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Summer is in full effect this week. It’s hot. Really hot. The kind of hot that I love, but only for part of the day. After a little while, I’ve had enough of sweaty baby heads and itchy, sweaty skin, and worrying about sunscreen (even though I love the smell of that stuff!) and water intake, and the inevitable cranky that comes after getting too much hot everything. But at the same time, I am over the moon and head over heals in love with summer! Shorts and tank tops, bare feet and sunglasses, fresh fruits and veggies, long days full of sunlight, warmth, family, and fun.

This morning, after several that were so muggy, it was so much cooler, and breathing in the fresh air was so refreshing. I turned the AC off and opened all of the windows so wide. I could feel myself relaxing almost instantly. In our jammies, The Littles, The Zoo, and this mama – with fresh coffee in hand – headed outside to play in the yard before the heat could get hot. Those two cuties headed straight for the dirt patch (oh, how they love it but I’m ready to pave it!)  and the dogs sniffed everything in sight while the cats nibbled grass and rolled in the dirt patch. I sipped my coffee, soaking it all in. This was just about as perfect as it all could get, except for the rest of my brood who are all dispersed for the day. I always soak in those moments, thinking of all my littles, wishing they were all still little and under my wing every minute of every day. And missing James while he’s gone. *breathe in, breathe out. I can’t dwell here, it makes me emotional – but you get the idea.*

Lucas asked to “call Dad” so we did. With Facetime. Seriously. How in the world did we get so lucky to have such awesome technology so that these kiddos could run around the yard, play in the dirt, jump on the trampoline, throw balls with the dogs while their dad gets to watch from halfway across the country?! Being apart is so hard. SO HARD. But it’s things like this that make it just a little bit easier and lets us not miss out on the everyday things that sometimes, we take for granted. The kids love it, they want to hold the phone and walk with Dad or show him something that they think is cool. It warms my heart, completely. My phone photography skills were clearly lacking today – but sometimes, buttons get bumped while trying to press two buttons at the same time while holding the phone all in one hand and holding a squirmy baby in the other. This mama has mad skillz!! Or not. ha!

facetime

After awhile, we went back inside, had some breakfast, I indulged in a second cup of creamy coffee, did some laundry, fed the dogs, and lazed around a bit. But it’s Friday, which in our neck of the ‘hood, is “garbage day.” And in a house full of boys, that’s a pretty big deal. It’s taken on a different feel over the past few years as it meant hauling the can to the curb, but this past winter, The Littles discovered the GARBAGE TRUCK! And since it’s summer, there is also the added bonus of the wood chipper truck and today was also recycling day, which means RECYCLING TRUCK! So we gathered up the household garbage and while holding Levi on one him, Lucas and I wheeled the can to the curb and then pushed the recycling bucket to the curb, and then neither wanted to do anything else but hang out in the front yard. So I put them to work and we pulled some weeds.

Levi weeding

But then a few minutes later, while I was slaving away, I found them wrenching on the truck wheels. These two, they crack me up.

Lucas Levi wrenching

We headed back in for some quiet time, only it wasn’t quite as quiet as I was expecting, but there were some cute moments.

iPad

After some napping and other mundane things, we snuck back outside, just in time to catch the sky doing some pretty cool things as an awesome summer storm was rolling in. I absolutely love the clouds and the sunshine and the fun things they do together. It’s stunning. And amazing. And perfect.

sky

Grandma “Fran” stopped by so the boys could play in her car. Gosh they love that so much. Keys and windows and doors and changing seats and opening compartments – they are in little boy heaven when Grandma comes over! We were outside for quiet awhile before the brisk, cool wind picked up, the skies got darker, and the sprinkles started. And just at the time that Grandma had to leave, the sky opened up and it downpoured. She later called it a “gullywasher,” a term that I’m not sure I’ve ever personally used in my adult life, but I remember hearing it used a lot when I was a kid. I don’t think we have any gullies, whatever that is, around here. Maybe I’m wrong. I’ll have to consult the online dictionary. Ok, I did. I’m wrong. There are likely gullies everywhere. Learn something new, everyday. Anyway, we went inside and after waving goodbye to “Fran” for 5 whole minutes, I realized the patio door was wide open. And the rain was pouring in. Sopped it up, closed the windows, and I caught Levi watching the rain.

Levi rain
Only a short while later, after we had filled our bellies with pizza delivery, a little spontaneous scream it out fest, and some jumping on the couch, the nighttime crankies kicked in and that cute little dude found himself sound asleep and in bed. Lucas and I got some quiet time together while Hannah vegged out with some Minecraft after work. Finally, Lucas has fallen asleep and I’ve just texted my dear friend who is in the hospital getting ready to have her first baby. She’s going to be a great mom!

I reflect on these days and always remember how lucky I am that I get to be the kind of mom that I have always wanted to be. Enjoying the wonder that’s in the little things that these little ones and big ones do and think and say and feel. Laughing so hard that we cry. Even when the days are trying and exhausting, they’re so worth it. It’s totally worth it.  There is nothing better than being a mom. I mean it.  Nothing ever can compare to all of the emotions that fill a day, that fill a heart, that fill a LIFE by being a mom. It’s a super huge responsibility, one that I don’t take lightly. It’s hard work. It’s cute and fun, but it’s hard work. But there are these kick back and mostly relax kind of days that are there to put you in your place and remind you that this is the good stuff. The really really good stuff. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Not even to never have winter again.

But I’d really love not to have winter again.

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I’m a hands on mom, I’m home all day with my babies and wouldn’t trade that for anything. I have a bit a lot of noise intolerance [inherited from my dad] so there typically is no such thing as “cry it out”, not even for a minute, in our house. I have to say, that I’ve been pretty lucky. I think that my kids have all been pretty easy for the most part, not big criers, well entertained on their own or by others, and not OMG SO NEEDY.

Until Now.

But, I know it could be worse. I have heard worse. And I have many times been oh so thankful to see other babies/children and know that they were not mine and I did not have to deal with THAT.

The realization is, we have done this to ourselves. We have given in over and over and over to avoid the crying, to try to accommodate his lack of verbal skills by asking him if he wants everything under the sun, to just keep the peace because we are busy and not feeling like having the energy to do anything different than just give in.

It’s hard being a parent. We want to have fun and raise good people. We want to teach, but not dictate. We want to be firm, but not strict. We want to do it right, but knowing what’s right is a never-ending parenting mystery. I was raised by screamers and spankers and I do not ever want to be that parent. We weren’t given a lot of choices, we were told, “no, because I said so” more times than, “sure, that sounds like a great idea.” I’m not a perfect parent, I have lost my cool, I have raised my voice, I have had to apologize to my children too many times. But I try to learn a better way all the time. I want them to know that there is a better way.

And somehow, in the crazy chaos of  it all – we have really slacked off with Lucas. Maybe it came from having a preemie colicky baby – there was a whole lotta cryin’ goin’ on for quite awhile! Maybe it’s me, being too tired while James is gone. Or maybe it’s James, overcompensating for his time away by giving in when he’s  home. This past week has been really, obnoxiously tough.

Lucas just wants what he wants and if he doesn’t get it, he screams. The kind of screaming that forces all the snot to flow from his nose and the hyperventilating sounds to occur, along with a bright red face and oh so many tears. It’s all I can take right now to just let him have his fit, not try to console him or offer him something else or bargain with him to just get him to stop. I don’t like to see him that way, but I do know that he’s being willful. He’s  not hurt or scared, he’s just pissed off. He’s worked it for some time and we’ve given in far too much. But the undoing that behavior, it might kill me dead.

I KNOW it’s about consistency. I talk about it all the time. But I’m not so great at it in all situations. James isn’t either. He has the guilty feelings maybe more than I do. We are both aware that being inconsistent isn’t helping anything. But we haven’t yet found a good way to stick to our guns and wait out this period, and get things going in the right direction again.

And in the meantime, I’m EXHAUSTED. Screaming to sleep, waking up crying and mad, starting the day off on a bad note every day for a week is really taking it’s toll. There is a secluded beach with my name on it somewhere!

And I know that it’s only temporary. This is only a short time in our parenting life. While it feels like hours and hours and that he might scream his life away, it’s not. And he won’t. My brain and attachment/helicopter mommy guilt isn’t understanding that at all. So it’s hard. REALLY HARD. I worry about the long term effects. But there isn’t any way that I can let this carry on. Because those long term effects are likely to be far more detrimental.

In the meantime, I suck it all up and stuff it all in and consume cookies and brownies to temporarily find my happy place. I look forward to James being home so I can get a little bit of breathing room – so the wait it out doesn’t feel so long and harsh. I wish winter wasn’t arriving so quickly so that fresh air and activity could break this up a little bit more.

The undoing of created behavior. It’s going to be my undoing!

We know this. It’s not a secret. One day you’re anxiously awaiting their arrival from the womb and then you blink and then they’re adults – or almost. Almost. How is it that just yesterday I was sending my first-born off to kindergarten, with her brand new glasses and her bangs pulled back off her chubby little face, a backpack as big as she was strung across her back, and a smile that went on for days? There was no fear, no tears. Just a lot of excitement. Last week, I sent that baby of mine off to her senior year of high school, glasses replaced with contacts, bangs dangling and covering her eyes which light up her much more matured face, a messenger bag over her shoulder, and a smile that went on for days. Ok, so some things don’t change that much, they just get bigger. But how can it be that she’s just 2.5 short months from being 18? An adult. *gasp* I always seem to think that I have this under control, I am always internally emotional but can sometimes hold the external together. I take each day in stride. I’m always so proud of my babies and welcome their wing spreading with open arms. But suddenly, almost instantaneously, it hits like a ton of bricks. My baby is almost an adult. Fortunately, I have 4 more babies to raise to adult so I’m still a bit of a ways away from having a full-out heart attack over here. The palpitations are building though.

I’ve now been typing this post for 5 days – seriously. I get THAT distracted by babies and things and OMG the internets. Let me try again while Lucas is distracted by Mickey Mouse and Levi naps, knock on all things that are wood, while I have 2 free hands to type effectively.

My big boys, they have grown like weeds in the past year. I cannot tell you how many pairs of jeans we have gone through and shoes. Shoes now get stinky before they get worn out. yikes! And this summer, the grocery bill, it seriously doubled. And they aren’t even to the stomach-is-a-bottomless-pit stage yet. It’s a good thing there is an 8 year gap between Dillan and Lucas, so we can rebuild the teenager grocery fund again! The physical things are easy to see, but through the summer, I saw a lot of growth in my boys as brothers and friends. They were given some more freedom, allowed to go to the park with friends without mom. It’s only 2 blocks away, but as a trying not to be a helicopter mom, this was a big deal. I send an extra cell phone with them, yep, they also have to be responsible, and they keep me posted about what they’re doing and who they’re with. They were allowed to bike to friends’ houses, too. And while this was hard on mama, it was so good. They argued and fought less, they played together and as a group of friends much more. And by summer’s end, when the soccer teams came out and a mistake was made and they had both been put on the same time, they BOTH asked to be kept on the same team. Yes, my jaw had to be scooped from the floor! This is big. A very BIG step in their brotherly development. The past couple of years surely have had some rough patches. To say that I’m a pleased mama is so underwhelming. I’m elated! But, they should not grow so much. So fast.

7 days – seriously, this blog post is taking far too long to complete. Despite the amount of time I can sit in the computer chair in a day, the typing just doesn’t get done. I need to be more skilled at one handed typing and allowing thoughts to flow while doing a multitude of other things – like nursing a baby, bouncing a baby, cleaning up baby urp from down my back and in my lap, while fetching a toddler off a desk or rescuing him from an annoyed cat or four, and trying to keep enough food and water in myself to sustain me for at least one more day. I will finish this now.

Only after I post some pictures. Because, as per my usual, I paraded them outside to the deck stairs, just like I do every first day of school, so I could take their pictures and “awwwww” and swoon over my precious, once were very tiny, babies. I don’t get teary, not on the outside anyway. I love that they can get out into the big world and spread their wings and discover more about themselves every day. I love that I can get a bit of a mom breather and enjoy a little bit of time each day to be just me, not me the mom, though those days are still so numbered with two little pipsqueeks still at home. I love my babies. So much. My heart is full.

And now, my kids have been back to school for 14 days and I have been trying to write this for 10 days! (enter failing blogger grumbles here). Life is busy, it’s crazy, sometimes overwhelming and frustrating but hey, I love it!)

So, here are the pictures of my kiddos on the first day of school – I adore them all so much!

Hannah – 12th, Connor – 5th, Dillan – 4th.

senior t-shirts are cool

Instagram is serious awesome. Here are a few more of those from the past week.
All my boys before school.

It’s Homecoming Week. Two days ago was “Neon Day” where she wore neon so much cuter than we ever did in the 80’s! Yesterday was “Character Day.” Hannah couldn’t be anything other than adorable Pikachu! Today is “School Spirit Day” and they aren’t allowed to wear their cheer uniforms to school (I know, right?! ridiculousness) so she rocked the tutu again with her cheer jersey. (I’m not too sure about those tights or boots though.)

Have a wonderful year my little, precious, tiny, babies-will-always-be-to-me, children! I love you more than words and pictures can ever express. You all are by far the best things I have ever done in my life and I couldn’t be more proud to be your mama! Now, do your homework without me having to ask eleventytwenty times. 🙂

And for mama, let this be a lesson that blog posts should not take 10 days, with or without pictures.

Yesterday, The Littles and I went to visit my friend Shannon and her adorable trio of boys for some far over due and much needed friend time. Shannon started out as a photography client way back when and is now one of my dearest friends. With both of our abundance of boys to tend to, we just don’t have the time get together as much as we’d like. We’re really great at talking about it, but not so great about following through. I really appreciate the times we hang out though. She’s extra good for getting me back to feeling a little more grounded and a little less crazy. But when we gather out bunches of boys together, it definitely feels a little bit crazy!

 

But I brought donuts, because who has time to eat breakfast when it already took 3 hours just to get everyone cleaned up and ready and out of the house even close to on time? And donuts are delicious. And sugary sweet. Lickably sweet.

And there was baby holding. Because Levi is irresistible. And there was photographing. Because Shannon gets the most beautiful window light and I love it. We could run our photography businesses out of her living room – if she didn’t live there.

And I was photographing her photographing her 2 oldest and my wee youngest. SURPRISE SHANNON!! (she might really kick me now)

And her wee youngest wanted to put a wheel on my camera. I wanted to forever run my fingers through his baby curls and watch his brand new walking legs waddle all day.

And there was plenty of baby loving. Leighton is excellent at loving babies. He’s loved both of my Littles. He’s so gentle and sweet.

And just moments before Lucas had his overtired and ready for a nap RIGHT NOW meltdown, I snapped one of us. Because there are never enough pictures of me, especially me with my kiddos, and I need to make a point to do that more. Even if they are the cheesy arm reached out and neck craned back variety.  And then he fell asleep.

Thank you, Shannon, Leighton, Chase, and Beckett for having us over and being our friends. See you again soon!

 

 

How did it get to be August already? So many holes in the blog – so many pictures and stories left unshown and untold. Maybe someday I will get back and fill in some of the gaps or maybe I’ll just keep chugging along.

We’re busy! I love my family, I love my kids, I love my life! I’m really tired some days and I get stuck in some ruts, but really – I wouldn’t trade it! This is the crazy “back to school” time so we’re rushing around with appointments and shopping and planning. Trying to get back into some sort of routine may be the death of me but with just 2 weeks to go – something has to start to fall into place. I’m really excited for school to start – I love all the extra time I get to spend with the kids but I like the routine, I love seeing what they learn, I love the lack of in and out, in and out, in and out that goes on here most days of the summer! But back to school brings cooler weather. We’re already dipping down quite a bit at night, it feels nice, but it’s that subtle reminder that summer is coming to an end and the dreaded winter will be here soon. I’ll soon be trading my sparkly magenta painted toe nails for warm socks. I’m just not ready. Though I never am.

Hannah spent 5 weeks with her dad this summer – she attended a cheer camp and teen retreat. She helped teach a kids art class and checked out a college. The day after getting home, she was back to cheer practice and that will continue until next spring! I admittedly am sad to not be a part of the swim team this year but I know she will love cheering just as much. We went to see the new high school already and it’s awesome and amazing. I’m so excited for her! Orientation is tomorrow, she’ll get her crazy schedule. Thank goodness she passed her driving test [the 2nd time] and can now drive herself as needed.

Connor has gotten out of skating mode this summer. He still likes to but he prefers biking right now. He’s been really helpful to me and we’ve had some good time together. He’s an excellent big brother to Lucas, he always wants to help and care for him.

Dillan is all about skating. He wants to drop out of school now and just have a skate shop! He and friends have been taking apart and putting back together skateboards all summer. He’s done really well with learning some new tricks and is gaining good skill. He spent a week of summer being sick, which stunk, but it was good for us to just hang out and be mellow together. As trying as he can be at times, he really is just awesome when we’re 1 on 1. I am still trying to figure out how to bring that out all the time.

Lucas is growing, growing, growing. He’s now 8 months old and crawling and cruising furniture – determined like crazy! I call him Scar Face this week since he’s pretty dinged up. He’s mad if I hold him back but not quite as sturdy as he wants to be when trying to do things on his own. He’s eating solids so well, figured out the sippy cup, can say ‘mama’ and a few other babbles [we’re waiting on dada]and is just as cute as can be! I can’t believe how fast these months have gone by and how fast he’s growing. I know James is so thankful he’s had a change in schedule and is able to be here a few days a week and stay caught up with him.

It’s taken me 3 days to make this update! I just have to laugh – I love this life!

Lucas is just so adorable. I think I could go on and on every day about all the cute things he does. This morning he was nursing, grasping the edge of my shirt with one hand and patting my side gently with his other hand. I suppose all the bum patting I do while he’s nursing has made him pat me back. It’s so sweet. And then he di that thing that I have loved so much as each baby has done it, the heart melter – tear jerker moment when he suddenly releases his latch, smiles and coos, does a little wiggle and then goes back to nursing. That’s heaven right there. That’s a total “I love being a mom” moment. No, it’s not the first time he’s done it, but after being awake every two hours last night and feeling totally exhausted with a time change to boot, it was just what I needed this morning for a little extra boost for the day.

It’s times like these that make me feel like I could be a mom 20 times over.

It’s nearing 3am and I have yet to sleep. I’m nearing 24 hours of being awake which certainly does not bring out my inner college student – it makes me feel like near death.

I just changed the baby’s diaper and then just after I get him all buttoned back up, I have to change all of his clothes, my shirt, and some of the bedding. He’s in what I assume is a growth spurt. Behaving like a ravenous beast, sucking and gulping and thrashing around. It’s exhausting trying to maintain such a wiggly critter. Then just moments after turning it all into a tantrum, he not so gracefully urps up all the wonderful milk that I so lovingly created for him. Repeat this about 15 times today. And I thought he was eating a lot yesterday! At least he wasn’t throwing up on me!
And then at 2am, when I think I’m finally ready to get some sleep, he awakes to what he thinks is play time. I can’t refuse all of his adorable chubbiness and big gummy smiles. But really – it’s 2am!

It’s just been a day – one of those emotional ones that you just want to forget but will likely linger for more than eternity. I’m constantly reminded that this gig we call parenting isn’t for the weak, not always quite all it’s cracked up to be. That relationships are hard – not just the lovey dovey ones, but all the people relations we have. Gosh they are hard work and full of second and third and fourth guessing.

And then I feel like it all might seem better after a good night of rest. Only to come back to it being 3am and I will need to be awake for the day in 3.5 hours and have plenty to do with my day tomorrow.

So while I have a lot of jumbled thoughts right now, I will lay down and get some sleep. I just can’t make it harder for us all tomorrow.

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

It’s always been one of my favorite things to do with my kiddos when they are just so small – we take a nice warm bath together. The open spot on Lucas’ navel finally has closed up and I felt comfortable enough taking him into the tub for the first time – we sure were tired of counter top wipe downs! It’s always a bit of a chore – a timing issue really – to get us both in there, without pee flailing around or anyone getting the chills, hoping the water is just the right temperature – warm enough for me because I usually like it scalding hot but cool enough that I don’t burn the baby, not slipping and falling, and having all after bath items ready to prevent chills and diaper accidents outside of diapers. But then it’s always relaxing and lovely.

Lucas and I slipped right in. I was nervous as to how he’d first react to the water so I held him close and secure. I laid him on my legs and slowly lowered them into the water. His hands and feet were floating, his face was concerned but not unhappy. He settled in quickly and enjoyed a good float. I washed him quickly in case this turned out to be something less than fun. But it didn’t, and he floated, and he moved his arms and legs and made little waves and splashes. We soaked and talked and I smiled at him and loved him with all of my heart and more.

After 2 days in the NICU and an overnight in my room and a day getting ready to go home, we finally made it home. There are so many exhausting details – some I will probably never get around to getting caught up on. The main points being that all is well, it was hard and draining – and experience I hope to never have again, and we are just so happy to be a big family and home all together. This is just going to be a picture post of the past few days.

 

In order to save time, this is copied from our Facebook update. This is the brief story, there are more details which may be shared in time but maybe the general masses don’t want or need to know all the details. Maybe we’ll just keep that to ourselves for now.

Lucas David was born 12-10-10 at 7:26pm weighing 8 pounds 7 ounces and 21.5 inches long.

Thank you all for your support and concern and my apologies for purposefully not updating until we had the time to share what I need to share.

First of all, yes, we are all just fine and doing great! There have been a few speed bumps but we know that mostly everyone just wants to be assured that we are ok – and we are! We cannot reply to all the messages at this time but hope this helps and will eventually get around to catching up. We’re glad that everyone is thinking of us and so excited to share in our joy – it really means a lot.

I was admitted at 7pm Thursday night to start induction with cervical gel which was just supposed to get things ready for the big induction Friday morning. We planned for a mostly laid back evening. Withing 10 minutes of getting the gel I started contracting and within 30 minutes they were full strength and 2 minutes apart – the entire night. By morning we had hoped that all of these contractions were doing a good job and that things were moving a long quickly. But they weren’t We knew the baby was high and there was a lot of work for the body to do. I was wrong in thinking that. Even by noon when my doctor came to break my water and really get things going, it was difficult for several reason. Fortunately, 2 hours earlier, after being exhausted from being awake since 3:30am the day before and nonstop contractions, I decided to get an epidural, and those that know me well know this was a very big and hard decision because of my own fears. At the same time, Pitocin was started which made contractions stronger and longer. By mid-afternoon I had made minimal progress and was feeling already defeated, frustrated and beyond exhausted while trying to still be excited for our baby boy to be born. This was the point where I had stopped Facebooking and I’m sorry that I left everyone hanging. In hindsight I wish I would have updated one more time. I finally started progressing but that turned into a very difficult [for me] delivery. My other babies were all born quickly with IV pain meds only and no complications. There was a lot of insufficient pushing due to the epidural but things finally found their place and Lucas was born after a lot of pushing and a very stuck head.

All would be amazing if I could stop there and share my story but that’s not the case. He came out very limp and purple, cord around his neck and apgars of 5, 7, and 8. His breathing was labored and he required CPAP for a short time. James went with him to the NICU and was there for over an hour before I was able to come to him as well. He responded to his treatments and having IVs set and medications administered. He’s having a blood culture to check for possible infection to rule out why he was having a difficult time breathing outside of the bit of fluid in his lungs and meconium at birth – not before. This requires him to have a mandatory 48 hour NICU stay with IV antibiotics until results are found. Fortunately, he’s doing well in every other way right now, we’re just waiting on those results which are due tomorrow night and hoping there are no back slides. Today, he had feeding tube [to check his esophagus as a possible reason for my increased amniotic fluid – and was left in in case it was needed later for feeding] and nasal cannula were removed. We’re very happy that since 6am he’s been breathing well on room air all on his own! Today I was able to start nursing him and he took right to it and ate for a good 40 minutes! I’m heading back soon to do some more. He’s doing great. It’s very hard to be in the NICU and see so many very tiny and very sick babies. We feel very thankful that Lucas will have a short stay and get to go home with us soon.

As of right now, the hope is to have him come home on Monday as long as all of his bloodwork comes back a-ok. We are supposed to be discharged tomorrow but hope to get a rooming in overnight with him so we all can come home Monday together. Will know more on that tomorrow.

We’re all doing ok – it’s been emotional and frustrating and obviously not how we expected things to go but the big picture is most important and that’s what we’re looking at.

We will get back to everyone eventually and am sure you understand that we’re putting our focus on family right now. We can’t wait to share more, there will be plenty of pictures to come, before long you’ll be tired of the constant updates. 🙂

P.S. We can’t take cell phones into the NICU so replies do take quite awhile – sorry.