channels

 

Check out Luvs (again, if you have in the past), use the coupon and report back to me if you find them to be a great fit for you little one – #SharetheLuv!

 

 

*excludes trial/travel sized diaper packs and coupon expires 30 days from the date printed.

This review was made possible by iConnect and Luvs. I was provided compensation to facilitate this post, but all opinions stated are 100% mine.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Practicing Grace

We were recently at a park with the girls and Mike and I noticed a set of parents pushing a double stroller and a single – I smiled at them thinking to myself what a full life they have right now. The mom stopped me on our way out to the car and asked what the age difference in our kids was, she thought they might all be 2 years apart, like hers, and she was so honest with me (a perfect stranger)– asking, when does this get easier?!  It turns out her kiddos were 3.5, 2 and 1 month old – and I told her, just as honestly, that it won’t feel easier for a while but then one day she’ll realize that it just IS easier than it was the day before. I encouraged her to keep doing everything she was already doing and when there was a moment of quiet in the chaos to hang on to it and remember it when that chaos ramped back up because she was doing a great job.

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This season of life, it is so difficult to navigate some days (and by some, I mean a lot) and can feel so lonely. I am a little bummed that we were at an out of town park or I totally would have asked her to meet me for coffee or back at the park but I hope that quick conversation helped to keep her going the next time she was feeling the heat of taking care of three little ones.

That encounter has been on my mind for the last week or so, mostly because despite being surrounded by a truly wonderful, supportive village - there are a lot of times that I still feel very alone and isolated.  As hard as I try to make sure everyone (& that includes me) is respectful, following the rules, being kind and helpful there are just (so many) moments where that doesn’t happen & I find myself feeling so defeated and thinking “why can’t we all just get along.” Moments of the day where these three blue-eyed beauties are truly running right over me – and then doing it all over again.

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I’ve found myself lately really beating myself up for the moments that don’t go well and that just isn’t fair at all - I need to remember the advise that I gave that mom at the park – to find a memory of peace and joy to hang on to as I pull everyone through a tantrum & then pat myself on the back (really quickly) for a job well done when the chaos subsides.

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It can be hard though, we dwell on the things that don’t go as we hoped way too much instead of the things that went perfectly. In the middle of one of those especially chaotic moments between the hours of 4:30 & 8 I heard the lyrics “it won’t be like this for long” and just cried a little – because it won’t. It won’t be this type of toddler/preschool/early elementary school chaos for long – it will be replaced by something else, I am certain, but someday the chaos won’t be followed-up by dance parties and sweet toddler snuggles.

For now, I need to remember to practice grace (for me and in my parenting), to remember it’s okay to lean in on my village when I need it and that it really won’t be like this for long – these moment’s don’t last forever and whatever frustration is happening will be gone soon.

So, I’m reminding you too – give yourself grace, you are doing the best job & if today didn’t go the way you wanted, tomorrow is a new day. We’re in this together – raising up awesome little humans and also raising ourselves (& our spouses & friends) up as we continue to grow in life.

And if everyone could be as happy as Aleesia is when she gets her face painted like a cat, the world would be a much smilier place!

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