Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Lucy's "un"-birthday party.

A few months ago I told Declan I refuse to throw Lucy a legit party. I didn't have it in me to go all pinterest'y. To order pretty invites. To even THINK OF A THEME. To make games and crafts and special favors and all that. I actually asked if we could just go out to dinner or something as a family and that be that. I mean, it's enough for age 2, right?

While I might be decent at it, it doesn't mean I enjoy throwing parties. So a few weeks ago I decided we'd have a little family get-together on her birthday, on a Tuesday night. It didn't need to be fancy. We'd order pizza and sing to her and she'd feel special, right? So yea. That's what I went with.

I basically sent out an email to our family that said, 'Oh, hey. 6pm at Mom & Dad's house---pizza and cake for Lucy's birthday. DO NOT EXPECT A REAL PARTY FROM ME. Let's just make her feel special'. 

Well. That was that. The low stress of it from the beginning made me feel SO MUCH BETTER. All my people showed up. Even a "family party" is big--20'ish plus. I still ordered a sweet cake from The Kake Lady (because, helloooooo, they're gorgeous and it's easy). We ordered pizza. We had pretzels and chips and my mom made a salad. We played Kidz Bop from spotify and sat around outside enjoying an unusually cool July evening. We celebrated Lucy. She felt special. The way she looked around as everyone sang Happy Birthday to her was truly the sweetest thing ever. Just taking all the love in.

Turns out that a few pretty plates from Target, Dollar store balloons, flowers in a mason jar, and a fancy cake can make a non-party turn into a special, low-key birthday to remember after all.


she had been practicing holding up 2 fingers all day--it's a tough one! she finally got it :)



cousins also can make any party better :) 


Pretty sure we'll be following suit with future 'parties'. Because this was just right.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Our Lucy girl is two.



This life is such a funny one. And time is such a weird thing. It feels like it creeps by most days and yet looking back it feels like someone pressed fast forward. Two years with Lucy here feels fast. I mean, it feels really fast. And yet, it seems like this kid has been around forever because sometimes I swear she's turning 3 and not 2. But, indeed. She is only 2, despite what she tells every passer-byer in Target...."I'm FREE! I'm FREE!" (while showing all 10 chubby fingers)

I laugh and say, "No, she just acts 3--she's going to be 2 soon." I think she knows it's becoming a joke.


The thing about our experience with a second kid is--what people say is true. They grow up faster in so many ways. Lucy is incredibly verbal, she talks in full, understandable sentences, sings wordy, long songs, and knows older grown up characters and things that Em didn't have a clue existed at her sister's age. She also says things that shock me, ahem, repeats things she shouldn't. Basically, it's--uhh. Interesting.

quick! forget I said she's ever naughty. CUTEST FACE EVER.

Lucy got juice, candy, fruit snacks and the privilege to watch scarier movies (like Brave, ha!) sooner--because, let's be honest, that's what happens with subsequent children. Or at least in our case. Some things you just can't avoid. 

Lucy is our snuggle bum. Girlfriend loves a good cuddle and will sit in your lap, draped over your shoulder for a good long time, especially right after her nap. She is the grump pants of the world after a nap, and only fruit snacks can cure said grouchies. 

She is the girl who loves deep, man. Out of the blue she will tell me exactly which family member she loves and misses and "I go to their house, today??" She pipes up from the back seat all the time and says, "I seeeee you, Daddy! I love Daddy. I loooove sissy. I looove MOMMY!" She goes through everyone. Cousins, uncles, aunts, grandparents, included. She insists on holding hands at all times--she yells, "I hold'y handddddd!" before we're even out the door. She's also known to yell, "Uppy Shoulders, Daddy!" fast and furiously to get dibs on daddy before her sister. It's the 2014 version of "shotgun!" (for the front seat) in our house.


She is a baby lover. Lucy can be found bouncing and rocking her baby dolls around the house all day long. Swaddling them. Shushing them. Patting their backs. Oh, but Ohhhh, put a real baby in front of her and it's even worse. "I HOLD IT!!!!!!!!!!!!" She believes all babies are hers and hers alone. The problem is, she gets so excited it's like she can't contain herself. Her precious, little gentle caress can turn into an excited-squeeze that can send a little baby to tears. It's not malicious. It's like, the way I feel when I pull into Target, ya know? Can't blame a girl.

As outgoing as Lucy is, she has this little shy tendency about her. If not in a 100% happy mood she's the kid burying her face in our shoulder and refusing to acknowledge the world. I can't say I always blame her, though. There are lots of days I wish I had a shoulder to bury my face into, too. Life can be rough, man.


Although this sweet girl is the one who can be found kneeling down over the garden saying, "how you do-nin' today, fow-ers???" she can also flip like a switch. She will always defend herself. She has a mean pinch, hair-grab, and punch going on (only towards her big sister, who, to her defense, totally deserves it half the time). She is quick to tattle-tale--"Emeline HIT me!" She's quick to put herself in time-out for being rough, and also quick to say "sowwy, sissy" when she's done wrong. It doesn't stop her from doing it again about 10 seconds later.

We're working on it.


There's always those weird doubts you have as a mom when you venture into second-kid-territory. Will they compare? Can I love them the same? What if they're ugly? (did I say that?)

I'm happy to report that Lucy has done nothing but prove to me that I was wrong. That my heart is bigger than I ever knew. That I can think both my kid's are the coolest people ever, and also the biggest pain in the butt's ever... simultaneously, and also, that she can hold her own in the Cute Department. 

Two years with Lucy has been fun, but we're looking forward to a lifetime.

Happy birthday sweet Louie. You have rocked our world in the best way.





Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A house full 'o family. (Beach 2014)

Sixteen people living in one house for 7 days. Seven of which are children. Go ahead and just close your eyes for one second. Imagine the peaceful tranquility that comes along with beach living. And then trample that out with the sound of chaos. Yep, pretty much :)

Me and my clan were totally sick all week. I mean, hacking coughs, sore throat, feeling so icky. I had legit laryngitis for two days, and could hardly mutter a word (I'm sure my family loved this). My kid's didn't sleep. There were some nights Lucy had us up for HOURS and hours at a time. I woke up with hangover headaches from lack of sleep and I wasn't even hungover.

But the good news is that no matter what, in the end, we really did have fun. Yes, there are obstacles. Yes, there are family dynamics at play. Yes, there can be moments of chaos with lots of small children. And yes, dishes still need to be done at a beachhouse. But-we are glad we got those memories. Happy to have little great moments to hold onto, captured on video or in photos forever.

Those things last. The memories of small moments of chaos or whatever? Nah, it doesn't.


And oh there was fun. Like playing Heads Up with my family and belly laughing at how my dad held the phone over his eyes instead of his forehead, or the way my mom threw out the most ridiculous (but so her) clues. The time we played bocce ball once the kids were in bed at the park behind our house and as we found out I threw the winning ball, jumped into Declan's arms for a victory hug. Watching my girl's absolutely love on their little baby cousin, Deacon. I mean, I have some baby obsessed children (shut up, people, I know what you're thinking), and it's ridiculously cute. Or just seeing that sweet baby experience some 'firsts' and watching my sister and her husband be awesome parents.


Then there was the "our kid's didn't sleep so what the hell, let's watch the sunrise!" morning. It turned out to be beautiful and an ever so prevalent revelation of God's beauty. Because, wow. I don't get to experience beach sunrises enough. I think I need to move there.


If we didn't have this trip we wouldn't have gotten all these special memories with my dad. Of all the grandkids splashing away in the pool, and being silly with him. We wouldn't have all crammed on the sofa and watched The Bachelorette together while cursing commercial breaks, because hellooooo, DVR rocks. We wouldn't have had after dinner walks on the beach, and rides and waterice on the boardwalk. My kid's wouldn't have made sweet memories with their cousin's. We wouldn't have gotten to see Paxton & Emeline (and Lucy, too) hold hands and give endless hugs throughout the day. 





It's always, always worth it. Photos and video constantly remind me of that. 

***

Video Recap 2014

Monday, July 14, 2014

I think puppy prozac saved my life.

(First of all, I know it's weird to just go silent for well over a month and then pop back in to blog about MY DOG, of all things. But, yea-it's kind of life changing. So rather than write an instagram novel about it, here I am.)

hi I'm mac.

Mac was our first baby. Actually, to be honest, he was our "we want to have a baby, butttttt, let's try a dog first, k?" No offense, but I don't actually count him as a child, because, I'm not like that with pets. But he was ours and we loved that.

If I'm being honest, Mac stressed me out from day 1. He had potty issues like crazy. Was awful at being crate trained. He soiled everything. Went in our house constantly. But dang it, he was cute as freaking heck and he was our dog, so we loved him. He got a little better. Things turned around.

Then we had kids.

He was great with Emeline. Always a friendly pup and goodness gracious, he still has a love for newborns. He's super tender and protective and I find that endearing and sweet. 

As she started getting older we began to notice Mac was getting super uptight. We always referred to him as "disgruntled". He was. He would bat at his food bowl (full of food), like he was pissed off all the time. He would spill his water bowl on purpose. He was spiteful when it came to potty issues, even seconds after being out. He was totally miffed that he wasn't our highest priority anymore. 

And then Lucy came.

Mac's little world came crashing down, basically. I mean, he had his little lovey-phase of newborn cuddles and such, and then basically? It all went downhill.

He wouldn't stop barking throughout the day. He would growl NON-STOP. He would get down from sleeping as if he saw a ghost and act pissed at the world. Outside noises would send him into a crazy fury. He'd pee with excitement when guests came over. He seemed much more agitated with the girl's, and yet even if they were bothering him, he COULD NOT LEAVE THEIR SIDE. It was so weird. 

His barks and incessant growling made my blood pressure rise, I swear. After years of dealing with it, I started to resent him. We had mentioned his anxiety to the vet before and felt a little blown off. We tried natural herbal treats and he even wore the thunder shirt for nearly a year. Nothing seemed to work.

**

To be honest, I wanted to put a craigslist ad up for my dog. It sounds so horrible, but he was making my life m i s e r y. I know he was probably living in misery as well, but gahhh. It was infuriating some days. I didn't like him anymore and that made me sad. He was not a happy member of our household.

Finally, I pretty much flat-out asked my options to the vet a few weeks ago. Like, I was not leaving without SOMETHING. I told them about his issues and what he does, and was assured that it's not 'normal' dog behavior for him to be so visibly upset/anxious all the time. They went through some options with us, and we finally landed on the solution of puppy prozac. We'd give it a go and assess along the way. I was told that it could take 4-6 weeks to kick in.

**

Those were the longest 4 weeks of my life {{exaggeration}}. But! I wanted INSTANT. I wanted a calmer, happy dog immediately. We continued to give him his meds. Continued to see his awful behavior. Continued to feel disappointed but still clinging on to hope that something could change for our poor, disgruntled Mac-a-boy.

**

Last week we were on vacation and they continued his pill dosage while he was at the kennel. I was worried about him, as his transition (due to anxiety) home from the kennel in the past has been horrific to say the least. But honestly, this time it was different.

He came home and instead of acting skiddish and getting sick, he was calm and relaxed. I held my breath and waited for the next day, as it was sure to be more 'normal' and where I was pretty certain we'd see his normal behaviors come back.

But nope.

You guys, he is like A NORMAL DOG NOW. He is PLEASANT! and HAPPY! And he's not growling or barking for no reason! (Of course like a normal dog he does bark at door-bell rings and such). He is going up to his food bowl and EATING IT instead of spending half the day batting his paw at it and barking for no reason.

I ACTUALLY LIKE HIM AGAIN.

I mean, this is huge, as my tolerance for him had gone way down in the last few years. 

It may have taken 5 long weeks to kick in, but I'm gonna say it (and hold my breath while I do), but I think puppy prozac may have saved my life. And better yet, his too.

Phew. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Spur of the moment.

One of my resolutions this year was to do more fun, on a whim-type things with my family. I love, love, love and crave genuine experiences with them. The problem is that usually things just take so long to plan. When it comes to execution, logistics, with kids and a dog and all that? It rarely works out, and sometimes it just doesn't feel worth it.

But not this time.

On Thursday I happened to notice how gorgeous the weekend ahead of us was going to be. Declan and I had just talked about this being our last free weekend for a while. I mentioned, "hey, the beach with just our little crew would be fun"--and before you know it we were booked and ready to head out at noon the next day. Just like that. All the stars aligned for it to work out, and I'm so glad it did.

Because then we could experience all this together:



We stayed at our favorite little rickety motel. The girl's both slept like crap. But beautiful weather, sand, pool, junk food, and so much fun was enough to make all the good win out, again. It always does.

I love, love, love doing life with them. Especially on a whim. I live for this stuff.

I mean, their faces-clearly having the best time of their friggin' lives ;) (apparently stopping for a picture=worst mom)




Friday, May 30, 2014

times have changed

When I started writing in a blog I was young, had all the time in the world, and enjoyed talking about the mundane and trivial things involved with being a teenager, then college student, then a graduate.

I picked back up with writing pretty intensely when I landed my first teaching job and I had stories coming out my ears about the hilarious things my students said to me and my encounters being the big adult in a classroom full of little elementary aged kids, when, honestly, I barely felt like an adult at all.

Then I wrote about things related to young marriage, and the process of buying and building our first little (and current) townhome. And then about bringing home the puppy who I didn't realize till years later would be such a stinkin' handful and more work than our two kids combined on some days.

We got pregnant and then I wrote about our devastating miscarriage, even though it felt wrong and too open and honest to share on the internet. It brought many people into my life I had never expected it would, and opened up the hearts of other hurting momma's who just felt understood by hearing my crazy intense thoughts vomited on the pages of this blog in the midst of our grief.

Then I had my beautiful Emeline and got to take the year off of teaching. I began to find this deep need to document and capture every bit of her life through my writing and photos, to be forever preserved in 'blog world'. I had time, so much time to write and process, and learn the ins and outs of motherhood, and share my fails and my victories right here. In fact, there is no baby book--her baby book was right here. Every new milestone documented, a month never went by without an update.

I shared about the journey of losing a whole lot of baby weight plus much more, and started to feel what it was like to be comfortable in my own skin. It was encouraging and motivating to write about it here, get some cheers and inspiration, and to keep going on days it didn't feel worth it. I lost 50 some pounds and at the time, I felt great.

I wrote about not being ready for a 2nd baby, and then shortly after, I wrote about being pregnant with a 2nd baby. Don't worry, I got on board, apparently. Because Lucy was as planned as planned can be. But my pregnancy was sorely documented (except for on instagram), because I came to find out that life with a wild toddler and a super sick pregnancy didn't lend itself to as much leisurely writing.

Lucy came and I'm so grateful to have documented when my two sweet girls met. It was truly a high-High in my life that I'll never, ever forget. A few posts about how a new little lady in town stole my heart here and there, and about how she never, ever slept, and oh I'm so tired.

I popped in once in a while to talk about my journey back to running and losing the baby weight again. I was torn in so many directions with my kids, my job, my husband, exercising, church duties, etc, that I could feel myself pulling away from documenting as much.

I started leaving my camera at home more and more so I could be in the present, without a hunk of camera in my face. I felt myself leaving the memories to be in little instagram snapshots from my phone with a few little lines of texts instead of long, drawn out blog posts. My brain felt blank any time I wanted to write, which felt like a huge oxymoron, because, if I want to write, I should have something to say.

I began focusing even more on my health. Upped it to the next level, began spending more time at the gym and getting over a lot of my fears. We cleaned up our eating in such a way that my body began to change and I was finally seeing what I was capable of. I have a good level of energy now for my girl's, for my family, and I feel strong. I felt like it was too boring to talk anymore about this stuff because, in a way, I've arrived, in the sense that I didn't feel like I had much more progress pics to show--to keep up with all that. I just was living it out now.

My priorities of writing and documenting fell to the wayside. I didn't have the time (because I didn't make it) to sit and just write about things in any cohesive manner every day, or even a few times a week anymore. My children keep me busier than I ever knew, and I'm in life deep with them. Sometimes too deep to pull myself out and then write about it.

I'm alright with that, I think. Because times have changed.



Monday, May 19, 2014

So much good packed in one little weekend.

So. Kind of big news---my sister, Susan had her baby.

There is no doubt, none at all, that a baby being born is just pure magic. I can feel my rough edges toward baby #3 softening as we speak, and I don't like that. BUT GUYS. BABIESSSSSS.

Why do they suck you in like that? seriously.

Anyway. I hung around the for a good long time during her labor on Friday and took snippets of the day on video. After he was born I hodge-podged it all together and now they have a special little keepsake of the day sweet Deacon Jeffrey entered the world. Also. He was huge. Like, 10lbs 9oz, 23.5" huge. Yes. huge. My sister was serious when she said he felt heavy. HE WAS. She's amazing.

So, watch this--because who doesn't like to watch the story of a baby's birthday? One day I'm hoping my sister will blog again and tell all the nitty gritty details of that long day. Until then...



It's just pure joy for me to see my sister be a momma. Pure, utter joy.

***

My babies are obsessed with babies by the way.

Ok, fine, we all are. (I'm cracking, people. Make it stop.)


God, they are so cute. All of them.

***

My little (big) lady and I attended a birthday party on Saturday for her friend Finley. After barely getting any sleep, I pulled myself together and even took some photos for them. Her party was just TOO CUTE not to document. I mean...come on, a Rainbow Dress party? Each girl got sent a paint swatch and assigned a color (not mandatory, just for fun) to wear. Hellooooo--that's adorable.

The best part is the idea all stemmed back from when Finley's mom, Lauren threw a LBD (little black dress) party this past winter. Finley insisted she wanted a "little rainbow dress" party. So a little rainbow dress party she got :)



And that was just a taste. It was way fun and she let 4 year old girls PAINT in the living room of her brand new house. Like, FULL BLOWN MESSY PAINT. She is a cooler mom than I ever will be.

***

To top off our weekend we had a babysitter (!!!!) and then attended Declan's brother's 30th birthday party. He had an awesome Roaring 20's, Speakeasy-style party---totally catered, everyone dressed up, alcohol-a-flowin', people smoking cigars, card table/games/whatever they're called going on....it was fun! We are used to getting date nights here and there, but it was definitely a different, kind of fun way to spend time out.

And my husband can totally rock that time period.


***

Between the babies, the birthdays, the beer, oh my---this weekend was amazing.

how was yours?


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