2018: Discipline

 

Is it too late to talk about New Year’s Resolutions? Our Christmas tree is still up so technically my new year hasn’t started yet.

^^I know. It’s driving me crazy. I’ve taken everything else down but I can’t reach the top of the tree even with the step ladder. I have to wait for Ron and he refuses to take it down until after his birthday. Next year we will have a taller ladder and this won’t be an issue. (I say that every year. But I mean it this time!)

Anyway. My resolutions typically fall under the umbrella of a word. Each year I choose one word or phrase to shape my mindset for the coming months. It’s been a helpful little tradition and something I look forward to thinking about each January. It takes my mind off the post-holiday blues.

2017’s word was Decrease. I put my entire life through a sifter. Activities, possessions, projects, relationships, all of it. There were far too many things competing for my physical and mental energy. I was perpetually frustrated and wracked with guilt for failing to measure up across the board. I needed more margin, as Emily Ley would say. It will always be a work in progress, but overall I was successful. I feel lighter and breathe easier going into 2018.  

Now that I’ve given my life some elbow room, I want to work on discipline. When my schedule was overloaded, I could only focus on keeping up. As a result so. many. things. were left incomplete. Hanging over my head. Stealing sanity and sleep.

As I cut back, I took some time to enjoy the blank spaces. I found my groove as a mama and homemaker and I’ve enjoyed the heck out of extra sleep and a slower, minimally-scheduled pace. I’m ready now to reinstate a *little* bit more structure. Small things that I think will make a big difference. 

1. Daily bible reading. I have been working my way through the bible cover to cover. I’m over halfway through, but I should have been done a long time ago.  I struggle with motivation at times, it’s not an easy read! (Ezekiel, yikes.) But I want to read it in its entirety first (I’ve read the gospels and several other books, but not the entire bible) then go back through for in depth study.

2. Workouts before the baby wakes. I LOVE getting my workout in before Enzo is awake but I also LOVE sleep. A little too much. Once I am out of the early routine, it is SO hard for me to get back into it. The whole day just runs smoother when I get it out of the way first rather than in the afternoon.

3. Finish projects: 

  1. Pinterest the Pantry. 75% done
  2. Organize the Garage. Ugh
  3. Deep clean the house. Or save up and hire a crew. Because seriously, it’s impossible to get it all deep/spring/ready-to-sell (we aren’t wanting to sell just saying, that level of clean) type clean in one day or weekend without professional help.
  4. Get caught up on Enzo’s baby book. I bought one with a LOT to fill out. Next kid gets something simpler.

 

4. Stop changing my mind and make legit progress on writing a book. Start, Erase. Start, Erase. For years. I annoy myself so much. No erasing this year. I will forge ahead, even when I think it’s awful, and circle back to edit the bajeezus out of it once it’s complete.

5. Listen to at least 1 audiobook a month. I’m a super slow reader, so I am obsessed with audiobooks. I look forward to cleaning or running on the treadmill when I’m hooked into a story. Also I’m in a book club so I’ve been doing great with fiction books, but I want to do a nonfiction each month as well.

6. Listen to new podcasts vs. social media scrolling. Wayyy too many hours wasted on social media these days. I swear I can feel my intellect atrophying at times. Using my phone to stay awake when I was up feeding Enzo at night lead to overuse issues. I need a bit of a detox. 

None of this is very difficult or exciting but I like to lay it all out there, if only to keep myself accountable. I would love to be able to end the year with a post sharing lists of books read or listened to, pictures of spaces organized, etc. I have the time, it’s just a matter of being disciplined enough to say no to sleeping in or excessive internet-ing.

I also truly like hearing about other people’s resolutions or words of the year. If you have one, tell me about it! 

Happy New Year! 

 

Enzo Alan: 15 Months

Bad lighting. Will get a better photo later. 

Height: Update after next appointment. 
Weight: Update after next appointment. 

Highlights

The past three months were SO. MUCH. FUN. We have been told many times that 15 months is one of the best baby/toddler stages and we agree.  When Enzo is not teething he sleeps through the night like a champ, and his nap is typically 2-2.5 hours long. While awake, he is constantly amazing us with new words and skills. (And hilariously dramatic tantrums, at times. A preview of what’s to come, no doubt.) 

Talking

Here are some of the words he has been saying: 
Daddy
Mommy
Papaw
Memaw
Uncle
Todd (Ta)
April

Mark
Kelsey 
Bobby
Me
Enzo
Baby
Boy
People
Hi
Bye
Hello
Okay (He says this a LOT, usually while holding something up to his ear like a phone. He picked it up after watching his great-grandfather on the phone one day, saying okay. It’s really cute)
Apple
Broccoli (Broccy)
Cracker
Cookie
Coffee 
Pie
Pepper
Potato (Tato)
Banana (NayNay)
Turkey
More

Hot
Milk
Bottle
Happy
Poopy
Toot
Honk
Car
Tractor
Ball
Bear
Slush
Wow
Shoe
Sock
Toes
Hat
Teeth
Nose
Ear and Eyes (These two are still hit or miss)
Yes
NoNO
Book
Owl (& Owl sound)
Cow (& Moo)
Monkey (& Monkey sound)
Cat (& Cat sound)
Puppy (& Dog sound)
Donkey sound 
Horse
Tree
Pretty
All done (All duh)
Two 
Please 
Thank you (Tay you)
Up
Down
Sit (Sometimes sounds like sh*t, which is not ideal)
Back (As in, put it back)
Help me (Hep me. He repeats us as we try to get him to help us dress him.) 
Love (Wuv)
Hug
Kiss
Off
On

 

He can combine two words or say two syllable things, though that is not super common yet. He can also repeat some of his ABCs when we say them first. It really feels like he can learn just about any word we make an effort to teach him. (Some letters are still hard, like L’s, R’s, G’s, and J’s) He is such a sponge, and that’s what makes this stage so fun. We knew there would be an “explosion of words” as our pediatrician called it, but it’s still surprising and exciting each time we hear him say something new for the first time.  I was trying to create video clips of him saying each of his words but I can’t keep up anymore. 

Walking

He started walking at a little over 14 months and so far I still love it. There is nothing sweeter than the sound of tiny feet, or the sight of a pint-sized human toddling around. Especially when he walks with his hands behind his back, surveying the area. I don’t know where he got that but it’s so darn cute. Maybe I’ll regret it when he can run, but right now he isn’t into anything he wasn’t already into before walking. And honestly I can’t say he gets there much faster on his feet than his knees. 

Playing

Some of his favorite activities/toys: 
His ferrari push car. He rides around and says HonkHonk. He learned HonkHonk from a music class song he loves. 
Making food in his kitchen, tasting it and saying “Yum” and handing us a bite. 
Pretending to clear out his and our noses with what looks similar to a saline bottle from his medical trolley. 
Sliding down his slide and then walking back up the slide to go again. 
Beating his drum, xylophone, and rhythm sticks. 
Climbing. Anything. We have to be careful when we have the step ladder out because he’s on it and to the top in seconds. 
Pushing buttons on remotes, phones, the tree timer, the soundbar, his parents. ;) 
Hide & Seek + Peekaboo (Holding strong with these two)
Up Down (Says up and either stands or moves his top half up then says DOOOWN and crouches or slumps)
Putting on shoes (his or ours)
Taking off shoes and socks. Usually in stores. 
My dad taught him a beat (Bum, Bum, Ba-bum bum. … Bum. Bum.) that he picked up months ago, We do the first part and he does the Bum. Bum. Initially it was with his fist on a hard surface but now he can also repeat it with words or sounds.
He likes to do some of the motions to rhymes and songs such as itsy bitsy spider, five fat peas, where are all the bees, & five little fishies.  

Places

Weekly, we typically go to The Music Playhouse, The Monon Center (toddler open gym), The Urban Chalkboard (We like the fiber optic class and other unique activities they offer), Grandma Bower’s, Papaw and Memaw Bower’s, and Granny and Grampy Zarro’s. Also Target. Always Target. We need to get to the library more often but it wasn’t fitting in with my other classes and to be honest the storytime wasn’t much different than what I do with him at home each day so I didn’t see the point. It’ll be more worth it to me when he’s old enough to go in on his own and do the crafts. 

And we went on our very first family road trip just a week ago.
We started on a Friday night, driving 5 hours to Sikeston, MO. Enzo slept most of the way. Waking up about every hour to holler then falling back asleep. Unfortunately when we stopped at the hotel and unpacked, there was no good way to keep him asleep so he woke up and was wide awake for awhile. This happened at every night stop we made. It would take a good hour or more to get him back to sleep. He woke up a few more times that night and that was frustrating but overall a small price to pay for a mostly silent car ride. 

Saturday we drove about 4 hours into Little Rock, AR to visit my brother and sister-in-law. Enzo was awake the first half and required an exhausting level of attention. I bought him all sorts of new toys for the trip but he just threw them at me after 3 seconds. (He doesn’t care to watch cartoons yet) I really don’t know how people do long trips all in one day. He fell asleep after lunch. 

We stayed in Little Rock until Sunday evening. We left when Enzo was ready to go to sleep and drove the 3.5 hours to Minden, LA. 

We stayed in Minden until Tuesday evening, and drove 4+ hours to Searcy, AR. 

We left the next morning and drove 4 hours to St. Louis, MO. 

We stayed overnight in St. Louis (At Union Station hotel, which was really lovely. We even had a fully decorated tree in our room!) and went on a Polar Express train ride. We overpaid for a booth, since that was the only way we could all sit together, but it was a Godsend since it gave us some breathing room. Our booth ended up being at the very end, away from most of the people and noise. Enzo could observe without getting too overwhelmed. 

The next morning we visited The City Museum (NOT my favorite place. It’s cool and I can see where kids would love it but I couldn’t WAIT to get out of there. It’s super creepy to me.) before making our final 4-hour trek home. Enzo did pretty well on the way home, but completely expired on us about 10 minutes from the house. We pulled into the driveway a hot screaming mess, but we made it! 

Breaking up the drive made the driving part much easier (I assume, considering all my friends who have made 8+ hour trips with their kids say it’s miserable and when they get back they don’t want to drive anywhere for a week) but it was a total hassle to pack and unpack the car so many times, often late at night. And if we were wanting to go to the beach or stay somewhere for an entire week, meandering there and back wouldn’t leave us much time to enjoy the actual vacation part.

Our dilemma had been do we suck it up and get to our first destination in one, brutal shot? Or drag the journey out? Or fly and lug all our junk through an airport and take a gamble that our kid will not lose his mind through 4 flights (no directs) that inevitably mess with his sleep/nap cycle, and then still have to rent a car and drive 4 hours at some point since we wanted to visit family in two cities. The bottom line is there is no easy way to travel with little ones. I think we made the best choice for our situation, and it was worth it. My brother and his wife always make the trip to see our side of the family and when they do it’s a holiday or race time. There is so much going on + Enzo’s sleep needs are such that we don’t always get to spend much one on one time with them. And Enzo had not met his Great Granny Lowe, or any of his southern family yet so we really wanted to make that happen. It was hard only being in each city for such a short time though.

It was a learning experience for sure! Although we know by the time we go on another trip, Enzo will have changed enough we will probably be looking at it with a whole new perspective. (Please Lord Above let him enjoy movies next time we travel.)

Low lights

Teeth

There weren’t many struggles over the past few months, but teething has been rough. He now as 14 teeth, including 4 molars. And I believe teeth 15 and 16 are currently working their way in.

Eating

We also had a tough time getting him to eat for awhile. My brother and his fiance (OT and OT Assistant) helped us and he is doing much better. He still doesn’t love meat. I ate it while pregnant with him and I cook with it now but he tends to try it and then throw it on the floor. It’s a work in progress. He is getting pretty good at feeding himself with a spoon and loves yogurt so that’s a plus.

Bottles

I hate to admit it, but I haven’t broken him from a bottle yet. He even gets one right before bed still. I keep hearing how he should have been on a sippy, with no night bottles, a long time ago but honestly I haven’t felt the need. He is proficient with a sippy and I give those to him as well, but he prefers the bottle. He doesn’t use a pacifier and that’s kind of what the bottle is for him. I see other kids with pacis or breastfeeding until 1.5 – 2 years old and I really don’t see how that is a whole lot different from a bottle. We’ll get there by the next update. That’s my goal anyway. 

That’s about it! If you made it this far, you are probably my parents. ;) 

Caught trying to nab great grandma zarro’s cookies.

 

Knock Outs & Come Backs

I destroyed some rose bushes last week. And my hands, in the process.

We haven’t been the best with yard upkeep. We neglected our knock-outs into jungle-hood, and truth be told I still don’t know the names of all (any of) the other plants growing on our property, let alone how to care for them.  Therefore every time a neighbor drives by I assume they are shaking their head at the useless inhabitants of yellow Charleston.

What is happening with your day lilies, Frederick’s? (10 legit minutes googling “plant with yellow flowers” to remember they are called day lilies) And let’s be serious about that evergreen unibrow in front of the porch. Those were once 6 separate bushes! 

There are far more important things in life than impeccable landscape, I know. But it’s hard not to be self-conscious when your skill deficit is on display for all to see.

So for weeks Ron and I debated the best time/proper way to cut the rose bushes back. (Our very academic online research yielded different results.) Finally, one afternoon when Ron left for an IU game and Enzo was taking a late nap, I grabbed gloves and shears and started hacking like a mindless madwoman.

10 trash bags full of rose debris later. They could use some more shaping but whatever. I also did trim out the mini bushes a little. They are by no means the size they should be but they are no longer a unibrow. (Left side of photo) Which is good because clearly we already have a power brow, on the right.

The thorns broke through the thick barriers covering my hands, over and over again. More than once I contemplated torching the stupid things. Burning them to the ground and starting over in the Spring, with something decidedly less devilish. I didn’t. Primarily due to the immense likelihood I would bring the house down with them. But also because despite my frustration, I love roses. They’re pretty, they smell nice, and they make for good metaphors. 

Knockout roses bloom, die, and come back. Annually, + 2-3 times a season (for us anyway). While in bloom, they are so beautiful it’s easy to forgive their flaws. But if you aren’t looking at the whole picture, and you walk by during a dormant moment, you might wonder why on earth someone would plant vicious sticks in their yard.

Emphasis on the VICIOUS.

This journey to family has had more than it’s share of death and dormancy. (1 in 4 recognized pregnancies may end in miscarriage, but those odds aren’t evenly distributed. Many women I know have either had no miscarriages, or more than one.) And at times it has filled my mind with thorns. Loss may not be my fault, but the fact remains: two babies have lived and then died inside my body. Brevity of pregnancy doesn’t negate the impact of such an ugly, stabby truth. 

So sometimes when I look in the mirror, see pregnant women, or talk to God, fear, shame, and questioning break through the barrier divine trust has placed around my heart. Like spikes, breaking through my gloves.

In those moments I try to remember the bigger picture. 

Our Creator designed knock-out roses, and humans, to be resilient. We were not built to quit. So I continue forward, my splinter filled fingers holding tightly to the sparkly, hope-filled truth that this too, will pass. And when it does, when everything comes together, the beauty will be blinding.

I pray if you’re also in a season where you feel like you’re just standing around, all chopped down and ugly, you’ll join me in hope. Winter only lasts awhile, and it is always followed by Spring. <3

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

Pay no mind to the diseased leaves.

Circa May 2016. A terrible quality picture, and not nearly as unruly as they were this year. But if you saw them in full bloom, in person, I guarantee you’d find them captivating. 

A Positive is Not a Promise

I knew I was ready for another baby when pregnancy announcements made me jealous.

I created a secret Pinterest board for Baby #2. Began dreaming of a name, mentally decorating a room.

Over the summer a faint second line and early hcg levels said I was pregnant. But those levels dropped and the line quickly faded, until they were gone.

Chemical pregnancy.
It felt like tripping up stairs in the dark.

My OB’s nurse practitioner referred to it as a miscarriage. Conception that failed very early. However I have friends who have been told that a CP is merely a FP. False positive.

I didn’t and I still don’t know what happened or what to believe.

Months later, two very solid lines on two different tests, followed by promising blood levels.  My progesterone was low again so I began taking supplements. Days turned to weeks and weeks became a month. As our ultrasound neared I was more and more excited. 3 more sleeps until we see our baby! 2 more sleeps until we hear the heartbeat! But 28 hours before my appointment, at 8 weeks and 2 days, I knew something was wrong.

I tried to have hope. Scoured the internet for message boards of women with my symptoms who went on to have healthy babies. There are many. And yet I knew I would not be one of them.

I prayed for a miracle but even as I did, I could almost feel my words bouncing back, hitting me in the face.

At the hospital, the ultrasound tech chose to take measurements before showing us the baby. Her quick glance at the start had shown her all she needed to see. Stillness. No flicker of a heartbeat. Finally she settled on the grainy, black and white image of a tiny human form, and confirmed our loss.

I nodded and thanked her for her time. But I did not cry.

In the room with the nurse practitioner, hearing the options in great, sympathetic detail, I asked questions and weighed my decision. But I did not cry.

I have moments, to be sure. Pity parties, where I wallow in the negativity. Blame myself for running too hard or drinking right up to the allotted amount of coffee. Blame my body and its low progesterone or seemingly hostile uterus. Blame God, Who must be punishing me for my sins.

But they are only moments. (Okay sometimes entire afternoons) Immature, absurd, ridiculous moments. I let myself feel them, then recognize them for the lies they are and let them go.

Tears do fall from my eyes, but this time….there are no distraught, grieving, gut-wrenching cries.

Not because this baby was any less loved.

Because

I know what is waiting on the other side.
This sadness will not last forever.

The morning of the ultrasound, my bible reading ended in Isaiah 66. That evening, I went back to find a line that had been repeating in my head all day:

Isaiah 66:12 For this is what the LORD says: I will extend peace to her like a river

I honestly do feel a current of peace running through me. It’s so strong, and would be inexplicable if I didn’t know better. 

Our Father is faithful. Abundantly, extravagantly, consistently so.
He was so patient with me, as I questioned Him in loss and pleaded for reassurance while carrying Enzo. No question went unanswered, no request was ignored.

And now? I spend my days hugging and kissing this marvelously handsome answered prayer. My sweet living proof of Romans 8:18 and 28. The pain that you’ve been feeling can’t compare to the joy that’s coming, and We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

I am very sad, but not devastatingly so. I know we will see our angel babies one day and God will redeem this hurt, in His time. Maybe with another healthy baby, maybe with continued peace and guidance to a new direction.

Meanwhile we choose to be grateful and joyful amid the pain, understanding His plan is far better than our own. He has proven He can be trusted. So trust we will.

 

 

*If you are finding out about this loss via the blog and not from a personal conversation, and you feel hurt by that, I’m sorry. It was a purposeful decision on my part. To instantly see or hear my sadness mirrored in the reaction of people who care about me, over and over…it’s not something I have felt like facing. I appreciate the concern and love so very much, but even though I’m doing better this time around it is still hard and exhausting to repeatedly answer the same questions or have to convince others I’m/we’re fine. I would rather convey as much information to as many people as I can, in one post than a hundred messages. I hope that makes sense and is not offensive.

 

I also wanted to share the story here because I believe the overall calm I’ve experienced is a God thing. Assuring me, He’s going to turn all of this into a good thing. There are a lot of people who need the peace and hope and joy only He can provide, especially now. At this time of year, in this stage of life, amid this state of the world. And in my opinion the most effective way to really reach hearts is to openly and honestly show them what God has done for mine. Thank you for caring enough to read this, I hope you’ll continue to follow along to see where our parenthood journey leads. <3