Un carro

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^^^ I spy a T. Rex that eventually got lost ^^^

We have been a one car family from the very beginning. It is pretty easy to do at the moment when Chris goes to school and works less than a mile from our doorstep. Chris mostly bikes or we coordinate the car, and it works very well. My blood pressure peaks when I think about having two car payments (although now we have zero!), two insurance payments, two maintenance costs and two tanks of gas to fill. Of course, there are some days I get all huffy and puffy and angry text how much I dislike his designated pick up time that falls in the middle of nap time and there are days when the boys fuss and fuss as we wait and I frantically fumble with my phone to find their song of the moment, but we survive and then thrive. 

Yesterday had an unusual amount of drop offs and pick up, and by the time the boys and I were picking driving to campus for the fourth and final time with the boys freshly bathed with pajamas donned, they were ready to be done with the car. It was a welcome sight to see them perk up when I announced that I saw Chris emerging from the building. Ryan's eyes darted around until they landed on the person he wanted to see and his hand shot up in a jerky, little boy wave while his closed mouth smile dug a dimple into his cheek. Conor's chin got higher and higher as he stretched to look over the bottom of the car door from his least favorite perch of a car seat and then the width of his plump cheeks widened with a content smirk. I don't have a picture, but now I have it written down. 

And I was only a few minutes late, which is very noteworthy. 

Me time

Or mom and me time. I harp about it a lot, but I seem to just not have nappers no matter the hours spent nap training (read: listening to screaming forever and ever and panicky texting every mom friend and getting mad at my husband for bringing me flowers because my nerves were fried and therefore made me insane ... good, nap-fruitless times). Anyway, my opinion on this matter wavers between resigned acceptance and a frustrated, "Why me?!" mild inner rage when I hear of other kids sleeping for three hours daily. I do normally get a synchronized albeit short afternoon nap out of both boys so really things could be much worse. 

I just noticed that the nap times which I have always seen as me time are nicely folding some Mom and me time for each boy into the stack of things we do every day. And I do mean nicely! The fact that my neighbor and  I are sharing a mother's helper a couple times a week is most likely what makes me able to be so kind to this change. 

(A really neat and miraculous recent happening - my boss gave me an hourly raise of the exact amount that my mother's helper charges per hour for my share. I know. I got goosebumps when I realized this yesterday).

For Ryan, this time means a conscious time doing "preschool" during Conor's thirty minute morning nap. I used to get so wound up during this nap because by the time I got him down and Ryan in the playroom with activities to occupy his attention span for a hopeful 30 minutes, but a more realistic 5 minutes, it seemed like right when I would sit down to work, I'd hear the Conor's bellows/shrieks. Let's be frank ... they are shrieks. 

Now "preschool" happens in that time and just taking the pressure of work away from that ill-fitting space of time has made it easier to breathe. 

(I keep putting it in quotation marks because we aren't doing much, and I don't feel like we need to do much, but Ryan doesn't have any older siblings so 20 minutes to 30 minutes of him making dots instead of the requested number 1 is what he gets. And these are his playing years! I think I also have a poor taste in my mouth from watching a Netflix documentary on the ridiculous NYC preschool process a few years ago as I was stuffing our wedding invitations, and I thought I was at least two years away from even being pregnant. That thought deserves an LOL. To clarify, I don't think sending kids to preschool is the devil; lots of my friends' kids go to preschool, but it's just not in the plans for our family at this time.  For better mentions of relaxed "preschool" stuff you can check here, here, here and here).

This week we have just done the same things every day. Ryan works with a shoe string and some beads I checked out from the library, then we do a page from this book recommended by Rachael (we've done the same page three days in a row because there is no rush, he's only three!), and then we do a big puzzle. This morning I remembered a Montessori letters book I had slung into the library bag so we spent some time on that. Normally by the end of the puzzle, Conor is awake. It's been lovely, and I know Ryan appreciates the Mom and me time and the structure. Today I walked away to grab a drink of water, and Ryan hollered, "Okay, come back when you are finished! I'll be doing my preschool!"

For Conor, Mom and me time begins when he loudly announces the end of his pitifully short afternoon nap. I used to pull my hair out over this. Now it just gets a mild tug, ha. But I sweep him up into my arms before he awakes the slumbering Ryandragon, take him to the living room, ignore his tantrum as I close my laptop that he adores stomping on, lie down and just let him climb all over me while telling me all about his thoughts in nonsensical gibberish. Another lovely part of my day. A lot of the above photo takes place, as it always does. This Conor and me time is so very much needed because Conor has been extra screamy as of late. He needs this cuddly time, and, honestly, I need to hear his sweet baby talk if I want to keep my patience gauge at a decently healthy level.

All in the Name of Privacy and Resilience

Ryan often yells, "I need privacy!" when he scampers with less and less clothes as he nears the bathroom. Sometimes I am up before the boys and then hear them beginning their day with some mild room destruction and whoops and hollers, and so I'll sit outside their room being terribly unproductive at my early morning to do list, but nicely productive in just listening and smiling. I'll hear the beanbag jumping and the door stopper humming pause and then a, "Hold on, Conor! I need privacy!" followed by the bathroom door closing and the happy sound of a toilet seat opening with no accident in sight. 

So that is the preface that led us to the ER on Friday night after poor Conor was a little too eager as Ryan's tag along to the ever-tempting throne and Ryan was a little too overzealous in his privacy door slamming. Kids are resilient. I've always said that about our children. I remember meeting a family at the Naval Academy once after Mass when visiting my brother. Their toddler girl tripped and fell and right away and as I was about to fawn over her non-existent scrapes because she fell maybe five inches, the parents assured her, "You're fine! It's okay!" And she was. That story, combined with the fact that the great majority of my preparation for children came from becoming a part of Chris' rough and tumble family in which you arm wrestle with the sisters as a sign of welcome, has made me a parent who tells my children to growl when they fall. 

But. I didn't really know HOW resilient kids were until Friday night. Conor's finger got stuck in the hinge side of the door and by the time Chris got to him and opened the door to release his finger, his ring finger was flat and bent and screaming of pain. It was the most unnatural looking finger I'd ever seen. It was definitely broken. There was no telling him to growl, just a swift, "We are going to the ER!" combined with curse words while nursing that poor babe and trying to change his diaper. Ryan was pretty traumatized that he hurt his baby brother. 

Yet, lo and behold, by the time we got to the ER fifteen minutes later and in triage, he was bending the hurt finger in order to be able to double fist his crackers and smiling and running up and down the hallways. Four actually happy hours later, we were told by the doctor that the X-ray showed no signs of a break at all. HOW. Resilient. 

And still not at all respectful of privacy ...

although, possibly respectful of doors. 

(Also not that important to the story, but Conor was surprisingly dressed in matching clothes when this happened so jumping into the car was not a huge ordeal. We will ignore the fact that at 6pm when this occurred, he (his mom) had never shed the hoodie and too big sweatpants that he slept in because that's all he had left in his drawer the previous night). 

(And psssssst, Bonnie was awesome yet again and organized the Sheenazing Blog Awards. At least three kind souls nominated me for the Best Looking Blog, so a deep, heartfelt thank you to you! You can take part in the final voting over here. I've loved finding a whole lot of new blogs to read so definitely check it out). 

Petite Fleur

Happy Thursday! Hope yours is nice and warm and toasty. Chris rode his bike to school today because it was a balmy fourteen degrees when he left as opposed to a negative temperature. 

I have a lot of great people who provide me an example of what it is to be good in my life, and my friend, Danielle, is one of them. You will never meet anyone with the same amount of genuine joy. Today she is releasing a music video (her first ever!) for her song, Little Flower, that tearfully shows the dignity of life. For years, Danielle's music has been helping support the Little Flower Projects in China, an organization that cares for orphans with medical needs who were abandoned whether it was because their parents couldn't care for them or because of the One Child Policy. They provide hospice care for orphans who are dying, group educational foster homes, special care for infants, long term care for older disabled orphans with no hope of being adopted and help for special causes. 

The bravery and love in the music video caused me to text my friend, Aubry, Danielle's sister, "I just bawled uncontrollably," after she shared the link with me. The bravery of Danielle, her commitment and multiple trips to Little Flower, the bravery of the Little Flower workers and the bravery of those precious children who live. 

I can't really have my words do it justice so here it is: 


Fanfare (or not!)

So the other day I was kind of having a meltdown. A really silly meltdown. But right when the meltdown was at the end of the crazy crescendo, and I was heading toward at least a few hours of sulking in self-pity, I checked my email and (right at that moment!) my friend had sent me an article about this. It was one of those relieved sigh moments when you just kind of melt into a relaxed realization of a divine kick in the behind and nudge whispering, "You're okay." I put on my figurative big-girl mom pants and the rest of the time before Chris got home from his retreat was (mostly) fine, albeit with quite a few viewings of Frozen ( it's free on our TV right now! and Conor sings. "Go!" at the correct moments in "Let It Go" now so there's only minimal guilt). 

I was re-reading the article the day Chris was getting home because I was excited to show it to him. He likes that stuff. He's always complimenting me on being a mother. But as I read it again, my excitement sputtered out. I read this quote,

"This maternal martyrdom, the pontiff noted, consists of a mother’s ability to offer herself in silence, prayer and total surrender, 'without any fanfare,' to her motherly duties."

Oh boy. That is not me. I'm in this rut where I feel the need to list on each of my fingers and toes and nose and what have you all that I did each day after the boys have been lumped into bed. Or before. It's more than a good cathartic vent. Husband, give me all the fanfare, I say! Give me the appropriate amount of cheesy potatoes as a reward for all that happened in the trenches! Once it's over, I promptly start looking at photos of the children because, I may be in a rut, but I'm still a doting, hopeless-in-love mother.

Fortunately, Chris had no idea what I was talking about when I just vented about this habit of mine to him. I like him.

Okay, I don't really know where I'm going with this, but I don't want to be in this rut. If I'm already in the trenches, why dig myself deeper? Here's to being more like a Montessori child - just content with what I did and not looking for fanfare. 

Β 

P.S. This makes my Sunday.