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Winter, You’re the Worst

Captain’s Log
Winter: Day 267 (I think, I’ve lost count)
March 4. Wind chill of 5 degrees today. Thusly, I cannot. The crew is quickly descending into cabin fever, the littlest behaving the craziest of them all. When we brave the outdoor wind, there is whining and crying from all crew mates, so we stay in the hull, where there is also whining and crying.
Okay, but for real. WINTER, I AM OVER YOU, OKAY?! 
Today I let the girls get out their messiest craft supplies. There were tiny strips of tissue paper floating about like confetti. There were layers of glue dripping from paper bags turned puppets. Lucy ate parts of two crayons. Then I decided since it was too cold to play outside, we should make cookies. Yes, I thought to myself, let’s bake sugar cookies from scratch so I can scrub flour out of the grout once I’ve tired of picking up the bits of tissue paper. Then later, I can wonder why random surfaces are sticky before remembering the Great Frosting Fiasco of 2019. So, we mixed and baked and frosted and sprinkled. I feel confident I’ll be finding sprinkles in random corners of the kitchen for weeks to come. 
Bet you can guess which ones I decorated and which ones the girls did. Oh, you can’t? That’s kind of rude.
Anyway, tomorrow is a school day for Annie and a run-errands day for Lu and me. We’ll go to the library; it’s a little less busy than the Chick-Fil-A playplace, which I know they clean well, because it’s Chick-Fil-A, but even they cannot totally rid the place of flu germs. I figure less traffic means a slightly lesser chance of contracting a virus, even though Lucy always manages to pick up the toy another toddler just finished licking thoroughly. So, yeah. That’s quite enough of you, winter. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

The Girls, Currently: Vol II

Annie (almost 5): Says “losing” instead of “using,” asks really complicated questions about how we’ll get to Heaven right before bedtime, is my mini-me in nearly every aspect of her type A personality, will reliably eat only a cheeseburger with fries – all other meals are quite strongly negotiated, loves her pre-K program, still holds onto Bunny most waking moments and all sleeping ones, can write her alphabet and spell our names – though she usually forgets when mine stops and writes “mamama,” and loves reminding Lucy about the rules.
Lucy (newly 3): Uses a made-up word, “binga,” as a sub-word for something she doesn’t know – when I forgot to put dressing on her salad, she said “Mom, you forgot the binga!”, shows no fear of conquering physical obstacles but bursts into tears when being introduced to new people, has a logical solution for any problem presented, is starting to draw our portraits – darling scribbles of giant heads and long legs, will go to her room to scream into a pillow when she’s been wronged, and loves blatantly disobeying Annie and her rules.
Just a quick update, so I can look back and remember these little and wonderful things. 

The Girls, Currently

Annie (almost 4!): is doing great in her preschool program one day a week, loves dressing up and imaginative play of all sorts, is turning into the best little guide/helper/encourager for Lucy, is starting to show interest in reading and spelling, is still too little to watch Hercules (good try, Mama), practices caution in interacting with others, and still says her name is “Anniebelle Jane Warnen.” 


Lucy (almost 2!): speaks in full sentences about half of the time, wraps me up in the tightest hugs, loves to aggravate Annie but would follow her to the ends of the Earth, has great problem-solving skills, is becoming a very picky eater, is obsessed with Trolls, often treats us all like peasants (Adam says she just tolerates us), but will still stop what she’s doing several times a day, come to me, and say “I need hugs” or “you want a kiss?” or “can me hold you, Mama?” 



Mama: trying to become a seasonal decorator and failing again (a few scattered pumpkins are sufficient, right), survived Adam being on Whole30 and even adapted to continue eating a few Whole30 meals each week after it was over, writing a master’s! thesis! on Cherokee women as storytellers, writing about motherhood, and really looking forward to mashed potatoes and the dessert table on Thanksgiving.

Annie Says

Just for me to have together — here are a few things Annie has said over the last several months. 

July 2016 

Moon! Where are you? I’s talkin’ to you! I can’t see you!
(When trying a new food she doesn’t like)
Mmm, no, Mommy. I can’t wike it. 
Me: Annie, can I please have some of your popcorn?
Annie: Um, you can have just a widdle bit, Mommy, ‘kay?
I so mix-cited!

***

August 2016
(Watching beauty and the beast)
Wow, Mommy, this is a reedy pwetty show!

***

November 2016

(During bedtime prayer)
Thank You for my cuh-tens, my cwock, my fant, and too many blankets.

***

December 2016

Annie: You and daddy go on a date? I want to go too.
Me: Well, a date is just special mommy and daddy time. 
Annie: Oh. I go on a date when I bigger?
Me: Yes, when you’re about 25.
Annie: Okay. I go on a date when I 25, okay, Daddy? Right now I just 2. 
Adam: Sounds great.

***

January 2017
Annie: Our father in heaven, thank you for this day. Thank you for our fam-wee. [Incoherent…] pwease keep us safe tomorrow. Thank you for Jesus. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Me: Annie, that was such a good prayer, that made mama and God so happy. 
Annie: [hugs me so tightly] I happy too, mommy!





Lu, Right Now

Right now, Lucy

loves watching shows, if she’s seated in her chair or right next to her sister.
constantly brings me her shoes to go outside.
scratches her chest and says “ticka, ticka, ticka,” when asked where her belly is.
will throw everything down in her haste to get to the kitchen if I say “Lulu, are you ready to eat?”
refuses to drink milk in anything but her bottle, but will gladly throw back juice in her sippy cup.
says “woof, woof” when she hears or sees her doggies.
is content to toddle around and destroy the house by pulling out every item she can reach, toy or otherwise.
loves bath time and tries to drink the water when she thinks I’m not looking.
babbles “Daddy, daddy, daddy” when she hears his car pull up in the driveway.
sneaks into the bathroom to unravel the toilet paper roll, which she can do in about ten seconds flat.
snuggles into me, holding me tight with one hand and patting me with the other.
yells at her sister, vehemently and incoherently.
is becoming less and less of a morning person, needing a few minutes to lay quietly with her milk before hopping up to play.
gives the best kisses and lovins.

Slow Mornings

Because I stay at home with my girls, for a long time, I felt a certain pressure to have a perfectly clean house and planned meals and a generally cheery disposition. For a few months, when I just had Annie, I think I actually accomplished this for the most part. When Lucy was born, and she needed to be on my person for her first six months, didn’t sleep through the night for nine months, and nursed all the time, that changed. I was in survival mode, consistently running on 5-6 hours of interrupted sleep. I was always behind on piles of laundry. I fought desperately to keep my kitchen sink clear of dishes. True romance became Adam texting, “I can eat a sandwich for dinner tonight.” My one saving grace was that Annie, my champion sleeper and therefore my favorite child (kidding, a little), slept 12 straight hours, until 10:00. So once I got Lucy back to sleep after her 7:00 AM feeding and waking 4-5 times during the night, I could crawl back into bed and grab a couple more hours of sleep. Lu would sleep for a good stretch, I would get a nap and feel more ready to take on the day when they both woke up.

A little before her first birthday, Lucy weaned and started sleeping through the night. Aside from a couple of setbacks from illness and teething, both girls now sleep until about 9:00. For a while, I slept until they woke up out of habit, but then I realized I could finally consistently get some quiet alone time in the morning. I also felt a little guilty about sleeping in so late after getting a full night’s rest! Even if I am up and about before they are awake, it is still my favorite daily habit to have a slow morning, where we cuddle in my bed while they drink their milk. For about fifteen minutes, we tickle and giggle and sing and snuggle. We’re still in our jammies and just finishing up breakfast by 10:00. Annie just turned three and she feels like such a kid already; her baby and toddler phase is quickly fading. She will be in school all day in a short eighteen months. I can’t believe that. Just thinking of that milestone is enough to erase all guilt I may feel of these slow mornings. Staying at home with a three year old and a fourteen month old can be exhausting and wearing, and it drains my patience some days. But I couldn’t be more thankful that I get to stop and just snuggle these girls whenever I want.  

Just Saying "Hi"

It’s 1:00 AM. I stayed up to do homework but somewhere along the way, I decided to update my blog and maybe even write a little. I know this is going to hurt in the morning, but here I am. Lonnnnnng time no see, Home + Heart. I’ve missed you! I realized recently that I feel most like myself when I’m writing. I guess I should clarify that. I feel most like my pre-mama self. My girls are my life right now, and that’s normal and good, but I have so little left to be a wife, daughter, friend, student, etc. That leaves almost nothing for myself. I have so many thoughts on this, but I’ll save them for another time — hopefully it won’t be a year or more this time, yikes. Anyway, I get to write a lot. I’m in graduate school! Halfway through my MA! I’m smiling in spite of myself as I type that. It was a personal goal for a few years, and I’m so thankful to have this opportunity. But, it’s not a coincidence that my last blog post was right before I started grad school and had another baby. Because those two should always go hand in hand, right? If you need some help planning your life, call me. I’m great. So, I was writing for school the other day. I was getting a great handle on my research, synthesizing it with my thesis ideas, and just generally nailing it. It felt so good. I was in the library — it was quiet, blissfully quiet. The girls weren’t asking for anything, I wasn’t at home distracted by the messy kitchen or piles of laundry. Nobody needed me. I spent an hour and a half reading and writing uninterrupted, and felt so refreshed when I got back home to my babies. It was a good reminder to take some time for myself, doing something that clears my head and helps me feel content. So, that’s what I’m doing right now. My blog now has a simple look (just used a basic template — so boring) that reflects that this is just a space for me to come and share. I’m hoping it’ll inspire me to come back and share more often, even if it’s one o’clock in the morning. I know it will be good for me. And since this post is just for me — here are a couple reminders of why I always feel so tired and happy.

Annie: 2 years, 9 months. Smart and sassy, with “don’t say dat, mama” and “I luh loo” in the same breath. 
And introducing (to the blog, because yeah.. she was born almost a year ago) Lucy Irene. She is sweetness personified — I think she be actually be made of honey or sugarcane or something — which makes up for the sleepless nights we spent the first nine months of her life enjoying. 

Gender Reveal Party

I feel like people can relate to this one. So, you know how sometimes you have a particular event in mind? And maybe you’ve thought about how perfect it will be, even daydreamed a little? And then, maybe it doesn’t go quite like you planned. Still perfectly fine, but not quite what you hoped. And then your pregnancy hormones get the best of you, causing you to throw an actual hissy fit in front of twenty people while even your toddler looks on in disbelief at your behavior?
Nope, just me? Oh. Okay, then.
Yeah. That happened. This week, I, a grown woman, threw a fit, shed a tear, and yelled. It all happened so fast. We hosted a cookout/gender reveal party for our families, so we could share the beautiful news that the little love growing in my belly is a girl. We had a low-key cookout; just a normal, easy event, where everyone brought food and lots of dessert. I turned my chalkboard wall into a voting station, where everyone joined team boy or girl and got a blue or pink clothespin to wear – plus blue and pink cupcakes!
Other than that, I tried not to stress too much over decorations. We had just planned to have a box of pink balloons that would pop out when we opened it in front of everyone. I wanted that moment to be perfect. It was a beautiful day, with nothing but blue sky behind us. It should’ve been a pretty photo op. Instead of letting the balloons fly free once the box was opened, I even taped their strings down so they’d stay put for pictures and for Annie to play with later. The problem was, it didn’t turn out that way.
The moment arrived. I carefully tore off the paper holding the balloons down, and, with some coaxing, they just … sort of.. floated up one by one. It was quite anticlimactic, and worst of all, not the moment I had in my head. I honestly didn’t even see my family’s reaction, because I completely and totally lost my cool. (If you’re following along and are confused – yes, to clarify, I lost my cool over some balloons.) I turned to Adam and immediately began lamenting the loss of my perfect expectation, by which I mean I yelled and flailed my arms around a lot and just generally looked like a completely crazy person. Apparently, at one point, I said I had wanted them to fly away, so Adam started snipping the strings, thinking that would help. Nope. I shouted, “Stop! Are you CRAZY?!!” He stopped. He didn’t know what to do, because when your clearly insane wife asks if you’re the crazy one, you just try to get out of the way until the storm passes. I eventually remembered there were twenty people watching this nervous breakdown. I was immediately overwhelmed. I felt so sad that I had ruined that moment. Besides myself, no one there cared AT ALL if those blasted balloons popped out with gusto. They were thrilled to see pink, and to find out there was another baby girl for them to love on the way. And then – I felt SO embarrassed. I couldn’t believe I’d let my emotions totally take over. We all know I’m dramatic. That’s not the issue here. The issue was I lost my head to the point where my behavior was earning looks of confusion and terror from everyone, down to my toddler.
It was over as quickly as it started, but the damage had been done. Pretty soon, everyone was trying to console me, when it should’ve been a happy, joyful time. I had worried so much about it being a disaster that I knocked my stress levels up and turned it into a disaster all on my own. The very worst part? No good pictures of our happy family smiling.
This is the photo I posted to social media.

This is actually what I looked like most of the time (grainy and zoomed in for the full effect )– borderline manic, holding back tears. Yikes.

So, there’s a lesson here. Just chill smooth out, Bek. But also, I remember thinking gratefully that Annie didn’t really know what was going on. She’s the current Queen of the Tantrums, but it won’t always be that way. She’s already emotional, and sensitive. It’s so sweet, the way she already fully feels some things. I don’t want that to rule her, though. I want to teach my girls that it’s completely normal to have strong, full emotions, and that sometimes they can be overwhelming. The important thing is to not let them overwhelm you with trivial, little things that push you to the breaking point and can, well, ruin a perfect moment. And when they do, accept it. Accept responsibility; apologize if you need to. And then write about it and move on. 

Dear Baby: Month Nine

Dear Baby,
Hi, Annabelle. You are nine months old now. You’ve been out of my belly as long as you were in it! Time has flown. No, that’s not right. Maybe we just teleported from there to here. Surely we didn’t experience the last nine months in real time, did we? My word. Either way, here we are, and here is a lovely, magical place.
In the last two months, you have begun to:
sit up
crawl
hold your bottle
feed yourself
stand on your own
cut your third tooth
take steps with your walker
say “Mama”
say “Dada”
make your mama cry every time you do one of the above things (because you’re supposed to still be a newborn, and newborns don’t do any of those things, Annie)
So yes, I’m a little overwhelmed with pride and joy and love, because you’re growing and learning every day. I’m also ridden with anxiety and mini heart attacks, because you have zero fear and are determined to get into everything you shouldn’t.
You love to eat (mama’s girl, yes?). You will eat anything we put in front of you, but you’re particularly partial to bread and potatoes. Bonus points if we let you pick it up and feed yourself. It’s terribly messy and adorable.
You’re still sleeping well. Good job, baby! Naps aren’t the most fun – because surely there is something more fun going on, right, Mama? But when you’re done playing for the day and ready to go down at night, you just tell us. We give you your bottle, read you a story, and then Daddy will rock you to sleep. You have your moments, of course. And I do, too. You know if you’re saying my name over and over, I’m going to come to your rescue. So we have to work on that a bit. Overall, though, you love to sleep! Yay!
Most of all, you’re happy and sweet. You’re so happy and sweet. You’ll stop what you’re doing to turn around and smile at me. You’re learning how to return affection, and even if it’s something small like touching your forehead to ours, it’s still the biggest love we’ve ever known. Thank you for loving us, baby.
Love you more than all the stars in the sky.
Love,
Mama