The Scrawl Vol. 2, No. 12

She wanted to wear her owl shirt so they could match.

A bit blurry, but that grin he’s giving her! He’s so fascinated by all she does.

On the left, Maria at four months. On the right, John at two months. It’s no wonder we subconsciously expect him to be capable of more things when he’s such a big guy! He catches us off guard with his flops in our arms.

Just catching their breath after a busy day.

We’re not good yet about carving out time and space for dates, so I was pretty giddy when we put Maria to bed early and had ice cream and played SkipBo while John snoozed on my lap. Just another reminder that for the most part, the fun of an activity springs from the approach we bring to it.

And then John played with Daddy while Mama puttered and prepared for bed.

The Scrawl Vol. 2, No. 11

Just reading while Mommy nurses.

Just like Mommy, changing and dressing her baby.

Valentine’s kids, charming in red; they’re wearing finds from our thrift store outing with a friend.

Dressing up in Auntie’s things (and being outrageously cute).

Our little man is so cheery when he wakes up. 

Crazies! Maria misses Auntie Hailie and asks every day if Daddy can “Pick Auntie Hailie up at airport and bring her home.”

I think this may only be the third time this has happened. After her food fell out of her hand, I transferred her to bed, and she lifted her empty hand to her mouth and tried to chew the rest of her sandwich.

Naptime. Where John flops his head to try to stay awake and Maria scrabbles for his hand and he tries to escape and she recites random bits of prayers and Mama can’t wait for them both to fall asleep. Also, they’re so beautiful when they’re asleep. 

We found a new mixer on Craigslist, and Maria was very excited to help make bread in it.

Loving some sunshiny weather! We had a warm spell for long enough that the snow melted enough that we could go to the park! And then it got cold again. Looking forward to spring and more frequent walks.

Little man in his dapper new hat!

The smile he melts us with!

He loves to have his awake times on the floor mat, but of course he wants to have someone there to talk to him! Maria enjoys reading to him if she’s not already busy, and if I take him to feed or change him, she protests that she misses him.

How we roll these days. I’ve been so thankful for my Moby since Hailie left; John takes his naps in it, and I do my laundry and dishes and tidying and food prep, at least enough to get us by, we have storytime when he nurses, and if he has floor time, I can be busy if I’m close to him. Of course, Maria’s still not completely self-sufficient, so there are days when it seems like they both need me constantly, which is overwhelming, but we seem to be figuring things out, and I’m trying not to panic about it all too much. Life for us right now is filled both blessings and challenges, and the plate is heaped so high it seems the slightest bump would send everything flying, but we’ll get used to it. Eventually.

The Scrawl Vol. 2, No. 10

Maria often camps out with John when he’s on the bear. Right before I took this, she announced, “Writing John’s name.”

He’s starting to smile, and we love it! He seems to do it most soon after waking in the morning.

Maria loves having another playmate to teach her new tricks! She enjoys helping Auntie Hailie with laundry every day.

Cute cute cute.

Hilary came for a weekend visit, which coincided with Stephen being out of town for an ordination, so John was the man of the house and peacefully tolerated all our crazy talking and laughing and singing and giggling and cooking and crying. It was good to have some solid sister time, the younger half of the sisters.

John seems to be trying to figure out why Mama is way over there.

Hoodie Lady

He loves his daddy. He’ll stare at Stephen whenever he’s nearby.

First time holding him on her own!

Freshly showered Baby with curly hair. 

I caught him smiling! And trying to escape his sister’s grip on his hand, as per usual.

Maria loves pretending to take “pishurs”, and is fascinated by the timer function. She’ll do it with her phone, but this time she wanted it on Mommy’s.

Hailie has been baking our bread while she’s been here, which has been such a blessing. Homemade bread is so much tastier than store bought (which we’ve always referred to as “fake bread”). I thought this slit looked like a leaf and had to take a picture.

Maria’s new fave phrase: “What happened?” She says it very clearly, and it’s delightful. She only said it about every five minutes while we were watching A Man for All Seasons on Thursday.

Carrying a little prayer book with her: “Dis Daddy’s ‘pecial boot [like book with a t]. Mia tareful with Daddy’s ‘pecial boot.”

This afternoon, I carried John in to the bedroom for a nap. I was pleased to see that Maria was already in bed, burrowing between the clean sheets, and I set John down on the bed to change his diaper. Then I heard the burrower remember, “Tate off boots. Mia need tate off boots,” and she emerged to do just that. I cringed a bit, then shrugged. The sheets still felt nice and clean, and at least she had remembered before John and I climbed in, unaware of the dangers in store for us.

The Scrawl Vol. 2, No. 9

My sister came across this when I left my sketchbook out after showing her the first draft of an illustration for a poem of my brother’s that I’d drawn several months ago and never gotten any further on. I had to chuckle when I saw it, and remember the time it came from. We had just discovered that we were expecting Maria, and were waiting to announce our exciting news until we had a better idea of whether or not this person would be staying with us for long. It was hard to keep the secret when we were rollercoastering from eager anticipation to despair and back again. My creativity was one of the ways I coped, mostly in the phases of happier excitement. I’ve always been a maker, and tend to have several projects going at once.

 A few months before John came, I realized that Maria was finally at a stage where I could work on projects while she was up, and made use of that as much as I possibly could before the birth. I didn’t get to finish the project I was working on (felt books that walk one through the Mass with images; the page for the readings is pictured above), and I’m itching to get back to it, but I still find it impossible to do two-handed things while nursing without getting milk everywhere or frustrating the baby or both (actually, those things often happen when I’m one-handing it – nursing takes a lot of concentration and hands and skill). If I don’t sleep for naptime, I stay in bed with the kids and read, or use that time to fix dinner or try to catch up on housework. So I’m trying to content myself with the necessary projects of swapping out clothes (for me, because my maternity trousers and skirts wouldn’t stay up, and for Maria, because her drawers were overflowing, and for John, because I needed to take all the 0-3 month clothes out of his drawer and get a few 3-6 month things out of a bucket), organizing the freezer, fridge, and pantry, and maybe even someday taking care of the leftover birth supplies in my closet and tidying John’s outgrown diapers to donate or to store for the next Babydorf. There are so many things I want to do, but so little time and energy…and truthfully, even when he’s peacefully asleep, it’s so hard to put him down. Those moments are ones that I’ve earned with all the hard work of building him and now of sustaining him. I need my baby snuggles even more than my projects. It’s difficult to remember that some days, though, because I get so high on accomplishing things that if ever I do, I want to keep accomplishing things forever. It’s ridiculous.

We got a cold last week, and no one escaped. It hasn’t been pleasant, but it has been relatively mild, which is a huge blessing, especially with John so young. It’s been a good excuse to take it easy and spend lots of time snuggling the kids…as if postpartum wasn’t already a good enough one. Letting the housework slide is always hard for me, and when I get caught up enough that the floors are reasonably tidy and the laundry hamper is nearly empty, we take a deep breath and smell the sweet scent of sanity wafting through the house. We’re so blessed to have Hailie here to help out a bit as I take over housekeeping again. We were blessed with so much help after the birth – meals from parishioners, a visit from Stephen’s parents, a visit from Finn and Fred – y’all, I feel like I STILL have twenty five thank you cards to write. Not quite that many, but it’s time to catch up.

It’s hard to believe that John is only a month old. The time since he was born has been so packed that it seems eons! He’s just starting to give awake smiles and talk to us and stare at lights. He’s amazing.

Caught him sucking his thumb one morning.

Maria is all about holding his hand. He is not so fond of this obsession of hers.

Proof that Hailie does more than just laundry and dishes.

Trying to work on his thinking expression.

Gazing at the light-filled window.

Sleeping beauties.

He fell asleep on the bear while I was fixing dinner. He’s a sleep fighter, so it amazes me whenever he happens to calmly drift off.

The Scrawl Vol. 2, No. 8

It’s been a long time since I posted on here, mostly due to the overwhelming nature of pregnancy, but rather than trying to fill you in on the last trimester and bring you up to date, I’ll just talk about where we are now, because otherwise I would never actually publish another post. You probably know that Baby came on Christmas Eve, and that’s enough to start with.

{Still reeling with disbelief that I. Did. It.}

{Back when he was still peeling like a cute little snake}

{Baby blue eyes}

{Baptism day}

I’m no longer keeping to the house, and it’s great to be able to go places again, but especially to Sunday Mass at St Dunstan’s and Monday Mass at the neighborhood Catholic parish, Holy Family (or Holy Fanny, as Maria innocently and affectionately calls it, where Daddy gets to sit with us and help with the kids (btw, I have to say “the kids” as much as possible, because I can’t get over the fact that we have more than one child to wrangle!) and we have the blessing of worshiping together on Stephen’s day off). Being out and about is exhausting, relearning to change diapers in public restrooms is challenging, and it’s nice to have a break and just relax after too-short cramped car feedings at the grocery store and trying to keep up with everybody’s needs at once. I’ve been blessed beyond measure with the opportunity to rest the first two weeks postpartum and get back on my feet very gradually. I’ve only just taken over the kitchen again at three weeks, as well as laundry and other general housework. 

{Snuggling my milk drunk chubba}

As difficult as it has been for me to be inactive (I lean a bit to the workaholic side of things), it has been so healing to stay in bed for so long. I had a pretty straightforward delivery, despite John’s size, with the most minor of injuries possible, so physically, I’m really feeling pretty much back to normal (or rather, on to the new normal – new stretch marks, new baby fat, new sensitive muscles and all). I’m itching to reorganize every area of my house and get out some trousers that fit me (which I’ve put off because most of them are bound to be too small) and figure out a way, somehow, to fit everything necessary into the diaper bag and finish a project or two. I have had some productive days, but then I inevitably have some low ones after them, because apparently I’m still completely sustaining a little human (who’s growing awfully fast – how is he squarely into 3-6 month clothes at 3 weeks? Pretty sure it took Maria 2 months!), and it’s still draining for me physically and emotionally. So I’m trying to lower my expectations even when I feel like doing more so that I can take better care of my family.

{Such a long baby}

After having such an easy infant stage with Maria, I figured there would be some wacky challenges this time around, but so far, there haven’t been. Breastfeeding has been even easier than with Maria, and everything else has been remarkably similar – he sleeps well, doesn’t get cranky without obvious reasons, creaks and hums in his sleep, and is just a lot of fun to hang out with. Of course, there are already notable personality differences: he doesn’t use the “hard stare” Maria was so fond of nearly as much, and he grunts emphatically and frequently (presumably to prove how manly he is?). He’s already lost his newborn look, his first layer of skin, and his super wrinkly fingers. 

{“Oh, are you sitting next to me? How nice! I like you.” “I like Baby John.”}

Maria is adapting well. She loves Baby John to pieces, but sharing Mama has been a big challenge for her at times. Out of necessity (because her chief interpreter was in bed for so long), she has been articulating a bit more, and is starting to branch out into complete sentences and pronoun experimentation (sometimes she actually uses I/me/you properly!).

{We are temporarily the cool kind of parents that cut windows in big boxes…we will see how long it takes for this box to drive us crazy with its habit of getting in the way}

Stephen has been such a great support, and despite the lack of sleep and all the extra household tasks he’s been dealing with, he’s been completely entranced by his son. Because of various stresses and a weird work schedule, he didn’t get to fall for Maria in the same way; he struggled to just keep up with everything parenting threw at him. This time, he’s taking it all in stride and dreaming with stars in his eyes of the time when we can have more. I look at this family of mine and melt into a pool of butter. I’m not sure how I got so lucky, but I surely am grateful. 

{Snuggles on the first day of Christmas}

The Scrawl Vol. 2, No. 7

Why is it that a sleeping baby never ceases to be miraculous and such a soothing sight? I love her curls here.

24 weeks

Maria’s first signature. She loves trying to make letters. Mostly she just says she’s making “ih-igh”s and draws thick lines.

The last in a series of about two dozen pictures of Maria’s feet. I’m not sure if she realizes what she’s doing when she takes pictures, but she knows she can make a lot of noises in fast succession when she pushes that button.

Hobbit breakfast pizza – with potatoes and tomatoes and mushrooms and green onions. Once we started thinking outside the box with pizza, there’s been no stopping us. Actually, I often have to think inside the box (our CSA box), which leads to rather creative combinations.

All the pink all the time! She goes for the pink marker first whenever the box comes out.

Toddler in a basket!

Put her in the Ergo so that I could fix lunch, and she kept up a steady chatter with me until I served lunch and asked if she was ready. I was met with silence.

Getting my hands done is an excuse to not make dinner, right?

Selfie – one from a series.

I was cleaning a closet, and she found my last pair of heels…and was perpetually frustrated because they were so big they didn’t work for her. I had only been keeping them so that she could clomp around in them, so I donated them and found a smaller, more manageable pair at the thrift store.

Dancing queen!

Last year, I called this the Marigold House, and watched with wonder as the marigolds got higher each time we passed it. This year, it’s the marigold and tropical something house, I guess. The bigger plants have pretty red blooms, but the leaves are so dark and huge!

26 weeks

Snuggly siblings. Sometimes she’ll actually curl up around the baby, which is adorable, if slightly awkward. She was tuckered out here, and no amount of sibling punches and kicks would disturb her slumbers.

The Scrawl Vol. 2, No. 6

Every time we receive basil in our CSA box, this salad happens. This time with farm fresh tomatoes, too!

She loves to “p’ay dames”. We save practicing with rules for simple games like marbles…Rack-O is great for motor skills, though, fitting the cards in the racks!

We got pickle pebbles and pickle pipes to use for fermenting. So far, the most popular successes have been green beans and sauerkraut.

Goodnight Moon is now Maria’s nightly story. She always asks for more when it’s done.

All the sleeping postures…

Primly she brushes her hair.

She had her first encounter with bandaids recently. It took a bit of convincing, but she finally went for it.

She is the most fun to make things for. Except that she tries to make off with them when I’m not done with them, because she can’t wait to wear them. Despite the warmth, she wore this for an hour or so when I finally finished it.

Looking back to last summer on the blog, I found statements referring to hanging out the laundry as being therapeutic, and I laughed. Maria wasn’t mobile then. I don’t hang out laundry much this year (the back yard is no longer completely fenced and Maria only lasts so long before escaping looks like a fun game, so we stick to quick loads like sheets and a few longer ones when I need the sun’s help getting stains out), but even the quick way, laundry is one very long exercise in patience. Without boring you, dear reader, with the details of our disagreements while sorting loads into the basket and back into the hamper, and all the other things that detain us in getting to the door, once we exit, there are the Stairs. Stairs hold a world of opportunity. We could, of course, go down together holding hands. But then, it is also possible for us to split up and take both staircases at once, in which case, it takes a while for the decision to be made for which one each is to take. And regardless of if we take them together or apart, there are so many ways to get down. Two different railings to choose from, or one could scoot down them, or hop. And oh, Mama, I need to talk to the Baby. Let me hold on to the Baby for these steps. Then finally, we make it to the laundry room door. Maria is big enough to push it open, but Mama should not hold it as she goes through. Maria will open it again and come through after it has already been closed and surprise Mama. Now for the quarters. Despite much difficulty, frustration, and annoyance, Maria has taught herself to put all six quarters in the washer’s coin slot and all five quarters in the dryers coin tray. (I think it is because of this successful persistence that she firmly believes that someday she will open the file cabinet, even if the key does not at first appear to fit). Having done this successfully, she pushes the button and is set on the floor. But no duties in our home are pressing enough to distract from checking out the bags of water softener again (I think there are more this time, don’t you, Mama?). Oh, stomping down the echoey hall to the door! Good idea. But wait! As she stands a little too close to the door, she makes a discovery! The door stopper vibrates and makes noise! Check this out, Mama! Okay, you take those stairs, I’ll take these. Oh, wait. The other way around. Did I just hear somebody? Hi! Hi! Hi! No, I guess it wasn’t anybody. Yes, Mama, you take that basket right upstairs and come back down to get me. Mama dashes up, throws it in the door, and hastens down to find Maria frozen at the foot of the bottom flight of stairs because there, twelve feet away from her, are People, issuing from their door and about to ascend the other staircase. After a few attempts at thawing, Maria gets carried back up to our apartment.

Doing laundry is not a Chore, it’s an Adventure. Someday I might learn to take it in that spirit. Until then, I pray for patience, and am given so many beautiful opportunities to practice, practice, practice.

We had so much fun on the river this past Monday. After Maria got her “sea legs”, she was the queen of the boat, and then had a blast on the beach, where she flirted with the water and was offended when it kissed her face. We came home tired and very sandy.