9(ish) Months, Love in the Dark

sleep and DomWhat?

You’ve been on the outside as long as you were on the inside. How in the world did that happen, Dom? I tell you, blinking is a dangerous business for a mom. It seems like entire lifetimes can pass in that fraction of a second.

Dear Little Man,

I’m sorry I’ve haven’t written you very much. I promise it’s not for lack of material. It’s exactly the opposite. You fill our lives with so much material, with so many stories, that I just don’t even know where to begin.

Here’s a start: sleep has been a little bit of a trial in the last several months. See, you have a lot of teeth. And you got those teeth at a pretty early age… as in still-solely-breast-feeding early.

Lots of new teeth + lots of nursing = lots of pain for mama

(Corey and I decided Nipples of Steel would be a good name for a rock band. Bah, ha ha ha! We crack each other up… mostly because it’s either laugh about it or cry real, ugly tears.)

So, unintentionally, I started feeding you less. Which means you needed to eat more often, OUCH! Which translated into feeding you less. Which means you ate more DOUBLE OUCH! Which means…you get the picture. Enter: the end of sleeping through the nights.

It’s just because you were so, dang hungry. And, I’m sorry about that. I really, really am. During that time, especially at night, I would feel so tired, so angry, so inadequate. You’d be latched and I’d be crying. Then I’d un-latch you and you’d be screaming and I’d be crying. And then we’d both cry.

You were just hungry, and I just felt like there was this insatiable, toothed mouth in the bassinet next to me.

Then Daddy would turn on the light, and we’d both blink. I’d see you and remember you’re a baby. Not a many-tooth-ed creature. My baby.

sleep and Dom-3And such a cute one. 

Somewhere between trying to nurse my baby again, and some lamaze breathing, we’d fall back asleep. And Daddy would turn off the light once more…

You’d repeat this every 2 hours or so. And I admit, not every 10PM, Midnight, 2AM, 4AM wake up ended so blissfully. 

But sometimes it did. 

Those are the wake ups that are worth remembering. Not the angry ones that ended in futile tears, but the ones where I turned on the light and recognized you for who you are: my baby. My son. The One who needs me, in a special, specific way. Right now.

My prayer is this: as you grow older, if (when?) we cause each other more frustration and tears, may there always be a light that I can turn on. A light that reminds me that you are my son, worthy of patience, and worthy of love.

sleep and Dom-2Love you, in the Light and in the Dark,

Mama

P.S. Now that you’re nursing fine and eating ALL THE FOODS, you can start sleeping through the night again… you know, whenever you want. But soon, please? K.

I’m gonna go take a nap.

Dom’s stats at his 9 month visit:
Head-  19.5 ” (100%)
Weight- 25 lbs 9 oz (99%)
Length- 2′ 6″ (92%)

Interpretation: GIANT

For comparison, here’s Lulu at 9 months. She only had 3 teeth! Including that adorable snaggle tooth! When I visit old posts, I’m often stuck there for an hour, just reliving some of those moments, and I’m so thankful to past-Caitlin for writing them down.

She must have know a thing or two about the mal effects of sleep deprivation on cute story retention…

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Hold my Hand, Sister

“Mama! It’s like the floor of Elsa’s palace!”Frozen

Mo explored the ice. Poking, and prodding. Touching and testing her powers to be a part of the ice without breaking it.Frozen-6

But unlike that troubled older sister of story, who preferred the the isolation of the cold, Monica invited her sister to join her.

“Take my hand, Baby Lu.”Frozen-2-2 Frozen-2 Frozen-3 Frozen-5

Life is so much easier, so much better, with a hand to hold.Frozen-4

These pics are a little blurry because I definitely took them through a screened window. Too cold out there for this Mama.

Good thing I’ve got brave daughters.

Also, I’m not sure how long Lucia will be “Baby Lu” to her older sister, but it still makes me smile.

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Our Mantra

When your sister bonks your head? Let it go.

When we’re running late? Let it go.

When one more whining child might just push me over the edge? Let it go.

Or…

Just watch this video.

They’re pretty dang cute, and it’s hard to stay mad at someone who so earnestly plays the drums or tambourine.

You know who else is cute?Cute Dom

This guy. Cute Dom-2 Cute Dom-3 Cute Dom-4

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Blankies

What does every baby need?

A good blankie.

Sewing-7Lulu knows this is true. She’s a blankie baby for sure.

The girls and I bought some remnants a couple weeks ago with the intention of making them into baby blankets. Insert one potty-training Saturday, and in the minutes between the timer beeping (about 12 at a time), we set to our task (also, that’s why no one is wearing clothes. Makes sewing a little more dangerous, but potty training a whole lot easier).

Sewing-2 Sewing The girls each drew a design and we did our best to replicate it using fabric.Sewing-3 Sewing-4

 

Mo quickly realized the house-making potential of her triangle/square design, and capitalized on it before we stitched it all together.

Sewing-5 Sewing-6Yes, there was a potty training two year old sitting on my lap. And I let her play with a machine that has a sharp, pointy end moving very quickly. I’m either crazy or a veteran.

I’ll let you decide.

 

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Our Singing Mo

For all you Nanas out there (and Papas too): pictures of Mo’s preschool Christmas Program. Mo Program-4

She sang straight from the heart, and nailed every hand motion and lyric.

Our little girl didn’t just sing, she felt every word.

Perhaps we’ll have a stage actress in the future?Mo Program Mo Program-6Dom was flirting up a storm. He can’t help it. Mo Program-3

And Lulu couldn’t wait to give her sister a good-job hug.Mo Program-5

 

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Goodbye Facebook

I did it.

Finally.

No more facebook for me.

People who are closest to me were probably sick of hearing, “I should just quit it! I should just do it.”

Well, I finally did.

This morning, in Adoration, it became clear to me that the time is now. My heart was nudged in this direction every time I went to Adoration for almost a year. Often I pray best by writing (fancy that), and as I looked through the last year of entries the pattern became clear: Where is my time? Why don’t I have time to pray, to make meals, to clean? To sit with my children? To love my husband?

The problem wasn’t facebook. It was me. I’m an easily distracted person, and having an addiction to feed that part of my personality wasn’t making life any better.

I don’t use the word addiction lightly. There are people very close to me who have suffered greatly as a result of various addictions or the addictions of others. And while I would never try to equate my trials to theirs, it is my addiction none the less.

Here’s how I know:

I opened a new tab to write this blog post, and I had typed “facebook.com” before I stopped myself.

I would surf facebook on our laptop, stand up from the couch to do something (probably important, like feed the children), but first check the open facebook tab on my desktop… unconsciously.

If I was sad: open facebook. Happy? Open facebook. Bored? you guessed it. Angry, tired, excited, felt anything? To facebook I went.

Sounds pathetic doesn’t it? And it is.

Was.

For me, it was escapism at its finest.

Some people eat their emotions, I facebooked mine (OK. I eat my emotions too, but I can only make one giant mental-health leap at a time).

Recently, Lulu tugged on my pant leg every time I stood at my desk (yes, standing-desk geek over here). “Mama help, please.”

“Mmmhmm honey. Just as second. Mama needs to finish reading this article…” or crafting this perfectly worded status update, or watching this hilarious video, or LOLing, or picking the right photo to upload, or…or…

Ultimately, anything I was doing couldn’t have possibly been as important was whatever she needed. Mommy-war articles included. Maybe those were the most damaging of all. Instead of being a Mommy, I was spending time reading about how other women were succeeding (or failing) at being a Mommy themselves.

But heaven forbid I miss someone’s most recent post. Spastically switching back and forth between “top stories” and “most recent” on my news feed usually assured that I was the MOST in the know.

Why don’t you just give it up for a while?

I’ve tried. God only knows (well, and probably Andy too) how hard I’ve tried. Every Lent. Most every Advent. Summer fasts. Days, weeks, even months at a time. I would do well after each fast, keeping my checking to once or twice a day. But then creep would happen, and I’d be checking it three times, then four times, then it’s really just easier to have a tab open. What if someone messages me? I need to respond to them immediately or they won’t think I like them, and I’ll never have any friends again!

Welcome to the crazy train, people.

Well, it was a combination of decision fatigue and dopamine receptors. The more times you have to tell yourself “no” the more likely you are to fail. That’s especially true if you receive pleasure from saying “yes”. The open facebook tab is like a open cookie jar for me.

I think one of the perils of stay at home mommyhood, aside from poop and lack of substantive conversation, is that it’s so easy to be isolated. I went to an amazing weekend gathering and the take home message was: “Moms, you are not alone. Use social media to prove it! Build each other up!”. The internet can be an amazing tool for consolation and camaraderie.

For a long time, especially right after we moved, facebook was my escape from parenting isolation. Until it subtly transformed into an escape from parenting.

I’m a people person. My husband calls it hyper-social. If you’ve done the Living Your Strengths class, “Woo” is my #3. I like to like people, and I like people to like me. The more people the better. I was that kid at camp who never made one best friend, because I was too busy being friends with everyone and trying to make everyone my friend.

That was fine when I was 13. Now I’m, well, more than double that age, and I do have great community. I am not isolated. I do have best friends, chief among them: Andy. Closely followed by my own children.

My Mom told me, when I was in the depths of PPD after Lulu, “Caitlin, some day your kids are going to be really good company.”

And you know what? That day is here.

Monica asks me so many good questions. I was explaining the difference between red blood cells and white blood cells to her just this morning. Conversation quickly transitioned into how to say words in Portuguese and morphed into what people eat in Japan.

Lulu has a fantastic belly laugh, and is the most compassionate two year old I know. Got an owie? She knows right where the ice is kept and how to hold it on your bump just so and how to give you a bear hug that will make you feel better in no time.

Dom, well, he’s getting there. He will be there. If the girls are already great companions, he will be too, sooner than I can imagine.

So, that’s all to say that my family is amazing.

And I am missing it.

Some people, probably most people, are good at keeping an online/offline balance. I am not one of them. I delay going to bed, to sleep with my very own husband, so I can check what other people are doing as they get ready for bed.

Seriously?

Well, now you know.

And if you know, then I can never go back.

After a dear friend of ours passed away due to an addiction, Andy and I promised that if we knew anyone else who was ruining their lives, wasting their lives, on something frivolous or dangerous, we wouldn’t hesitate to tell them. To try and help them.

So, here I am.

Helping myself.

Telling myself, Caitlin. Don’t waste the time. Don’t waste your life. Because they are one in the same. Your time is your life.

I had this quote written on our white board for a long time:

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. -Annie Dillard

I think I need it tattooed on my forehead.

Or, at least, glued to my computer screen.

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Moments

I am dragging today. It’s not even 7 o’clock in the morning and I’m really looking forward to bed time. One of those mornings.

I don’t know about you, but when I’m feeling threadbare, snapping is easy. It’s more like ripping. And all the ugly escapes: frustration, yelling, impatience.

This morning, this long, dark morning, the ugly was just starting to show through the tears in my mommy-fabric, when the girls had a moment.

What is that I hear? More crying? GAH! Why me?! Why can’t those girls just get along? All I asked them to do was get dressed. Can I just go back to bed? Girls, come here right…

Wait? That’s giggling? Singing? What is going on?

momentsCuteness.

That’s what’s going on.

moments-4Reading a Frozen book, and singing “Let it go” at the top of their lungs (sorry still-sleeping Corey and Dom Dom).

moments-6 moments-3 A moment of ridiculous cuteness.

moments-2And this, even more than the sleep deprivation, even more than the yelling and lost-patience, this is the patchwork of my life: a collection of adorable moments.

moments-5 If I take the time to see them, these moments save me from the depths of self-pity.

And when I can stitch my threadbare sanity back together with these moments, then I know I can make it to bed time with a little less ripping and a little more love.

Coffee helps too.

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December is for (Photo) Lovers

St Nich’s Day, I told Mo to “line up” all the shoes we were giving away. I love how her mind works:December December-2 December-3 December-4 December-5 December-6 December-7Christmas Tree shopping (as is our tradition) on the second Sunday of Advent:December-8 December-9 December-10 December-11 December-12And a sneak peak of our Christmas photo shoot. Taken in our very own….Hallway! Nothing but innovation over here, Ladies and Gents ;) December-13Luckily, the kids are cute enough, that just about anywhere will work. For example, here are several excellent specimens of Christmas Cheer:December-14 December-2-2 December-3-2Christmas Card Photo? Nailed it!

 

 

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Scott at the Grotto

grotto-3Jessie’s fiancee is the choir director at a high school in the Tri Cities. He brought his A team to Portland yesterday to perform at the Festival of Lights at the Portland Grotto.

It’s kind of a big deal. Performing is by invitation only, and only five choirs perform a night.

Corey, the Kiddos and I donned our favorite winter apparel and headed over to Portland to hear his choir perform.

grotto-4It was beautiful.

The acoustics in the church carried the voices out into the listeners and blanketed each in a depth of harmonies.

The girls were fascinated and listened with rapt attention.

grotto-7 grotto-5 Except for Lulu, because, well, she’s two. But she tried really hard!

grotto

We watched as Scott directed and moved and pulled music from the ensemble. Each gesture was met with a response from the choir, piano to fortissimo, quick breath to extended hold, wax and wane.

grotto-10They performed three Christmas-themed pieces. At the conclusion of each I wanted to shout, “Bravo!” and once they were completely done, “Encore!”

This marks the first concert of Scott’s we’ve been able to attend. But it certainly won’t be the last.

Nicely done sir!

grotto-8Plus we got to see him after, in a “we get to take a picture with the celebrity” kind of way. The girls loved seeing their soon-to-be-uncle (and they also fist-bumped a Dominican friar, though I missed that photo…).

grotto-2The music each night is fantastic, and the Christmas-lit Grotto well worth the entrance fee! Mo kept exclaiming, “It’s so beautiful! This is a beautiful night!”

grotto-9And it really was.

(tree and moon picture credit to Corey)

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A Life Full of Goodness

recently-11Things have been a little slow over here on the blog, but that doesn’t mean I’ve been hiding, or that life has slowed down.

recently-8Not. One. Bit.

We’ve got a busted water line and broken fence, but we’ve also been celebrating birthdays and holidays and visiting family.

And petting baby bunnies…recently-9 recently-10

Our lives are so full.

And it is good.

I’ve also been picking up the camera to shoot some more formal things recently: newborns, families, church activities…

Here are a few of my favorites: recently recently-2 recently-7 recently-5 recently-6 recently-3 recently-4

 

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