Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July....in review


So I just realized that today is July 31st, and I have only posted ONE time all month.  And that post was - shall we say... a downer?

Just to give a quick update?  I think things are looking up.  I decided that I needed to nip this whole "waking-up-multiple-times-per-night" thing in the bud with Chloe.  So this past week we have set some firm boundaries.  It did involve losing some sleep initially.  And she is still not making it completely through the night.  BUT, she is improving.  And I have gotten much more sleep lately and my anxiety level is back down to normal.  (Seriously, I was waking up at night even when Chloe was fast asleep and having anxiety attacks about her waking up at any moment...good times.)  So I am feeling positive about that development.

And of course, somehow, when you have some sleep in you, everything else seems a little better!

Anyhow -  meanwhile, as July has been motoring along, we have had a lot of great times and milestones, despite my overwhelmedness. :)  Sorry, this is a picture-heavy post!

A few days before the 4th of July, we had some friends over for pizza and smores, as well as some sparklers and fireworks!
 (Free hint of the day:  if you want even BETTER smores, add some peanut butter or nutella!)
 The gang waiting for Chad to get the fireworks started!  
 On the 4th, we went over to my parents' house.  We brought a cake to share that the kids decorated all by themselves....complete with sugar sprinkle stars.  They were very proud. :)
 3 kids on the 4th.
 Later that week we had our annual neighborhood fireworks show.  
I guess we can't get enough of fireworks!
This is Chloe & her friend Rebecca.  Rebecca got out her music and played Katy Perry's "Firework" while the show was going on. :)
 This summer Chad played softball on a church league team.
He was in heaven because he hasn't had the chance to play softball since Carter came along!
We finally got to see him play at his last game.
Note to self:  See a game EARLIER in the season next year.  Sitting out in the 95 degree & humid weather ....not so refreshing.  :)
 Chad also had a birthday this month.
He took part of the day off and we all went mini-golfing!
A few days later, this cute little guy - my nephew Nate - turned one.
We went to Long Island for the weekend to celebrate!
 The kids got to see all their cousins and they all spent a lot of time SWIMMING!
(And look at my brave boy jumping off the diving board!  He almost gave me a heart attack that first day.  I had no idea how good a swimmer he actually was.)
 Not to be outdone, Chloe did her fair share of jumping off the side of the pool.  :)
 Uncle Matt spent a lot of time throwing kids in the water.
 All that swimming left everyone pretty wiped out.
(See?  She does OCCASIONALLY sleep.)  :P
 The next day was Chloe's birthday!
My big 3 year old had lunch at Chick-fil-a to celebrate.
 The kids were excited to give their presents to Chloe.
It was so sweet.
 We had some ice cream sundaes to celebrate on her actual birthday.

A couple days later we had a party with Chad's parents (who were here visiting for the week) and my parents.
 Isn't this cake BEE-UTIFUL???
Carla, a friend from way back in high school (!), made this for Chloe.
You know how sometimes a cake looks so beautiful and then you bite into it and are kinda disappointed with how it tastes?  
Well this cake is NOT like that.  It was as yummy as it looked!
Chad said it was the best cake he ever had!
(HEY!  What about all those cakes I've made him....hmmm.....)  :)
Carla & her daughter Sydney make cakes as a fundraiser....they are adopting a little girl from Haiti!
If you are interested in one (and live nearby!) here is their blog.
 Chloe loved it too!
 But no rest for us....the next morning we were off to Hershey Park!!!
Audrey got to ride with Grandma & Grandpa in the back of the van.
 Outside of Chocolate World
 Riding the carousel
 I can't believe my teeny little girl rode the scrambler!  And loved it!  She is definitely a rollercoaster kind of girl.  :)
 The thing that cracks me up about this picture is that even from this distance, you can see Audrey's blue mouth from that Icee drink she had!
 It was a fun, fun day.
But tiring.  Even the kids all slept til 9 am the next morning!

And since the birthday celebrations have not been abundant enough, Chloe had a party with a few of her  friends last week.  
It was a mermaid party.  The kids swam and played water-type games.
 Of course there was more cake.
At the end of the party, the girls did a treasure hunt to find their goody bags!
They loved it!

So if you have made it through this entire post?  Well, congratulations.
That is probably more about us than you probably ever wanted to know. :)
I just had to balance out my last post with a bunch of the highlights of the month!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The agony of defeat

No, this blog post has nothing to do with sports despite the title I've given this post.

It is more reflective of my feelings at the moment.

I have not blogged in awhile.  Part of that is because we have been very busy making memories throughout this summer....memories with family, enjoying friends, celebrating birthdays, holidays, etc.  It has been very fun and active and busy and herein lies the problem:

I am worn out.  Frustrated.  Unfortunately, embarrassingly, -but honestly - not enjoying some of the memory making.  Weary and  feeling guilty and angry and defeated all at once.

I want to be clear here - I am so, so thankful for the time and opportunity to be home with my kids.  To celebrate special occasions with family.  To have my in-laws here at our home for a visit. They are blessed times, and I thank God for them. 

But I have also found myself dissolving in tears at many moments throughout the last few weeks, and I am not a crier.  Looking at my husband with wide, frightened eyes and saying the words "I. am. losing. it...."  And truly, feeling like I am going to lose it.  Like I want to get in the car by myself and drive far, far away for awhile.

I know what part of the problem is.  I have - AGAIN - been having sleep issues with Chloe that I am at a loss as to how to solve.  Third time mom...and I cannot solve this.  There have been strings of days where I am up every hour or two throughout the night with her.  And so I wake in the morning wondering how I am going to make it through the day.  And yes, I have prayed about it, and yes, by God's grace somehow I do make it through the day.  But do I make it through the day "well"?  Am I the kind of mother I want to be that day?  No.  I don't have the energy to play.  I hide out in my room during Chloe's nap and let the other two kids watch hours of TV.  I throw together lame, half-processed dinners.  I am not fun to be around.  And this is what leaves me feeling so defeated.  I don't want to live in survival mode.  I want to thrive!  I want to have something to give.  And some days - I just don't.  I. just. don't. :(  It makes me sad just thinking that thought.

I also feel defeated because the beginning of the summer was truly wonderful.  We had so much fun as a family.  Everyone was in a positive frame of mind.  And then slowly it changed.  My now three year old is becoming - well, a three year old - with all the "fun" behavior issues that age seems to entail.  She is really fun and sweet and cute - and then she is NOT.  Then there is hitting and screaming and meanness and blatant disobedience.  There are behavior issues I am having with her that I have never had with Audrey or Carter (well, at least not at this level of intensity!)  And I am so tired that it is really hard for me to be consistent.  And then I am disciplining in anger, and that never seems to be very productive.

Having all 3 kids home also tries my patience and my need for quiet and aloneness.  You can ask my mom, I have always been someone who needs my alone time.  And now even "quiet time" around here is punctuated by requests for drinks, snacks, "can I get out this toy?" {yes}, "can I watch TV?"{for the umpteenth time, no}.  Perhaps I need to have more clear boundaries in different situations.  I am thinking about how to change that.  I am also thinking about how I can enforce more quiet in the day for all of us.

Many people are able to send their kids to summer camp for a "break".  I am not able to do that financially.  This didn't really bother me....but then I started thinking, feeling guilty that my kids are "deprived" of the opportunity to go.  Even though not a one of them asks to go to camp, or even wants to!  I start questioning myself as a mother.  Am I giving them all the opportunities they should have?  When I take a big step back, I know that my kids are fine, and that they live fun and well-rounded lives.  I have realized that I am making the mistake of listening to the wrong voice in my head, the one that is condemning, the one that makes comparisons that need not be made.  I need to tune that out and focus on what GOD has to say to me about my children and what they need.  I was really doing well with listening to God about how to disciple my kids towards the beginning of the summer, but now?  Not so much.  I am working on that too. 

I have hesitated to blog because I don't want my blog to be a place of complaining and whining....but I guess I feel like sometimes we need to be honest and write about the reality of life as a parent.  It is not all hugs and sweetness and dandelion bouquets, although there are many of those moments as well.  But it is also hard work that God has called us to that sometimes stretches us to our limits.  The other day I read in Jesus Calling a little snippet that reminded me that all we need to do is whisper His name, "Jesus," and He is right there with us.  I have been whispering His name a lot lately.  Truly needing to know that He is with me in the difficult moments.  And that I can do all things through Him, who strengthens me.

I also know that I have been so busy with traveling and company and birthdays (we have 2 of those in July in our house, plus a variety of extended family with June/July birthdays as well).  Consequently, I have not had the time with God that I want to have.  Early in the summer I was getting up early, before the kids, and going out on our deck with coffee and my Bible.  It was such a refreshing way to start my day.  So peaceful.  But that has gone by the wayside as I have tried to get every last moment of sleep that I can.  (And the kids started getting up earlier and earlier as the summer went on....ugh.  I'm just not ready to get up at 6am to "beat" them at getting up!)  But I need to step away from facebook and the TV and use my down time seeking out God's wisdom for me and our family.  Because, if you haven't picked up on this yet, I desperately need Him. :)

So that is what has been going on with me.  I promise that my next post will not be such a downer (not to mention that I have about 50 bazillion pictures of all the summer time birthdays and celebrations and such that I should post....)  But I feel like we all as parents need to know that we are not alone in our struggles.  So I will share about them here....for better or worse.  Just keeping it real, folks. :)