Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Dear Lucy

Dear Lucy,

I adore you. I literally love you more every single day. You are growing so incredibly fast. Too fast. I feel like I'm missing it. I feel like I'm missing you. You are almost 12 weeks old already. You've almost been in our family for 3 whole months. It's been a crazy beautiful 3 months. We've had a rough go at things but we are starting to get into the swing of it. All 4 of us.

You have colic and it is the worst. You cry and cry and cry. I cry and cry and cry because I can't help you. I hold you so tight and just cry and tell you how much you are loved. I cannot tell you how many nights our tears mix as my cheek is against your squishy little cheek and I just walk around with you in my arms. There are nights when I feel like I just can't. And then Daddy is there. He is always there. We love you so intensely. It's been a growing love.

With every smile from you, I feel closer and closer to you. You make lots of eye contact now and just want to be with me. You are happy if you are in my arms. I try my hardest to hold you as much as I possibly can while still giving time and love to your big sister.

I just wanted to write to you to tell you how much I love you. You are sound asleep next to me as I write this. Your little hands are up above your head and you look so cozy and peaceful. Nothing makes me happier than seeing you in peace with no pain. I just want you to be happy. Always.

I love you, Lulu. So so much.


Monday, January 23, 2017

the school with no walls

It has been an interesting six months for our family. And now we are finally starting to get into a groove and have been really finding what is important to us. One of the biggest things that has changed is that Lilly Belle and I have not been doing any structured school time since Lucy has been born. She is craving it and I am craving it. We were both loving all that came with homeschooling. It is time to get that back. My hope was that we could begin in January, but it is now almost the end of January so on to February it is! Lucy will be 3 months old and Lilly Belle will be 3.5 years old when we begin again, so it will be good timing for all. And with my new approach and what I have recently found, I think it will work wonderfully for our family.

Matt and I have been talking a lot about what we will do with Lilly Belle next year for school. We've really gone back and forth on it. Here in Florida, you get one year of free preschool, which makes it tempting to just get her signed up and send her on her way 5 days a week from 9-12. When I sit back and really think about how that will look though, it just doesn't sit well with me and I don't feel like it will be what is best for her or for our family at this time. I thought it was, until I realized I didn't have to do things the way I was and until I really thought long and hard about HOW she learns and has been learning.

Lilly Belle is very bright. She sees things in such a fun and creative way. Her imagination is huge, her vocabulary is incredible, and she learns at her own perfect little pace. Once she is ready to learn something, she can learn it quickly and fiercely. If she is forced to learn something, she will completely push it away and her little mind blocks it all out. I don't blame her. I learn the exact same way. When I love something, I love it so hard. When I'm not interested...I'm just not at all. I see some of that in her. I struggled a lot in school because of that. I wonder had I been homeschooled and had the ability to learn at my own pace and in my own way, if I would have blossomed so much more with my education. I want that for her and for Lucy.

I want life to be calm and clear for them. I want them to find what they love and to have time to enjoy whatever that passion may be.

Beginning in February, we will be starting a new curriculum - The Peaceful Preschool. The goal being that we do the majority of our schooling outside. Along with this new curriculum, I will also have her working on some life skills that I think she will enjoy and/or needs such as learning to ride her bike and to learn how to swim. We will also be adding in a lot of STEM because she loves to create. We call her our little Tinker. I've found some incredible learning ideas on Pinterest with Legos and she can sit and build with her Legos for hours. I want to spend more time reading to the girls as well. My birthday is next, and what I really want is a large, beautiful quilt that we can take to parks or the beach to learn, read, and spend time together outside.

Photo: Little Sunshine Quilts - Etsy
I feel that by getting outside and finding somewhere beautiful to learn, that Lilly Belle is just going to flourish and bloom even more. I think we all will together. I love the idea of bringing school with us and learning in an environment where she can learn and play at the same time. If she wants to sit down and work on her curriculum activities with me we will - if she wants to run around and just play or collect nature (one of her new favorite activities) then she can.

I want to go to the beach more. We are just an hour an a half from the ocean on both sides of us. There is no reason that we should not be spending our time learning and doing school while the ocean is in front of us. We are so blessed to be living so close to so much ocean. It is time to start enjoying that gift more.

This beach is just an hour and a half away. Why have not gone here yet??

I am now an Usborne Consultant and with that I have been able to get Lilly Belle quite a few books (for free) in subjects she has shown great interest in: learning to speak French & learning about space. I would love to go to Epcot with the girls just to spend time in "France" and bring our books with us to have her practice her new love of learning to speak French. I'd also love to spend time learning about space and then take her to Cape Canaveral.

This is how I want her to learn. This is how I want to teach her. I want her to experience the world. I want both of our girls to experience the world. I dream of them being passionate little girls who grow into passionate women who can LOVE; love themselves, love their lives, love the world, love their spouses, love their families, and love those who need love it most.

I feel like this way of learning will bring that to them. I feel like this way of learning will bring that to all of us.

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Friday, January 20, 2017

Less is MORE

It's 2017. We have two beautiful girls. And life has been wild. We were thrown for a loop when at around 3 weeks old Lucy's colic began and my depression continued to get worse. She is now almost 12 weeks old and it has been a hard 9 weeks. It has been a hard 12 weeks. It has been a hard year. Adjusting to life with two has been filled with so many different emotions. I wish I would have been blogging these past few months, but literally have not had any time. Lucy doesn't usually let me put her down. And when she does, there is always laundry to be done or finally time for me to take a shower.

With all the new, and the way our life is now as a family of four, we have decided to make some big changes.

This year will be simpler, healthier, and fuller. We have started to make changes on a path to a more minimalist style of living. I have lost count after about 16 bags and bins of "stuff" that we have donated to Goodwill. And yet still, our home feels cluttered with "things" everywhere I look. The goal with this change for our family is that with less things, we will all have more clarity and calm in our home. Time is so much more precious now.

It has been amazing to go through our apartment and fill a new bag of things to donate almost everyday. I have already donated 3 full bags of Lilly Belle's toys and she has not even noticed anything missing yet. I am minimizing the girls room the slowest because I don't want this to be a traumatic transition for her, but a calm one instead. We have been able to significantly notice which toys she plays with and is learning from. The goal is that when we are at the place we feel comfortable with, that the girls will only have toys that are encouraging them to use their imaginations, learn and grow from. She has had more independent playtime now that her baby sister is here and I am usually still the one who cleans up her room. By choice lately, so that I can really see what she's been playing with and what she takes out. I will write more on this later as it deserves it's own blog post.

Not only are we working on having less physical things in our life, but we are also minimizing things like our schedules and choosing how we spend our time more wisely and carefully. I am realizing quickly that the way we did life before Lucy was born is not going to work with our family in this time with a newborn and a 3 year old.

Life is going to be filled with lots of time spent at the park with friends for playdates, going for walks, getting back into homeschooling (with a new simpler approach), quiet time playing at home listening to music together, running errands when needed, and I am going to start making time for myself to get some exercise in. We all feel happier when we don't have a schedule and when we are outside. Currently, our only scheduled events each week are Lilly Belle's dance class - which she is loving so much, and a breastfeeding luncheon I go to on Monday afternoons.

Less is so much more! It already feels better and we are only 20 days into the new year with this new way of living. I am really excited for what this year will bring to our family!

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

God Gave Me Today.

To my sweet girl right before your sister is born,

God gave me today.

He gave me a day to soak you all up. To spend every second of the day playing with you and laughing with you. This has been a hard year. And as the year has gone on, I have been able to spend less and less time with you because of all the pain I have been in during this pregnancy and from resting so much trying to make sure that your sister did not come too early.

But, God gave me today. I woke up this morning in so very little pain. Something that hasn't happened in months. I slept well last night. Something that hasn't happened in weeks. When I woke up this morning, I knew I could actually do things. I felt it. I knew that today I was going to get a day to enjoy spending time with you.

We had so much fun together today, Lilly Belle. I took you grocery shopping at Trader Joe's and to the bank. I got to pick you up to put you in and out of your car seat multiple times today. I held you a few times today. I haven't been able to pick you up in months. You are getting so heavy. Or my arms are just that much weaker. Probably a little of both. I let you push a little cart at Trader Joe's and you loved getting to help me shop. You always love shopping there with me.

We sang in the car. I haven't driven out of the Celebration area in months. If we go anywhere further, Daddy is driving. It usually really hurts me to drive because of the muscles I have to use to move my foot from the gas to the brake. It didn't hurt today. So, we sang in the car. We sang loud. We sang your favorite songs, "Uptown Funk" and "Don't Let Me Down". We danced and sang at the top of our lungs. And laughed.

When we got home you painted pumpkins. I haven't given you very many activities to do in the past few weeks because walking around our home to get things all set up for you to do school or crafts just has hurt too much, or I'd start having contractions just walking around. Not today. No pain. No contractions. You loved being able to paint.

You told me you weren't tired and didn't want to take a nap. So I let you stay up. You had about 30 minutes of quiet time playing in your room and then I decided I just wanted to keep up with our fun day.

We went out...again! We delivered two Usborne packages to friends in town and then I took you to the park! I don't remember the last time I was at the park with you. I pushed you on the swings and caught you at the bottom of the slide. You ran around just laughing and laughing. I can hear your belly laugh still as I pushed you on the swings. It was the best.

We came home and since it was just 4:45pm, I decided we still had time for fun. So, we baked some cookies together. You wore your apron and your chef's hat and we baked. I let you do it all. I snuck you raisins and chocolate chips teasing you that you better not eat them which you thought was hilarious. More laughing. I still had no pain. God gave this time to us today, Lilly Belle. After we were done baking I thought we might as well make a homemade pizza together, I mean, you already had your apron and chef's hat on, so why not?!

We all ate dinner as a family and you were thrilled when Daddy commented that whoever put on the cheese and pepperoni made his favorite part of the whole pizza! You told him that he can be your best friend too and you got down and ran over and hugged him.

After dinner, I was still in no pain, so we took Cogsy and the 4 of us went on a walk to get the mail. Our mailbox is at the other side of the apartment complex so usually you and Daddy go alone. Well, you and Daddy always go alone. Tonight...I went with you. You were so happy.

We came home and Daddy did bath time while I took just a few minutes to sit down. Still no pain, but my legs were getting really swollen. I am definitely not use to moving this much or being outside this much in the heat. I went in to wash your hair and then... it was time for bed.

You usually put up such a fight at bedtime lately. You get crazy or you get fussy or you cry or come out with random excuses 4 or 5 times before usually an hour (sometimes more) finally going to sleep. You don't let me sing to you anymore. You like your stories, hugs and kisses, but do NOT like when I sing to you and rock with you. You haven't for like the past year and it made me so sad for the longest time. Lately, I haven't even really thought about it because it's just not part of our routine anymore. Tonight though, you snuggled up with Daddy as he read you one of your new books. You gave him the best goodnight hug and whispered in his ear, "you are my prince, Daddy." And he told you that you are his princess. He hugged you tighter and gave me a smile that told me it meant everything to him. Then he told he loved you and said goodnight and you came to sit on my lap in the glider. You snuggled up and I read you, "The River." And then you asked for another book so I read your new lift-the-flap book about Space. You never complained. You never got frustrated. You just snuggled in and let me hold you tight as I read to you. Usually while we ready lately you get silly and want to read to us with made up words or you flip the pages all around and go crazy. Not tonight. You just snuggled in.

When I was done reading, you just sat there all snuggled up in my arms. I asked you if I could sing to you. You said, "please sing me a song from Wicked." (You are a little obsessed with witches, Hocus Pocus, and Wicked right now) So I sang you, "For Good," which I used to sing to you every night. You didn't budge. You let me hold you so close and you were just all curled up and snuggled. Your hair was still so wet from your bath and I soaked up the smell of your baby shampoo that we still use on you. You continued to want me to sing to you. I sang "I See the Light," "Do Re Mi," and then I thought for sure you'd want to be done listening, but you just curled in tighter. I asked if I could sing you the song I sang when you were a baby and that my Daddy sang to me. You were sucking your fingers so you nodded yes. I sang you, "Sunshine on My Shoulders." As I was singing, Daddy walked in, and gave me a look that told me he totally understood what was happening. He whispered "I love you. Soak this up," to me, and I cried quietly as I sang you the rest of the song. When I finished singing, I looked down, and you were sound asleep. I sat there with you for about 20 more minutes just rocking you and thinking about how I cannot imagine you not being our only baby. You have not fallen asleep in my arms in, well, I don't even remember the last time. Daddy came back in to see you sleeping and saw that I was resting my head on yours with tears rolling down my cheeks. He rubbed my arm and told me how much he loved me and reassured me that it is all going to be okay. That you are still my baby and always will be my baby...

For the past 3 years and almost 3 months, it has just been the 3 of us. We're such a team. And now, your sweet baby sister is going to be born any day and everything is going to change. I know it is only going to change for the better and we are all beyond excited, but still, it is going to change and sometimes lately, I get sad thinking about you not being the baby anymore. And since I've been in so much pain for so long both mentally and physically, sometimes I feel like I have lost even more time with you. It crushes me.

But...God gave me today.

He gave me you. I have missed you so much, Lilly Belle, but today, God gave me you. He gave me a day to soak up every moment with you. I'm not sure if I will wake up tomorrow and have all my pain back. I don't imagine that this will last. If it does, then that is truly the most incredible gift. The gift of just a little more time just the two of us. Today was such a gift. I love you, my Lilly Belle. You'll always be my little best friend. Always!



Thank you, God, for such a beautiful day. Thank you for letting it end the way it did, with my sweet girl sleeping in my arms. Thank you for giving me the strength to pick her up as she slept and lay her down and tuck her into bed. Thank you. I will never, ever forget this day or night. Ever. I enjoyed every. single. second. Thank you.

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