Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Larissa and Doug

Two weekends ago my Uncle Doug, Aunt Larissa, and cousin Philip came to visit for an afternoon.  I told my Aunt Larissa that I should probably just write a post called "Blanche and Doug." Blanche loves Doug. It all started with a visit back to my home last year and she really took to his gentle personality. Then all of the sudden it was Doug she was coloring a picture for, and Larissa and Doug she wanted to pray for almost every day.

So on the morning I told Blanche Larissa and Doug and their son Philip were coming, she immediately started watching out the window for them. She still had her usual moment of, "Mama I play when they get here. You say hi. I shy, you hold me." Once they were all here though it was a matter of minutes before Blanche was showing Uncle Doug her rocket ship and Dr. Bear.

Rosemary was asleep when they got here, and we all peeked into the room to see her fast asleep, just wearing her diaper and making nursing movements with her little mouth. Once she was up everyone took turns holding her and later Aunt Larissa convinced Philip it was a good idea to hold the baby. She then continued trying to convince him to get married and have a baby. Like now.

We all walked to the neighborhood pond so Blanche could show Doug around. I always love having my family visit, even if it is just for a few hours. Aunts and Uncles are sort of like moms and dads. My whole life they have been here, and I just knew them as that. Aunt or Uncle, mom or dad. But as I have become an adult, just like realizing my own parents are people, I have started getting to know my aunt and uncle as actual people as well. I love keeping in touch with them and how much they love on my girls. I am sure it felt a bit like Christmas to Blanche, opening the door and seeing family with presents and kettle corn.

The last two pictures are from when they came to visit last september. It did not feel like that long ago, but look how much Blanche has grown.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Beautiful Days

Spring has been such a good season for me this year. I love the spring we have had here in Austin. The mornings are cool and it can get pretty hot in the middle of the day. This has lead to a lot of morning hikes and afternoon swims.

Today Andrew is off and we are in Georgetown at Showpa and Gigi's house. I love when Blanche gets to be outside. She was helping Showpa and daddy wash the van for awhile and now is on a walk with her Gigi. Rosemary was taking a nap and is awake now and playing in the little bouncer. Rosemary can be so content playing alone because she normally never has the chance to sit and play without being almost sat on. Sisterly love.

Moving across the country while pregnant made things harder in some ways. I know those last few weeks of my pregnancy and the first few months with a new baby were hard. I do think now though that I am more myself each day. Rosemary is becoming more of a baby and not a fragile little newborn anymore. Blanche is still her wild beautiful self. But she is getting better at listening, and I am getting better at learning how to corral a toddler.

The cold and harder winter days seem far away. Not every day is easy by any means, but there is a mixture of a better understanding at how life is with two and the sun shining brighter. I am starting to make more friends and feel involved in more of a community through the baby wearing group in Austin. Andrew and I are still tired, but our energy levels are up enough to do more hiking and taking our kids to great state parks. I am so thankful for such a beautiful place to live in and to be near my in laws.

I mostly wanted to give a quick update and post the pictures from our latest adventures. Blanche says things now like, "Wow that was a big day. We went hiking and swimming in the river." And it makes me so happy she knows what that is.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

I Fell in Love in the Wilderness

I think for the first time in a long time I feel happy tired. Content. I don't have a huge desire to sit down and write out my soul. I do not feel alone or lonely. I feel happy and sun soaked. We have hiked three or four times in the last two weeks. We are making it a new part of our routine. Andrew and I, and really our girls too, need to be outside. 

We went to Pedernales Falls State Park on Mothers Day. Andrew reminded me at the end of the day that it was just luck that it all worked out on Mother's Day. He is not huge on holidays. And even if he was he is not at a point in his career that he could make every holiday completely magical on the actual day. But it happened on Mother's Day. 

I never knew that I even liked hiking before being with Andrew. I knew I liked laying on a blanket on our quad in college. I would write and read and soak in the sun. Then I met Andrew and my ideas of strange outdoorsy people were changed. 

We were both in our early twenties, me about to graduate from college. Andrew would grab his hammock and hang it and we would lay by the creek in it together. He would read to me. The wind would blow us back and forth gently, and the sun would shine through the trees and kiss us on certain spots on our faces. It was a time that everything was new and divine. Discovering who we were. As I fell in love with Andrew, like so many often do, I feel in love with all of him. I liked the way he always had a water bottle with him. He could tie a million different types of knots in rope and wore Tevas that were dusty. My blanket outside quickly became a hammock. I started to love wandering through the unknown. Hearing the sound of rocks sliding under our feet and feeling the dirt dancing in the air. My curls would become wild and coarse. Blonde and sun soaked streaks dusty with dirt. I realized the earth was mystic and beautiful. I fell in love in the wilderness. 

Maybe that is why I am drawn to it again and again. And why I bring my babies there as well. Many things happened on Mother's Day out at the state park. But mostly it was the feeling of remembering who I was. We all smelled earthy as we headed home on the winding country roads. We had swam in the river, hiked the trails, ate apples and a pear while sitting facing out of the back of our van. Life was good. We were happy tired. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Cactus and Wildflowers

My brother says you don't just ask God for patience and then He gives it to you. You ask God for patience and He gives you opportunities to be patient. I must have asked God for patience at some point in my life. Because He gave me a two year old named Blanche.

Maybe I sound like I am about to complain for awhile about how difficult Blanche can be. But actually, I was wanting to do the opposite. My own children can feel similar to my spouse. Although they are not perfect human beings, they seem to drag out the not so perfect parts of myself. I think I have come to the scary realization that I often have very little control over my emotions. If I find myself in a situation that digs deep into all my uncomfortable spaces... I lose it. I completely lose it. There have been times this last week that I literally want to throw Blanche across the room. This may sound alarming. Hopefully not report me alarming. But it is true. There is no other relationship (that is not highly abusive) in life that when you ask a person to stop doing something, they continue to do it. Over and over again. And then that person continues to push all your buttons. Until you snap.

This has been nap time for me with Blanche. I have always had the conviction to only try to spank when it is related to danger. It makes the most sense to me. If Blanche runs into the parking lot after we say no, she gets spanked. She associates pain with dangerous things. After Rosemary was born, Blanche started disobeying on a different level. It feels like she is doing more things for our attention, but also very particular things that push our buttons. But maybe not. Maybe it is just Andrew and me being tired and having a baby in our hands. Its really hard to make a two year old do something with a baby in your hands. We started to spank occasionally when nothing else was working. But I have found myself spanking out of my emotions again and again. Not every day by any means, but just more than I would like. I told myself that for my personality I should probably rule it out all together. Because it becomes a threatening thing, but I hate actually doing it. And then it just comes out after I have lost it. I do not think that is right. It brings a lot to the surface for me. Because when I leave the option of spanking out, I feel a little helpless. 

Today during nap I was trying to lay with Blanche after getting Rosemary down and Blanche scratched and pinched me. It sent me over the edge. I hit her in the arm and asked her why she would do that. Looking back and even at the moment I know I am wrong. I am down on the level of a two year old. But there is something that is so tired within me that it all just spills out. I go back and forth with Blanche. She plays. I take away her stuffed animals. She screams at the top of her lungs. Right next to Rosemary. I cover her mouth. I spank her. I shut her in her room. Blanche comes out ten minutes later saying, "I love you so much."

I share all this because there are days I feel like the worlds worst mother. But then I think if I feel like this big of a failure and I am trying so hard to do my best, maybe there are other moms who need to read this. That we all do awful things. All mothers make mistakes. 

I have tried a lot of different approaches to Blanche napping. The fact is, she often has a very hard time taking a nap unless she is in the car. So, maybe I just need to let it go. It is so hard for me to. Because that one little hour feels like my slice of sanity.

Today though, I was surprised. After Blanche and I both had our complete meltdowns and cooled off, it was as if we realized we could still move forward and have a good evening. Andrew is at work so it has just been the girls and me since nap time. Blanche helped me do the dishes. It was more work reaching over her to wash everything. And cleaning the floor multiple times after she squeezed the sponge out all over it. But she helped. Blanche was proud. 

Blanche is two. She is learning to control her emotions. I am twenty seven. I should be closer to figuring out how to control them. I may feel helpless at times, but I am a grown woman with a college degree. I should be able to think of something. 

I also write all this to set myself free. To keep myself accountable. To ask God to please help me. Is He giving me patience? 

*All the beautiful pictures were this morning. Andrew was with us and we were just sure this long outing would help Blanche nap. Andrew made us lunch after our hike and I blurted out, "Thank you for taking care of us." I added these pictures after writing what I just did. After seeing our morning once again and with the girls both being asleep in bed the rough afternoon is starting to fade. I am starting to love Texas. Today while we were out hiking it felt warm and dusty and dry and humid all at the same time. There were cactus and wildflowers everywhere.  I have never really seen that in person before. It all feels rather symbolic now, as it so easily does. The prickly cactus and gorgeous wildflowers all in it together. Making up a beautiful and complex picture.