Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Grace and Kudos

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about this third baby, and I am actually surprised at the confidence and peace I feel about adding another child.  Let me explain.

When I was pregnant with Belle, I was insanely excited, but also unsure of what motherhood was like.  I knew that everything would be a new experience and I would literally learn as I went.  I spent countless hours looking at my registry and debating whether or not to get things like a diaper warmer or diaper genie.  I would organize her nursery, and then reorganize it.  I literally remember sitting in the glider trying to imagine what life was going to be like when I sat in there with a baby in my arms.  I knew exactly how far along I was in my pregnancy and what stage of development the baby was at in the womb. I knew I had sleepless nights ahead of me, but figured I had pulled many late nights in college, so it couldn't be that bad.

Then Belle came.  I learned very quickly that the sleepless nights were rough.  I learned that I could be angry and irritated with Paul for no reason other than he was sleeping next to me while I had to nurse a baby that seemed to want nothing more than to use me as a pacifier.  I learned that my baby would cry incessantly and I would have NO clue what she wanted, nor how to fix it.  Things like a diaper warmer seemed so trivial when it came down to the actually nitty gritty of caring for this human being.  Overall, those first 6 weeks of Belle's life I felt very overwhelmed, unsure of how I would handle this mothering thing, and certain I was probably doing everything wrong.

Obviously, things got easier and we decided to go for baby #2!  How easily we forget that newborn stage, right?  This time around I knew what to expect with motherhood.   I had been doing this gig for 18 months by then, so I felt I was over the initial shock of that major life change.  This pregnancy was much less glorified.  I remember about a month or two before she was born feeling like I should probably do something with the nursery.  Being as it was another girl, I didn't really make many changes.

I spent MUCH less time on the things that a baby needs, and more time spent wondering how I would manage two children.  I was honestly scared I would forget about one, or not keep a good enough eye on Belle when I was tending to Evie and something awful would happen.  I was concerned with how Belle would handle the change.  As far as she knew our world revolved around her, and she was used to not sharing.

Evie came, and surprisingly, we just did what we had to do.  The baby still cried and I had NO clue how to fix it sometimes, but I remember looking around at one point and realizing that everything I was so scared of I was doing.  I was a mother of two, and I was taking pretty good care of both of them!  Now, there was for sure times when I would nurse Evie and somehow Belle ended up naked on our back deck in the middle of winter.  I remember a time that Belle spilled milk every where, peed her pants, Evie was screaming insanely, and the door bell rang causing Mac to bark.  I for sure felt crazy, but within the 30 seconds all of this happened, it all seemed to calm down and get fixed 5 minutes later.  I survived.

Sure, as a family we had to adjust.  Belle struggled with sleeping issues, and Paul and I felt like zombies between a new baby and a 2 year old that wanted to get up as often as Evie, but somehow we got through it with lots of prayer and loads of support.  It felt like years, but in reality the couple of months that were really hard didn't last that long in the grand scheme of life.

So, onto baby #3.  I feel confident.  I feel like I have learned that the newborn stage is tough.  They don't sleep, I feel like a cow with all the nursing, it's hard to get out of the house, and it is an adjustment...but it is over with REAL quick.  I have survived it twice, so surely the third time will be survivable as well.

I've learned that toddlers are busy.  They make messes.  They cry over very illogical things.  This stage is tough, but it is THE best when you get to watch them learn how to move, how to say new words, and to see them explore life.  Evie's age right now is physically exhausting, but there isn't a day that goes by that I don't love watching that girl say a new word or run like a crazy woman all over the house.  Toddlers are certainly entertaining!

Belle's age and stage is always a new learning experience for me.  I LOVE having full out conversations with her.  The other day she  let me know that she was very certain she did NOT want to go to Heaven, because she wanted to come back to our house after she died (glad she likes our home so much!).  I am also amazed at how much of a sponge she is!  The girl has books memorized, and loves to learn about animals and fill random people in on things.  For instance, did you know that only female bees sting??  On the other side of the coin, the potty training is tough, and so is finding a discipline that works sometimes.

All in all, I can say that I have learned in being a mother not to have overly high expectations of myself, not to compare myself to others, and always be ready to try new things---because honestly, I often don't have a clue what I am doing or what the plan is.  Some days I don't discipline enough, while others I think I discipline too harsh.  There are days Evie is still cranky after a 3 hour nap, but then the days she takes only an hour nap she can be happy as a lark.  Some days prizes work to get Belle to go on the potty, and other days it's consequences.

One piece of advice for any mother is to give yourself grace when you screw up, and kudos when you really do something well.  Having a third child doesn't scare me so much, because I know it will be another process of forgiving myself for mistakes I will inevitably make, and being sure to give myself credit when I have a major success.  As women we are so quick to criticize our wrong doings and downplay when we do something well.  I still have loads to learn about parenting, as it's a ever ending learning process, but I feel that grace and kudos is the only way to get through it without completely feeling you are failing.

Grace and kudos.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Professional Organizing

I will be the first person to admit that I am not someone that organization comes easy for.  Don't get me wrong--my house is generally clean and things have their place, but don't open a closet, drawer, or cupboard!  I really WANT to be organized, but it is something that takes a ton of work and effort for me.

I hate cleaning, so I often pick up as quickly as I can.  This often means that I shove toys in random baskets, throw mail where it doesn't belong, and put things in spots just to get the out of my hair.  In the end, I end up with a house that looks picked up, but nooks and crannies of disorganized clutter.

I think I finally decided to call someone to help me out when we found out we were expecting baby #3.  I was barely keeping my head above water with 2 kids, so how was I going to get laundry done and clean a house with 3?!?!?! Thus, I made my phone call with zero shame and fully ready for some changes in this house!

Ironically, it turned out that the person I was referred to was actually a woman who went to my church!  I already knew her, and automatically felt very comfortable with Lynn coming into my home and giving me a hand.

Now, as a side note--I had a few people tell me that they would be more than willing to come over and organize my house for me for free.   I knew that calling and paying Lynn to help me out was going to be MORE than worth it.  She has been trained on how to TEACH people different organizing skills, AND she is trained on how to make things personalized for their lifestyle.  She took the time to understand how I like things in my house, and how I will best function in KEEPING things organized. I truly feel that money spent on a professional organizer is definitely worth it over having your best friend come over who is neat and tidy.

Okay, so what did we do!?!?  My toughest areas on my main level are my front closet, my laundry room/bathroom, and my pantry.  She had GREAT ideas for my laundry room:

  1. I store my paper towel, toilet paper, etc above our cupboard in the laundry room.  They are an eye sore, but it's an easy spot for them.  She suggested putting up a tension rod with a cute curtain to essentially "elongate" my cupboards.  This would hide the clutter, but still make it accessible.  
  2. Put up another tension rod in order to hang clothes.  I like to do my laundry after kids go to bed.  If I can hang up all the clothes and put them in the laundry room they are all ready to go in bedrooms the next day.
  3. Just do better with my storage in the cupboards.  Add shelves, more bins, label, and DISCIPLINE myself to put things in the right spot.
  4. Another idea I am toying with, that is related to laundry, but not the room itself....I really struggle with getting Evie's clothes put away because she is so busy when she is awake, and I can't go in her room when she sleeps.  She suggested maybe for the time being to move her clothes out of her room and into some place I could access when she is sleeping.  I haven't come up with spot yet, but I am definitely brainstorming.
For my front closet:
  1. Clear out the upper shelves and make it useful space, not wasted.
  2. Definitely consider doing some seasonal storage of the winter coats to free up the space
  3. Have Paul build shelves in the bottom for my shoes because my current solution (nothing) is not working and my shoes are overwhelming and getting lost.
  4. Put hooks on the inside of the closet to hang bags.
  5. Remove the accordion door and replace with a curtain to give more space and accessibility.
For my pantry:
  1. I have things in bins, but was running into trouble because I did not know what was in the bottom of them, and would buy more.  For example--I had 3 bags of powdered sugar.  So, we made areas in the closet.  The main eye level area is for things that we are using, like the current open boxes of cereal or crackers.  Shelves below are for sealed boxes and bags to move.
  2. I need three bins for my cans:  Veggies, Fruits, Soups.  This will allow me to be able to easily assess what I need to buy or not.
  3. Basic reorganization of pantry items.  Least used items went on top and bottom shelves
Thankfully, Paul is major handy and can help me with anything I need to hang or build.  He is more than willing to do whatever he can to help me feel more on top of my life!  I honestly cannot wait for her to come back, but I'm glad we chose 2 hour increments.  I think I would have felt overwhelmed if I did any more than that.  This gives me enough time to complete my goals before her next visit.

Never once did Lynn say I was doing something wrong or made me feel like I was a mess.  She was supportive, and really worked WITH me to find a system that would work for our lifestyle.  I was a little embarassed to let her see the worst areas in my house, but she never acted shocked or disgusted (she may be a great actress) :-).  

If any of you want her to help you out I am more than willing to pass you her number.  I prefer not to post her cell number on the internet, but send me a message and I'll pass it along :-)  This woman has three kids of her own and home schools.  She has to know a thing or two, or 100 about organizing :-)

I'll let ya know how the changes are going and the next changes we make!  Now,  I need to go to be all organized and neat. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Zone Defense

Kate Krueger Photography

Many of you who are friends with me on Facebook have probably already seen the official announcement that we are indeed expecting our 3rd child!  The official due date is January 21st.

So far, I haven't felt as fearful about #3 as I felt about #2.  I think it is because I know what it is like to add another child to the family.  I have realized that I am actually capable of keeping more than one human being alive at once!  Obviously, adding a child to any family will change up the dynamics a bit, but as of now I am excited and looking forward to the new addition.

Belle is ecstatic and loves to tell everyone that "there is a baby in Mama's belly."  I have a feeling that this time around she is going to be my BIG helper and will be much more interested in what is happening.  Obviously, Evie has no clue what is headed her way, but I have a strong hunch that a younger sibling will do her some good :-)

As far as pregnancy symptoms, I am definitely feeling the nausea like I have with my previous pregnancies.  THANK THE LORD for Zofran, or I would not be able to get myself out of bed!  I did not have this miracle drug with Belle, and I could have used it.  I was also sick my entire pregnancy with Evie, so I am hoping that this time around the nausea starts to fade away shortly.

The exhaustion is what is really killing me.  I'm not sure if it is just this pregnancy, the fact that I am almost 30, OR because I am chasing two other children, but I haven't been this exhausted with any of my other two pregnancies.  I find myself thinking of how to sneak in naps and have totally let my children watch far too much television so I can take a rest on the couch.  I am also hoping this goes away as second trimester approaches!

As always, I ask for prayers for a healthy pregnancy.  I do not take anything for granted and I am beyond humbled and thankful for this child growing inside of me.  I have actually not heard the heartbeat yet.  My 12 week appointment is next week Friday, and although I assume all will be fine because I am feeling all sorts of pregnant, I also know that anything can happen.

Thanks for all of the well wishes and congratulations we have received!  We feel so blessed!

Kate Krueger Photography