Monday, January 25, 2016

Day in the Life: Winter 2016

This is my second attempt at getting one of these done. It was hard to remember to take all the pictures, and I got halfway through the first attempt and scrapped it. I wasn't keeping up. I did a little better this second time until it got to be around 7:30 p.m. and I realized it had been a long time since I'd taken any pictures. But by then I'd invested most of a day into this thing, so I decided that it would be incomplete by my standards but this would remain our day in the life. Hopefully I'll do better in the spring.

All pictures were taken with my phone, and I had trouble keeping it handy sometimes.

Here goes a day in the life of our now family of 6, consisting of:

Tim: 41
Rachael: 36
Delaney: 8
Timmy: 4
Joey: 5 weeks

(It makes me want to giggle to include Tim's and my ages. But it will make it easier to keep it all straight as the years go by.)

Today is Friday, January 22.

4 a.m. Joey wakes for the second time, about four hours after the first. Good baby. I remember that Tim and his master sergeant should be starting the drive from Quantico, VA about now, and will be back here this afternoon. The snow should also be starting there by now, so I hope they can make their way south before it gets too bad. Joey's diaper is very wet by now, so I change him before nursing him and laying him back down. He goes back to sleep quickly (yay!).

5:50 a.m. Joey is stirring (NOOOOOO!). I stare at him, then the clock, then back at him, wondering how on earth I'm going to manage the hour of getting kids ready for school AND Joey. I can do either/or, not both. Joey is not the kind of baby that sits in a chair and watches contentedly what everyone else is doing. Amazingly, I've had the luck of Joey sleeping until 7 for the last few weeks that I've been back in charge of mornings. That luck had to run out at some point.
I thought maybe having Joey fussing right next to his ear would help Timmy wake up.
6 to 7 a.m. What do I do? I nurse Joey, then go wake up the other kids. Thus begins a very hectic hour. I don't even know what happens. It's a whirlwind. I'm so discombobulated. I don't know how I get through it. I'm too busy to have my coffee and that makes me cranky. I do not cope well at all. I manage to take two pictures.
Come to think of it, Delaney took the one below of her Flat Tom that she cut out of Sports Illustrated the day before. She wanted to text it to her friend and fellow Patriots fan Norah. Delaney and Norah are always texting each other on their moms' phones.
Annie gives me the title of "Worst Mom Ever" when I tell her that I will not be going to the Celebration of Learning that takes place today at school today starting at 1:20. That is naptime. Timmy needs his nap and Joey needs his many naps. School is a half-hour drive away. Also, I went to the Celebration of Learning last quarter and I deemed it not worth my time. I didn't even get to sit with Annie. I had to sit in the back with a crowd of other parents while we watched as some kids got an award for reading lots of books, and others got an award for reading lots more books. I could go have lunch with her on any given day (which I have and will), and then I'd actually be spending time with her. I am resentful of the school for scheduling things for the middle of the day and giving me another reason to feel guilty. When I was in school we had awards assemblies (legitimate ones too) that parents were NOT invited to. What was wrong with that?

But wait -- I was just a bad mom because of the Celebration of Learning. I win the distinction of Worst Mom Ever after I tell her that I've donated the joke book that she wants to take with her on the bus. It's a banner day for me already!

6:55 a.m. The older three kids go out the door and I sigh with relief. My neighbor Lynne has been supervising Timmy getting on the bus in my stead since Tim has been out of town and the mornings have been so cold. The rule is that pre-k and kindergarten kids need a parent with them at the bus stop, but another adult can be appointed. I am grateful to have that one less thing to worry about.

The first order of business once they're gone is to get Joey down for his first nap so that I can have coffee, eat my breakfast and just have some time to collect my thoughts and wake up. I do love my morning time.
8 to 8:30 a.m. He maybe sleeps for a half hour or forty minutes, and the next thing I know it's 8:00, he's awake, and I haven't eaten breakfast. We are going to Lynne's at 8:30 so in lieu of my usual eggs and cereal which we are low on anyway, I have a no-bake chocolate oatmeal bar and hastily try to make myself presentable while Mr. Fussypants waits not-so-patiently.
8:30 to 11 a.m. We pass a very pleasant morning in Lynne's living room with her and her mother who is visiting from Canada. Joey falls asleep on her mom's shoulder, and we drink tea and talk about all kinds of things. I couldn't think of a better way to spend such a rainy, dreary morning. The days can be so long and lonely at home with an infant, especially a cranky one who I've been kind of afraid to take anywhere. But he did pretty well the other day at bible study too, so maybe he's just trying to tell me he needs a change of scenery too?

11:05 a.m. The bus drops off Timmy and Lynne's daughter. We hurry home since it's still raining. Timmy shows me something special he has in his backpack -- finally his school pictures! Then he rummages in the fridge for his lunch which pretty much consists of snacks.
I tell Timmy that he's going to have his nap early today, just in case I change my mind and take them to the thing at school after all. If he finishes up his nap by 12:45 or so, I'll have the option. But it's good to know that Annie is not expecting me to, and she already thinks I'm the Worst Mom Ever, so I won't be letting her down if I don't.

11:30 a.m. Somewhere in this process I must have fed and laid Joey down again because I am able to enjoy reading a story to Timmy with no interruptions and tuck him in with both hands. Today he picks one of his library books, an Elephant and Piggie book by Mo Willems, the author of the Pigeon books we like so much. This book is called Should I Share My Ice Cream, and it is so cute and funny. The other one we checked out was We Are in a Book. Timmy just eats these books up and they are so much fun to read with him. They are so cleverly written and the illustrations are the best. I love the expressions on the faces.
I did put on concealer today, but there is NO concealing those bags. I might need to get some Rodan & Fields.
11:40 a.m. As soon as Timmy's down, Joey's up. I nurse him, change him, then put him in his play gym. He sometimes likes it for just a minute or two, and then he finds it to be too much. He stares for a little while at his reflection and doesn't do much else.
12:10 p.m. It isn't long before he starts making little cranky noises and needs to be rescued. About time for another nap. He is not happy for long when he's awake. Five or ten minutes tops. Then he starts acting tired again and needs to be put down for a nap. Good thing it has been easy for most of this day to get him to nap!
I was so glad to find this book at our little base library. I bought it before Delaney was born, but I guess I didn't find it very useful so I got rid of it. Eight years later, I find myself with a baby who's a bit different from what I'm used to, and I seem to remember this book discussing in depth the different personalities of babies and what they need. She describes one personality type as an "old soul" who acts like they've been here before and they're not happy about it. That sounds just like our Joey, whom we dubbed "grumpy old man" by the time he was a couple weeks old. Grumpy babies thrive on routine, don't like surprises, and they like their sleep. No flexible fourth child for me. I've been telling Tim, though, I think he's been better lately. Maybe he's starting to adjust to adjust to life outside the womb, or I've been figuring him out better, or something. He doesn't cry about everything anymore. He just doesn't like being awake for too long, and he won't tolerate being in a chair or on a blanket for more than a few minutes either. Also, the Moby wrap hasn't been the magic charm I thought it was at first. Sometimes it really ticks him off when I put him in there. He's like not this again!

I spend their overlapping naps reading and probably eating, probably drinking tea too. 

1:40 p.m. Timmy is finally awake after an extra-long nap. He snuggles up next to me while I read. It is pouring outside and I am definitely missing the thing at school if there was ever any lingering doubt. I sigh and make a mental note to go eat lunch with Annie at school sometime real soon.
2:30 p.m. or thereabouts. Joey is up again, and after I've fed and changed him I decide he needs a bath. He'll smell nice when his daddy comes home. This afternoon is really dragging and it is still so yucky and cold outside, so this gives me something else to do. He doesn't mind the bath but he really hates drying off and getting dressed. That's pretty much the same way I feel about my showers. 
3:00 p.m. Every day Joey reaches a point where he doesn't want to be awake, but he doesn't want to be asleep. He doesn't want to be put down, but he doesn't like any of the ways I hold him. We are now at that point. I try putting him in the Moby even though he hasn't liked it lately. He relaxes against me and I am relieved. I've got no more ideas after that. Now that he's settled I realize I'm very hungry and wolf down a bowl of cereal. Soon after that the girls get home.
Annie immediately tells me that her friend Josie has invited her and Delaney over to play, and asks me if she can go. I tell her that I'll have to text Josie's mom and make sure it's OK since this will be an indoors play date and does she really want my kids in her house today. Josie's mom replies saying that's fine, and adds that she's glad Josie will be occupied on this rainy day. I'm so glad to be doing a good deed! I too am happy that the two of them have something to do on a day that's not good for playing outside. They always do crafts at Josie's, and my girls love that stuff. I guess they all do. I will have to pick up some kind of little project for these girls and return the favor on some other rainy day.

Right before the girls leave, look who's here.
Tim's been gone since Monday afternoon so he gets an enthusiastic welcome from all of us. This is the first trip he's taken since Joey was born, and it's been a long few days. For me, it's hard not having his help at the end of the day with things like bringing Timmy to his twice a week basketball practice, or just holding Joey for a few minutes here or there, keeping the other kids in line, making dinner, etc. For the kids, it probably just gets old dealing with me all the time. But as I was telling my mom on the phone the other day, I can tell that the girls have made extra efforts here and there. I can tell that whatever pep talks he must have given them before he left had some effect. I have noticed an extra willingness to be helpful. Delaney, without being asked or told, helped carry things from the car when we went to basketball. Annie offered to make her sister's lunch a couple times, and as always tried to help with Joey. Once when I complained about not having hands to blow my runny nose, Delaney grabbed a tissue and held it over my nose, which was kind of funny. All of them did what they were asked without the usual "But I didn't leave that there" or "Ugh.." It is not their natural inclination to be looking for ways to help, so I appreciate the progress that's been made. Just knowing they were trying lightened my load.

3:30 p.m. on.

This is a long afternoon/evening for me mostly because at this time of the day I become progressively more tired. It doesn't help that it's so gloomy outside and that the first thing Tim wants to do when he puts his bags down is take a nap in the la-z-boy. I can't blame him, he's been up since 3 a.m. Timmy curls up next to him and looks at the iPad. I am sleepy too, and bored in this dark, quiet house, but I am unable to take a nap myself because Joey won't. So here I'll stop sharing hour-by-hour details, if you've even managed to read along this far.

I did file away a couple of thoughts that I wanted to share. The first one occurred to me while sitting in the glider rocker with my baby boy who was needing lots of attention and not wanting to be put down. I kept thinking about all the things I had to do, all the laundry piling up, the dirty floors and the scummy bathrooms. Lately it feels like I sit with my hands tied while everything falls apart. I can't stand a mess. I struggle with feeling like I'm not getting anything done while sitting and holding him all these hours. I also start to feel antsy and bored. Every time I do get him to sleep I immediately start scurrying around trying to do things, not even knowing where I should start because I don't know how much time I have. But then I looked down at him and tried to remind myself this is what I'm doing now, this is what needs to be done at this time -- being here with my baby who needs me. This is more important than all of those other things. He will not be this little and need me this much for long. Babies don't keep. Joey is my long-awaited answer to prayer and I should be happy to just soak him in. One day again I'll be able to keep the house up to my standards.

The other thing occurred to me while we were eating dinner that night. Tim and I have not had a real conversation in a long time ("real" defined as us sitting face to face, talking about things besides the kids and the household, for longer than seconds or minutes). Whenever we're together we have three kids eagerly waiting their turn to talk while we're talking. Or being reminded not to interrupt. Asking questions that break our chain of thought. Or maybe it's something I don't want to talk about around the kids. Once we're finally alone we are exhausted, and just as soon as Joey goes to sleep so do we. We have no time to ourselves. Before Joey was born we had a few hours every night. When Delaney and Annie were born we could talk about whatever we wanted around them because they were no older than two and didn't understand anything. Then of course when Timmy was born Tim was deployed so I had bigger issues. (We did stay pretty well connected through email, though.) I miss his stories about people at work. I miss getting to say what's on my mind without worrying about how it could be interpreted by keen little ears. I know this is temporary. One day I'll get Joey on a reliable schedule of going to bed earlier than us and sleeping at least mostly through the night, and we'll have a couple hours to ourselves. We'll sit down and have a glass of wine and enjoy each other's company again, and we won't be like ships passing. I look forward to that.
The kids are watching Happy Feet and Tim is about to go to they gym at 7:45. That's dedication!
I hope that didn't seem too sad. I want to be able to look back at this snapshot of life right now and see what it was really like -- happy but also a little chaotic, exhausting and frustrating. Things change so quickly. 

And that's a day in our life!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Joey: 1 Month

Look who's a month old!
About a week ago I said his name and he looked me in the eye and smiled. I was so shocked. Our crankiest baby yet starts smiling the earliest? Is it even possible for a three week-old baby to make a real smile? I told Tim about it later and to me surprise he didn't say, "It was just gas." He said, "Yeah, he did that to me too, the other day." He's even started to coo. It's the best. I have to catch him just after he's had a nap and a feed.
Those smiley pictures above represent only a few fleeting seconds of the days they were taken on. Either he's been our fussiest baby or I just have a poor memory. But I'm pretty sure he's the fussiest. He has bouts of crying that last anywhere from two to four hours at a time, sometimes more, usually late in the evening. Sometimes he is inconsolable. He cries a lot the rest of the day too, but can usually be kept content by being held and in motion. Some days are worse than others. The good days make us forget all about the bad ones. I got myself a Moby wrap the other day, and that's been a sanity saver for us all. No more passing a crying baby back and forth while trying to eat dinner. I like looking down and seeing him peacefully sleeping next to my heart.
As far as sleep goes, lately it hasn't been too bad. I get him to sleep by about 9, and Tim and I go right to bed at that point too. Nighttime Netflix will have to wait awhile. He sleeps three to four hours the first stretch, wakes up to nurse and then goes right back to sleep another two to three hours. When he gets up to nurse a second time he's usually up for an hour and that's kind of a pain, but eventually he falls back asleep and then I get another hour or two of sleep too. If I'm lucky he keeps sleeping when I get up to get the kids ready for school. He can be persuaded to take a nap in the pack 'n play about an hour after he gets up, and I try really hard to make that happen because I love my morning time. The rest of the day he takes naps in the Moby. He does not like to sit in either his rocker or bouncer -- only a person holding him will do. That person is almost always me, so by the end of the day my back is very achy and tired. I am bone tired all over at that point, so I go right to bed as soon as I can and we begin the cycle again. I know it could be a lot worse, and all that sleep at night is a blessing even if it's not continuous. I take what I can get with a newborn!
On the night I took this picture Joey was having a really rough night, just crying and crying. I was back in our room trying to calm him down and nothing was working, so Tim came back to relieve me for a little while.
He had a pediatrician visit at 3 weeks. He weighed in at 10 pounds 5 ounces. He is currently wearing size 1 diapers and 0-3 month clothes, but he seems on the verge of outgrowing both of those. I've still got 200 size 1 diapers thanks to Amazon Subscribe & Save, so I'll keep stuffing him into those for as long as I can.

You may recall how in Joey's birth story I told about the one diaper Tim did -- the very first clean diaper on his clean butt. Well, Tim managed to avoid diapers for Joey's entire first month, right up until this morning. I came out to the waiting room after having my teeth cleaned and asked him how it had gone. He gestured with his hand indicating so-so. Then he said, "I changed him." I said something like, "Oh, wow." Then he said again, "I changed him," giving a pointed look at the sleeping baby who I now noticed was wearing his spare clothes. Tim's first diaper in a month had been a real doozy, and he'd had to change it on the dentist's waiting room floor. He thinks that more than made up for a whole month of no diaper changing, and I would have to agree. But then I'd also have to ask, which would you rather do? A regular, easy diaper change once every day or two, or a real mess of a diaper change once in a long while on the rare occasion that I'm not available to do it myself? To that he would probably answer that he will have nothing to do with any of the diapers from now on. We'll see about that. He can't avoid all of them.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Be Still My Heart

I can not get enough of these pictures. Preserved forever are all the tiny exquisite details of him that I touch and stare at every day, trying to burn them into my memory. He's going to grow and change so fast. Joey was nine days old when Kim of On the Move Photography did this session and he's already different. For one thing he's got a bad case of baby acne, but I'm sure that will go away in a few weeks. His temperament has also changed. He is fussy every waking moment and a bad sleeper -- but this too shall pass, right? No way would he (these days) lie around sleepy or half asleep for two + hours while she placed him in different poses and took pictures. Good thing we did it while we still could.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Christmas phone dump

Everybody's back to school and work today, and it's finally just me and Nugget at home. I finally got him down for a nap and we'll see how long he lasts. He hasn't been the best at napping of late, and he's been a pretty high-maintenance newborn overall, so I really have to use whatever time I have to myself wisely. Usually I use it for sleep.

Lest you think I forgot about my other kids after he was born, I want to type up a quick Christmas post. I didn't take many pictures this time (my hands were full) and it was a very quiet Christmas anyway. But the kids got to take part in some fun activities in the days leading up to it, and lucky for me I could relax at home with Joey while Tim took them. They were some VERY lucky kids on Christmas morning. Santa and the family were good to them. The favorite gifts this year were anything that had to do with Star Wars, for Delaney and Timmy. Delaney got the R2D2 suitcase that was on her wishlist, and Timmy got a Storm Trooper (I think?) bike and a Darth Vader watch among other things. Tim took them to see the new Star Wars movie over the break too, and it was a hit. When it comes to base, I'll take Annie to see it too. Annie tells us that she got nothing on her wishlist for Santa, which came as a surprise since I remember her putting American girl clothes on that list. But she seemed happy anyway. That girl never knows what she wants. I think she liked her new clothes and hair things. Santa very thoughtfully brought Joey some of the items on his Amazon registry, like a white noise machine. I've been enjoying that thing for my naps too, when Joey won't nap and Tim's there to hold him. With everyone at home, a white noise machine is essential for getting any peace and quiet. One day I turned it off after waking up and immediately heard, "Mama. Mama."

Here are my favorite photos from Christmas, and just in time for me to make another Joey post -- Kim's going to be giving me the photos from his newborn session this afternoon.
These first two pics are from our neighbor's gingerbread house party. Those are some sugared-up kids!
Christmas card photo outtakes. These are good, actually, but I had a specific vision of what I wanted the card to be. Maybe next year's card can be more fun and less serious.
My snowman wreath I made myself even though I'm not crafty. Hope he survives storage until next year!
Christmas morning. Right after I took this picture, Tim passed a fussy Joey to me, so I was only able to take pictures here and there as I'm not good at multitasking while holding a squirmy baby.
Miposaur -- Delaney's latest substitute for a real pet. Last year it was Furby. Miposaur is not nearly as needy as a dog, but he IS always hungry for more batteries. 
Mermaid tails made by Aunt Anna
Outside the chapel after Mass. Don't judge me for wearing flipflops. It was 70 degrees out and my feet were still too swollen for any of my other shoes.
And here it is, a new year. What a lot has changed since last January. I couldn't be happier, even with the sleep deprivation. We are incredibly blessed.