Wednesday, March 29, 2017

What I Learned in March

  

Every month I look forward to this exercise. I had fun thinking through this list, per usual. This month, I learned a little something about seasons, motherhood, homeschooling, and routines, amongst other things!
  
 Seasons and Time

1. February always makes me bone tired and there hasn't been a year in the last four where I haven't felt my anxiety worsen a little and things feel heavier, but I always feel like March brings new life.
 
 It was ironic that this year it came on Ash Wednesday, a day when we remember our mortality.

Aesthetics and Appearances and Other Sensory Stuff

2. There is something so special about putting a tiny baby in something that's just soft and sweet and clean. It's hard for me to explain. This time, though, I have loved putting Sallie in a soft cotton onsie and honestly less frilly things on regular days. They only stay clean, and soft, and fresh smelling for so long. It's such a balance with my big kids- to keep them looking well cared for but also to give them autonomy and let them enjoy childhood. I had forgotten the ease of it with a baby-- oh, it's your third outfit today and I'm bathing you again because you pooped all over the place? You don't mind much and neither do I and it's a joy every time I get to bathe you with that wonderful baby shampoo that smells like heaven. I remember distinctively someone on Instagram complimented me on how I dressed Sallie and said she looks "so well taken care of". It made my day that someone else noticed that. It was such a compliment and it made me stop and think about how unimportant it is that she's wearing something fancy or expensive. 

3. An important part of making myself get dressed in real clothes more is finding things that are just as comfortable as a ratty t-shirt, but are not, in fact, a ratty t-shirt. 
 
 I decided that's one of my goals, in fact. I realized that not only am I "uncomfortable" in most tight things; I'm also literally uncomfortable. Which makes things unsustainable. Of course I'm going to have some things in my closet that aren't comfy but that I like too much to get rid of (read: every pair of jeans I've ever owned, which I shed the second I walk through the door).

4. With a few notable exceptions, I hate fleece things. 
 
They just skeeve me out (HSP, right here). And I like jammies better when they're fitted and those floppy feet drive me nuts. 

5. The more I analyze why I like and don't like certain things the more selective I am with my purchases and this last year I've been so much happier with the things I've actually dropped money on. 

6. I'm trying all this new make-up Minnie got me because she is stressed about the circles under my eyes and I've realized the biggest determining factor is just not wearing eyeliner at all. I'ved tons of stuff including expensive primer and it just doesn't stick and ends up under my eyes. I think the main reason is because I have super oily skin. [Sidebar: As does Peyton. He had to go back to washing his hair with the Prell my beloved grandmother introduced him to. We were discussing how our poor kids are going to have the worst acne when they're teenagers. Maybe it'll keep them from doing some of the dumb stuff I did, though.] So short of a vacation without the children, I think not wearing eyeliner is going to be the best deterrent for my circles. Which is SO HARD, but I'm coming to terms with it.
(top is fresh makeup; bottom is several hours later- ugh, still m not great but better than before.) 

Motherhood

7. I connected immediately with both girls but it took me much longer to bond with Graves. One big reason, I think, is because each time my struggles manifested differently. As best as I can articulate it, with Annie and Sallie, I felt fear and sadness, respectively; with Graves it was intense overwhelm. With the girls, I think those feelings prompted me to turn in toward them for comfort and with Graves, I think I turned outward trying to grasp my sanity. There were other factors- Graves was (in my opinion) a much more high needs baby and for some reason, I think I mentally prepared myself more for the girls in some ways. I feel equally connected to all three now but it's interesting to analyze the journey. 

Homeschooling

8. Graves is overwhelmingly more successful with practicing his high frequency words when he is strapped in his car seat and has fewer distractions. 
 
Recently, on a Saturday, Peyton wasn'tt here to pass them back and I don't have long enough arms to give them to him individually, so I just handed him the whole wad and he read them and then held them over his head for Annie to check and if he got it he'd throw it behind him for her to try to catch. The baby was screaming and that would have made it a no-go for me and Annie but THAT apparently doesn't distract him and he was working super hard for the Lifesaver I promised him. I was about to stroke out but I really just need to count it as a victory- he's reading SO well (when he's restrained).

Milestones, Routines, and Baby/Kid Development
 
9. We've established a pretty consistent routine where she bookends her day with about an hour of playtime in the mornings and evenings in her crib in our master bedroom turned Peter Pan style "nursery" all three kids are intended to share and it's pretty magical. 
 
 She watches her brother and sister play, Annie hands her toys she knows are baby approved, and Graves often joins her in the crib for part of the time. On Saturdays and Sundays when Peyton works twelve hour shifts, it's kinda integral to my sanity. I love it because it's a break for me but I also love it because it's a special time for Sallie. And for Annie and Graves. She still isn't sleeping through the night and I have no grand illusions the pack n play will be leaving our bedroom any time in the near future, but this is AMAZING. 

10. Annie has beefed up and it's adorable.  A friend and I were talking about how stocky she's gotten. She's still itty bitty for her age but she's SOLID. And I love it. So surprising, though, to see what almost eight years did to my scrawny, chicken legged baby.

 11. Taco Night = Bath Night (this was just the beginning).  
 
BLW is fun when I actually make letting her eat/drink something other than breastmilk a priority. 

12. The time with the big kids has started to feel like a new era.  
 
For example, they are both riding their bikes really well without training wheels!  

13. Conversations with my older two are simultaneously getting more and more interesting and more and more exhausting.

Some days I feel like AP's made huge strides emotionally, but some days I feel like she's more inflexible and intense than ever. I'm genuinely mentally preparing for when the hormones hit. Graves mentioned the (HYPOTHETICAL, DISTANT FUTURE) plan for him and Sallie to move to the back of the van together and she came undone. She wanted me to promise there would never be another child back there and when I said I couldn't commit to that she said "you can you just don't want to". Which, true, but I told her I wasn't determining our family planning on her having an entire row in the van and that I take a lot of her opinions into consideration, but that wasn't going to even be a small factor.  

Gratefully, the conversation changed to what kind of car she wanted one day. Answer: none; it's too dangerous- she will walk or ride her bike. I then asked her, partly because I think it's hysterical to engage her in this stuff, if she'd be willing to ride in other people's cars. She said she wouldn't ride with Graves her because she doesn't even trust him to split a piece of candy fairly. She said she might trust her friends Aubrey and Mary Milton but she'd want them to take her on a practice trip around the block first. I asked her if she'd be comfortable telling them if their driving didn't meet her safety standards. She said she would try to be nice and say "This might hurt your feelings, but I don't feel safe riding with you". I hope THAT sticks.

Graves then mentioned that "girls are bad drivers". I was shocked but he explained he came to this conclusion because *I* am a bad driver and he overheard a conversation P and I were having where I asked him if a dent in the van was something I had done or Granny had done (he imitated our voices perfectly). Annie asked "How does that even relate to girls being bad drivers?" He couldn't really explain the connection, but he made it and she didn't and that's always so interesting to me when it happens (though it happens often these days).


14. The big kids chore help really makes my life easier. 
 
I was telling Peyton that having Annie's help was really making a difference in me staying on top of laundry and he was like "um, duh, that's kinda the point". I just didn't realize it would be ACTUALLY HELPFUL so quickly. I thought we were doing it to instill responsibility/teach a skill and those are still my main goals but this is so nice.  

Social Media 

15. I like learning things about people on Instagram. I've realized that I really enjoy it when people use this platform as a way to share about themselves and reflect, like how people used to use blogs.  

Emotions, Sentimentality, and Nostalgia

16. I used to have very specific nooks and jars and chairs and pillows I loved at my grandmother's house and now I have things like that at my parents' and it's so very special to me.  
 
For example, this vintage chair at Mickey and Minnie's house. It sits under the stairs and they have an identical one in their storage unit that's upholstered in different fabric so it's a totally different vibe. The only thing that makes it better is when I see a cute baby perching in it. I've been thinking a lot lately how grateful I am that we are back here and get to spend time with the (at least) weekly.

17. Seeing my best friend of eighteen years become a father was an incredibly emotional experience.  
 
I literally cried on and off all weekend. And, several states away, he was too. I can't even articulate all this means to me. I'm sure at some point I'll try.

We'll be back in NYC most of next month and I can't wait to see what I discover about myself and life and our little family there! 



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