Friday, January 30, 2015

Rosemary Joyce at One

Just over a week ago, on January 21st, Rosemary turned one year old. This last year has probably been the busiest year of my life, so it really is no surprise that it is also the fastest. I have had "my hands full" as so many strangers like to tell me in public. But I would not trade this year for a slower one, it went just as it should.

Dear Rosemary,

This month you turned a whole year old. I would normally be thinking, "I can't believe how my baby is growing up!" but you made it pretty clear that you did not need to wait for your first birthday to start acting all grown up. You have been walking since about ten months. At first it was about four steps from your Gigi to me on Thanksgiving, but by Christmas morning you were walking across the room. You climb onto Blanche's stool in the bathroom. While I am using the bathroom I look over to see you often pull yourself up onto her stool, stand unassisted, open the bathroom drawer, grab the toothpaste out, pop the lid with your mouth, and then begin eating it.  You have learned some of your tricks from Blanche and others I swear you were born with. You keep me very busy in some ways Rosemary, but there are other moments where you are simply sitting and watching so sweetly as the day goes by.

I have said from the beginning that you are my joyful one. You love to smile and love to tell any stranger or dog "Hiii." My song I made up for you as a newborn went, "Rosemary, you are so happy. So happy and so kind." You live up to those words. Your spirit is so sweet. I tell other moms that you are the baby God gave me to want more babies, and then they say you make them want another baby. You have had a couple of rough nights with teething or sickness, but for the most part you are a great sleeper. You like to nurse down to sleep at night, and might wake a couple of times just to reconnect beside me in bed each night. Besides that you are always out for at least twelve hours. You have jumped on board to Blanche's 7:30pm to 7:30am schedule, and it is pretty nice to have my evenings.

You are more laid back, but so am I the second time around. I don't worry if you don't go down for your nap right away, we always work it out. I love seeing you play through the day too. You even go into the playroom and play alone sometimes. You love to watch Blanche and learn very quickly from her. You will even wear a little backpack and carry around a baby, "going to school" with Blanche. You love all your family, your sister and parents and Gigi and Showpa and Uncle Austin. You are so blessed to be close to so many. You are secure and happy. You like to be worn in your sling and in the Ergo with daddy. I even think you like to be worn on my back in the wrap now too.

There are hundreds of little things I could say and write. I have new things to tell your daddy each day. But just know Rosemary, you are so very loved. You clap your hands and giggle and play. You are fierce like your sister and throw yourself down when the toothpaste is taken away. Time with you moves twice as fast,  but I may stop to kiss you a little bit more. I look at you and see that you will not be little for long. You make me stop to love both you and Blanche. To hold my girls in my lap. You have made us more of the family we have always been meant to be Rosemary. You were exactly who I never knew I have always wanted. Thank you for blessing me enough to be your mother.

I love you,

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Time With Nana

My mom was here all last week for Rosemary's first birthday. She flew in from Kansas City, and we picked her up after church last Sunday. She stayed all through the week and left a few days ago.  Of course, the week that she comes once or twice a year always flies by quickly. This time was her first time to visit since my brother has moved down to Texas. My brother was often working during the day, so my mom would be Nana during the day and mom to my brother every night. Well, more of a buddy. He took her to all the fun and hip restaurants and bookstores. My mom had a pretty busy schedule, and I felt a bit bad for the girls flinging the playroom door open every morning around seven am. Maybe one day I will have a quaint little guest room. Where my mom can relax and rest. For now, she sleeps on the playroom floor on an air mattress. And the girls coming running in with the rising of the sun. Welcome back to motherhood mother, remember this?

The first day my mom, or "Nana" was here (it's funny that her name really is more Nana than mom now), we went to our favorite local park. I took my mom on our walk over the dam and through the woods on the dirt trail we walk so often. We pushed the girls in the double stroller and walked the mile and half to the park with the big sandbox. It was fun to show my mom a bit of what our days often look like. I know she had a lot of fun just watching the girls play. Rosemary and Blanche were busy in the sandbox for over an hour. We only stopped for lunch really.

Between Andrew and Austin leaving for and coming home from work, our daily routines, little trips here and there around town... I really felt like the days went fast. Too fast. I told Andrew after my mom left, I had wished we would have had a few days to take it slow and have her here for "our normal." But when Nana is in town to party maybe it just can't be normal. It is a bit strange that as I have become a mother, while I love asking my mom for advice or chatting about motherhood, so much of my relationship with her now is through the eyes of my own children. I watch my girls and how she treats and loves on them. This actually always makes Andrew cry when he talks about watching this with his own mother and our girls. This is the one and only subject that he is actually more emotional than me. I think it is the sweetest thing in the world. It is an amazing thing to see the mother or father who raised us, love on our own children. Grandparents love like no one else.

I am use to doing things "my way" with the girls all day and every day. So it was a growing experience to let my mom do things differently with Blanche. Once my mom left, Blanche was remembering all the fun things they did together. She said, "What did I do with Nana? Well, bouncy place in the mall, make-up, bubble baths, and candy. And that be it." There was also a night where I could hear Blanche in with my mom, close to ten o'clock playing games on her phone. I probably sound really boring compared to Nana. But it was good for me to learn to let go a bit and let Blanche and my mom have their time together.

Rosemary is now walking and becoming more like a toddler every day. So, she was a bit more hesitant with my mom this visit. I think Rosemary thought when I would leave the room that Nana was going to babysit or something. Rosemary would cry and stretch out her arms and run to me. Of course, by the end Rosemary was warming up to Nana. Those things make the distance feel real and a bit heavy. I wish Rosemary had more time and daily life with my mom to really know her. My mom brought a bike for Rosemary for her birthday and it was so cute to see Rosemary's excitement. I feel like the second child is so much "older" in ways that the first could not have been. Blanche at one really had no idea what a bike was, but Rosemary has seen Blanche and her friends ride bikes many times. When Rosemary woke up to her bike one morning, she walked over, patted it and we told her it was her bike. She said "baaiii" and got right on, proud that it was hers.

As I put up these pictures and type, Blanche is on the floor beside me watching a Signing Time. Andrew called as he is off work now. Blanche wanted to talk and said, "Nana no here now. It's no fun now." Blanche truly knows her Nana, even with the distance, and is experiencing the ache of having to live far away from some of her grandparents. This does however make the weeks when my mom is able to come, that much more exciting and special.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Simple Winter Days

I always love an excuse to stay inside in my pajamas for most of the day. The perfect day for me can be two opposites. I love a warm spring day that invites me to picnic and journal on an old afghan under a tree. I love staying outside as long as possible on those days. When my skin and hair feel a bit weathered just from sitting there for so long. But I also love a day where all is calm and still and warm inside, while the cold winter wind blows outside my windows.

I felt with the coming of autumn, I learned to focus my energies on getting out the door and spending it outside with my girls. Now as winter is here, I am learning our rhythm for a day mostly spent inside with one another. I told Andrew a couple of nights ago that I am thankful for winter. Winter is teaching me what a calm and peaceful day inside can look like. I told Andrew that I know it will be spring once again soon, and I will carry the lessons from winter into the next season. I have been quieting down our days on purpose. I am working hard to wake up cheerfully with my girls.

I have visions and hopes for the future, of how to better myself with another year of time. Out of all the things I would love to be better and more diligent at this year, the thing I have hoped the most deep down was that I could start a nice morning routine with Blanche. Of course if Rosemary is awake, she is invited too. Most of the time, Blanche wakes first, and for so long it has been a tired me handing her a granola bar and putting on a show. Blanche knows I love her, but I want our day to start more connected than quick food and Daniel Tiger. I would like to make breakfast together, and to start on the ideas of having a scripture or small reading. She is only three, so some days this month we have just made oatmeal together before she has went off to play. Other days we have talked about what she has learned in her new Sunday School class. There have also been mornings where we jump right into painting or making clay. There is still the occasional granola bar and show morning, but in the last two weeks it has been the lesser of the two.

Since Blanche has been a small baby, I have been on the journey of wanting to homeschool. I have researched methods from ways to teach a toddler, to parenting styles that are educational philosophies as well. I have written a couple of times about Montessori and Unschooling on my blog. As I have had a few friends ask me about preschool this year (many schools in Austin have a waiting list, so my friends with toddlers are already starting their search). My first thought and answer is that I hope to homeschool. As I have told this to friends, I have started to really wonder what our days will look like in the next couple of years. After thinking about other mothers who homeschool, I thought about one mother of four I follow on instgram, Joy Prouty. She has be inspiring to me in not only motherhood but photography and her homeschooling for a few years now. I had remembered seeing once that she uses the Charlotte Mason method. I also had some of my blog readers and Facebook friends mention Charlotte Mason when I had been writing about The Last Child in the Woods and my Project Get Outside.

Maybe I will write more of a series on my homeschooling ideas and what it actually looks like when we start doing it. For now, what I love about Charlotte Mason is that she believes that in the preschool age, children should spend most of their time playing outdoors. She also talks on reading good books, introducing classical music and art, and teaching good "habits" all in the preschool years. After I read through her ideas I felt that most of these things were fairly simple to begin. I read a short online book about her ideas with forming good habits. They are beautiful things like manners and keeping the Sabbath. Or purity and tidiness. I am still inspired and interested in some of the ideas with interest based and child led education. But as far as I have read, Charlotte Mason believed in listening to and following the child, but "presenting them with a feast of knowledge." (like reading good literature) As far as habits, I have begun to see not only the need to teach Blanche these things, but the positive results of starting young and in love presenting so many important ideas. If any of you are interested in reading this short free book, here in the link.

I have also been reading an excellent book called Simplicity Parenting. It shares many ideas with Waldorf education. I have been reading about simplicity and the power that it can bring. Maybe all these thoughts are a  bit random and unorganized. But it is good for me to write them down and process the things I am trying to achieve. Either way, I have been trying to be more intentional in not just getting outside, but focusing on what we do inside as well. Most of our days have been what I have already said, simple and slow. We have been doing more reading and crafting just as much as always. I have a couple more books to read, but I know that with homeschool it really will start a bit at a time. For now, our simple winter days of playing and having the girls follow me as we do chores is building the childhood they need.

Friday, January 9, 2015

With Family in Houston

I have had these images loaded and ready for over a week. I have been enjoying the slower days after the holidays. Andrew is off today, and he was playing sweetly with Blanche in her room so I decided to sit down and post these. Of course as soon as there a little shift in the air, that mom may be sitting down to do something... well now Blanche is right here beside me.

The day after Christmas we traveled to Houston (Katy actually) and stayed two nights with most of Andrew's extended family. It is a fun and crazy time every other year. The last time we were all together was 2012, and since then four more babies of the next generation have been born. That means there were over double the amount of babies this year than two years ago. I think many of us adults were equally worn out. We were all there traveling with our small children and on little sleep. The time felt like it went by fast, but strangely enough on Saturday it started to feel a bit like the never ending day since Andrew and I were up with both girls at five am.

I felt a bit frazzled going straight from Christmas Day to our weekend trip. Andrew worked early Friday morning and late Sunday night so we could still go for the weekend. We all survived and I am glad that all of us were able to connect again. Andrew's family are all so kind, everyone gifting the girls something. Blanche saw these pictures and said, "Is that Houston? I want to live there again and eat cookies." That's pretty much what it was like.

One short but sweet memory that was made for me while there was when Andrew's Aunt Joan (Gigi's older sister) was showing me the furniture in her guest room. It had been Joan and Pat's growing up. Aunt Joan told me about the beautiful dresser that was in that room. She remembered what was in each drawer. I think it was in the bottom two drawers that they had their toys. One drawer for Joan and one for Pat. They had felt boards and pieces to create stories. The next two drawers were clothing for each girl, and Aunt Joan thought her mother held blankets in the top one. Aunt Joan had memories of sliding their coins of money between the different drawers and them falling into the bottom "secret storage" and acting as a piggy bank.

I took the Myers and Briggs personality test this week. I found out I was "The Idealist" (click to read mine).  Either way, my little INFP heart loved this dresser story. My idealist and imaginative world soaked it up. Part of myself wanted this simple life for my own girls.

Our time in Houston may have been short, but it was filled with good food and family. Blanche played better than ever before with her two older boy cousins. Rosemary got to know those close to her own age. Now, the holidays are behind us and we move onto a new and fresh year. Rosemary will turn one at the end of the month, and now we all get to guess and gamble on how many babies will be sitting on that couch the next Christmas together.