Oh, hello! It’s me again, Ellie, and it’s kind of nice that Joshua has kept you up to date, so all I need to do is share the fun stuff :)
2016 has already brought in quite a bit of change, and though January is the longest month of the year (I swear it is), we’re so thankful for its gifts.
As most of you know by now, Lily got in the school of our dreams, and this fact alone counts as one of the best strokes of luck we’ve had yet. It’s such a relief to know that Lily is going to a place that holds and encourages the same values we share, and even better that now our other kiddos get to circumnavigate the harrowing experience of school choice, lotteries, etc. I could go on and on, but it comes down to this: though we are blessed with family and friends, I’ve often felt we are parenting alone, and I mean that in the sense of both community and lifestyle. With this school, I finally feel like we’re connected to a group of families and vision that resonates with us. This might seem like a weird analogy, but whereas we had hoped to find this at church (and didn’t), I am so hopeful and already see so many indicators that this is the place.
Initially, Lily enrolled for five full days a week, which was the spot that was available. That first week, she attended every day, and though it was good, when I heard that there was a Tuesday/Thursday spot open, I leapt to take it. Not only is the tuition much more manageable now, but I also wanted to tip the balances back toward the home. I’m so grateful that now I get to have Lily most of the week, and she also gets to participate in a larger community and start engaging as an individual. This schedule just feels like the perfect gradual release. Some day, she’ll attend school five full days a week, but for now, she’s three and we’re enjoying this special time at home.
Ok, so I am going to go on (and on). One of the other things that has really just exploded since enrolling Lily into school is her creative and independent play! Oh my goodness. It’s insane. I know it seems crazy that even just after two days at her school, I could see a huge difference, but it’s true. Her storytelling has gotten more complex and she can sustain 30+ minute stories often. She regularly disappears into her room or some corner of the house with her art supplies or toys that she’s self selected and then proceeds to play, thoroughly engaged, without prompting. Just today, we went to the playground after school, and she sat down in the sand and built four little ‘bear caves’ (they were pretty good!) and then started telling me all about this family of bears that lived ‘before there were humans.’ It used to be that Lily would encounter the blank canvas of the playground or our home (not really blank, but let’s roll with the metaphor) and desperately need the engagement and guidance of an adult to help her figure out what to do and how she was going to play. Now, I feel like some barrier has lifted. One thing I really notice is almost a trance-like state as she’s imagining her world, story, game, art. It’s like she’s tapped into another plane.
Which I know makes me sound like I’m really reading into this, but there you have it.
So Lily is doing quite well. On days that she’s not in school, we try to get outside as much as possible. We’ve gone sledding a couple of times, and the weather has even allowed a number of playground trips in just our sweaters. We’ve hit the Children’s Museum and the Art Museum as well, but to be honest, January has got us closer to home. This doesn’t make a lot of sense given the cabin fever we’ve (me? Yeah, maybe it’s just me.) been feeling, but I guess we’re full on contradictions ;)
We’ve made friends with another family and we try to get together with them once a week for playdates. Their girls are the same ages as Lily and Lu, and the older two get along especially well, so it’s always a treat to hang out with them. For whatever reason, connecting with other families and getting a pleasant, regular playdate together has been challenging for me in the past year and a half since I’ve been staying home. I know I’ve mentioned this here before. I attended meet ups and arranged play dates. I showed up at the same locations week after week after week, hoping to become part of the scenery and the communities that form around story times at libraries, the play areas at the art museum, or the sidelines of the Children’s Museum. For a long while, I made the resolution to strike up conversations with anyone who seemed willing, thinking that if I just kept showing up, kept talking, it would happen. Does this make me sound desperate? Cuz yeah, I felt a little desperate. For mom fellowship, for someone for Lily to play with.
Last year, there were stretches of time when we’d spend time with another family and have those regular playdates, but rather than growing our community, we saw more of an ebb and flow, revolving door scenario. Schedules would change and we would be back in the same spot, looking for our people.
Though I’ve felt a little dislocated in the past, I’m starting to think that this isn’t personal. The ages, gender, and number of children makes a difference. Schedules make a difference. Sadly, I suspect our world is not really designed to foster long term, meaningful friendships. Which is not to say that I’m not still trying. Which is not to say that when I see a group of moms laughing, their kids tearing it up, that I’m not completely green with envy.
Anyway. Our schedule is changing! And though I can’t say I found the answer, at least our perspective is changing and good things are on the horizon. Families at Lily’s school are warm and quirky, and for now, our playdates with this other family are really, really nice, and I’m feeling so thankful.
Now for Lu! Lu is growing up, you guys! It’s throwing me for a bit of a tailspin. I mean, didn’t I just give birth to her? I’m sort of in denial that she’s a year old, much less closer to two than she is one. I think part of the reason I can keep that fantasy going is because she’s such a little peanut. She really still looks like a baby to me, and her 12 month clothes still fit her pretty well. She’s also still a HUGE mama’s girl. She loves to be held, she loves to snuggle, and she is just so darn affectionate. Some mornings, I go crazy with all the begging to be held, but I keep reminding myself to snatch those snuggles while I can.
Despite the denial surrounding my youngest’s advancing age (haha), there are a few telltale signs that she’s growing up:
1. Weaning. Oh dear. I’m one of those mamas that would happily nurse their babies until three… Yes, I know that disturbs all of you. But I love nursing. It’s a good break, great snuggles, and so special to know that you’re providing something so healthful and beneficial. And it melts calories, but that’s a pretty vain reason :) :) I love knowing that I’m giving my girls immunity, a healthy gut, and a special bonding experience. After those first five weeks with Lily (which were hellish), I’ve had a primarily love/love/love relationship with nursing. I love it, my girls loved it, and it loved me. So dear nursing, thanks for everything. We’re so grateful!!!
So how is it with all that love that Lu and I have not nursed in nine days? Well, I’ll tell you. I want another baby, and there were some essential ingredients missing, even after dropping down to nursing just twice a day. So here’s hoping that this does the trick ;)
Lu is doing well. She was upset the first night, but already on the next morning, she cried just a little bit and then seemed to understand that we were done. She’s pretty handsy just like Lily was, but she’s doing way better than I could have predicted. Her appetite has also exploded. She eats more than I do some days. I probably shouldn’t have let her, but yesterday she ate an entire bag of frozen blueberries all by herself. So yeah. Her love for blueberries is voracious, and I’m not winning mom of the year.
Weaning has also meant that Lu is sleeping much longer before she’s comes to our bed. And getting her down is easier. She falls asleep in less than ten minutes, and most nights, she sleeps from 7:30 – 3 before she wakes up and wants to snuggle with me. (Just in case you’re wondering, this is way better than her older sister who never sleeps for more than 4 hours without waking up, sobbing, begging for snuggles.) That’s the other news in the family. We now officially have two bedrooms. We put the girls down at 730 (earlier bedtime for school and because Lily is completely done with naps) in their bunks. We lay with them until they fall asleep, which is usually about 10 minutes or so. When Lily wakes up, Joshua goes and lays with her, sometimes finding a way to come back to our bed after a while, and sometimes just spending the rest of the night with her… So. Not really winning over here, but making progress all the same. When Lu wakes up, Joshua is usually already in their room, so he brings her to me, which is superhero status.
2. So Lu is still pretty quiet. She’s not a big talker, but she is getting more words. I was thinking I should write down as many of them as I can here, because it’s fun to look back and see a similar post for Lily. I will say that she understands A LOT more than she can say.
she says: Mama, Dada, sister’s name, didee (diaper), poop, boot, more, mine, woof, bloob (blueberries), shoe, Oscar, boob, water, cheese, please, thank you, no, hot, cold, hi, up
she signs: all done, water, more, please, thank you, bye
There’s more to update, but I’m going to post this for now. Dinnertime!