take your judgment elsewhere

Alright, its time to take off the P.C. ‘please everyone’ hat. So. Over. That.

I try to be a people pleaser. Of course, I have my opinions, that I am usually pretty bold with, but you’ll only hear them if you are in my inner circle, of which there are only a few people. This might surprise you… and then, maybe it won’t… but it NEEDS to be said.

This life I am living… guess what, its MY life. I make the choices. I pay the consequences. I reap the rewards. Whatever the case may be.

Me.

These kids? They’re mine (yes, and Jeremiah’s). They literally were cut from my body, were fed by my body for months (and months and months…. ), they’re cared for by us, fed by us, we are their parents. It seems clear, but apparently it isn’t.

You see, when Brooke was a baby, I was young and really didn’t know what I was doing… I was making it up as I went along (first kid problems). I took a lot of advice, some that I still use, some that I don’t. And guess what? She is an awesome kid. Despite whatever mistakes I have made, and will keep making, she is fucking awesome. Hard working, loving, kind, smart, driven, the best big sister. She is strong, and bold, and hilarious. She is perfectly imperfect.

When we decided to expand our family, I knew I wanted to do things differently. I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant, but I just knew that something needed to be changed. Sure, many things were different, like the obvious, a girl versus a boy. Night and day difference there folks.

We skipped the crib with Bryce, he slept with me from day 1. I rocked him to sleep for every single nap or bedtime until… well, until I didn’t need to anymore. All of a sudden, he was ok to lay by himself and go to sleep… for months after I kissed him and said goodnight he would ask me if I would watch him on the monitor. “Yes baby, I’ll watch you” and then he would roll over and go to sleep.

With Everett, kind of out of desperation, we just followed the same path. And its working. It works for US. Sure, sometimes getting kicked in the head and the back at the same time, from two different kids, sucks, but usually, the snuggles cannot be beat. And this time, it goes so fast, we won’t get it back. So yes, we will cuddle them to their hearts content. Am I worried about spoiling them? Nope. Because when we are ready for something to change, we will approach it gently and slowly, and without tears.

Bryce moved to his big boy bed this week. Sure, he is in our bedroom, but he is in his own bed. And he has slept great every night so far. Im sure there will be rough nights, but at this point, we are SO proud of him, and he is proud of himself. It is the sweetest thing to wake up to his smiling face in the morning saying “mommy, I sleeped in my big bed all myself!” I mean, could he be any cuter?!

It might not seem conventional to you, but for us this is what works. We feed our kids whatever they will eat, thankfully Brooke and Everett are usually happy to eat whatever I made, but Bryce, he can often be found eating a granola bar, ice cream, fruit snacks or mac-n-cheese for dinner… it just isn’t worth fighting with him. The more I fight, the less he will eat, and damnit, we just need him to sleep so we can sleep! I have adapted a phrase that I use constantly with him, it goes like this “You don’t have to eat it.” It has stopped many battles. Fighting over food isn’t healthy. It creates issues that can last a lifetime. I don’t like it. Thankfully dinner is usually the biggest battle meal… breakfast and lunch I can serve healthier options and he will *usually* eat them.

I’ll stop beating around the bush. We feel your judgment. We know you don’t agree with some of our choices. But guess what, we don’t care. Not because we are terrible people. Not because we don’t love you. Not because we think you’re wrong. Not because we don’t respect you. But because we are just trying to keep the peace in our family. We have learned that every child has their own quirks and we are trying to learn how best to manage them, while also functioning somewhat normally.

How long will Everett nurse? I mean, I don’t know… he probably will wean himself before college, but if not, I guess he better choose somewhere his dad and I are willing to live. When will Bryce be potty trained? Hopefully soon, I’d love to stop changing pull-ups, but when he is ready, it’ll click, until then… I change pull ups. Why is Brooke home-schooled? Because we are happy with her school, and we were sick of her being bullied and having nothing done about it. Why do I Posh? Because I need something that is fun, gives me adult interaction outside of my husband, and, here is the most important part, because I LOVE IT.

You don’t like my choices? Well, damn, I’m sorry. When my choices affect YOUR life, we can chat about it then. Otherwise, i’ll manage my family, and you can manage yours. Life is hard enough without all the negativity and judgment, lets just give love and agree to disagree and move the heck on.

My crash course learning experience 

12 years ago I had no idea what the future would look like. I was single, living with my parents, hoping for the best. I had every intention to demand being put in the hospital to have my baby when I walked into my dr appointment that day, but when she suggested it without my demand, I had a sudden change of heart. I wasn’t ready! What was I supposed to do with a baby??? And labor!!!!! Oh my! 

I got a crash course in learning about my stubborn daughter before she even made her grand entrance. She was “sunny side up” and despite being in labor for 50.5 hours, she wasn’t moving and my body wasn’t cooperating. It was officially time for a c-section! 

This was my first lesson in parenting – not everything will go as planned or expected. In fact, very little goes as planned! 

So, I decided to document some of the things I have learned as a parent the last 12 years. It won’t be an extensive list, because that wouldn’t be possible, but bare with me…. 

~ It isn’t about you anymore, ever. It is all about the baby/toddler/kid/teen… you come AFTER them, period

~ Never think you’ve got it all under control, because kids can smell confidence and will knock you down to size immediately. 

~ Don’t judge a book by its cover, there is so much more to the story than you’ll ever know. 

~ Do not give parenting advice unless it is asked for. Every child is different and every parents is different. What works for one isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution and, let’s be honest, we are all doing the best we can and we don’t want unsolicited advice. 

~ Every time you said “that will never happen to me” before you had kids, guess what, it’s coming back with a vengeance!! Kids make you eat your words for breakfast, lunch, AND dinner. 

~ It takes a village, and that is ok! 

~ Counting will become a whole new language… to 3, to 5, and to 10 when you’re about to snap! 

~ No baby will be as cute as yours, that is God’s gift to tired, frustrated parents because when you’re ready to lose it, they’ll reel you back in with their charm. 

~ Forget about the battle, focus on winning the war. 

~ Parenting isn’t meant to be easy, it’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do, but that’s good! We are raising little people who will become reaponsible, respectful, honorable adults IF we do it right. Put the time in, give it your all. And be kind to yourself, one misstep won’t ruin you, or your child, forever. 

So, I’ll end this by saying, Happy Birthday to my first baby, Brooke. She is stubborn, loving, determined, kind, honest, hard working, funny, sarcastic, and full of her moms attitude. She is my mini, the good and the bad. She (and her brothers) have taught me more about life, love, and and laughter than anyone else ever could. They are my flesh, little pieces of my heart that are living, breathing, and walking around this Earth on the outside of my body. 

They are my purpose. And they are accompanying me on this crash course in parenting learning experience. 

getting real

I have been writing this post in my head for days. The point of this blog was to give myself a creative outlet… and my goal was to keep it honest. The truth isn’t always easy. Or glamorous. Or funny. Sometimes the truth is… crappy. And embarrassing.

I have been struggling. Life has just felt… difficult. I have struggled with feeling very overwhelmed. I have an amazing support system, and even still I felt… alone. Its so difficult to explain that because I am never alone… like, ever.

Life felt like an uphill climb. I was going through the motions, but I was barely getting by. The kids could feel my struggle. Anxiety about dealing with a public tantrum, a screaming baby in the car, potty training, a fight over who gets to get in the car first, etc – it kept us at home. Outings were prioritized, some pushed til the weekend, and many were cancelled. The soundtrack in my head kept playing “this should be easy, you are a failure, your kids deserve better, pathetic…” I have always been my own harshest critic.

I started mentioning my feelings to my husband. I’m not sure he really thought much of it at first. He looked confused when I asked him if he thought I might have postpartum depression and then laughed it off and assured me that it was just a difficult week. I nodded and tried to talk myself into his ‘observation’. The problem was… it wasn’t just that week. 

I have shared before about the little struggles we went through with Everett. Whether that had anything to do with it or it would have been the case regardless, I am not sure, but finally one night as we laid in bed I told my husband exactly how I felt and that it had been going on longer than he realized. I cried while I talked, terrified that he would judge me harshly, embarrassed to be struggling at all, and feeling guilty for not being the mom my kids deserve. When he spoke I felt relieved because he was reassuring, calm, loving, strong, and ready to find a solution. We agreed that I would call my Dr in the morning and we would go from there. 

Postpartum depression. I had never come close to experiencing it before. In fact, with both Brooke and Bryce I had the opposite, I was elated… It certainly isn’t what I expected it to be. It isn’t “one size fits all”. 

I have been feeling better lately, still overwhelmed, but I think that is just life with three kids…. Plus homeschooling, nursing school for my Masters, having a preteen, toddler and infant (seriously poor planning there), etc. I am trying to control my thoughts so that the message I am telling myself isn’t tearing me down. I have been making a point to get out and do something fun with the kids every week (theme park, zoo, etc). And I found something that allows me to focus on something fun and positive and also provides me a group of strong, supportive women (Posh). 

When I think back to how I was feeling a month ago, I am sad that I allowed it to go on so long. Why did I hide it? Why couldn’t I just be honest and tell my family what I was going through? Unfortunately, I don’t have a good answer for either of those questions. 

What I do know is that regardless of how I was feeling, I always loved my kids with everything that I am. 

I am a work in progress, finding my way through this maze called life with the best family I could ever ask for. Without them, I am nothing. 

goodbye summer

How is it possible that an entire summer went by and it seems like I hardly accomplished anything? We even had a summer list to cross things off of – to be able to see what we accomplished – and we still have A TON of things left undone. FAIL!!

Tomorrow morning, I’ll be the homeschooling mom of a sixth grader. SIXTH!!! Holy cow. Time goes way too fast. I am nervous about how I will make it all work… But I think that is anticipation nervousness, and I think it is normal…….. Or, at least, that is what I keep telling myself. I mean, of course there will be time for Brooke’s school work, my school work, both boys, playdates, appointments, yada yada yada….. living life….. right? Time to figure it out!

Looking back on the last few months, it seems that our summer was a bit of a blur. Sure, there are moments that seem highlighted… But overall, they flew by, seemingly while I was feeding Everett. In the spirit of having hope… and being somewhat determined… I am going to keep our ‘summer list’ ongoing into the fall in hopes that we will continue crossing off fun activities (and chores) that we haven’t yet accomplished. I mean, to be fair, some of the items are a work in progress (*potty training is going on 2 months of work and s.l.o.w. progress*) so i’ll take a little credit there… #desperate.

Taking a deeper look at summer…. Bryce has become a total parrot and his vocabulary has grown immensely (which is both good and bad), he has learned to count to 14 (so random), has learned to be comfortable in the pool (with his puddle jumper on), he has really become attached to and affectionate with his baby brother and cousin (although he HATES baby drool, haha), he has learned to go to sleep by himself…………. Everett is now sitting up on his own, sitting himself up from a laying position, has two teeth, has overcome a bladder infection, has learned to enjoy avocado (a pretty new accomplishment), has started getting really good at pulling himself up on furniture, is trying to crawl………. And Brooke has competed in a couple swim meets, improving her time in each event (a great accomplishment), has completed several puzzles, has learned a whole new level of patience….. her accomplishments seem so much smaller – but seriously, she is growing and changing and getting so independent and responsible… some of the changes just can’t be appreciated unless you see them.

So, tonight, we go to bed for the last time as the parents of an infant, toddler, and 5th grader… Let’s see what the next year has in store…… Eeeek!

a half celebration 

For the last 6 months I have been playing catch up constantly. But sadly, I don’t think I ever caught up. Learning to be a mom of three has been more challenging than I had expected. The learning curve, for me, has been steep and unforgiving.

Many days I go to bed feeling like I barely got by, almost fearing what the next day might bring. I have had to learn that the fact that everyone is alive, fed, and happy is a successful day… Usually.

Everett has helped me learn more about being a mom than I ever knew was possible. Our struggles haven’t been serious, but they have proved to be more challenging (read: exhausting) than I had anticipated. I function (albeit not well) on much less sleep than I ever realized was possible.

But! I am happy to say that at this point I think we have nearly solved most of the issues that we were facing, although we know that there are probably more coming. Now, if Everett would take a lesson from his older siblings about sleeping at night, I would seriously appreciate it! Did I mention yet how tired I am….?

Some of the issues we have had along the way are: tongue tie, lip tie, stalled weight gain, torticolis, dairy sensitivity (possibly allergy – not certain yet), egg sensitivity (also not sure if this is an allergy), majorly sensitive gag reflex, sensitive stomach (my diet is pretty bland), shallow latch, and I am sure I am forgetting something  #mombrain.

In true Everett fashion, the last few days he has been struggling with a fever that spikes out of nowhere and then disappears for up to 36 hours and then spikes again. Last weekend it landed us in the ER – I won’t even go into detail about what a waste of a trip that was – but I will say that the PA we saw (who we have seen before) is not someone I would recommend to anyone – ever. Ahem. Anyways.  That’s Everett though, always keeping me on toes. My “Doctor Mommy” education leads me to believe he has roseola – however, only time will tell.

 

Enough about that – here is some info on Everett:

He weighs just under 16 lbs and I’d guess is about 26 inches tall

He has 1 tooth (my earliest teether)

He sits up unassisted and is starting to pull up with help

He rolls all over the place – meaning he isn’t safe to be left unattended on beds or couches

He loves to talk/sing/scream like a pterodactyl – he repeatedly makes a “m”, “o”, and “ah” sound

He LOVES his big brother, big sister and his “big” cousin (they are close to the same size) – watching him interact with all of them is so fun. Of course he also loves when Daddy gets home from work – and I can’t imagine it being contested that Mommy is his favorite (although I’m sure that will change eventually)

He likes to take a shower but hates getting out (cue the pterodactyl scream – Daddy loves this time of day)

His laugh melts away all your stresses

He HATES his car seat and screams through most of our trips – super fun

He went from being a great sleeper to a terrible sleeper – now getting up every 1-3 hours overnight (have I mentioned how tired I am….zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz)

He wears 6 month clothes (mostly hand me downs from Bryce) and size 3 diapers

 

Because the last six months have felt so overwhelming, I decided that it is time for me to start taking time everyday to focus on myself. I have felt like I got lost in my role as mom and have trouble remembering who Janelle even is. Being a mom is the greatest ‘job’ ever, but it is equally exhausting. I am determined to find time for me – despite the important roles I play: wife, mom, student, daughter, friend, sister, etc. (YES I know that everyone plays multiple roles, and maybe some find it easier than I have lately, hell, I used to find it easier! I want to get back to that)

I plan to start with at home workouts – which the kids might find pretty entertaining considering I just finished day 1 and almost died! Brooke wanted to do it along with me and keeps asking what I thought was most ‘fun’ about it?! (Fun… what is actually WRONG with her??? FUN???) It should be pretty interesting thanks to the toys spread all over the place and my crazy toddler being constantly underfoot. But, hey! I’m going to give it a go. Hopefully tomorrow will be better………….

Here is my six month old handsome little blue eyed doll baby… Goodness I love this boy.


I also love these little babes 

vacation hangover and sleep deprivation

Oh Monday, we were not ready for your reappearance! After a week of vacation time, and a two-man defense, I am sad to say back to reality today.

We spent several days at the beach, camping, digging, boogie boarding, swimming, eating, playing, and seriously enjoying our time… (notice I didn’t say sleeping, i’ll get to that).

The kids had a blast playing with cousins and friends. It was so sweet watching the teenage (and adult) ‘boys’ playing in the sand with Bryce, even when he was flinging sand at them (in Bryce’s defense, usually they were laughing at him, which he interpreted as “we like this, keep throwing sand!”). Bryce got lots of time to ride his balance bike and scooter, only fell a handful of times, and was happy to keep his helmet on, whether he needed it or not!

Brooke got a ton of time out in the waves, boogie boarding, body boarding, diving into waves, jumping over others – she had a blast. I am pretty sure that if asked, she would say the highlight was having older kids to hang out with… or maybe when her dad and I went in the water with her and she got our undivided *mostly* attention.

Everett hung out with me in the shade, usually cuddled in a towel, napping (him not me). He did get his feet wet in the ocean, ate some sand, went along for walks on the beach, etc. However, I think what I will remember most is how he learned to escape “Alcatraz”. We brought along the kids plastic pool (you know, the $5 one from Toys R Us), and I threw a huge towel in the bottom to provide some cushion and put his toys in it for an easy spot for him to play while we were cooking, eating, putting sunscreen on the kids, etc….. My other kids would have been little blobs at 5.5 months old, sitting contentedly playing, or crying to be picked up, and don’t get me wrong, Everett did that… But he also learned to climb out of the pool. Yes, over the side, and onto the hard ground – and not gracefully either. He would land with a thud and look around in surprise. Apparently he didn’t get the memo that he is too young for being so mobile……. This momma is NOT ready for all that jazz!

So in our house, today, we are in full blown vacation hangover! We are bummed that Daddy went back to work, that we can’t just play outside all day and forget the clock, that chores are waiting to be done, and that sissy has to go back to swim. Monday, you are a BUMMER!

And now, onto the sleep deprivation thing…… *yawn*

It seems that among other things, Everett has also decided to be my first baby to be a super-freaking-terrible sleeper starting at 5 months. What.The.Hell!?!?

Bryce is currently learning to go to sleep on his own, a HUGE success for him, and in his own bed!!!!!! He is sleeping on a toddler mattress and picked out his own bedding set – any guesses on what he chose??

BATMAN!!!

He is very excited about his new-found independence… most of the time. Except at 4:30 this morning when i saw him crawling toward my bed and he said “B come seep wif mama?” I can’t lie, I sure miss the cuddles! He is the best cuddler ever!

But Everett…… oh man, he is putting this momma to the test with sleep deprivation. He went from sleeping from 5-8 hour stretches and waking only once (occasionally 2 times) per night, to waking every 1-2 hours all night long – meaning 4-5 wake ups!!!!! Holy moly it is EXHAUSTING. I’d love to say I can just sleep through feeding him and am not really bothered, but that couldn’t be further from the truth… Meaning I sleep in 45 minute t0 1.5 hour spurts and it just isn’t enough! Even as newborns my kids slept better than this… I am not quite sure how to fix it – so I’ll just wait it out and pray for improvement! (He did give me a total teaser night where he slept from 8-5:30 without waking at all… and sadly, I woke up at 2:30 sure he would be up anytime and didn’t get the sleep he was trying to gift me).

Functioning on little sleep is interesting… And I can see why it could be used as a torture method for criminals/terrorists! It is brutal. I have noticed memory issues, lack of concentration, lower energy levels, a dependence on caffeine, less patience…. It has not been for the best! I think I am going to have to get beyond the nasty taste and become an avid coffee and wine drinker… You know, to save my sanity! Or, whatever is left of it…. So, cheers! Here’s to waiting on Tuesday, and getting some sleep!

Camp… Never! 

This past week my oldest, Brooke, spent her days at summer camp. She loved it. She learned about cooking, went swimming, played on the gymnastics equipment, played games, learned songs, made friends, got long days away from her brothers, and before the week was even over she started talking about being a camp leader helper next year (which means she would be gone every weekday next summer!). Sounds great right? It was, for her! 

For me, not so much. Until she was gone I hadn’t noticed how dependent on her I had become. My week was full of bathroom accidents. Not my own, mind you. You see, somehow when I was busy changing one of Everett’s million diapers, or feeding him, or rocking him, or pleading with Bryce to eat something – anything really, etc – I forgot to stay on top of potty training! (Mom fail). He does occasionally remember on his own, and I didn’t forget all the time, but there were (I think daily) accidents. And I won’t even go into how fun naptime was……… 

So this is my letter to Brooke about camp in the future: 

Babygirl,  

I am so happy that you had a great time at camp. I am glad that you will have such fond memories of your week. It makes me so happy that you are happy. 

Unfortunately, there won’t be anymore camp in your future. 

No, you haven’t done anything wrong. This is not a punishment. I don’t hate you. You are not being neglected. 

It actually isn’t about you at all. 

You see, my week was insane. Your brothers were nothing short of challenging. Bryce was his normal self – rambunctious, energetic, demanding, loud, cuddly, whiny, inquisitive…. And Everett was largely refusing to nap without being held, fussy because he was exhausted from not napping, wanting to nurse constantly (also thanks to the crap naps), needy, clingy – you know, a baby. (To be fair he wasn’t like that all week, just anytime I wanted to get anything at all done that didn’t include holding and loving on him – the nerve!). 

It turns out that I have come to rely heavily on your assistance with these crazy boys. Without you around to distract the baby so I can snuggle Bryce while he falls asleep for his nap, or help him get 1,000 snacks, or take him potty, or sit and play with him for 10 minutes, or anything really, it gets forgotten, or skipped, or slacked on, or overshadowed by the crying baby who also needs me. 

Also, without you home to play with Bryce while I nurse Everett, change 1,000 diapers, rock Everett, etc, Bryce goes on a rampage as soon as he sees that I am busy/distracted and the next thing I know there is crayon on his table and chairs, or 5 toy tubs dumped all over the living room, or he has set off the car alarm and left greasy fingerprints all over my sunglasses…… 

You see, your presence is important. Even when it doesn’t seem like you are helping, you are helping. While you were at camp, we missed you. Your brothers and I  love and adore you and I really appreciate having you around to laugh through the stress with, and to talk to (because talking to a toddler or an infant is so one-sided), and just to hang out with (you are cool and I am not). 

Sadly, the list of things I got done this week is very short. In fact, aside from cleaning up new messes, the list might be nonexistent (I can’t remember). A couple days it felt like a serious accomplishment that the end of the day (finally) arrived and we were all still alive! But really, for not having a list of *proof* to show what I had done, I was sure busy (like, really busy) keeping the boys happy, clean, and fed. 

Anyways… 

I am sorry, truly, that I have taken your help for granted. I didn’t do it intentionally. In fact, I didn’t even realize how incredibly helpful you are (well, not completely). I will do my best to notice and acknowledge your help from now on. Heck, I’ll even take you for pedicures on a regular basis as a reward for being awesome! 

BUT… 

There won’t be any camp in your future. You are much too valuable to send off into the world for other unappreciative people to enjoy. So instead, I’ll keep you at home and selfishly hog all of your awesomeness for myself (and your brothers). 

P.S. Don’t even mention school starting………. 

P.S.S. And don’t ask about camp…… Until next year – we will pick whatever you want for your week away, but in your absence, I’m hiring a babysitter!!!! 

We love you, babygirl. You are the best!