More Kids…

August 27, 2014 § Leave a comment

In my last post I mentioned that I still LOVED being a parent to four little ones, even though it gets wild around here. I have been pondering that……. When my 15 month old turns to me and wraps his little arms around my legs for a hug. When my 4 year old prays for my headache. When my 2 year old shouts “mommy I didn’t get a hug and kiss!” as I’m closing the door to their room after our bed time routine (bed time shenanigans). When our baby daughter flashes her amazing toothless smile. I couldn’t imagine knowing that we wouldn’t have more kids.

Things get crazy around here, for sure.

We had friends over for dinner and I had to get up more than once to give attention to unruly behavior and even had to slip away from the table to give someone a quick scrub down in the tub because he was so dirty from playing outdoors and dinner. It was certainly inconvenient as I would have much rather sat and been a part of the adult conversation.

We’ve got one going through an angry, scream-y phase. I just started reading Give Them Grace because I know that I don’t always give them enough patience and grace and I want to be pouring Jesus’ love into their hearts and showing them the appropriate way to act by example, not making their little matters harder.

I am constantly pulling Leonardo down off of the table, desks, baby swing, changing table, easel… if it can be climbed he will climb it. He spends a lot of time in the pack n’ play for his own safety but I can’t just keep him in there ALL day. Darn it all it’s exasperating. Up the stairs to tend to the crying infant.. rush back down to rescue Leo from a perch too high… up the stairs again to find a missing shoe… rush back down because an older brother is alerting me to the fact that Leonardo is sucking on the computer wire… outside to look in the van for that missing shoe… back in to the sounds of crying after Leonardo has climbed onto and fallen off of the dining table. By 8am we’ve all been up for and hour and a half and I’m counting down the minutes until little man’s first nap!

Having all these little kids means a lot of up and down and repetition and plain ole’ 24 hours a day commitment. There are many times when I just want a little reprieve, but I never think about being DONE. They all bring me so much more joy then grief. And let’s face it – they’re making me a better person…. well…. My God is making me a better person through their different personalities and everything I’ve mentioned (and way more). He’s sharpening me and leading me and is always that still small voice. It often takes some time but I am slowly adjusting my course to line up with His.

People ask “how do you DO IT??” That’s how. With each addition God fine tunes me just a little bit more. We adjust. We change. We grow. I’ve told my boys that when mommy and daddy have a new baby I still love them just the same as before, but my heart grows bigger so that I have room for the new baby. Same goes for every other aspect of parenting and I look forward to welcoming more blessings into our family in the future.

I’ve got my list of Italian baby names ready and waiting.

Four Kids! Sleep, Shopping & Shark Week

August 15, 2014 § Leave a comment

So we have 4 kids! Alessia Truth joined our crew on July 1st and everyone is so happy to have a little lady in the house!

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The first (almost 7) weeks with our new baby daughter has been so much fun (girl clothes heeeeeeyyyyy!) and also pretty tiring. I was reeaaally hoping that she would fall right into a regular sleeping pattern after the first couple of weeks of pushing full feedings (happy tummy) every time and while she has done well with breastfeeding on a schedule her day time sleeping has not been super easy and it has been a source of stress for me. I can’t sit and hold a baby all day long and it is so tiring running up and down the stairs to check on my ticking time bomb or to pop her binky back in her mouth. I hate the binky… but it’s so easy to just pop it in and hope it lulls baby back to sleepy land. I’m hoping that I can phase it out or direct baby girl to her thumb. Because thumb suckers can’t lose their source of comfort (yes, it is also troublesome BECAUSE they can’t lose it when their older, I know)…………….

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I’m all about the napping schedule. Routine is the only way to get anything done around here. I don’t have it all figured out and I certainly have NOT mastered the Sleep Monster – my kids argue at bed time and wake up too early and all of that but we still have a semblance of a routine and it is so vital to my LIFE. Yes. Dramatic emphasis encouraged when reading that. *Vital to MY LIFE*. So adding a baby to the mix who clearly misread her day to day schedule is very draining for me. Just add it to the list of things “we’re working on”.

Anyways…. the two big boys love helping me care for her. Every single time I sit down to nurse her Stefano sits next to me and announces that he is going to tickle her toes. Dante so tenderly holds her and tries to soothe her when she cries. Even Leonardo knows that she is a special new family member and hugs and kisses her often… and by hug and mean he tries to throw all of his body weight on top of her face and squeeze nice and tight. And by kiss I mean open-mouth drooly slobbers while making clicking noises repeatedly haha. No, it’s adorable.

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One of the most difficult things is going grocery shopping with all four of them. Twice, now, I’ve done it and been the mom who has got a baby cart and a food cart. Every other time I’ve managed to unload at least two of them. But I’ve still got a few years before Dante can help me push a grocery cart. Those things are NOT made to steer with one hand. And then to make matters even trickier, add two preschoolers – one holding onto one side of the cart, and the second on the other side of the cart — if we weren’t bumping into end caps and people already, we are now. We need a Wide Load sign. Before every grocery shopping trip I remind my boys to wait for me to ask them to pick up food to place in the cart, and to hold onto the cart so that we can all stay together. So when I mix things up and suggest someone LET GO of the cart to make room for another shopper to get by….. forget about it. I might as well be speaking Polish. Why on EARTH would I EVER change the rules? Haha! Normally our shopping trips are fairly quick and painless and I like to be able to praise them for being my helpers and for being so well behaved. But wider aisles would be helpful. Maybe I’ll write a letter………….. Can you imagine? “Dear Market Basket, I thought it might make our shopping trip more enjoyable if you could reconfigure your store layout so that it might be easier for my four children and me to walk hand in hand (or hand in cart) through the aisles. Thanks for you consideration”. Pffff.

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I’ve found after baby number four I really just don’t want to cook. Ever. I’m just being real with you. Oh, I HAVE. I even tried a new recipe last night. But I am not getting any joy out of cooking for my family. I’m still having a tough time getting back to eating my greens and laying off of the carbs. Bleh. It makes my heart sad…. but my whole body literally cries out for muffins. So I have a sweet tooth, zero self-control, and am paying for it with a lack of energy. At the end of the day the last thing I want to do is stand in front of the stove. The summer sun, diet, running up and down the stairs to a baby who hates naps, and oh yea, having four little kids leaves me about a half hour of consciousness after they all go to bed at 8 before I legit pass out on the couch mid-Shark-Week-special…. the kind of couch-sleep that isn’t easy to pull someone out of. My husband tries to wake me to go to bed and apparently I am completely unresponsive. I’m bummed! Shark Week only comes around once a year and there have been some GOOD ones that I’ve missed due to chronic tired-mom comas. The term “super shark” alone would give me nightmares if I slept long enough to dream……………………..

Haha! Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE it all. I really do. Some of the time I feel cra-zy but I still love it. Even when our two year old is copying his big brother’s flare for the dramatic and telling me that he doesn’t like me or declaring that “nobody is comin’ in this house” (he thinks that is the ultimate come back???)… then I take a step back and recognize how much Dante has grown and changed and I get a second wind and remember that time and consistency DOES make a difference and that we can totally DO THIS. And I LOVE it.

I love sleep too. And coffee. Oh and driving in the car quietly.

One for Three.

 

 

Introduction to Homeschooling

June 6, 2014 § Leave a comment

So most people who know me know that Chris and I really have a heart to teach our kids and be the main influence in their lives. We want to protect them from the liberal agenda of public schools and protect their innocence. We want to reach their hearts and build something really super special here at home and have the freedom and flexibility to learn at our own pace and go new places and have fun together……

But for the sake of being real, let me just tell you……..

This week I started our reading program.

After going to the homeschool conference this past April with Chris we were very impressed and excited about a program called The Logic of English which is a phonics based program that teaches above and beyond what we had looked into previously….. I was going to just wait to start in the fall, but I was craving a little bit of structure and wanting to jump in and get started on our homeschool journey…. and felt that Dante could stand to sit with me for 20 minutes, thereabouts, 5 days a week and go through the lessons with me. “No pressure”, I thought to myself, “if he really hates doing it now we can always just give it a little bit more time”. Even then I didn’t jump right in… until we were outside one day and he was asking me to write the names of the animals he was drawing with chalk on the driveway and I sounded out each letter as I wrote it and he exclaimed, “wow, mom, I really want to learn!”. Encouraging, right???

Well it turns out that my Dante is a very fidgety, impatient, loves-to-constantly-be-making-noise kind of four year old boy! Shocking!…. Not really. The first few lessons are actually quite simple and just involve a little bit of scripted discussion about sound awareness and your voice box and nasal sounds. Well what-a-ya-know I asked Dante what a nasal sound was after having discussed it a few times (a nasal sound is a letter sound made by blowing air out of your nose, not your mouth /m/ /n/ /ng/) and his answer was this confusing circular riddle about writing a letter or some such 4 year old boy silliness. I tried to make the best of it and praised him and agreed that our brain DOES send a message to our mouth to say that sound. Naturally he was irritated with my contortion of his answer and the whole thing ended in tears. Oh yes. The tears were mine.

THEN we got to the last bit of the lesson which involved a game suited perfectly for my child involving sitting down and jumping up and moving around when he heard the correct sound and it was great and he was learning and it got him excited about it and he wanted to show his brother! If only I had looked ahead so that I could see that there would be a shining light at the end of the tunnel.

So needless to say I will be looking ahead each day before I dive into our lessons to prepare myself for what I know will be a struggle and what I know he will enjoy, and try to think of fun things to add to the lesson or to get us moving to make it more enjoyable for him.

Both of us are learning and I don’t know if it’s a first-born Type A kind of control thing but I hate feeling like I’ve failed or that my experience isn’t as amazing as I imagined it would be. I have to really prepare my heart for these types of situations and in the case of teaching my child how to read………………….. I think I need to pray. Ha! It was the same approach I took when I toilet trained our first. I had to give myself a legit pep talk about sticking with it no matter what and letting things go and not expecting perfect results right away and we actually did really amazing if I do say so myself. *The second time around I did NOT give myself the talk and when it took three weeks for our son to figure out that he not only was supposed to pee but also POOP on the toilet I really had a hard time… go ahead and laugh*

So what’s the checklist again? Read ahead…. and always monologue it up. Because we first borns have a hard time accepting anything but perfection.

This isn’t going to be an easy road but I wholeheartedly want to come out on the other side of this thing triumphant… not for me… for him! My baby boy is going to learn how to read! That’s super exciting! And you know what? If it becomes clear to me that it’s just too early, then I will stop and we’ll revisit learning to read in the future. But I can already see myself – at some point – sitting by, listening to my son read to me and holding dear to my heart the knowledge that we accomplished that together.

Bleh….

June 4, 2014 § Leave a comment

So about 4 more weeks to go. Hopefully no more than that. I think this past week may have been the tipping point in my pregnancy… I crossed the line to the dark side where everything is just hard and tiresome and I want to be done. I JUST emailed a friend about how time was just flying by and about how I hadn’t reached the “I want to die” stage yet. Boo

I think getting back on a good eating track would help tremendously. It seems as if every other day for the past SEVERAL weeks there has been some special gathering with all the kinds of food I don’t want to eat or the boys have come home from grammy’s laden with treats or we go to dinner at a family or friends house and burgers and dogs… and other cookout-related food are being served and I have been in a cray cray food slump. I’ll tell ya I was feeling GOOD and losing weight and now I’m finding it hard to make the right decisions again. Today I ate a bag – an entire bag – of goldfish crackers instead of taking the time to cut up veggies and fruit and make a smoothie and I hate how I feel.

*Dramatic Sigh*…… sooo my body seems double depleted of nutrition and now on top of that it seems as though the pin has popped on this bird.

That being said it still feels like time is flying by. I’ve done this 3 times, now, and my delivery day is going to creep right up on me and then whadayaknow I’ll be in labor and simultaneously thinking about 1) how much pain I’m in 2) the silver lining that is the baby trying to come out of me 3) how thankful I am that the day has finally come 4) how I wish I could have one more day of regular pregnancy pain instead of this torture.

So  there. I’m not complaining. Just putting it out there. I’m tired and achy.

But I’m so thankful for the arrival of summer!!!

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It makes such a difference to be able to get outside. I didn’t feel as though I had a very long or stuffy winter indoors but now it’s like….. “how soon can we get out of this house?!”

We enjoyed our first visit to a park a few days ago. It was enjoyable because we and our group of friends were the only ones there. Going to the park was fun when we had one, and alright when we had two, but between trying to keep three kids in my sights – because you better believe that Leonardo wants to follow his brothers’ lead – AND making sure that none of the other kids on the playground are getting too friendly (or not) and pulling on Dante’s prosthesis, I’m quite content to play in our own backyard, thank you very much!

There’s another thing I’m  thankful for: a big backyard! We’ve even got a fancy swing set going up – thanks mom, dad, and nana! Even without the outdoor toys, the boys really enjoy digging and climbing and picking things up and putting things down and finding creep crawlies. Seriously Dante just picks up LIVE spiders like it’s okay.

They need baths every day before nap time. Little boys covered in dirt + water = stinky. The smell is close to that of a wet dog. But oh do they take a good nap!

So I will do my best to enjoy and make it through the month of June with style and grace. I AM carrying a precious gift around as it happens!

Thoughts for Today

April 9, 2014 § Leave a comment

As I sit here 15 minutes before the kids are due to wake up, drinking my much needed – mocha-filled – iced coffee, I remember that, “oh darn”…… today – in fact a few hours from now – is my glucose test. I am 28ish weeks pregnant and although I’ve spoken with an expert who has a much different point of view about pregnancy and glucose testing and I’m not really concerned either way, if I test positive for gestational diabetes then protocol will be to absolutely freak me out. Or at least that’s what’s I imagine will happen. Woops. 

We’ve definitely been trying to eat more greens and less processed foods around here. Yay us. But I haven’t been as careful about sugar intake as I was the first couple of weeks after my decision to eat healthier. I’m not eating ice cream every night but it happens. I never buy or make breakfast pastries and baked goods, but if someone brings crazy chocolate and peanut butter brownie things to Bible Study I’m going to have at least two. Big ones.

So I think I’m doing well. But definitely not cutting out ALL sugar.

So fingers crossed that I test negative today and I can just move on. 

On a successful mommy note: Stefano is pretty much potty trained! Today will be day five of wearing big boy underpants. Last Saturday when the kids woke up I realized we were running low on diapers so I figured I’d just go for it. Five accidents in four days is pretty good, I think. Better than my first go at potty training with big brother. I tweaked my technique this time around. The first two days I set the kitchen timer for 20 minutes after each time S used the toilet and just kept sitting him on the throne and praise, praise, praising away when he did the right thing. We did a sticker chart…. Not really a chart just a paper taped to the bathroom door that he adds stickers to whenever he used the bathroom. He loves it.

I will continue to prompt him and remind him for the next several weeks but for the most part he seems able to tell me when he has to go to the bathroom. I’ve even let him go diaperless at naps and the last three nights. We had an accident last night around 1:30am and he called out, I helped him finish up on the toilet, changed his bottoms, and he was good to go. No sheet change necessary (yay me!)

As I see myself changing diapers for many more years to come (hopefully!) I am all set with delaying potty training as was my original I’ll-just-put-off-mindset with Dante (who I ended up toilet training at the age of two and a half after I found out we were expecting number three). Diapers are expensive, man!

So to sum things up. Boo for glucose testing today. But yay for my almost 27 month old being toilet trained!

Organizing Baby and Toddler Clothes

March 28, 2014 § Leave a comment

What did I ever get excited about before I had kids……………………………………………………………………….. moving on…..

I have had multiple totes and trash bags full of sorted-by-size, “organized” baby clothes hidden in closets or just in corners of the fourth bedroom that we don’t use since…………….. before we moved into our current house. Baby clothes is one of those things that is easy to hoard and can get out of control – especially for a family not done growing.

I did give away a bunch of little baby clothes – trying to eliminate some of the clutter – when I was pregnant with Leonardo because I SO believed that he was a girl and just thought that IF it turned out to be a boy then – hey! – shopping trip! Wow. Ya. I know.Thankfully I am friends with a few people who have little boys who could help me fill in the clothing gaps no problem,

But that left me with THAT much more baby clothes again. This house is spacious enough that  I just closed a door and didn’t think about the clutter…… which just kept getting crazier and crazier…. and then friends would give me more clothes and I would sort through, pick out a few things, and pile those items on top of my already overflowing totes.

I spent a couple of hours just a few weeks ago going through every single item of clothing from newborn to 2T just resorting and refolding trying to compress everything and make it more manageable. Granted, I was childless at the time – so no interruptions – and had a favorite show on DVD playing while I worked and was totally enjoying myself. I like that kind of busy work. Makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something. But really I was just wasting time AGAIN working on a project that I’ve done so many times before.

Then it dawned on me recently that hey! Dante – being the oldest AND not having any friends older than him  from whom he receives hand-me-downs, really doesn’t have a ton of clothes. He has a few pairs of pants and a few shirts and pairs of jammies that he cycles through each week. AND since I am managing a two story home (stairs are my adversary) I often will go days before actually taking the time to put everybody’s clothes away. **I am not proud of this – trying to get better about managing my time. I find it difficult to be going up and down the stairs with multiple piles of laundry during the day and then run into either having to leave the kids alone for 3 minutes while I run through the upstairs and put away clothes in respective drawers – in which time someone always is either crying for me to return or beating on their brother, or someone is sleeping in a room that I need to go into to put clothes away and it just ends up in a pile in my room and never gets put away properly** SOOOOO I end up cycling through the same few outfits for people during the week with whatever has been washed and not put away. I have drawers of clothes for the two younger boys that never get worn!

Kids don’t need that much clothes!

What an obvious notion. Heck, I don’t have nearly as many outfits as they do and I get by… maybe my sister would disagree but still!

So I decided to pick one tote per age/size and picked out a handful of outfits for each (3, 6, 9, 12, 18 months, etc) for cold and warm weather, considering every day clothes, church clothes, and pajamas. Holy pajamas! I’m pretty sure that half of my hoard was made up of pajamas. The only time anybody needs so many pajamas is when they’re a newborn – at least in this family…. I almost never dress my tiny babies in “outfits”, even for church – comfort all the way!

And when my husband came home from work and complained that he had to scale a mountain of baby clothes to get into our room (because naturally I piled the “donate” pile in front of our bedroom door) I considered myself triumphant. I bagged up eight 13 gallon trash bags worth of clothing for a quick trip to Salvation Army and am left with six containers of my favorite clothing items from cutie newborn jumpers to size 2 Oshkosh overalls. And only ONE tote (2T I think) is filled because there are two rather bulky coats inside. My pride wishes I could take a picture but I’m missing my camera battery charger at the moment. It’s a beautiful sight. Trust me.`

Bam. Cyber high five!

So if you find yourself hoarding clothes because your family isn’t done growing and you just don’t know WHEN you’re going to have another baby and can’t be sure of what time of year he or she will be born… don’t fret! I feel your pain. It can be hard to get rid of clothes. How do you choose? What if you don’t save enough? You don’t want to be left regretting getting rid of so much and not be prepared when a new baby comes! But really, the clutter finally got to me. I think 10ish t-shirts for summertime are plenty. 3 or 4 pairs of pants and shorts. A few nice sweaters for church. And for the love of dresser drawer orderliness…. 4 to 5 pairs of footies! Stefano is a monster child – he is like the Hulk in more ways than one… we may or may not have nicknamed him Banner……….

………….Anyways! He was gifted a pair of warm raccoon footie pajamas for Christmas and because they are a 3T they fit him great and are just a tad on the long side (he’s 3T in bulk without the height!). It’s so adorable when his heel pops out of one the raccoon feet and he stops where he is and waits for help because his “raccoon is off!!” He loves those things. So instead of stocking up on more 3T pajamas for him he has probably worn those pajamas 5 out of 7 nights a week since Christmas time. No lie. Yet I would stuff his clothes on top of all the 2T jammies that he didn’t even fit into down in his drawer every time I put his clothes away. Lame.

Yay for organization and being one step closer to having an orderly home! Woot woot!

 

*Healthy Mama* Update

March 24, 2014 § Leave a comment

So for the last almost-month I’ve been trying to find my footing in Healthy Eating World. I’ve cut out fast food completely, and limited my intake of breads that have no health benefits like bagels and other white breads that are processed and loaded with sugar and useless carbs. I’ve cut down on soda and juice. I don’t buy mini muffins every time I enter the grocery store.

However. I have still been having my usual chocolate-y coffees (no EXTRA sugar… I’ve never needed the extra sugar in a coffee that’s already loaded with mocha) a few times a week, still have indulged in some artisan bread breakfast sandwiches here and there, enjoyed a dessert a few nights, and made myself a couple of cranberry juice/seltzer water spritzers when I’m craving something carbonated.

I’ve made a real effort at upping my veggie intake…. I HATE peppers and red onions… easy things to toss into salads…. and not really excited by salads to begin with…. so a lot of my day time vegetables are coming from kefir/fruit/spinach smoothies. Steamed broccoli, roasted asparagus and cauliflower make frequent appearances at dinner time. And I try to throw some kale or spinach into our eggs and soups.

Switching to whole wheat pasta wasn’t a big transition for any of us.

I’ve steered clear of my usual recipes that call for canned soups to cut down on the processed “cream of chemicals” (harsh I know, but I read that somewhere and thought it was funny) but I will at some point adjust my recipes to just use more natural ingredients.

It’s a start at least. I’m sure no clean eating guru would praise my daily menu for our family but it’s looking much more green than it did a month ago. So THERE!

And when I weighed in at my last midwife appointment I had lost, like, 4 pounds. Nobody seemed concerned. I’m measuring good and there’s plenty of movement and a healthy heartbeat. When the nurse asked me if I had been sick at all I just told her that I’ve just cut a lot of junk out of my diet and that seemed to satisfy her.

Speaking of the pregnancy, I’m scheduled to do my glucose test in two weeks and am having a follow up ultrasound in four weeks to check on my placenta. At my 18 week ultrasound my placenta was lowish so they want to make sure it has moved up and not down. If the placenta is blocking the way for the baby to come out…. it tends to cause concern! I haven’t worried myself with it and there’s nothing for me to do (I may asked if headstands would help… and got a big no way) but pray that all looks sound for a safe delivery. If your brain isn’t too busy right now, feel free to say a prayer for my placenta as well. *Thanks!!*

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