May 14, 2014

Things are looking up . . .

The first three days of this week have contained more good than the previous two weeks combined.  I'm so thankful, because at the end of last week, I was nearing the end of my rope.  Here are a few highlights:
  • The brighter mornings mean that I've woken on my own more easily.  Sure, I'm still only getting 4 - 5 hours of sleep because I'm crazy busy, but being up before the kids makes a huge difference in how my day goes.
  • Mother's Day was so much better than I had expected.  We had a great brunch with Kyle's family, and the restaurant was VERY kid friendly.  I don't know if I was exceptionally hungry or if the food was exceptionally good, but either way, I really enjoyed it.  It was close to 80 on Sunday and I loved every second of it.  I still had to do grocery shopping and meal planning for the week, but making my list out on the deck seemed less like work. 
  • Monday and Tuesday were very warm, too.  The kind of warm that leaves you sticky and hot all day.  You will NEVER hear me complain about that.
  • We had a great conversation with a new realtor today that was encouraging and so, so educational.  I think we'll still go ahead with listing our house.  So much has to go right and happen in the right timing, but I'm less worried.  Fingers crossed.
  • I've been able to check some things off of my to do list.  There were a few things that I forgot to put on my list, so I put them on and then checked them off right away.  If they don't show up in the "completed" list, they don't count.  I had to do it, right?
  •  Baby #4 is crazy active.  She moves so much and I love just sitting and feeling and watching her movements.  All three kids have felt her move now.  When I was pregnant with Claire, I was constantly sad about her being my last and everything being my "last" experience.  It's not like that this time.  I'm very comfortable with this baby being my last baby, and I'm really enjoying feeling her move and grow.
  • However, I'm not enjoying everything about this pregnancy.  I don't like being pregnant, in general.  I just feel achy and bloated.  Nothing fits well, and I can't ever really get comfortable.  It's worth every minute, though.
  • I had some errands to run after picking Jack up from school yesterday, so I took all three kids out for ice cream after.  It was fun just hanging out with the three of them.  I can't believe they're all mine.
  • We made barbecue chicken pizza on the grill last night.  What's not to love about that?

May 12, 2014

Dear Claire, Month 34-35

Dear Claire,

When people describe you, the word "expressive" is used most often.  You are THE most expressive little girl I've ever met.  When you're excited, it shows all over your face.  When you're upset, everyone knows.  As much as I hate to perpetuate the "girls are more dramatic" stereotype, there's no denying it with you.

One of my favorite things to do with you is sing.  We sing hymns together every night.  Your brothers would always sing along, but you SING LOUD!  You won't sing in front of other people, but when it's just the two of us, you don't hold back.

You're talking now.  Like, for real talking.  Not just words or phrases.  Full sentences and paragraphs.  It happened at some point this winter, and seemingly overnight.  This has increased your ability to have fun with your brothers.  Sometimes in the car, you'll just look at Ben, laugh and say, "Be funny, Ben!"  You love all of the faces and noises that he makes just to make you laugh.

When I ask you your name, you usually respond, "Sara Luke" or "Kyle Luke."  And then you laugh your head off like you've just made the most hilarious joke ever.  I'll give you a look and you'll say, "I called me Sara!" or "Your name is not Mama!  It's Claire Bear!"  You sure have perfected the art of 2-year0-old silliness.

You have developed a HUGE fear of bugs.  Something happened last weekend that set you off, and now I have trouble getting you out the door.  We searched your body for a sting, but didn't see anything. I don't know if a bug landed on you or if you just saw something that concerned you, but now, if you see so much as a gnat from 10 feet away, you're climbing up my body like a monkey up a tree and crying like you've been attacked by something much larger than you.  In the bath last night, you started screaming and I panicked for a second.  I looked over and you were huddled in a corner of the tub pointing and a piece of fuzz floating in the water that you thought was a bug.  This fear could make for a VERY long summer.

To be honest, it reminds me of how you are around dogs.  If you so much as see one (even on a leash) from a distance, you FREAK OUT.  I hate to admit that this probably all comes directly from my gene pool, because I was the same way.

When you're freaking out about bugs and dogs, it's sometimes hard for me to be patient.  I want to just say, "Stop it!  You're fine!"   But the truth is that you're not fine.  You're scared.  It's ok to be scared.  While I can't rid your life of dogs and bugs forever, I can promise that I'll hold you when you're scared and help you to overcome your fears.  I will take your fears seriously, no matter how trivial or irrational they may seem to outsiders. 

You are both a joy and a challenge, Claire Bear.  You still love cuddling with me and reading with me.  Sometimes I just sit and watch you play or pretend, in awe of the fact that you are MY daughter.  MINE.  Words can't even describe how amazing I think you are, and how much I love you.  Being your mom is a privilege and a blessing.


May 10, 2014

The worst weeks

The last two weeks have been my worst weeks.  I've been trying to think objectively about whether they've been mostly the result of circumstances, pregnancy hormones, the crazy time of year or fatigue.  I'm sure it's the combination of all four.  In any case, they've been really bad.

We started getting our house ready to sell (which is all-consuming), only to find out that the amount of money we'd have to PAY to SELL our house is a lot more than we had anticipated.  So, by the time we pay to get out of our house, there won't be much left to put toward our new house.  And a new house?  We've found one that we really like, and we've heard there's lots of interest from other buyers.  It's not on the market yet, but when it is, I doubt we'll get it.

I feel so defeated.  I wish I could go back to 2005 Kyle and Sara and say, "They're lying to you.  Real estate IS NOT a good investment right now.  Just wait a few years."  And then yesterday afternoon, our neighbors began constructing a HUGE kennel in their back yard, right outside of our dining room windows.  To say that it sent me into a panic would be an understatement.  Maybe prospective buyers will really like dog-watching?  Last night, Kyle got up to get some water and when he tried to swivel the faucet on the kitchen sink, it just broke right off.  Right off in his hand.  So he spent the day replacing that.  If we DO sell our house, the new owners will have a nice, new faucet on the kitchen sink, so that's nice for them.

I have been at my parenting worst this week.  This is NOT an exaggeration.  I've yelled at my kids and made so many threats that I knew I wouldn't follow through on.  Did I mention that I've yelled a lot?  Screamed, really?  I can't take full credit for this, because they've been awful, but I'm not sure which came first . . . my issues or theirs.  I feel horrible.  I feel like when they think back to their childhood, the last two weeks are all they will remember.

May is always the most stressful month.  Once camps begin, the momentum just kind of carries us.  But getting ready for the summer is really hard.

On top of everything, when we signed Ben and Jack up for soccer in the fall, we didn't consider how their spring practices and games would affect baseball.  Fortunately (unfortunately?) they don't conflict.  But that means we have Soccer on Mondays and Saturdays and baseball on Wednesdays and Fridays. 

Have I mentioned that Brian and Debbie moved away at the end of April?  While I'm genuinely excited for them, it did kind of feel like I lost my only friend.

I have NOT been eating well and I'm positive that's contributed to my gloominess.  I've consumed too much junk, because it's what's easy during this time of year.  I need to do better about meal planning, but we do have a lot of meals at camp, so when I think about grocery shopping for just one or two dinners, I figure it's easier to eat out.  I need to stop that.  And I really should always carry healthy snacks so that I have no excuse for fast food.

Starbucks got my drink wrong 3 times this week.  They've never once messed up my drink, but THREE TIMES IN ONE WEEK.  I know, I know . . . first world problems.  But when you're paying first world prices for coffee?  You expect better.

The cashier at Meijer pointed at my belly and asked if this was my third child (Jack wasn't with us) and I said, "No, this is my fourth.  My oldest is at school."  She replied, "Yeah, I thought it looked like you probably had more."  Uh, thanks?  Ouch?  I don't even know how to respond to that.

I don't even want to get into how many people tell me that I look big for being due in August.  Yes, I was a little fat before I was pregnant.  Please let's talk about that more.

Because Kyle helps to coach Jack's team, it's just me, Ben and Claire sitting on the sidelines.  They're a handful.  Especially after 7:00, which is normally their bedtime.  After one game, another mom whispered (not quietly enough), "It looks like she has enough kids already."  And something about more than I can handle.  I didn't even bother to shoot a dirty look to let her know that I heard, because I probably would have cried.

One of the hymns Claire and I have been singing is, "What a Friend We Have in Jesus."  The last part of the first verse says:

"Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!"

I've tried to keep that in mind . . . that I don't have to carry all of this and that I need to be praying about everything.  But honestly?  On most days, I just can't get there.  Praying about things leads to ugly crying, and I don't usually have time to recover from that without before I have to be somewhere.

Tomorrow starts a new week.  But tomorrow is Mother's Day and I've had a long standing "dislike" for the "holiday" in general.  Getting my kids ready for church and out the door for the late service (rather than the early service) because we're meeting for lunch after it?  And then eating with all three of them in a restaurant during nap time?  Happy Mother's Day?  I don't get it.

Monday, though.  Monday is when it's all going to turn around.  It has to, right?