Over Easter weekend I took a trip BY MYSELF to Utah to visit my family while Austin took the boys to his parents house. It was wonderful. I missed my little buddies almost immediately, but it was a much needed break and it helped me step back and then refocus a little.
Without my kids around, I was able to see my personal progress more sharply. Let me explain. You've heard the phrase "cleaning a house with kids in it is like brushing your teeth while eating an oreo," or how about this one, taped on my mom-in-law's fridge, "cleaning house when children are growing is like shoveling while it's still snowing."
This concept applies to more than just cleaning. The ability to be patient, think clearly, remember, be positive, accomplish tasks start to finish, engage in meaningful study, follow through, make decisions, be creative, maintain balance and order, and let's be honest almost any area of growth you could tackle. Being a parent is not convenient by any stretch of the imagination. It's not supposed to be. So, when I was kid-less for a weekend it was like going from heavy weights back to light weights and realizing just how much life progress I've made.
|"No, don't kiss my belly, that's weird!!"|
Motherhood is often invisible work, uncharted, unmeasured, not graded, and unpaid so seeing progress in the moment is a challenge. Being with my family made it especially easy to see how far I've come since they always bring me back to my childhood. I really am growing and changing for the better. Really seeing and believing that was the most refreshing part of the entire trip.
That and this adorable nephew of mine.
He is pretty great too. :)
It was good coming back to my lovely Vancouver, little red house, and family. Things are even better now that the SUN IS FINALLY OUT!
It was beginning to feel like we'd never be done with the damp rain of winter. Especially since we spent a load of time looking like this:
They are too cute even when they are sick.
Now that the sun is out, Isaac's nose has finally stopped dripping and James' cough has subsided.
I can feel the time sliding away as we count the last few weeks as a family of four. Both boys are growing so fast, but it's good to pause I soak in their littleness. Their fresh soft skin and bright eyes that seem to radiate their own light.
Today at Home Depot he was hollering "hello! we are getting some sandpaper!" at the top of his lungs to anyone who passed, but a week ago at a friends goodbye party he was clinging so hard you'd think he was trying to get inside my skin. I finally had to feign a bathroom break just to get some air.
On Sunday it was the sunbeams turn to be CTR super heroes. When his teacher attempted to put a super hero mask and belt on him he lost his mind and took off down the hall crying for mom, jump to Tuesday when he had a cavity filled at the dentist without even flinching.
We are stumped. The only correlation I can draw is he is uncomfortable if he doesn't know what is expected of him. If the situation calls for him to perform without any preparation or practice he is not interested.
James has a loud voice. Austin will often say, "James. volume." at which point James moves his hand as though he is turning down a nob and says, "vrrrrrrr vrrrip" and starts speaking more softly.
He has a mind all his own. Adventurous and creative. Leave him alone for 5 minutes with a piece of rope and he will have the whole house in knots. He was in heaven on our first boat trip of the summer when he got to tie the boat off to the dock. It took a while for me to undo his pirate knots when Austin backed in with the trailer!
For his birthday we stocked him up with more play tools and he has finally started to leave our tools alone. This is huge relief for me.
James loves in a BIG way. As he gets older his relationships with his family and friends are deepening. When he catches a wave of love for one of us, he can't contain it and he gives the biggest, most sudden, and painful hugs possible. We are trying to find ways to help him express those big feelings without requiring the recipient to tap out. It's been a challenge.
He identifies with Tigger and likes to "bounce" people, and generally just seems to have a need to connect with the world physically. If I am close to him, he finds a way to be pushing, pressing, thumping, or gagging me. It's also common for him to suddenly throw whatever he is holding at my face.
Now, we do have precious moments when we just sit and talk and talk, learn to read, or eat together, but I'm ever vigilant.
I week or so ago, I was having a particularly pregnant morning and was struggling to get out of bed. He bounded into my room and declared he had a surprise for me. I handed him my phone on the camera setting and told him to take a picture of it so I could see. He came back with about 50 snaps of this scene above. The leaning tower of TP.
He is always doing something. Always. I've learned that the face he is making in the picture below means he is in his happy place. I took this picture from the warmth of the house while he was out in the rain with boots and a jacket pouring buckets of water from one place to another. He was focused, "workin'," and completely content.
If he asks for something and I say no, he will immediately gather all his faculties in coming up with a way to get it anyway. If I say yes, I'm usually not quite fast enough and he will begin helping himself before I can get to him. It's a blessing and a curse. He is so incredibly capable. He could move out tomorrow and have some decent survival skills under his belt, but it's messy. oh so messy.
He is helpful! When his baby sister arrives I can already predict what a cheerful little helper he will be. The relationship he is building with Isaac is so touching to watch. They wrestle and bite like the best of them, but they genuinely love and look out for each other.
I'm pretty sure I remember something about 4-year-old's constantly asking questions? Yeah. I was not prepared for just how constant those questions are. He will ask questions about the questions. Questions about the babysitter he might be getting because of the clues he got from a conversation Austin and I had on the other side of the room yesterday. Plus, if I didn't know better I'd think he had hearing problems because the response to EVERYthing is "what?"
As part of his birthday celebration this year Austin took him on a camp out. Just the two of them. He looked forward to it for months and it didn't disappoint. As they were ready to drive off I snapped this picture and then Isaac insisted on joining in.
That cheesy grin didn't last long after he realized he didn't get to tag along with the big boys. Lucky for him the father-son's camp out was only a few weeks later so he got to get some camping in too.
The last birthday surprise was a pocket knife for James. He only gets to use it when daddy is around, so every now and then Austin will pull it out and they whittle sticks in the backyard. Isaac is using a plastic butter knife and couldn't be more pleased.
James and Isaac made the cake on the right with the help of a dear friend of ours.
While the rest of Austin's peers are lamenting the end of their twenties, he couldn't be more thrilled to finally own the distinguished age, 30.
Isaac, my happy little goof ball. This buddy is Cuuuuuute. Spunky and outgoing and a total charmer. his curls and squishy kisses are pure heaven.
With all that spunk comes some clumsiness. He trips a lot. like A LOT. I'm not sure how he ever says upright with the way he is constantly reinventing the way to walk (skip, bounce, gallop.) Sometimes he will even try to walk on tippy toes, so "tippy" that they are bent over backwards! It's no wonder his skinny little knees are always scraped and his head always bruised. Luckily, mommy's kisses are pure magic. No matter how bonked up he is, as soon as there is a kiss planted on it, the pain is gone and he is off on new adventures.
When we are sitting in the pew at church, he has made it a personal goal to fall and bonk at least once every "sac-a-ment" meeting. I'm getting better at catching him so he has to really get creative in order to met the once a Sunday bonk quota. Last Sunday he propped his feet up on the top of the bench in front of us. Then quickly reached his arms out to grab on the same place. To his surprise, his little bottom slipped right off the seat and his folded body slipped right down to the carpet below.
He is aware of feelings. If mommy is sad, he is intent on helping me feel better, "A kiss it momma?"
"I got it!" has become a common refrain around here as he becomes more and more insistent on doing things by himself. Even if he eventually asks for "halp" any attempts to interfere are met with an even louder, "I GOT IT!"
|An enjoyable joy ride with Auntie Pat in her convertible!|
There is so much more to write. Things about these boys, my feelings, my struggles, and triumphs. This will have to suffice for now. I'll just say, these are glorious days. Hard days. The best and the worst. Sweetness and pain.