Q is for Quiet Time

All April long, I’m blogging alphabetically about Adjusting to Life to Life with Baby Number 5. Click here to see all the posts in this series.
 

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When my first babies were little I could get so resentful of the hours spent up in the middle of the night. I would count the minutes, wondering how much longer until I could crawl back in bed and get some sleep.

Now, I relish those sweet moments in the middle of the night.

There’s nothing to steal either of our attention away from the other.

There’s nothing to listen to except her sweet coos.

There’s nothing else I “should” be doing, so I am fully present with her. I just sit there, drinking in every expression and every tiny, jerky movement. I watch in awe as she wobbles her little head, and, finally, with immense effort, manages to hold it up straight and still.

She opens and closes her tiny fists. Sometimes she catches my finger. She might as well reach in and grab my heart because it has the same effect.

I still don’t particularly enjoy being sleep deprived, but I love those quiet moments in the middle of the night.

Quiet moments with a baby are my favorite.

 

G is for Grateful

All April long, I’m blogging alphabetically about Adjusting to Life to Life with Baby Number 5. Click here to see all the posts in this series.

My family of 7 can be a lot of work. Some days I find myself so completely drained and exhausted that I can’t quite remember what it feels like to just be me. (That usually means my priorities are some how out of whack and that I’m not taking care of myself, but sometimes it takes me a few days or weeks to figure that out.)

Other days, my heart is so full and overflowing that I don’t have the words to adequately express the joy that my family brings me.

Today was a lot more like the former.

Caring for a newborn is exhausting. Because I nurse my baby and I co-sleep, I literally (Yes, literally.) have someone on my person about 23.5 hours a day. I’m not complaining about this; I’m just stating the facts. The truth is I wouldn’t trade either of those for a little more time to myself. This very needy newborn period is short-lived and well worth it in the long run. But that doesn’t change the fact that it takes a huge toll on me. If I’m not careful to take care of myself, it can easily become overwhelming.

Christmas Morning fun 2013. We're our own party.

Christmas Morning fun 2013. We’re our own party.

One of the things I like to do when my attitude is getting out of whack is list out the reasons I’m grateful for my big family. The list of reasons varies from time to time and isn’t in any particular order, other than the order things pop in my head.

Today I’m going to share one such list with you.

I am grateful for my big family because…

  1. My kids always have someone to play with.
  2. And they have someone else to play with when the first playmate makes them mad.
  3. There’s always someone to curl up and snuggle with.
  4. Life is never dull.
  5. There’s a chorus of people who are excited to see you if you’ve been away briefly.
  6. We all learn from each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
  7. Seeing the world through a child’s eyes is priceless. Every child has their own perspective and observations. I get to see the world through all of their eyes.
  8. When I’ve got my hands full, there is always someone nearby who is willing to help.
  9. There’s always enough people to play games. Board games. Card games. Duck, duck, goose. We’ve got the players!
  10. Dinner time conversations are amazing! Sometimes they’re hysterical. Sometimes they’re surprisingly insightful. You never know what might pop out of the kids’ mouths to the captive audience at the dinner table.
  11. And you never know how the next kid might run with or twist whatever was just said.
  12. We have tons of inside jokes.
  13. We have many natural opportunities to learn basic skills like sharing, taking turns, expressing frustration appropriately, etc.
  14. And we all provide each other with plenty of opportunities to serve someone besides yourself.
  15. All of our little athletes have an automatic cheering section at their games.
  16. Kids come up with really creative solutions to problems. We get creative solutions from all of them, so we usually get a solution we can work with.
  17. We get a lot of tax deductions.
  18. Christmas Morning fun 2013. We're our own party.

    Christmas Morning fun 2013. We’re our own party.

    We’re the life of the party. Every extended family function gets kicked up a notch when we arrive with our family.

  19.  There’s always something to celebrate. (Baptismal anniversaries and birthdays) x 7 = lots of parties
  20.  When we work together, we can get the whole house cleaned in an hour.
  21.  Seeing my older kids with my babies is such a phenomenal gift. I can’t explain what it’s like to see the big ones care for and find joy in the littles. They truly delight in one another. It’s beautiful.
  22.  Some women never get flowers. I get weed bouquets nearly every day.
  23. There’s always a reason to laugh.
  24.  Imaginary games get really amazing with multiple imaginations at work.
  25.  Little voices singing little songs always make me smile.

25 is a nice number, so I’ll stop there. But just remember…

There’s nothing that can change your attitude quite like a little gratitude!

F is for Freedom

For the month of April, I’m blogging about Adjusting to Life with Baby Number 5Click here to see all the posts in this series.

braveheart freedomThis morning I realized that my older kids have way too much freedom. More accurately, they’re letting the time they spend unsupervised go to their heads, and they very clearly don’t understand the difference between freedom and license.

You see, my sweet infant goes to bed most nights around 2AM. Once she’s asleep, she sleeps pretty well – usually around 6 hours. Since I’m exhausted, I sleep with her. That means most mornings I don’t get up until 8ish. The boys get up around 6ish.  They were doing fine with this at first, but over the last week or so, the wheels have been coming off.

Today when I got up the ENTIRE house had been completely ransacked. There wasn’t any flooring visible anywhere. Apparently, they were having some kind of war and they used all the clean laundry as bombs. And when they ran out of laundry they started using markers. And I guess the markers got boring or something because then they started using markers without tops on. So, not only was the floor missing, but there were streaks of color on the walls and lamp shades and everywhere.

I’ll give them a few points for creativity, but mostly I was just furious.

And to top it all off, the cries of battle woke up the toddler, who usually sleeps in pretty late.

I firmly believe that my job as a parent is not to teach my kids how to follow rules. (Although that’s certainly a stepping stone on the path.) I think my ultimate goal is to teach my children virtue and help them know who they are so they know how to act even when no one is watching or telling them what to do. I want them to understand the difference between freedom and license.

Based on the rebel uprising that took place this morning, I guess I’ve got my work cut out for me.

D is for Dress

Every day in April, I’m blogging about Adjusting to Life with Baby Number 5.

Click here to see all the posts in this series.

P1070745Last Saturday we had our sweet Sophia baptized. It was so beautiful and such and amazing day! Almost as beautiful as the rite itself was the GORGEOUS dress my sweet girl got to wear.

Her godmother bought her a gown and it is simply EXQUISITE! Seriously, it is prettier than my wedding gown. Her godmother found an amazing woman on etsy that made her dress by hand!

I’ve never seen a prettier dress in my whole life. It’s a traditional baptismal gown, so it’s incredibly long, and, with all the layers, it’s quite heavy. I joked that the gown is heavier than the baby. It really might be.

When her godmother brought the gown over to me, I was blown away. I knew she was getting a gown, and I knew it would be lovely, but I had no idea it would be this grand. I told her it was way too much, but Tammy said she wanted something heirloom quality. She said, “I wanted something she could pass on to her daughters. And if she has a religious vocation, we’ll just find a way to sew it into her habit.” I was all teary-eyed at the thought.

2014-04-03 20.15.24I’m going to take the dress back to Tammy and she’s going to stitch Sophie’s name and baptismal date into the gown. Then, if Sophie is blessed with daughters and granddaughters, they can be baptized in the same gown, and their names and dates can also be stitched in. What an amazing gift!

I didn’t get any great pictures of Sophie in her dress on her big day. I keep meaning to put it back on her and pose her for a few shots. Maybe I’ll finally get around to that today. These pictures don’t quite do it justice. You can tell it’s lovely, but it is simply breathtaking in person.

Obviously, the dress wasn’t the most important part of the day, but it did make the day a little more special. Especially when I thought about the possibility of seeing my grandbabies being baptized in that gown…or seeing my girl take vows, knowing there are pieces of her baptismal gown hiding under her habit.

C is for Co-Sleeping

Every day for the month of April, I’m blogging about Adjusting to Life with Baby Number 5Click here to see all the posts in this series.

2014-03-27 17.38.13Co-sleeping is one of my very favorite things about having a baby in the house. I know that for whatever reason(s) it’s a controversial topic in this country. But I can’t understand why. Not after researching the practice globally, nor after experiencing it myself.

In my experience, everyone within earshot is happier and sleeps better when mommy and baby stay together all night. And it makes nighttime feeding super easy.

But I didn’t write this post to debate, persuade or educate. I just wrote it to say that I love snuggling with my little ones. From the first nap we take in the hospital until many months later when my husband starts “hinting” that it’s time to move baby to her own bed, I just love those sweet night time (and nap time!) snuggles.

We tried to force our first baby to sleep alone in his big, cold, lonely crib. It was what you were “supposed” to do. So I did it. Or at least I attempted it. But it wasn’t long before he ended up in bed with me. And it wasn’t much longer after that when I quit trying to put him in his crib at all. Back then, I didn’t even know “co-sleeping” was a thing. I just knew it felt right. So that’s what I’ve done with every baby since. And, like I said, I love it.

2014-03-12 10.13.26Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but we don’t have the sleep troubles with our little ones that we often hear our friends and siblings complain about. Our babies sleep soundly and often start sleeping through the night fairly quickly. I can’t help but believe it’s because they have felt safe and cozy and warm tucked in next to mama. And we’ve never had any issues transitioning them to their own beds. By the time we do that, they’re sleeping well and the move is easy. I know that’s just my experience, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Looking down at that sweet face.

Seeing those little twitches that turn into smiles.

Being able to feel her breathing in my sleep.

Co-sleeping provides a peace and a joy that nothing else can offer. Both for her and for me.

B is for Bath Time

This post is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge. To see all the posts in the series, click here

 

That's my mom bathing baby number 2 for me. I probably begged her to. But, judging by this picture, it seems I may have come by my poor baby-bathing skills honestly. ;)

That’s my mom bathing baby number 2 for me. I probably begged her to. But, judging by this picture, it seems I may have come by my poor baby-bathing skills honestly. ;)

Because I have 5 kids you might think that I must be an expert at all things baby. However, if you were to think that, you’d be wrong.

I’ve learned a lot in my 8 short years of parenting. There are some things that used to feel very foreign but have now become second nature to me. Despite that, there’s still a lot that I don’t do well and some things that still terrify me. One of those things is clipping tiny little finger nails. That job has been permanently assigned to my sweet husband because I simply can’t do it. Another is bath time, which, unfortunately, I haven’t been able to pass off to my husband.

Newborns are just so small and fragile and wiggly. Getting them wet on top of all that just seems like a disaster waiting to happen. Not to mention, it is virtually impossible to keep them warm enough while they’re all wet.  They almost always end up crying, and, sometimes, so do I.

It all turned out well in the end. It usually does, I guess.

It all turned out well in the end. It usually does, I guess.

I’ve tried every method I can imagine. I’ve bathed them in the sink. In a variety of those plastic infant tubs. On infant shaped sponges in the bathtub. I’ve laid them on a towel on the counter and given them a sponge bath of sorts.

It’s all to no avail.

I simply do not feel confident bathing newborns.

I don’t think raising 100 kids would be able to change that.

 

SST # 6: Looking for our New Groove

Small-Success-Thursday-550x330Our sweet Sophia has been here for 3.5 weeks now. She is so perfectly amazing! But having a new person in the house, especially a demanding newborn type that doesn’t sleep very much, throws everything off. I like to imagine that my household normally runs like a well oiled machine. (I have a very active imagination.) But, thanks to our sweet little one, everything that used to run so “smoothly” has gone up in smoke. I don’t say that with any resentment or ill-feelings. Everything is exactly as it should be. Our life as a family of 6 no longer exists, so it only makes sense that there will be an adjustment period while we learn how to function as a family of seven. Before long, everything will be running along “smoothly” again. In the meantime it’s up-and-down and trial-and-error until we figure this thing out. This week I caught a few glimpses of our new life as a family of 7 falling into place. Those glimpses are my small successes of the week.

1. Date night with my hubby! Yes, it’s true! Our sitter was already in the habit of coming over on Monday nights for our childbirth class, so we decided to keep the routine going. We’re planning to have her over every other week for a real date night. I’m so excited! We spent our night out hitting up Costco for food for Soph’s baptism reception and then had an absolutely fantastic dinner at Bonefish Grill. Bonus points because Josh won a gift card for Bonefish at work. I think we spent around $20 for a fantastic evening. And Sophie was so good! I carried her in my fabulous Gemini baby carrier and she barely made a peep. Extra bonus points because I got to enjoy sweet snuggles and baby bonding simultaneously with my date night.

2. I got up with the kids. Since I’m awake quite a bit during the night with the babe, I’ve been sleeping in most mornings. But, one day this week, I was up with the kids at 6 AM. It made for a super smooth-sailing day and got me super excited about failing back into a routine. Granted, it only happened one day, but, like I said, these are just glimpses of what life will be like when we find our new groove.

2014-03-26 12.57.213. Andy learned to change a diaper! My sweet 8-year-old asked if he could learn to change diapers. At first I said no. He asked a few more times, and I finally decided that I need to take help where I can get it. So I taught him. And he did great! I’ve only let him change the 16-month-old. And only wet diapers, not dirty. But he is so proud of himself. And I’m very grateful for the help!

4. I ran an errand BY MYSELF with all the kiddos. I had to go turn in some paperwork at the church and return a casserole dish to one of the guys who works there, so I loaded up all the kiddos and we went. This is a really big deal for me. It usually takes nothing short of an act of God to get me out of the house for the first time when we add a new family member. Not knowing how to juggle them all in public really overwhelms me. But I did it! Well…sort of. We only went up to the Church, which isn’t exactly “public.” (Everyone who’s there during the day knows me.) And it’s only 5 minutes from my house. And only Ben, Sophie, and I got out of the car. And it was a quick errand, so there wasn’t much time for anyone to melt down or anything. But, hey, I put them all in the car and went somewhere BY MYSELF and that counts for something.

So there you have it. My small successes for the week. What are yours? Share them over at CatholicMom.com!