Thursday, July 2, 2015

Henry

I'm going to try to blog on three kids in three days, and really truly try to make a habit of it...

Henry. Now 18 months old, he is a beast. I believe 30.5lbs and 35". 97th and 98th percentiles or vice versa. I'm in awe everyday of how bright he is and how quick he is learning things that can take much longer for lots of kids. On his 17th month, mama and dada turned into mommy and daddy, and I wan day turned into I wanna play, I wanna bottle, I do that, I wanna see, and so on. He's funny too and he knows it. He had a little bit of a template the last few days, a little summer bug, and when Ben declared Henry's temperature to be 99.9, Henry repeated niney nine nine in this very nasal voice. We cracked up and he said it again and again.

Another one is when I go in to his room in the morning, I always say how are you? and did you have a good sleep? In the last few days, he started responding with "good".

He is a busy child, and fearless. He doesn't do a lot of sitting and playing. He is always on the move and had discovered he loves playing kitchen and going outside. He likes to climb onto the couch, up the stairs, the slide on the swing set... He likes to swing but I think gets bored quickly because again, he likes to keep moving. He likes to play with the broom and his toy vacuum, and also recently found Emily's dollhouse which to my dismay had gotten little play from her, so I was more than happy to open it for him. He likes to put the baby in the bathtub and say nigh night...

He has developed a love of books. I was not sure that was going to happen but very recently he started during for a book or two at bedtime and then got to the point where he'd all for more or point until I figured out which one in particular he wanted. A favorite right now is called  "freight train ".

He is enamoured with vehicles like Noah was. Trains and garbage trucks in particular. All the matchbox cars are car or bus to him.

Bug is " bun" which cracks me up and he squeaks and squats to watch the tiniest bugs on the sidewalk.

He is fascinated by dogs. Until they get too close.

When he is feeling brace, he will pet animals and say "no" (nice).

Just this past month he finally calls the kids by name- emmy (sometimes ah me) and oah. Grandma and grandpa are ahma and ahpa. And out of the blue a few weeks ago, he pointed at the photo calendar and said Carter.

He likes to dance like a crazy person and makes funny faces when the mood is right. But of course capturing these sorts of things in pictures or videos is nearly impossible.

Aside from the past few nights being sick, he finally started sleeping through the night probably a month ago. I remember one night I decided to wait out of to see how long he would cry if I didn't go to him. It latest one hour an he passed out, and that way that.

He still nurses basically on demand and we like it that way. He is clearly no where near self weaning and I'm no hurry at this point to push him.

Sometimes three kids feels like a dream. I can't imagine life without any of them or things happening any way other than it did. To think there was a time that I didn't think there could every be a Henry means my heart. I am so lucky that he came to be because he is such a sweet, funny, loving little soul.

Xoxo

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Potty

This is one of those "I've gotta write it somewhere so I don't forget" posts.... I've talked to 18 month old Henry a little bit about using the potty and I decided tonight to let him sit on the little potty just to see what he would do. Well, wouldn't you know he would only sit in it for a few seconds at a time, but he actually peed on the potty!! He wouldn't shoot long enough for a picture but fingers crossed I have another one like emily who is easy to get out of diapers 😁

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

on my mind

so many things are on my mind recently, and one of the recurring themes is mommy guilt.  i'm on a path to dealing with it, and self diagnosed post partum depression and anxiety (whether it's actually "post partum", or just run of the mill depression and anxiety, i don't know, but i chalked it up to life after baby, so yeah.)  the NP at my OBGYNs office gave me a prescription for zoloft, which i've been taking for a week now, and she gave me a referral the behavioral health department at the hospital.  i have a call in to schedule with a counselor.

one of the things related to this mommy guilt that i need to figure out dealing with is the maintainence of memories.  i have guilt that i don't blog enough, or write things down anywhere.  that i never made hashes of my kids heights on the wall in the laundry room, and think about starting now but hate that i missed six years with noah.  i feel bad that i can't remember the little quips and comments the big kids make and the cool things the baby does.  the easy resolution is to get better about blogging.  i say that a lot.  i really need to try.

in any case, a lot of time has passed and life moves at such a fast pace.  noah is loving school and i'm so impressed with his reading in such a short time.  six has been a challenging and emotional age, and it has been a struggle the last few months.  he is also going to speech therapy to work on some feeding issues, and i'm so proud of his willingness and ability to try new, challenging (crunchy) foods.

emily is so funny with her facial expressions and the random funny things she says.  she loves to dance, and her current favorite song is "one two three, three", also known as "chandelier" by sia.  she goes to parents morning out (PMO) twice a week and acts all shy at school, which cracks me up, because i would never in a million years describe her that way.  

henry is the funniest, cutest thing ever.  he has almost all of his teeth (the canines are just starting to come in) and eats like a champ.  his favorites are fruits for sure, as well as crackers and cucumbers.  he asks and signs for more non stop.  when he's ready to nurse, he points at my boob and says "dat".  he's been walking for several months and is now starting to try to climb.  just today he was standing on the kids doctor kit, and trying to use it to get onto the couch.  henry knows farts are funny, and he requests hi favorite song "oh yeah yeah" (bruno mars "locked out of heaven") when he sees my phone.  he is a big time chatter box, with lots of random babble, but tons of word attempts too.  "buh" is button, book, Bear.  he knows several body parts - hands, hair, eyes, nose, ears, tongue, belly button.

these past few months have been hard on me, physicially and emotionally, dealing with the transition to ben on midnights.  i feel like i've gotten more used to the routine of it, but it still weighs on me a lot.  while i am taking a medication that has seemed to help in many ways, i feel the physical burden of sheer exhaustion at days end.  on top of that, i'm stuggling with motivation.  even when i'm not tired per se, i find myself sitting on the couch being lazy.  i just don't have the energy or stamina i wish i did to play with the kids or go out and do things.  i feel like i need to do more for myself - i've considered chiro, acupuncture, massage, going to a gym - but the hard part is working it into my schedule, especially since ben's schedule changes monthly. 

emotionally, i just miss him and his partnership.  i feel like we've had communication issues for awhile and this is only exacerbating it.  the little bit i do see him most days is spent dealing with the kids at meal times or bedtime.  there is little opportunity for one on one, except on his days off and those days often feel tightly packed with family time or the other random things we need to get done.  i feel like a single parent a lot of the time, and it's hard to see the kids behavior flip flop when we are both around.  it's also hard to see him get frustrated with them so easily due to lack of sleep and his weird schedule.

i hope we ease into a calmer, more content version of life.  it's really sad to me that i feel like i'm just trudging through each day, dragging my feet to bedtime.  i often tell myself that these awful hours and loads of overtime will pay off in the long run when we have a fat pension to retire on, but it makes me horrible sad that i have to sacrifice my kids childhood for that.  i do feel some guilt and resentment that we didn't make better educational and career choices.  it's not even about the money.  i just wish we had some of the flexibility as a family that most people have and take for granted.  it's one more thing that pains my brain that i need to figure out how to deal with... 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

clarity and self improvement

so many things going on.  so much i want to say, need to say, but not being able to sleep is one of my many issues.

quickly...

i just came back from a weekend retreat in arizona.  much needed me time, alone time, girl time.  laughing and drinking and sleeping and drinking my coffee hot time.  my heart is full and i feel a sense of renewal.  i came home with a clearer mind.  i need to be better and do better.  i will find a way to dig out from the rut i'm stuck in, find some continued clarity.  i will find a way to reduce the clutter and chaos that brings me so much stress.  i will find a way to parent better and a way to be a better collaborator with ben.  i will find a way to be healthier, make healthier food choices, get ben on board with being more aware as well.

he is working midnights now - 10:30pm to 6:30am.  i have a hard time falling asleep.  by the end of his work week, i am so ready for a break.  i need to work on breathing and not yelling, not reacting so harshly when i get frustrated.  i need to find a way to lower my anxiety level and reduce my chronic mommy guilt.  i am taking a tai chi class to do something for myself and have a scheduled time to clear my head.  i want to find a chiropractor who also does massage and acupuncture in hopes of finding some physical relief.  i have decided too that finally seeing a mental health professional for the first time in my adult life is something i need to do, to work on the anxiety and guilt and also just help me find ways to parent better and deal with my issues about my own childhood.

my children are my light.  i want to be better, i want to give them better than i had, and i know i can.  i am a work in progress.  i need to work on me, but i also need to bring ben on board.  our life is hard right now, and i need help figuring out how to deal with the physical and mental clutter.  we need to communicate better and reconnect so that we can be happier and be better parents.  we all deserve better than what we've got right now, which is really just hanging in there.... ben's schedule is what it is, til the end of the year, so we can't just "hang in there".  we need to be functional, but i can't do it alone.  here goes nothing...

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

#frostyvoxbox part one

we interrupt the usual blabber about my babies and my crazy life to bring you my #frostyvoxbox from Influenster!!!!  a few months back, a friend on facebook posted a referral link to this website, Influenster, where you can get free stuff to try and review on social media.  pretty rad concept, and i sure like free stuff, so he's a little bit about some of the goodies i got in the bright orange box.... 

(**"I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.**)

from #Rimmel London, their gentle eyes makeup remover and scandaleyes waterproof eyeliner.  i am obsessed with both.  i sort made an unspoken new years resolution to wear more eyeliner after getting this stuff because it goes on so smooth and stays on so clean.  i might actually buy it in a few more colors.  like the shiny black, in addition to the regular black.... lame.  the makeup remover is fantastic.  not greasy or irritating to my eyes like that other crap i used to use, that has since gone in the trash...
https://www.influenster.com/reviews/review/rimmel-gentle-eye-makeup-remover
https://www.influenster.com/reviews/review/rimmel-scandaleyes-waterproof-kohl-kajal-eyeliner

from  New York Color Cosmetics, color last lip color in #SugarPlum.  also obsessed.  also not usually one to wear lipstick, but this color was made for me.  seriously, it's color without being too much or looking like i'm trying too hard.  i need to investigate other colors now that this foray into lipstick has been a success.
https://www.influenster.com/reviews/review/nyc-new-york-color-expert-last-lip-color

from Boots Beauty USA, Boots No. 7 Protect & Perfect ADVANCED... little trial packet of serum and coupons to buy more.  i've yet to buy more but i did like how this felt on my skin.  i am fortunate to have really good skin, not a lot of wrinkles or marks, but just as a moisturizer, i liked it.  my skin is pretty sensitive when i try to lotions and whatnot, but i didn't have any issues with the Boots and will most likely pick some up at the drugstore.  #GetADVANCED
https://www.influenster.com/reviews/review/boots-no7-protect-perfect-advanced-serum

From Fruit Vines, fruit vines bites (cherry).  YUM-O!!   similar to that other well known licorice that all used to make bites, but even better.  all i can say is that i opened the bag, and between ben & i, they were gone in about 30 minutes...  #sweetside
https://www.influenster.com/reviews/review/fruit-vines-r-bites

From Ecotools, sleek & shine hairbrush.  well, unfortunately, i have to be honest.  this is the one thing in the box they sent me that missed the mark.  there were two other hairbrushes that i could have received, and i honestly think only one of them (the styler & smoother) would have worked for me.  i just have so much, super thick hair.  i like the idea of the brush but this type of brush in general just gets tangled in my hair.  :/  can't win 'em all, i guess.
http://ecotools.com/hair?utm_source=influenster

still to come... reviews of Celestial Seasonings peppermint tea (not a big tea fan, but i can probably get down with peppermint tea....) and McCormick brand Thyme (gotta find a good recipe that calls for thyme.... good thing tomorrow is meal planning/shopping day).

peace yo.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thankful

When people ask about my life and how I do it with three kids, I always say my life is crazy and I do the best I can. I feel stressed out A LOT and the day to day can be grueling. However, it is never lost on me what a gift this chaos is and how much I am grateful for the lack of privacy and me time. I need to work on not being so hard on myself, my kids, Ben. I need to learn to let things go, have less guilt, less regret. More living in and for the moment, and giving thanks more than just one day out of the year.

I know the day will come that my house is quiet, I'm not needed 500 times a day, I don't need to change diapers and wipe butts. I think about this a lot lately now that Henry is about to turn one. He is the brightest little light, and I could weep thinking about how absolutely amazing and miraculous his presence in our lives is. And add much as he is and always will be my baby, he no longer is a baby and my heart aches in coming to terms with this stage in my life being over. With Emily, I went through a different mourning. With her, it was with sadness that the journey was over before I was ready, but still the teeniest hope that maybe someday..... Now, as much as in my heart I feel like I could have a million children, to know all the beauty, brilliance, wit, humor we could create, to hold, smell, cuddle a brand new little life.... I know that that journey has ended. I am so thankful for the road we traveled because it taught me so much about love, strength and the importance of community. My heart is so full with love, even on the days they make me crazy. I want to give them the world and I hope someday I can.

So of course I've gotten off track... Today was Thanksgiving. Every holiday with children is hectic and overwhelming. I left my mom's thinking, dammit, we didn't get a family picture. And did I get any of the baby on his first thanksgiving? And it just occurred to me his "baby's first Thanksgiving" bib is sitting in his closet.... Sigh.

In any case, amidst the chaos and stress, there is so much love and light, and oh so much to give thanks for.

First of course is family. My darling, beautiful children who fill me with such pride. Noah who is learning to read so quickly, and wanting to read everything, learning what new words mean, remembering all kinds of crazy details.... Emily, who is so funny, witty, silly, sweet... And two going on like 16. Every day I think, omg how is she still only two? She's just brilliant. And then Henry. My little butter ball. Thinks he's a big kid, because he's the size of one. Crawling, cruising, babbling, laughing. Lots of laughing and squealing. And just the most beautiful eyes, smile, dimple. And my husband, who puts up with me... And does so much for us all. The new job, the new schedule, it's been and will continue to be a challenge (especially as he goes permanently to midnights on January) but I think he's happy and I how in the long run it will put us in a better position financially and he week get to a point when he had the opportunity for a better schedule.

I'm also thankful for our extended family, who support us in all we do and help out with the kids when possible. I'm thankful for the friends and coworkers who lift me up, listen to me vent, and are there even when we can't see each other as much as any of is would like. I'm thankful for my health because although it's not perfect, and I'd really rather not have any issues to deal with, it can always be way worse. I am alive and treating my ailments, and for that I am thankful. I'm thankful for random acts of kindness. I'm thankful for good food and a warm house. I'm thankful for a job that, even though the money sucks and the work can be stressful, is meaningful and allows me flexibility and time home with my kids. I'm thankful for learning that I can't be everything to everyone, I can't please everyone, i can only do my best, and only I know what's best for me and my family.

I love that Noah wrapped his heart around the meaning of the day today, proclaiming how thankful he was and wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving. He told me more than once that he is thankful for his family, his friends, and the earth. He's a wise child, and I hope I can help he see that he can give thanks every day. That he has so much to be thankful for. And hopefully I can continue to remember that everyday too and as life passes by, to be better at pausing to breathe it all in.

Xo

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A time to reflect

Ben has officially started working nights and my goal is to finally do more blogging. It's always been something I think about doing but don't because I'm too busy or don't have the energy or desire, but I'm going that now that most of my nights will be solo, I'll find the motivation and take time to reflect.

I love the idea of being a blogger. Of writing things that are witty and touching. I don't really care if anyone reads them but hope to be able to look back one day and have a glimpse of our life. I feel like I've become so dependent on Facebook for that. I put little tidbits of my day, quotes from the kids, a cute picture, a funny story, whatever, there out of was and convenience but those things get buried amidst the other crap I like and share. I want to be able to put my thoughts here. I want to find a way to step back and really breathe in my life and maybe writing about it will help, or will at least help me figure out a way to call with some of the daily struggles of being a working mom and wife.

I feel like I've had a lot on my mind lately. I want to be someone who lives without regret, but my own awareness of that almost feeds the fear of having regrets. Does that make sense? For example, this past weekend was Noah's 6th birthday party. He loved it. We had it at Grounds for Hope in Lisle. He and a few friends enjoyed playing in the treehouse and then we went to the party room for games, cupcake and gifts. I like throwing parties for the kids. I like coming up with cute ideas, like pin the birthday hat on Noah and my diy obstacle course. But with hosting parties, you have to be on and entertaining. There's no time to stop to take pictures or to just pause and watch my boy having fun with his friends... I mean there is time, but in the chaos of the moment, I almost always forget to take those breaths. And them afterward, i do feel a weird variety of regret that I didn't enjoy the moment more....

But that's just one example. I worry about missing the little moments in general. I feel so stressed and ragged so much of the time. Today I worked all day and came home in time for Ben to leave, and then I did dinner, bathed Emily and bedtime, which was done around 9pm. I want to take care of myself. I want to start going to a chiropractor and getting massages. I want to be able to get my nails done or go shopping without feeling like I need to hurry home. But there's no spare time. And on the very rare day when there is free time, I choose to spend it with my family. It's a double edged sword.

And then there is money. I am incredibly frugal. I'm starting to think to a fault. I feel guilty about spending money on myself and often buy several things and and up returning most of them. I don't like the idea of spending money on myself when in the back of my mind, I have dreams of traveling with my family when the kids are a little but older and I wish we could create a slush fund for vacations but we can't because add people with debt, putting money aside for a trip seems irresponsible.

And then I hate that part is me that does get jealous of people who can buy or travel without second thought. So they realize how lucky they are and how I wish I could take my kids to Disney every year too? (I'm not a Disney person, and while I do want to take my kids there sooner than later, I would totally target spend money mixing it up... But that's me.)

I'm at a weird time in my life. I want to just fully wrap myself up in my children and shut everything else out but I need so much to lean on others, even though I have zero free time and much of my human interaction (besides when I'm at work) is done through the computer. But even that has become tiresome. People who make and share their every bad decision and women who can't agree on a girls weekend because it doesn't meet the needs if the entire group... I digress.

I think this is a bit of a vent. Needed to put it to the universe and get it off my chest. So now tomorrow is a new day and I will make every effort to breathe it's sweetness in deeply and take breaks to observe and enjoy the fleeting moments.

Xo, Mindy

Thursday, August 21, 2014

kindergarten

writing and rewriting because i'm feeling such an incredible mix of emotions tonight...  i'm going to try it like this...

***
dear noah,

tomorrow you start kindergarten.  i don't think that has fully sunk in for any of us, just what that means.  i can tell you are feeling excitement balanced with an understandable amount of nervousness.  i am too.  for the longest time i've felt okay about you going to kindergarten, but now as the time has finally come, i'm realizing that my baby is no longer a baby, and that's a hard one for mama to swallow.

i am excited to watch you take the next step on this amazing journey that is your life.  you have become such an incredible boy.  there are moments of frustration and emotion that we need to help you to figure out how to better express, but in general you are a kind boy.  you love your brother and sister so deeply that it makes my heart ache.  you are so bright and imaginative.  you craft the most elaborate stories and draw such detailed maps.  you are learning to read, understanding math, and take pride in learning new things.  you are so eager to learn.  like a sponge, you take it all in, and then repeat it back to me when i least expect.  if you say i said or did something, i fully believe you.  your memory is remarkable and i truly hope that it serves you well as you move forward in school. 

you love life.  you love people.  you want to make friends and i want you to make friends.  i know that this is the real first step on your journey of becoming the person you will be.  everything before this did matter, but it was different.  you are now entering the bigger world.  one where you will share a school with fifth graders.  one where you will meet people who you may go to school with until you are 18.  one where you will begin to discover who you are and who you want to be.

but i worry too.  i'm your mom, so that's my job.  i think part of it is that i can't walk in your shoes, i can't be there to keep an eye on you or see how it goes.  i know that in preschool you would sometimes tell me you played by yourself or you'd ask someone to play and they didn't want to.  those images are heartbreaking, and i always told myself it wasn't actually that bad but just the interpretation of a child.  but what if that happens in kindergarten?  or what if you feel too shy or vulnerable to make friends?  my saving grace is knowing that our neighbor david is in your class, so you will hopefully feel less alone.  and i know what i'm doing is projecting - i was a painfully shy child, and it was terrible.  i don't want that for you because i know how hard it is.  i don't need you to be mr popular or even have a ton of friends. 

what i mostly want for you is what i didn't have as a child - the confidence to be you and love you and make other people love you.  of course, i also want to see you thrive academically, but i know that will be the easy part for you.  you know all the basics, letters, numbers, concepts...  you can do basic math and are starting to do basic reading.  those concrete things are easy to learn.  learning to believe in yourself is harder but we know that you can do anything you put your mind to.  i want for you to know that WE believe in you and will always be here for you.

this next step is scary.  it's big.  it's the end of one chapter, and the beginning of another....  my friend recently blogged about missing the lasts because you never know they are the "last" until it's too late.  tonight i knowingly kissed you goodnight for the last time before you wake up in the morning a kindergartener.  i smelled your hair and the felt the squish of your cheek on my lips.

and now i sit here looking at old posts, trying to remember holding you, kissing you for the first time.  and i do.  even if it's my mind playing tricks on me because i've looked at the pictures a million times.... but i remember crying in the OR when i first laid my eyes on you and later being wheeled into recovery where your daddy was cradling you, looking so lovingly at our little miracle, and then putting you into my arms.  it feels like a million year ago.  it's hard to believe you will be six in october, yet i feel like i've known you my entire life...

you have a part of my heart always and forever little boy.  i know that you will be safe, you will grow, you will learn.  you will continue on the path to becoming an amazing person.  we have high expectations for you and i know you will reach them.  on this eve of starting kindergarten, i will only allow myself to briefly mourn the past, and will focus on the pride and joy you bring to my heart, and how i look forward to watching you grow and learn in the year(s) to come.

my love forever,
mommy

Monday, July 21, 2014

summertime....

...and the living is pretty easy.  :)  we are keeping busy this summer, but in a real "let's have fun and enjoy our time together" kinda way.  and in a "let's try to keep the kids entertained so they don't drive us crazy" kinda way.  working part time has really allowed me to appreciate and enjoy summer in a way i haven't been able to in a long time.  i remember in years past, i'd be out driving to a meeting or whatever, and see a mom out walking or playing with her kids, and HATING the fact that i had to work and didn't get to play with my kids during the day.  don't get me wrong, doing stuff during the day with three kids is exhausting, especially when it's at the cost of a good baby nap, but 30 years from now i won't look back on how well the baby napped, but on the fun times we had in the summer of 2014.

noah has already done tee ball, critter camp at the lincoln marsh and vacation bible school at grandma and grandpa's church.  today he started a two week long swim class, and the week after that he's doing a train camp at the dupage historical society.  we decided to keep him in activities for a lot of the summer because we know that in the past he has been a bear by the end of the summer when he hasn't had enough to do outside of the daily routine.  i think our plan worked out pretty well.  he loved tee ball.  he was on the red team (aka the Cubs) under Coach Jenny.  tee ball was kind of exhausting for this mama, since in the beginning we had weekly practices and then games sometimes twice a week, and always on days that daddy had to work.  doing dinner, getting ready, loading our crap, and getting there on time, especially when a lot of the evenings well into the season (which ended in late June) were pretty chilly.  but i'm so glad we did it, because he really enjoyed himself, despite the whole everyone gets to bat, nobody's out, and we only play three innings thing...

camp and bible school were fun, different activities than he's done before.  it was nice for him to have somewhat structured peer interactions with new kids.  i have had some worry about him going to kindergarten and not really knowing anyone.  total former painfully shy kid projection, i know for sure.  even though he has his moments of uncertainty and shyness, he really does engage well with other kids and loves making friends.

emily has been busy too.  she is my little helper.  she always wants to help with henry, the laundry, the dishes, cooking.  she took a short dance class at the winfield park district.  it's funny to see her with other kids because she does love kids, and is actually very outgoing, but does kind of clam up with strangers.  she will be going to parents morning out again in the fall, this time two days a week.

probably since the beginning of summer, emily has been napping in noah's bed, but recently, we have started letting her sleep in his bed at night.  the goal has been to get her crib transitioned to a toddler bed before vacation in mid-August.   she has done pretty well except for the general pattern of her getting out of bed at least 2-3 times after lights out, song, good night... the worst is when she peeks into henry's room when i'm in there, in the dark nursing him.  seeing a shadow moving in the hallway is pretty creepy, even when i know it's her.  she has only fallen out of his bed twice, once with a giant thud that made us go running, and the other time just the other night.  i'm not even really sure how it happened, but it was 12:30am and i'd been asleep, and i heard her wimping and calling daddyyyyyy.  we went in there to find her squeezed between the bed and side table, with her head stuck under the bed.  i had to pull pretty hard to get the poor thing out.  somehow, there wasn't a mark on her.

henry is "awesome" as emily would say with a little lisp.  at seven months old, he continues to be truly the best baby.  he is the dream for a third child.  along for the ride, happy as can be.  he is very predictable in when he is hungry or tired.  he's not a great napper, but then, we don't have the most consistent schedule.  i feel like if we were up and out at the same time every day, we could get him in a better nap schedule, but somedays he wakes for the day at 7:00 and other days he wakes, eats, and falls back asleep.  in any case, he is a great night time sleeper, very rarely waking at night.  he is a rock star breastfeeder, but he's in the super distracted phase, which can be really annoying, especially in public.

he has his first two teeth, which came in within days of each other the week he turned six months.  he also started solid foods the week he turned six months.  the first few days, he seemed to enjoy it but wouldn't open his mouth.  by day three, he had it figured out, and now eats so voraciously that i can't keep up!  he loves puffs and will eat table foods like eggs and bread.

like the other two, it took awhile but he is finally rolling all over town.  i'd say within the last week, week and a half, he's really mastered it, and it's funny to watch this giant child roll around his crib.  he is longer now than the crib is wide, and i'm afraid he's gonna get himself wedged in there.  even though he's rolling now, he's yet to start sleeping on his belly like noah & emily did.  he's like his mom, more of a side sleeper. 

he loves his exersaucer, and just today i noticed that he's tall enough that he can stand up flat footed in it.  he LOVES music and thinks it's hilarious when i dance.  his chuckle is incredible.  he babbles and coos and smiles all.the.time.  he truly is such a happy baby, and he ADORES his brother and sister, and they adore him too.  they are so gentle and kind to him.  it really makes me happy to see them giving him toys or feeding him puffs or even just talking or singing to him.

we have done a lot of fun family outings this summer too.  we went to the train museum in union, il, the airshow in rockford, the pool in west chicago, the beach in st joe, michigan, the lincoln park zoo, a cubs game, a cougars game, the memorial day parade, the 4th of july parade, the movie theater, the bowling alley.... and ben built the kids a swing set.  and it's only the middle of july!  :)

as for us grown ups, life is crazy busy.  my working part time since returning from leave in march has been working out well, with minimal need for child care.  i'm home on tuesdays, fridays, and wednesday afternoons.  a few weeks ago however, ben started a new job, dispatching for the addison police department.  the pay is slightly less for now, but the long term opportunity for growth is excellent.  plus it has great insurance!  for the next few months, he is training and his schedule will be shifting every few weeks.  the hope is that his permanent schedule starting in the fall will be 6:30pm to 2:30am, and i will be able to slightly adjust my schedule to working mon 9-5, wed 8-12, & thur 9-5.

we have tried to have a few mommy/daddy night outings too.  we we to see ray lamontage and the dave matthews band.  we went out for dinner for our anniversary.  maybe that was it.  lol.  but we're fine with that for now.  our focus is on our family, as it should be.  do i wish i had more time/money/energy to do stuff?  sure, but when i have to pay a baby sitter on top of whatever money i'm spending going out, the desire to go drops dramatically.  plus i'm just really friggin tired by the end of the week, and the idea of putting my pants back on and leaving the house is so unappealing!  i'm content to be a lame middle aged housewife and mother, living in a messy house, with dirty kids, because at least those dirty kids are happy and enjoying life. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

my 4th trimester body

i don't consider what i did today especially brave.  yes, i was photographed in my undies for all the world to see (at least, those who puruse facebook, instagram, and the internet), but in all honesty, that was the easy part.

i thought on it for a long time... would i?  could i?  what would ben think?  what would other people think?  i became OBSESSED with ashlee wells jackson's 4th trimester bodies project (http://4thtrimesterbodies.com/), a concept that started so small with just one picture, and has snowballed into sometime absolutely incredible that is being received worldwide.

at first i was like, wow this is cool.  these chicks are so confident, so *brave* (that word again) to get in their skivvies (or less, in some cases) and put it allllll out there.  but as time went on, i was pregnant with henry at the time, i started to realize the meaning of the project really hit home with me.

"dedicated to embracing the beauty inherent in the changes brought to our bodies by childbirth, motherhood, and breastfeeding."

my body is forever changed.  my life is forever changed.  i've said it before, i'll say it again, i KNOW how lucky i am.  i am grateful for the opportunity to be a mom.  that i was able to conceive, carry & deliver, albeit with quite a bit of intervention, but nonetheless.

i will take the stretch marks and scars.  the saggy boobs and "i need mom jeans" belly.  i look at my babies and i am grateful that they gave me this body.

so i reached out to ashlee.  i wanted to have my picture taken.  email was the first step.  but then she gave me a date and asked me to pay the donation fee to participate, and then it was confirmed.  and that was that.  i didn't give it a lot of thought.  i mean i thought about how i wanted to tell my story (which by the way, why do things NEVER come out as eloquently in real life as when you rehearse them in your mind?), i took time to find some nice new undergarments to wear, i prepped the kids for this silly thing we were gonna do in our undies, i got my mom to come along to help out, but i really never stressed about the image i would be putting out there.

am i 100% body confident?  is anybody?  no, you won't see me in a crop top or bikini because i a 35 year old mother of three who does not find the need to do so.  (but yes, i will pop my boob out just about anywhere to feed my kid, not for any sort of shock value, but because the bugger is hungry and that's what boobs are for, duh.)

i think for me i latch onto things i believe in.  i learn about them.  i become passionate about them, and i think that's important, and unfortunately somewhat lacking in our culture.  people pass the time talking about the stupid reality crap they watched on tv last night, but nobody ever wants to shoot the shit about politics, science and medicine, positive body image and breastfeeding, etc.

i think for me i became passionate about the idea of embracing my body and trying to inspire others to do the same.  i'm out there about so many things that are important to me because i truly hope the honesty of my words and experiences can help others.  and if by putting my 90% naked body out there and saying, "yeah i look pretty damn good for having three kids even with that belly and those stretch marks" helps one person look at them self in a more positive way, that i've succeeded.

**
our appointment today was at 10am in the city.  we left at 8am just to be safe.  there was NO traffic and we were early for once!  we walked around a bit and the kids colored with chalk in front of ashlee's house/studio.  when it was time, we climbed the steep stairs to the studio where photographer ashlee and hair/makeup artist laura greeted us.  ashlee gave us the low down and showed the kids where they could play, and i was immediately ushered into the other room to get my hair and makeup done.  i felt so calm and comfortable with these amazing gals.  we chatted about laura's roommate who doesn't do the dishes, ashlee's car getting tagged with spray paint last night and how stuff like that doesn't happen two blocks from the mayor, and about ashlee's daughter nova's early intervention services after i told them i was a service   coordinator.  i tried to nurse henry while laura did my hair, but mister man was so distracted, so interested in everything that was going on, it was a lost cause.

from there, i sat on a stool in front of a white photography backdrop in my black tank top, a small mic attached to my bra.  ashlee instructed me that she was going to ask me a few basic questions and then a few open ended question, all of which would be video recorded.  my name, where i'm from, my age, my kids names and ages.  tell me about your story, pregnancy, childbirth, motherhood.  in that moment, all the thoughts i wanted to convey were out of my head, and i just rambled.  the kids were getting kind of impatient and bored, so it probably didn't help that i kept getting distracted my them during my interview.  in any case, i was able to share my story, one i've told a million times, but this time in a way that will reach an infinitely wider audience.  i cried of course talking about IVF and how grateful i am for my kids, because that's what i do.  laura was quick to bring me tissue and then to touch up my make up when the interview was done.

ashlee took my picture, a head shot, first.  me, this moment in time.  looking far fancier than a girl in a black tank top should, but nonetheless, me.

 photo courtesy of ashlee wells jackson, 4th trimester bodies project

and then it was time.  noah and emily and henry and i, down to almost nothing.  but i felt fearless.  the interview was the hard part.  ashlee made it easy to feel comfortable and at ease, and let's be honest, my kids have seen me in my undies, my mom has seen me in far more compromising situations... this was easy.

ashlee put the kids in position, emily standing on a stool next to me, noah instructed to hug me.  the kids touching the baby, kissing one another, smiling at me.  they were a dream.  they listened to her instructions and were sweet as pie.  and henry... he was a giant ham.  just perfection.

and as soon as it started, it was done.  she repositioned the kids maybe twice, click, clicked away, for a few minutes, and that was it!  the kids and i got dressed, henry ate a bit more, and we waited for ashlee to upload the pictures, and pull out her favorites.

she narrowed the pictures down to about 12.  it was overwhelming in that moment to make a decision, but as we narrowed the list, i just went with my gut.  once we were down to the last few, i couldn't decide.  ashlee had a favorite but mom and i were leaning toward another.  we decided that this would be my official shot:

  photo courtesy of ashlee wells jackson, 4th trimester bodies project

this one struck me because i loved the way the kids were doting on their baby.  i wish noah's arm wasn't hiding his smile, but this is them.  they love henry, they love each other.  

ashlee was kind enough to give me a "bonus" photo since i had such a hard time choosing, and i think this one was her favorite from the day:

  photo courtesy of ashlee wells jackson, 4th trimester bodies project

**
i want to thank everyone who encouraged me and cheered for me for choosing to participate in this project.  doing so wasn't brave, it was real.  it was about embracing it and empowering other, but also about teaching my children that there is beauty in all people, regardless of shape, size, color, ability.  that "perfection" isn't real.  real is real.  love yourself as you are.

xo.

Here is the official 4th trimester bodies project post: 4thtrimesterbodies.com/mindy.koechling