Friday, November 10, 2017

Pin THIS! Vol. 2

Hope springs eternal, as they say, and it does so in particular ways in my life as a mother.  I don't just mean the way I hope my three-year-old will stop yelling at unsuspecting strangers in the grocery store, "WELL, I DON'T LIKE YOU!" or even the way I hope they don't realize her unsolicited anger was directed at them.

No, I certainly do have those kinds of hopes, but the most naive of my eternally-springing hopes come in the realm of housekeeping.

The amount of work involved in just living each day is incredible.  It really is.  The mountains of laundry around here are pretty unbelievable.  I've been reading the Little House books aloud to the girls, and I keep telling myself that if the Ingalls family could do truly everything for themselves from scratch, I ought to be able to keep a household running with a modern oven and refrigerator, a washer and dryer, even a robot vacuum at my disposal!  Shouldn't this be somehow easy?

Every morning I rise with the certainty that this will be the day.  Surely today I will get caught up on the laundry.  How hard can it be?  Today is the day I'll finally list those pairs of jeans I don't wear anymore on eBay and get them out of my house.  Today I'll tidy our master bedroom and get it looking presentable.  Today I'll really clean out the girls' closets.  Today I'll organize the sized seasonal bins of clothing in the basement and make sure everything is put away properly.  And so on and so forth.

As the day unfolds -- and I'm sure this is no great plot twist to any other mothers of young children out there -- I get approximately 25% of my lofty goals accomplished on a given day, if that.  Mostly I keep the children alive and fed and cared for, clothed and taken outside for fresh air and read to and snuggled with and all the other imperative things.

I'm lucky if I can stay on top of the basics of meals and dishes and then maybe throw one load of laundry into the washer.  I certainly don't go above and beyond with any massive organizational projects most days, much as I need to.  But even so, hope springs eternal, and I tell myself with honest fervor that tonight, tonight, when the girls are finally in bed and my hands are free and I don't have a fussy baby in a carrier strapped to my chest, well, at last I'll be able to do all those things.

And of course, five whole seconds after everyone is asleep I look around the house, assess the serious situation at hand, and can barely find the energy to do the bare minimum.  Clear the dinner table.  Do at least a majority of the dishes.  Pick up the glaringly obvious messes.  Collapse in exhaustion.

Tell myself, of course, that I'll do it all tomorrow.

* * *

I recently remembered an old blog post from about three years ago wherein I tried to make light of all the chaos that was in our home and life at the time.  Looking back at it gave me a good laugh, and inspired me to find the humor in our life in the here and now, as well.  (It was noteworthy to me that the spaces that looked so disastrous three years ago actually are all unbelievably improved, so much so that you'd never recognize them!  We've eliminated those problem areas and moved on to new ones, apparently...)

We'll start with the entryway, as any good home tour ought to do.   Welcoming you to our humble abode we have a lovely dead chrysanthemum.  It is the tangible representation of my soul, you might say, crushed and withered by the obligations and responsibilities of life.


I'll continue our home tour with a shot of Nathan's home office desk.  He's up to his eyeballs in paperwork, poor guy, particularly as I snapped this picture just as he was finishing up our taxes for the year.  But of course, you also never know when you'll need a few tubs of grout.  It may come in handy... perhaps to repair the arm of your office chair that is leaking old yellow foam?


Lest you think I'm just throwing my husband under the bus here, we'll move on to a picture of our kitchen in all its glory.  I must have made a meal or two on the day I took this lovely photo, and as you can see, everything piles up quickly.  I'd be hiding my head in shame, but what you may not realize is that there's a bright spot in this space: a new-to-us (thanks, Craigslist!) range with a double oven, which almost satisfies the desires of my heart, except that I am really tired of trying to clean around and behind my sink and I'm pining for an under mount sink someday.  Really, why aren't all sinks under mount sinks?  Are the people who design the ones like mine just morons?  Serious question.  But back to the double oven, the best part about it is that the spring that holds the door shut actually works, unlike our previous one, so the outside doesn't get heated up to dangerous temperatures just in time for my poor sweet children to burn themselves.



(In my defense, my kitchen is usually reasonably clean when I go to bed and when I first wake up in the morning.  And it rarely looks this disastrous.  Which is what made this particular moment so very photo-worthy, in a truly terrible way.)

Over here on a side kitchen counter we have a delightful display of mouth-watering Dove chocolates.  Help yourself.  If you'd like to wash them down with a swig of furniture cleaner, we do keep it handy, as you can see.  Also handy are an array of earplugs, a large flashlight, a tape measure, safety glasses, and other man items the purposes of which I cannot discern.



The children seem to take a cue from their mother's {dismal} housekeeping abilities, and their own play kitchen thereby sometimes looks like this:


Next up we have our dining room table.  Some days the chairs just stay that way after I've run the vacuum under the table.  It seems like a lot of effort to put them all back down again only to put them back up, you know?



Another day, another view of the dining room table, another scenic tablescape of tools piled on it for your viewing pleasure:


Now, did I mention the laundry is insane around here?  This is evidenced here by the fact that I've needed to expand our laundry receptacle collection, and now in addition to the three white plastic laundry hampers I use, I'm also using any empty bin I can find in the basement for the purposes of carrying and sorting laundry.


There's so much laundry the hampers can't keep it all down.


Our guest bedroom is currently home to a toilet.  Unfortunately, it's not hooked up to any plumbing (although that would be convenient for guests, wouldn't it?)... it's just perched there, waiting for its day in the sun when it can finally be reinstalled in our downstairs bath, which is currently under major renovations.  By which I mean Nathan tore it down to the studs and has been rebuilding it in its entirety!  Pretty exciting.  The toilet can hardly wait for its new home, I'm sure.  In fact, it's so excited that we have to hold it down with - you guessed it - another hamper of laundry.


Why do we have so much laundry?  I would venture a guess that it has something to do with the scenarios depicted in the following photos.





Ahhhhh yes, it would appear that certain residents of the house get dressed every morning only to promptly discard their everyday clothes in favor of ballerina tutus of every variety.  The wrinkled clothing is later found with remnants of breakfast or some other delight already on it, and is often thereby replaced with a new outfit -- in between the hours of twirling in tutus, of course.

And I suppose the laundry situation is highly influenced by this charming lady, as well.


A lot of laundry, yes, but a lot of debris in my life as well.  This is how much our robot vacuum picks up about every other day, and that's just in the downstairs.  Poor Cinderella!  She's choking up on the dirt and debris and general shame of it all!


But getting back to the guest bedroom, which is really more of a catch-all room than a guest room at the moment... 

What's a toilet without a sink to go with it? And what's a renovation project without several chests full of tools?


Oh silly me, I almost forgot a view of the bed!  So cozy and inviting:


Next we'll take a peek in the family room.  The family room was formerly our master bedroom, but early in my third pregnancy I very rationally decided that the whole house needed to be reimagined and rearranged.  We moved our master bedroom into the now-finished attic, which is quite cozy, and turned the space into a family room where kids' stuff can be stored, we can read together curled up on a comfy couch, and Nathan and I can occasionally watch TV together in the evenings.  We particularly enjoy the aesthetic of the off-center wall hangings over the television.  They were originally quite nicely centered over our master bed.  Obviously we require more than a year and a half to rectify the situation and re-center them over the current room's landscape.


Here's that comfortable family room couch I mentioned.  It's really quite perfect for relaxing, reading, or TV-watching -- well, if you can find a spot to sit.  The girls do make frequent use of this space for all their daily playing needs, as you can see.  But if you need help climbing over the rubble, Nathan has left a ladder handy in the background there, just leaning up against the curtains.  So convenient.


Meanwhile, upstairs in the baby's nursery it would appear that it's time to do laundry again.  Cloth diapers!


In the side alleyway coming toward our back stairs you can see all manner of remnants of the bathroom renovation project, so if you're looking for some valuable copper piping to steal, you know where to come.  


Naturally, we wouldn't dream of letting the side of our house steal the show, so our front yard is even more sublime.  Here we have a bin full of paint, topped with rain water and fallen leaves.  The previous homeowners left gallons and gallons of old paint in the garage, and eventually Nathan reached a level of annoyance that caused him to empty all of it into one bin so it could "dry out" and be properly disposed of.  Clearly that process is moving along swimmingly. {no pun intended}


Since I keep mentioning the bathroom renovation, I suppose I ought to show you some pictures.

Nathan started the demo the day after last Christmas, as I recall.

Here's what it looked like a couple of weeks ago...



And here's what it looks like today!



As you can see, things are moving along nicely, although the toilet isn't hooked up to any plumbing yet of course - the tile floor needs to go in first.

That's ok, because we have house guests coming next weekend, and I'm sure they'll appreciate the nice homey feeling afforded by having a toilet still sitting on the carpeted floor of the guest room.

* * *

Well, there you have it.  This concludes our home tour.  If your life is perfect and pinteresty, this may not be your style.  But if you too have a proverbial toilet - or perhaps even a real one - sitting in your guest room, welcome.  You are not alone.  This is real life, and sometimes it is quite messy.  But it can also be pretty good, even in the midst of the mess... just be careful not to trip.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Reeisms, Vol. 3



Oh, Ree.  Equal parts sugar and spice, some days I can't get enough of her and other days I wonder if I'll survive her.

A few months ago during the Gospel reading in church, I suddenly dissolved into silent laughter, shaking quietly in my pew.  It was a reading from the book of Matthew, where a Canaanite woman comes to Jesus and says, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon."  And all I could think was, wow, this scripture is really resonating with me this morning.  I know how that woman felt, because I have a three-year-old.

And another time, reflecting on the temptation of Jesus in the desert, I found myself thinking that Satan should have just sent a three-year-old to torment him, because it seems like that could make almost anyone snap.

And let's just say I may have once started to Google "Is my three year old a s..." and felt a sense of relief when it autocompleted "sociopath" for me.  I guess I'm not the first parent to wonder.

* * *

She loves music, dancing, snuggling, and nursery rhymes.  She plays imaginatively with Nell for hours at a time.  When neighbors drive by and she's playing in the yard, Ree waves and hollers a friendly but unexplainable, "OH HI MISTER POTATO!" And then dissolves into giggles.  Every time.

She recently fell into our bathroom trash can in a jackknifed position after standing on the toilet seat to wash her hands, quite the sight to see - it was both humorous and pathetic at the same time.

Her speech is more and more grown-up, but she still has some pretty cute phrases that she pronounces incorrectly, and I'll continue to love it as long as it lasts, I think.  She doesn't say "opeeoh" for "oatmeal" anymore.  She recently stopped asking to sit in my "yap" or asking for a "yittle bite" of something - her L's are sounding clearly most of the time, and every time she asks to sit in my lap I respond, "...but don't you want to sit in my yap?"  And she laughs as though that's the silliest thing anyone could ever say.

One of my favorite words to hear Marie say  -- and she says it often -- is "beautiful."  There's something charming about how she says it: "It's beauuuutiful!"  She'll declare it confidently about her own artwork: "Wow! I did it! It's beautiful!" or about the work of others.  Driving down the road I'll hear her quietly murmur, "That's a beautiful house there."  Or more loudly sometimes, when she sees something she likes, "Yook Mommy!  It's beautiful!"  Several months ago we went to the Peabody Essex Museum and she ran around loudly exclaiming "It's BEAUTIFUL!" about everything she saw.  One dress in the wearable art exhibit caught her eye in particular, and she yelled, "It's BEAUTIFUL!" and then, upon looking more closely, continued, "NO, it's BAD! It's BAD!"  The other art museum patrons were thoroughly amused.

A few of her other particularly fabulous words / phrases include:
Funscreen (sunscreen)
Chickmunk (chipmunk)
Fickly (quickly) ("I'm coming as fickly as I can!")
Packpack (backpack)
Popasul (popsicle)
Bonnet (bike helmet)
Daddy's factor (tractor - his newly acquired, free from the side of the road, John Deere mower)
Petal ticks (pretzel sticks)
New hamster (New Hampshire)
"It's a yittle bit ficky." (It's a little bit tricky)



{Pictures from a recent day when we visited the Topsfield Fair.  And yes, I dressed all the girls alike so I could easily keep track of them!}

* * *

Coming into my bedroom early while I'm still in bed:
"Mommy hiiiiiii. Can I tay (stay) with you ever (forever)?"

* * *

Running upstairs on another early (think pre-6 am) morning: "Hiiii!  So how are you guys doin'??"

* * *

After Molly was born, Ree noticed that beneath the top mattress in the cosleeper beside our bed was a little compartment for storing extra sheets, or diapers, or what have you.  "Mommy! When I have my baby, my own baby, my baby can sleep on the bottom and your baby can sleep on the top! And that's the end!"

* * *

Sitting in the glider one evening, rocking together: "I want to stay here forever.  I love being with you."

* * *

Nathan: "You're cozy, Marie.  I like to snuggle with you."
Ree: "No, mamas and daddies don't snuggle with little kids!  You're not snuggling with me, because I'm a little tiny girl!  But I'm snuggling with you.  Kids snuggle with mommies and daddies."

* * *

Ree: "I don't love Daddy.  Daddy is bad."
Me: "Daddy is the one who comes to you in the night and snuggles you when you are scared."
Ree: "Well, I do love him in the night but not in the day."




Looking at someone's birthday balloon: "I want a cupcake with finkles and iyfeam (ice cream) yike in the picture on that balloon!!!" (said very grumpily and demandingly)

* * *

Out of the blue: "I don't like to eat yucky spiders."

* * *

Singing: "I love to eat poops, poops, poops, poops!"

* * *

"Can I have one sip, Mommy?  Can I have two sipses?"

* * *

At breakfast:
Ree: "I want two grapefruits!"
Nell: "Mawie, it seems like two grapefruits but it's only one cut in half."
Ree: "No don't say that to me!  That is a bad word!"

* * *

Ree: "I don't yike peppers.  Well, I do yike peppers, I do like bell peppers, I'm just... nervous about them."

* * *

"I want a chocolate chip!  With a tuft on its head!"


* * *

Suddenly holding a Hershey's kiss suspiciously one afternoon: "It just... wiggled out of the wrapper all by itself."

* * *

"Mama, I found a waisin on the wug.  Can I eat it?"




Hearing Molly making a smacking sound: Oh, she's nursing by herself!"

* * *

Me: "How do you take care of your babies, Ree?"
Ree: "I just hold them in my arms until they go right to sleep and then I put them down and they stay asleep."
Nell: "Wow, my babies don't do that.  You must be the best mama.  High five."
And they high-fived.

* * *

Me: "Remember when Molly was a new born baby?"
Ree: "A new boy baby?  I don't wemember that!"

* * *

Ree: "I'm having a baby!  I'm having a baby now!"
Me: "Is it a girl or a boy?"
Ree: "A girl.  With a dress on.  In my belly."

* * *

Ree: "This is my baby girl."
Nell: "That baby doll is a boy, Mawie."  {it is indeed an anatomically correct baby boy, I can confirm}
Ree: "No, it's a girl!  It's a girl baby with a piece of poop stuck on her bum!"

* * *

Ree: "I had a baby."
Me: "What did you name your new baby?"
Ree: "Peeghost."
Nell: "That's a nice name."




Upon finding a piece of clothing she sought: "I had-ed it in my vawer!" (drawer)

* * *

"Dammit!  Mommy say that when she driving in the snow."  (who is the "Mommy" of whom she speaks?! ahem...)

* * *

Laughing: "I just did a big toot!  Just for fun."

* * *

"I just have some hiccups in my mouth and they are hurtin' me."

* * *

Me: "Do you know how old I am?"
Ree: "Two weeks."

* * *

Frequently: "I'm having a little fubble!" (trouble)

* * *

"When I grow up to be a grown up I want to be a bunny hopping along the path."

* * *

Sick one day, and so sad:
"Mama can you please help me bubble over (our family term for throw up) because I don't want to do it all by myself because I'm little and sick."

* * *

Inexplicably, on another day when she wasn't feeling too well: "Actually my tummy is not hurting.  My nose was just having a conversation."

* * *

With a fever: "My whole body hurts a YOT!"

* * *

Ree (pointing): "I have a bone in my bum."
Me: "It's your hip."
Ree: "Oh yeah!  It's my hip!  And I have another hip!"

* * *

Because the English language is confusing: "I looked at it, and I seed it, and I taked it out, and I goed up to my room with it!"




Listening to Mary Poppins at breakfast one morning: "Mama isn't this music so so so so so so so so beautiful?  Listening to it is such a treat."

* * *

To the tune of 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas': "I wish I could be Mary Poppins, I wish I could be Mary Poppins, I wish I could be Mary Poppins....!"

* * *

After I told her the main singer in the Sound of Music (who Nell immediately identified as having the same voice as Mary Poppins, by the way) was a character named Maria, Ree declared matter-of-factly and inexplicably, "Oh yeah.  One of my moms is named Maria."
{ nope }






Ree: "Mama, can I use your colored pens?"
Me: "No..."
Ree, angrily, pretending to read on my package of pens and following along with her finger, "BUT IT SAYS 'YUP IT IS FOR KIDS'!!!"

* * *

Driving in the car one day, she became frustrated and started yelling from her car seat.
Me: "What's wrong?"
Ree (playing an imaginary violin in the air): "I want to do an up bow not a down bow!"

* * *

Nathan: "I'm going to be home tomorrow, so I can play with you."
Ree: "Daddies don't play.  They read on their phones."
(BURN)




Meticulously folding a small piece of toilet paper:
"I fold it into a fare.  Not a wangtangle but a fare."

* * *

Talking about the small holes in our hallway wall that Nathan drilled a couple of years ago to do some electrical work reconnaissance:
Ree: "If I go down those yittle tiny holes I will be so so gone.  I will be yost."
Nell: "Yeah you won't be my sister then I would only have one!"
Ree: "Yeah I would be so so gone forever."

* * *

Weighing herself one morning:
Me: "You weigh 28 pounds!"
Ree: "Just like Daddy!"




"I have jelly beans!  I'm going to save them all for myself and not give any to anyone but save them for an occasion."

* * *

"I found this weally special wock!  I'm going to keep it for an occasion."

* * *

"These are my special socks I keep in my drawer for occasions."



Some vaguely theological musings:

Frustrated and concerned after a brief conversation about death: "When I grow up I'm gonna 'top (stop) dying!  Actually when I grow up I am gonna die but with Mama and Daddy and Nell!"

* * *

On Easter:
"But where is Jesus?"
"He's with God now."
"But where is God?"
"He's everywhere, but we say he's in heaven especially, like when we pray Our Father."
"But where is heaven?"
"......"
(I'm outta my league with this kiddo's questions!)

* * *

Doing a puzzle that is a map of the United States: "But where does Grandma live?  But where does Aunt Emily live?  But where does Uncle Andrew live? ..... but where does GOD live?"

* * *

During a thunder storm: "I scared!  I want to snuggle with somebody who is big like tall to the sky maybe like God."

* * *

After a required potty break at church one week:
Me: "Okay, before we go back into church, remember that we need to be very very quiet."
Ree: "Yeah!  Because everybody is sleeping!"



Some interactions with her big sister...

Playing together:
Ree: "I'm gonna be Peter Pan and you be a dead rat."
Nell (cheerfully): "Okay!"

* * *

Antagonizing her poor big sister:
Ree: "Mommy, we are the only nice ones, and Nell is bad."
Nell: "I'm not bad!"
Ree: "Yes you definitee bad!"

* * *

One morning when Ree was a little under the weather:
Nell: "I'm sorry you're sick, Mawie!"
Ree: "You're gonna be sick too soon, so you won't be smiling anymore!"
(...sociopath...?)

* * *

After biting her tongue:
Ree: "I have like, a rip in my tongue."
Nell (thoughtfully): "I saw someone with a rip in their tongue once."
Ree (angrily, running up and getting in Nell's face): "IT WAS ME!!!!!!!!"

(that one really killed me for some reason.  I laughed until I had tears in my eyes!)




And there you have it: a few (okay, more than a few) of Ree's finest moments over the recent months.  We sure do love having this girl in our family.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Molly at Six Months


She's trying desperately hard to be on the move, rolling all over the place but also using her toes to push herself around, and trying to get her knees up under herself.  She gazes up at me at mealtimes and tries to mimic the motions of my chewing with her own little mouth.  And with those sweet thigh rolls and the plumpness of her belly, every time I pick Molly up it's a reminder that she's not a newborn anymore.  Everyone says the time goes more quickly with second- or third-born and so forth, and it's all true as far as I can tell.

Perhaps the fact that I didn't get these "six month" pictures taken until a solid two weeks past that actual date gives some indication of how busy things are around here, and how quickly the time flies.


She's gregarious, this little girl, and happily bestows big smiles on anyone and everyone -- as long as she approves of her current situation, which often means being held by either Mama or Daddy, although substitutes are sometimes acceptable.

  

She's a solid sitter these days, although I'm closer than ever before to actually following some RIE parenting principles with her in her babyhood when it comes to motor development, so I find that I rarely sit her up, but prefer to put her on her back or tummy and let her go from there.  The more I've thought about it, the more it is odd to place a baby sitting up before she can get herself in and out of the sitting position.  It just leaves her being rather stuck there!  That being said, occasionally she really does like to be sitting up, so at times we just go with it.


Soaking through multiple full-body-style bibs a day (thank you, Aden and Anais burpy bibs! And thank you Cara for giving us some!), we've declared her our drooliest baby yet, which incidentally, my computer's autocorrect wants to change to drollest baby.   No, dear old laptop.  While she does bring us great joy and frequent mirth, droll isn't the word I'm going for, after all.  Just drool, and more drool, all the time.
 

I know we're biased, but we think this kiddo is one of the cutest babies ever to grace planet Earth.  Her eyes!  And her smiles!   Her Daddy is every bit as biased as I am, and declares her "above average" and "unbearably cute."




Dear Molly,

You are a handful to put to sleep, girly.  You're the queen of the 40-minute-or-less nap for most of your naps, and it's been making your Mama a liiiiiiittle bit crazy lately.  You've recently stopped falling asleep nursing, or rocking or singing or back-patting or anything else, for that matter; more often than not, the only thing that works is putting you in our LilleBaby carrier and bouncing you a bit until you finally give in and close your weary, red-rimmed eyes.  Last night you made a rare exception, and fell asleep in my arms in the rocking chair as I whispered to you.  "Sweet girl, it's okay to go to sleep," I murmured.  "You can do more exploring tomorrow.  You'll have a wonderfully long life to do all the things you want to do.  Close those little blue eyes.  Tomorrow you can work on your crawling, and play with your sisters, and see all the people you love, all over again."  And as I whispered, you eventually stopped fussing noisily and arching your back to look around.  Your eyes drifted shut.  And after a few final fusses as you attempted to fight the sleep, you gave in and your little body grew heavy with sleep in my arms.  I love that feeling, that moment of my babe drifting off to sleep in my arms.  I know that someday, despite all these struggles we've had to get each of our babies to sleep in their turn, I will miss those moments in the rocking chair as a little one succumbed to slumber and grew limp against my shoulder, breath slowing against my neck, fist relaxing its hold on my finger. 

We're finding our rhythm with my work and my care for my three girls, and sometimes that is challenging.  Sometimes you make it known that no babysitter, no matter how qualified, is a suitable substitute for your mother.  And so, sometimes, you roll on the floor at my feet while I teach violin lessons, or snuggle against me in the carrier.  I like those moments, when you're quiet and happy to be with me.  You watch my violin students attentively and seem to like hearing the music.  It reminds me of years not so very long ago when each of your big sisters used to do the same, and I'm trying to find the mental space to be grateful, amidst the challenges and chaos, for the kind of work I get to do.  I'm grateful for the fact that for every moment when a tantruming three-year-old's cries ring through the house -- bringing a hot flush of embarrassment to my face while I'm working -- there are a hundred beautiful moments.  A baby rocking in the swing by my side during lessons.  A child sitting quietly in my lap for a moment and just listening.  A toddler coloring quietly on papers strewn on the floor, content to play quietly if she could just be near me.  And you, Miss Margaret Elizabeth, falling asleep against my chest in the carrier to the sound of a small violin playing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.  




Of course, we'll close with the requisite sister picture.  We struggled a little to get a good one, and one might say we failed.  Lest you thought it was all smiles around here all the time.  {But you didn't, did you?}

"Siiiiisters.... siiiisters... there were never such devoted sisters!"