Happy 2 Month, Frederick C III!

Two months old! How time does fly!

Thank you for answering the challenge of earning back your birth weight! You’ve now moved past size 1 diapers and are pushing into 6 month clothes. You’re as big as some of your friends who were born months earlier but not nearly as strong when it comes to tummy time!

You’ve been living up to your uncle’s nickname “Freddy Chill” and encouraging us to believe that your first month of ease wasn’t a fluke. You’re up once or twice a night and we’re grateful. We probably couldn’t handle more!

This month you accompanied your sister to her first professional dental cleaning. You charmed your first babysitter, and started exercise class with your momma. Your trips to Starbucks are still going strong.

You’re happy. Smiling by day and chuckling to yourself in sleep. Your little feet don’t stop moving when you’re on your back and we pretend you run all around the world with those busy legs! Our very own adventurer.

Happy 2 month, Frederick C III. You are a blessing to this family and a joy.

Happy 1 Month, Frederick C III!

Baby Freddy, how are you 1 month old already?

You are the sweetest little boy, content to sleep or silently take in your surroundings when your basic needs are met. In fact, your go-with-the-flow attitude had us fooled into thinking you were getting enough to eat when the scale proved otherwise! Let’s get you back up to your fighting weight, okay?

You’re strong and alert, locking eyes, moving toward sounds, and lifting your head. You like fans and lights and your sister’s cuddles. (You are so loved by her!)

So far in life, you’ve been to two dinner parties, a birthday party, several Starbucks runs, to Target and Lowe’s. You’ve met Emma’s friends at school, hung out with your grandparents, made new friends, and heard your first sermon.

You’ve washed the wall in urine and pooped clear across the room, causing considerable panic and even the need for eye drops… but even with all that, you are the cool to our crazy; we are in awe of you!

Happy 1 month, Frederick C III. You are a blessing to this family and a joy.

3+ Weeks Postpartum

I have officially entered the phase of postpartum where I spend equal parts trying to find where I set that thing down and trying to remember what that thing is.

Also, I baked today just in case you needed a more direct cry for help.

It should also be noted that while searching for ingredients, I discovered two different containers of baking powder, two containers of raisins, two packages of yeast, and three containers of corn starch. So…essentially I’m functioning as usual.

Interview with Freddy Jr.

Freddy Jr. (aka “husband” / aka “dad”) has been unanimously voted the family MVP today. The votes were cast after reviewing the past three weeks of family events, culminating with today’s impromptu nap with the kids. This act allowed Freddy’s wife to nap by herself without interruption and ultimately sealed the vote.

Let’s hear what he has to say about his new title!

M: How does it feel to be the family MVP?

F: It feels pretty good. Did I go above and beyond today? I mean, yeah… I did. But mostly I just answered the call of duty.

M: Having a newborn and an almost 5-year-old who needs a lot of attention is a lot to manage alongside a full-time job and your wife’s changing emotional state. What keeps you going?

F: Umm…this is intense. [Pause]

A few months ago I challenged myself to write out my personal mission statement. It has given me so much guidance and personal accountability in my work life and personal life. Ultimately in this season of life, I’m striving to be a balanced man. At the end of the day, I just want to be a good husband, dad, and employee. And I have a lot of people counting on me.

M: How do you feel this newborn phase is going compared to your first time around?

F: So much more chaotic… Freddy is an absolute gem! He is so calm, content, and happy which makes it very easy to take care of him. However, the pure nature of having two children just makes it feel like everything is in the air at all times.

Freddy III is heard tooting in the background. Freddy Jr. pauses and cracks a smile. The girls start laughing.

So crazy…

•••

At this point, the interview is paused. Freddy III needs to be changed. Freddy Jr. leaves to change him.

When he returns, dinner needs to be cleared, one child needs to start her bedtime routine and the other needs to eat again. His daughter Emma ignores all requests to get ready for bed, instead choosing to practice triple axel jumps in the kitchen.

Soon the whole family is gathered in the baby’s room. Freddy Jr. is teaching Emma how to do cartwheels while his wife feeds the baby.

Daddy and daughter leave to brush their teeth. Although she has managed triple axels and cartwheels without injury, something occurs with Emma on the walk across the hall. Crying can be heard.

The interview resumes 58 minutes later.

•••

M: The timing of those interruptions felt staged. That’s what you meant by everything is in the air, isn’t it?

F: Yes, precisely.

M: If you could choose one thing to change about this phase, what would it be?

F: The time of year… More fresh air would be a “breath of fresh air”. [I] can’t wait for spring!

M: How about your favorite part of this phase?

F: I have an appreciation for how quickly everything else in life can just slow down. Having a newborn in the house has a way of shifting priorities. I no longer have time to sneak out for a quick bonfire, walk the dog, or even keep my driveway perfectly clear of snow. Just the basics.

M: That’s your favorite part about this phase?

F: Huh? What was the question?

M: What is your favorite part about this phase?

F: Hm, I must’ve gone off on a tangent. My favorite part is smelling my son’s head! Duh!

M: Thanks for taking the time today. Wanna watch an ep[isode]?

F: Yes.

An Overnight Work Trip and Two Kids

It’s official. I have kids. Plural.

I don’t exactly know what I expected but so far having two kids looks like my husband doing all the things. (Thank you, cesarean section for rendering me nearly useless as a partner but keeping me undeniably alive not once but twice.)

He manages all the things with minimal complaint and impressive restraint until he is temporarily freed for an overnight work trip and I finally get a taste of parenting two alone.

I’m two weeks postpartum and have been off pain meds long enough to know that I can survive without them. Progress.

I’ve scheduled a lunch date with a girlfriend to distract me from the evening to come. (Okay, she called me and I happily accepted. I love my girlfriends.) She comes over to catch up and meet the newest. She brings açai bowls. They’re delicious.

Before picking up my daughter from daycare, I take my son to run some errands. I park next to the cart corrals each time so I don’t lift him too long. He’s heavy but he sleeps.

I pick up my daughter from school and she shows off her little brother to all her of her friends. I introduce him to the teachers. One of the women helps me carry Emma’s car seat out to the car. My hands feel full (literally and figuratively) but I’m handling it.

Dinner time goes off without a hitch and we even find time to play Candyland and put together a puzzle before bed. I’m basically a super hero.

Both kids are in bed by 8:30 PM which is earlier than my husband and I have been managing together (#blessed). Having not much else to do (combined with a deep loyalty to my husband which prevents me from watching ahead in our Netflix series), I go to bed.

At the 1 AM feeding, I reach for something on the baby’s book cart. The cart is metal, on wheels, with three grated tiers. It’s repurposed from another room in the house; we have too many bookshelves already.

I forget about the open water bottle. Its contents chug-chug-chugging all over the books serve as an unwelcome reminder.

After a few choice words, I conquer my freeze-reflex, put down the baby, and grab some towels. Several books need to be wiped down. The floor is soaking wet. I recognize that this episode would have destroyed me the first time around but I’m feeling even-keeled and postpartum anxiety isn’t consuming my thoughts. I’m grateful.

At the 4 AM feeding, my daughter wakes up crying. She wants to sleep in my bed. I’m tired so I oblige, patting myself on the back for making it this long though I know I’ve set us back. She waits for me while I feed her brother. She talks the whole time.

Morning comes and I try bribery to get her dressed. She dillydallies. I renege on my bribe. More tears are shed but we finally get out the door. I grab the full trash on the way out for a quick stop at the garbage can. It’s icy but I can’t tell because of the snow. I fall.

Inside, I grab some ibuprofen, anticipating incision pain, and my daughter grabs a Band-Aid for me. I feel bad about reneging on my bribe so I issue a new one.

All in all, I’m pretty proud of myself for making it this far without any breakdowns but the house will stay a mess. Even super heroes need a break.

The Family Teeter Totter

How do people balance married life with child(ren)?

I’ve been going at it for three years now and I don’t think I’m very good at it. They say practice makes perfect but everyone in my family keeps growing and changing. The second I think I’m on to something, I run into a wall or trip and fall flat on my face.

Do you remember what it feels like to be spontaneous?

I dream of being spontaneous but married life with child(ren) seems to be full of plans. Calculations. Routine. Expectations.

Do you want to go out with friends? Are you leaving your family at home while you’re out? You can’t bring your child but what about your husband? You’re leaving your child at home? Is married spontaneity worth $40+ to you to find a sitter? You want family spontaneity? Have you packed the snacks? Has she had her nap today? What time is bedtime?

 

I don’t know if it’s healthy to live a social media life different from reality. The best pictures, biggest smiles, softest light. It all seems so perfect.

A lot of people I know are in an unhappy phase of marriage right now or are making plans to end marriage. I’m not naive enough to believe this is true for everyone but I think this social halo around family life makes the unhappy phases seem permanent. They’re stifling and we feel like there are few people to reach out to because everyone else is doing so well.

When we speak up, we feel like naysayers. Negative influences. Outcasts.

I had a friend tell me the other day that her boyfriend was so easy to get a long with and I scoffed. They’d just started dating and I thought back to that time. When it was easier. When we were on our best behavior. Our own bank accounts. Our own schedules. When our time together was chosen and treasured in a way that marriage dulls.

I’m not trying to say that family life is terrible. It’s incredible. But incredible doesn’t mean perfect. Family life is hard. Incredible. Beautiful. But also hard. Fred and I talk about wanting a better marriage a lot and we’re constantly talking about ways to raise a lady. A healthy child. A contributing member of society.

Are you going through a hard phase right now?  

Fred and I are working our way out of one for no reason other than life happens, it happens quickly, and it usually skirts expectations (and so do we as human beings – even if we love each other!). It strikes me that we don’t typically talk about the hard times when we’re in them. We often talk about them when we’re clear on the other side. Happy, so we can be an inspiration to others. How alienating is that happy message when you’re in the trenches?

Can we please start normalizing unhappy?


When I have written about marriage in anything less than a glowing light in the past, I have received feedback that people I know are talking about the well being of my marriage. Not to me but to others. We call that gossip and it isn’t a sign of care. If you care, you’ll ask me directly how we’re doing and I will tell you that Freddy and I are capable of weathering the hard seasons of marriage for the incredible seasons. We know that seasons are a reality of life and that the harder seasons make the good seasons sweeter. We are not divorcing; we don’t even talk about it so please calm down and let me be real about what it takes to be married and raise a family.

 

#TBT

Tonight I arrived home from a two-day work trip in Massachusetts after this sweet baby had already gone to bed.

I’m exhausted but I find myself craving her sleepy dead weight on my chest. So much so that I will tiptoe into her room, slide around the creaky spots in the floor, and peer over her crib rail to imagine it a little better.

That steady, slow breathing. The unconscious shifting of weight.

Until tomorrow morning, I’ll let the sleeping beauty be and appreciate her from her afar but not without a sneak and a peek and a #TBT.

Happy 1st Birthday, Emma Josephine!

1year_collage

Emma Jo! How in the world has it been over a year since you came into this world??

On April 16th, 2014, you were born. You. were. BORN.

In truth, I’m speechless when I think about this past year. It’s been impossible, beautiful, encouraging, frustrating, humbling and rewarding. Over the last 12 months, you have challenged us with late nights and tossed food, wooed us with long lashes and loving hugs, surprised us with first steps and climbing, and you’ve made us proud – over milestones, yes, but more so being you. Our sweet, confident, musical baby girl.

Those reflexive, startled hands that shot up again and again as a newborn have settled into drum-beating, Duplo-pulling digits and palms. Your chubby legs have turned into skinny sticks for walking and climbing. You’re becoming a toddler before our eyes. You are sassy. Throwing your cup/paci/food/utensils/toys on the floor, you cry out “Uh oh!” again and again.

Your wardrobe has turned over 3 times and you’re starting to push for four, true to size. You exude confidence in your baby Merrells and use them to take you through the garden. You play favorites, daddy still taking the cake but you let me in on a snuggle or two! You’ve gotten over more colds than I’ve seen in years but you always have a beat in your head to bop, wiggle, clap or laugh to. You are so musical! Drums, guitars, microphones, pianos – you are your father’s daughter.

I just can’t wrap my head (or heart) around it. My little girl is 1. I’ve been waiting these past few weeks for the right words to come but instead, tears. Filled to the brim and spilling over with emotion. All emotions. Mother emotions. So powerful and deep and all wrapped into choked up, speechless gasps for breath.

*Gasp* A year *Gasp* We made it *Gasp* I love you *Gasp* I hated parts of this past year *Gasp* Your joy gives me joy *Gasp* You are beautiful *Gasp* Your father loves you *Gasp* You are a blessing *Gasp* I am old *Gasp* Time keeps getting faster *Gasp* I can’t wait to see what’s next *Gasp*

Happy birthday, Emma Josephine. You are a blessing to this family and a joy.

Happy 11 Month, Emma Josephine!

11month_collage

Emma, dear, you are one short day away from being 11 months old! (11 months old?)

These past four weeks have been filled with incredible joy. THIS is what people think of when they wax nostalgic for the baby stage. You are constantly on the move, not just physically but mentally too. You go, go, go until something new catches your eye and then your wild abandon quickly becomes acute focus, your tiny fingers going over seams, zippers, cupboard doors, or instruments. Discovering. Learning. Manipulating.

You stand. You bring yourself up on your own with wobbly legs and when you sit, you do so slowly, with intention, lowering your body safely to the ground. You do not plop to your bottom; you are strong. You love to run with your walker but if it’s not around, you use the bar stool, laundry baskets, the ottoman! Anything that slides across the floor. For heavy objects, you lean in and grunt until the item begins to budge, our very own strongman.

You love to try new foods, rejecting only bananas and pureed beef. (I read “beets,” I’ll have you know). Your appetite thrills us and we chuckle over reports of two servings of mac ‘n’ cheese at daycare for lunch. ‘Atta girl! You love chugging water, throwing your head back with sippy cup in hand, and you prefer to feed yourself. That independent thread is woven throughout your being, from feeding to playing, learning and persisting. You’re fearless.

Transitions are hard but I can relate. We see the tired creep into your eyes and know when you’re fighting a much needed nap. When family is around, you prefer to pry those lids wide to not miss a thing. You communicate to all of us by pointing, clapping, waving, patting, dancing, and “dadada/mamama/nanana/bababa”-ing. You sit for reading and play while bathing. You understand a warning but don’t much care to heed one without distraction.

We think you’re the funnest human being we know and we love this stage, delightfully devouring every new thing you do. We are constantly calling to each other to “Watch this!” or “Listen to that!” – full of Emma-awe and parent
pride.

Happy 11 month, Emma Josephine. You are a blessing to this family and a joy.

Happy 10 month, Emma Josephine!

10monthcollageEmma, dear, tomorrow you are 10 months old!

Your grandma wasn’t about to let another month pass without a post about all of the things you’ve been up to so here we go! Over the past TWO months, you have been constantly on the move! You got a walker for Christmas and love to take laps around the house. When you’re not on your feet, pulling, balancing, or walking with help, you’re on all fours, crawling faster than a speeding bullet, stopping to wave as you go.

You and Winston are buds. It may be because you rarely take food from a spoon, preferring to feed yourself and your furry friend, or it might be because your new mobility keeps Winston on his toes. He gently holds toys so you can tug them. You reach over your highchair so he can dine on avocado, carrots, potatoes, and puffs. You’re a troublesome twosome for your mom and dad, defiantly working against the “No”s and “Don’t do that”s.

You had your first Christmas where you were showered with love. Unwrapping your gifts, you discovered a xylophone and your place in the band. You are independent. Strong-willed and funny and most definitely ours. Your daycare providers tell us you’re quirky too, taking individual Cheerios atop avocado slices, plating food like your father. You appreciate the aesthetic presentation.

You’re sleeping and so are we but we are beyond tickled when you’re awake. You have us laughing and hugging and appreciating this family unit we’ve become. From quiet snuggles to monster voices, we are enamored with you, dear love.

Happy 10 month, Emma Josephine. You are a blessing to this family and a joy.

BONUS PHOTOS: Because I realized after the shoot below that I repeated your vest. You skinny thing! I thought for sure I’d be safe without reviewing your posts!

10monthcollage1Repeat or not, you’re too cute not to share.