Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A new first

This is the first time since becoming a mom that the end of summer meant anything to me. I've even welcomed it in the past because it meant a little cooler weather but no harsh winter on its way. But this summer I felt pressure to 'get one more beach day in.' And 'spend as many afternoons at the park or Knott's as possible'.  

Garrett started preschool today. (I'm going to be making this blog private in the coming weeks and until then I'm not talking about the name of the school etc.) We call it preschool but he's in the pre-k class.

I didn't think about it much over the weekend because I was so busy in Utah. I did feel bad a couple times that I was missing his last weekend before school. But I probably would have asked too much if he was ready and excited and he would have been sick of me. But when I flew home yesterday morning I was all over school prep. (After two naps. Charlie took two three-hour naps yesterday and a carseat nap. And I may have let the older kids watch TV while I napped the first time. And then all four of us napped during her second one. We needed it!) Anyway, once I felt a little rested we picked up a couple things I offered to donate to the class and I bought some fresh fruit and vegis. And after dinner I went over the checklist again to make sure we were ready. And then I showed Garrett how to open his containers that I'll be using in his lunch box. He did good, but the first few times he'd flip the lid off so fast that the container would bounce across the table and he'd shout, "I did it!" So then I filled them with strawberries and had him try without spilling. He did fine. And I'm sure a teacher would help if needed. But he's still my baby and I wanted him as ready and as confident as possible. 
I got up early to pack his lunch and put in makeup. Makeup by 7am. Also a first in motherhood for me. He was so excited when he got up. I could tell he was nervous but he never said he was. Paul went with me to stay outside with the girls. (He could have just stayed home with them I guess, but I feared a meltdown and if Garrett cried, I would have cried and Paul would have taken over.) Thankfully none of that was necessary. I got him signed in and he (a little hesitantly) picked a green star to sit on. We were early so I think I thought I'd have a chance to say goodbye before school officially started. But his teacher dove right in to an activity and just welcomed each new student as they came in. I sat in a chair outside the door for a couple minutes, but then decided to go. I stepped in the class and just kind if mouthed to Garrett, "see you in a little while bud." He started to say, "I want you to stay." But his teacher told him, "she'll be back soon." I waved. And he half smiled and waved. No tears! Until I got home. I cried a little, just because it's the end of an era, and I wondered how he was doing... Is he sad, scared, lonely... 

The time flew by, and before I know it I was hurrying Addie along to finish lunch and waking Charlie to load her in her carseat. 

I got there about 10 minutes early because I knew his day ended on the playground and I wanted to watch him (spy on him). It took me a minute to find him, but when I did he looked happy. Not really playing with any one friend or group of kids, but running from slide to swing to playhouse. Kicking a ball back and forth a couple times. At one point he started running right towards me. I was kind of hiding behind a half-wall. He was smiling but looking at the ground and my heart kind of sunk. I wanted him to be happy to see me, but I didn't want him to be excited to be done playing. But he'd spotted another playhouse just feet from where I was watching him and he ran right in there for a minute and then was off again. He didn't even see me. Finally the whistle blew and the kids grouped together at the gate to wait for parents. I walked to the sign out desk and he finally saw me. A big smile and a "hi mom!" melted my heart. As I signed him out his teacher said, "He did great. Still getting used to the rules and routine, but he really did well." I chose not to read into or ask about the 'rules and routine' comment because who doesn't need to get used to new rules and routines? Then she said, "I wish I could have recorded him because he really did have a great first day." As Garrett walked out the gate Addie announced with open arms, "I be so so so so happy!" A couple other parents smiled and watched them hug. 

One thing that impressed me was that the secretary was outside her door saying good-bye and she addressed him by name. And also the pre-school and T-K teachers said good-bye and called him by name. That makes me happy that other teachers who only combine classes on the playground get to know the other kids too.

Garrett was so excited. He was full of energy and said, "I'd like to go back to preschool again!" (Sigh of relief.) We went out for frozen yogurt before heading home for naps.

I still have my little 'what if' fears but I need to get over them. He's a good kid and I'm sure he'll make friends and we'll both get more and more used to this new phase we've entered into. I think it's a little strange for me as the mom and talking to Paul because men are usually more the "he'll be fine" and "just let him go" mentality, but Paul's more apprehensive and 'what iffy' than I am because this is BRAND NEW territory for him. He was home schooled so has no personal 'back to school butterflies in the stomach' experience. So I'm trying to reassure him without over-thinking things myself. (All this rambling makes it sound like Paul and I are one big train wreck over here. We're fine! Garrett's fine! We're all fine. 

I just want the best for my kids and I keep loving them more and more with each new chapter of life. 

And here's Charlie. Just doin' her third child duties and going along with all the craziness of having two older siblings. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

A full weekend in Utah

One of my best friends, Mara, is having a baby in December. She was in Utah (from Atlanta) the past couple weeks and one of the reasons was for a baby shower. When I got the invitation in the mail I casually said to Paul, "These are the kinds of things I miss about being closer to friends." I had no plans of making it because we had a busy weekend planned, but Paul surprised me with a plane ticket to go. It was a little stressful getting prepped to go. Even though I was excited and thankful to Paul, I struggle with surprises (for a lot of reasons, but I won't try and explain my brain right now). The older two kids stayed home with Paul, and I took Charlie with me. They were a little sad to see me go, but I reminded them that they got to go to their friends birthday party after they dropped me off, so they were okay. 

Charlie fell asleep before take off and didn't wake up till I stood up to get off the plane. Same with the flight home today, and we even had a 30 minute delay while a toilet got fixed. And two screaming toddlers the whole flight and she slept through all of it.
Once we got to Utah we had just enough time to change, get the gift ready, and head to the shower. Mara didn't know I was coming and even though I don't love surprises, I love surprising! It was so good to see her, and her baby bump! And lots of other friends too. And by 'baby bump' I mean, my five month postpartum bump is bigger than her five months pregnant bump. 

I crammed as much as possible into this less-than-48-hour trip. Poor Charlie was worn out by Sunday evening but she was a little trooper. The only naps she got were carseat naps, and she went a lot of places and met a lot of people. 

After the shower, we went straight to dinner with these ladies. My mom is in the middle, and the other three are military/government friends we met in Germany. I used to babysit the one on the left and she just moved to Utah from Maryland for college. I also babysat her two older brothers. One of them is on a mission, and the other one is married. Not much makes me feel older than running onto kids I once babysat and seeing them as adults. It was such a great evening. Truly people you can go years without seeing and pick right back up without missing a beat. My face hurt from all the laughing. 

Sunday morning I met Dana, my (practically) sister for breakfast. Two hours flew by and we both wished we had all day to talk. 
From there we went to sacrament meeting with my parents. So, I don't do the three hours of church anymore, but how do parents of napping aged kids handle anything but 9AM church?? She'd had a good car nap right before, but was still so tired and restless. Hats off to you afternoon church goers. 

We headed back to Salt Lake after church to see Mara and Aron again. I'm so happy these two are having a baby. Mara is a natural with kids. All three of mine have instantly loved her and they are so excited to meet baby Elsie next spring. This women was made for motherhood. 

And from there it was off to Scott and Laura's brand new house in Farmington for dinner. 

Charlie Realene and her great Auntie Realene. 
And first thing this morning, we flew home. 
I was so happy to see Garrett and Addie. They seemed happy to see me too. Addie was more happy about the airplane animal crackers I gave her, but the tight hugs made me believe they missed me a little. And when we got home I made them breakfast and Garrett's prayer went like this, "Dear Jesus, thank you for the food. Thank you that we're all safe. Thank you for mom and Charlie coming home so we can play around. I love them. In Jesus' name, Amen." It's good to be home...

More on 'California is Home' coming soon.

Friday, August 22, 2014

How is it with three?

That is the most common question I get when catching up with friends or talking to other moms in mom and me classes and other play groups, because I think I'm the only one of the moms I've connected with that has three. (Much different than the culture I grew up in.) 

My nutshell answer is, "easier than just two." And the crazy thing is that I mean it! Maybe it's because Garrett and Addison were both mobile and verbal when Charlie was born. Maybe it's because the two of them are best friends and do everything together, often preferring to just hang out the two of them without my attempts to entertain them (or object to their crazy ideas). Maybe it's because I'm getting older and more experienced and things get easier when you've practiced. Maybe it's because Charlie is the easiest baby yet. Or maybe it's a little bit of everything I just listed. But whatever it is, I really feel like my life got simpler and easier to keep up with, once Charlie joined the family. 

She's a pure joy. She even makes me smile at 4am. And if there was one thing I'd like to 'adjust' about her, it would be the 4am wake up. She goes back to sleep after a feeding, but I usually don't. She never had or has a 'fussy time of day' that is so common for babies, and like the other two had. I can count on one hand the number of times she's actually really cried and made me wonder what could be wrong (three times). And of course all three times I figured it out. Bubbles backed up because I was a lazy mom and didn't burp her after a couple car seat feedings on the way to Utah. Diaper rash on a particularly blowouty day. And a tired achy afternoon the day after two month shots. (You're bored, I'm sure. But I love reading back about stuff like this that I'd forget otherwise.) 

Garrett and Addie adore her. If she's napping Addie wants to constantly "tip-toe and check on Charlie." Garrett loves to sit by her and tickle her. If she gets grumpy in the car seat I always hear Garrett talking to her. "It's ok. I'm right here." "We're almost there Charlie." Addie jumps up during meals to put her binky back in. They both always want to push the stroller. Addie wants to change diapers and dress her. And Addie also always instructs me on which side I should start with when nursing her. All stuff that I was sure the newness would wear off but I'm thankful it hasn't yet. 

Don't get me wrong. Life is crazy and busy and constant and I have my frustrating moments, but I'm always thankful when I remember to take a deep breath and just watch them, even in the chaos. 

Some mornings when we have somewhere to be, I'll have a 10 minute stretch before go-time that goes something like this:

Have Garrett go potty. 
Change the other twos diapers. 
Send Garrett back in to flush. 
Tell older two to get shoes on. 
Scoop up cereal I just stepped on. 
Put dishes in the sink. 
Send Garrett back to wash his hands. 
Bribe Addie to hold still while I pull her hair back. 
Brush my teeth. 
Yell for Addie do come get her wet diaper off the bathroom floor and put it in the outside garbage. 
Tell kids again to get shoes on.
Put clothes on Charlie. 
Full sippy cups. 
Negotiate with Addie on what she can bring in her purse as I clean up more cereal. 
Gather random Jammies that I keep tripping on and throw them in a laundry basket. 
Restart the washing machine with clothes I forgot to dry last night. 
Bottle some milk for Charlie. 
Put a little makeup on. 
Tell both kids their shoes are on the wrong feet.
Restock diaper bag. 
Find keys. 
Put Charlie in car seat. 
Take Charlie out to change poopy diaper. 
Take my vitamins. 
Find my keys again. 

And 15 minutes after the 10 minute warning we're all four working our way to the van. And then it's who gets in on what side. I wanna buckle myself. I wanna shut my door. Where we going? Can I have my cup? I want a snack. Garrett said no! Well Addie, Garrett's not in charge. You're not in charge, Garrett! Get back in your seats and start buckling! Can I take my shoes off? No. Can we watch a movie? No. And put your shoes back on. The suns in my eyes. Garrett took my sunglasses. I need a drink. 

Sometimes I just giggle thinking of how entertaining it all must be if someone were a fly on the wall, (or in the van). 

But at the end of the day, I tuck them in bed. Sing to them. Sometimes talk about our plans for "when the sun comes back." Tickle their backs. And kiss them goodnight, feeling so thankful for them and how much I love them. 

And on really rough days I try and remember moments like these...

Dancing at the park...

Getting sister dressed...
Overpriced hotdogs that are the yummiest thing they've ever eaten...
Floor hugs...
Hearing Addie showing Charlie a look and find book, "where's this one Charlie?...good job!" 
Laughing after a major blowout when all we had is a diaper of Addie's three sizes too big and Garrett's jacket...
Looking over while I'm making breakfast and seeing this. I know, it's too perfect. But if you have kids this age you know something this good can't be staged...

Stopping and smiling because I realize that my two year old leaves the house better dressed and accessorized than me...

Walking to the ice cream store at bedtime...
Finding time to sew, and seeing the look on her face when she gets to wear it...
This face...

Listening to these two play mad dinosaur happy dinosaur. 

Life is really good. Whenever a stranger comments on how full my hands are or how busy I must be, I just smile and say, "but it's the best kind of busy."