Dear Mrs. Homeroom Teacher

Every fall my kids’ school does this thing where they send home forms for parents to fill out regarding their children’s physical activity. Kids are supposed to achieve 60 minutes of exercise every day for a week, parents are supposed to track how much and what kind of exercise their kids got, note it all down on the form, and then submit it to the school. If your kid hits the goal, he gets entered into a drawing for prizes.

I hate the stupid thing.

So this year, our family didn’t participate. I didn’t make the kids exercise, I had nothing to track, and no form worth turning in. I just ignored the thing and hoped it wouldn’t come up again. But wouldn’t you know it: my kids kept coming home saying they needed to turn in that blasted form.

Finally, I snapped. I wrote their teachers a letter.

~~~

Dear Mrs. Homeroom Teacher,*

I suppose I should have reached out to you sooner, but when I saw the note in Johnny’s* planner requesting his Project FIT* form, even if it wasn’t filled out, I figured that a late letter of explanation to you was better than none at all.

The truth is, I hate Project FIT.

And with three kids now bringing home the form, I thought back on our previous four years of Project FIT misery and I made the executive decision not to do it this year.

With five young kids at home, many evenings it’s all I can do to make dinner, get everybody fed, make sure homework is done, help kids review their math facts and sight words, get them to read for 20 minutes, and then get everyone ready for bed. Not to mention fitting in Cub Scouts and religious education and preschool co-op meetings and whatever other extracurriculars we’re currently participating in.

With my kids’ remaining evening free time (and sometimes they have very little), I like to just let them play. They go out in the yard and add onto their fort, or they dig in the dirt, or they track wild creatures. They come inside and draw, or build LEGO creations, or set up battle scenes of little green army men all over the floor. Yesterday Johnny raked leaves into piles and let his little sisters bury him in them.

Kids need that time – that free, unstructured time in which to relax and imagine and create.

I don’t want to take it away from them in order to enforce some challenge that essentially just aims to make the point that physical activity is important. (Shouldn’t everyone know that by now?)

Maybe when other families do Project FIT they can count in soccer practice or the time that their kids are already playing basketball in the driveway. But my kids are not sporty. They don’t choose to spend their playtime kicking around a soccer ball in the yard. When we’ve done Project FIT in the past, it generally comes down to me calculating how much time they had at recess and PE that day, figuring out how much more time they need to get to sixty minutes, and then sending them outside to run laps around the house or something.

It is miserable, and I honestly think it does our family more harm than good.

So this year I decided to be a rebel and not fill out the form. Instead, I made dinner in peace. I did not fill our evenings with more requirements than were good for us. I let my kids play in the dirt and build with LEGOS and not worry about checking off a million little boxes.

It was glorious.

Sincerely,
Julie Walsh

~~~

*Not their real names. Obviously.

**Don’t worry – I included a nice little post script assuring the teachers that I didn’t blame them for the school’s program. And I don’t think they blame me either.

Title image: Dear Mrs. Homeroom Teacher

 

Hope and Love (and the Same Old Pitfalls) in a New Season (7 Quick Takes, Vol. 45)

Goodness, it’s been too long. Again. As always. The prudent thing for me to do at this point in non-blogging would probably be to throw up my arms and walk away with a liiittle dignity. But I can’t give it up. I can shove it aside and starve it and neglect it, apparently, but I can’t give it up.

So, here you have me.

Since it’s been so long, I thought I’d do a little 7 Quick Takes to tell you how the 7 (seven?!) members of our family are faring these days. Beginning with…

—1—

Myself. Because I’m the blogger.

These Walls - 7QT45 - 1

(Would you believe that this, I think, is the first ‘baby bump’ photo I’ve taken this pregnancy? You may not be able to see the whole bump because of my hanger-on, but I think she adds a certain something to the picture.)

Looking at my calendar, I see that I’m now 35 weeks into this pregnancy. (Yes, I had to look at the calendar to figure that out.) Somehow, I’m feeling simultaneously comfortable/healthy/energetic and uncomfortable/unhealthy/fatigued. Part of it just depends on the day – some days I feel great and other days I am whooped. (My blood pressure has been really low this whole pregnancy and boy have I been feeling it.)

But I think a lot of it has to do with how I’m carrying this baby. She’s hanging out really low – almost entirely below my belly button. So on the one hand, I can breathe comfortably and (from my vantage, if not yours) I don’t even look that big. But on the other hand, I’m having some difficulty walking and sitting. It feels like she’s cozying right up into my hip bones. And like she might just decide to pop out at any moment.

My OB thinks that Baby’s positioning might mean that I’ll actually go into labor on my own this time. But I’m skeptical. I’ve needed Pitocin for every labor so far – even the one in which my water broke ten days early. I can hardly imagine what it would be like to experience labor without it.

Other than the pregnancy stuff, I’m fine, I guess? I’m currently feeling pretty overwhelmed about the (disgusting) state of my house, but I just don’t have the energy to get to most of it. At least not with my kids underfoot. There’s such an incredible difference between what I can accomplish alone vs. what I can do with them around me. Not just because of their (constant) needs, but also because I really struggle to focus on the tasks in front of me. I’ve found that if I put on my noise-cancelling headphones and listen to a good podcast, I can work happily and productively for a good long while. But while trying to monitor the kids, ‘focus’ is pretty much a lost cause.

Fortunately, I now have two little ones who will nap pretty much every afternoon while their brothers are at school. Would you believe that, seven years into parenthood, this is the first time I’ve experienced that wondrous, almost mythical afternoon break that is a reliable naptime? My first child was a terrible napper and my second gave it up early, and until now I’ve had at least one of them home every afternoon anyway. But with the two big boys at school, Mommy has some freedom in the afternoons. Woo-hoo! Something to celebrate!

For another month or so, that is – until we add a newborn into the mix.

So far I’ve been using naptimes to do housework or prep dinner or even take the occasional cat-nap, but I’d really like to see if I could claim at least some of it for writing. (I have so much on my mind! So much I’d like to chew on with you!) We’ll see. I’d like to promise that I will, but I feel like I’ve broken enough promises in this space.

—2—

On that cheery note, let’s move on to the baby!

These Walls - 7QT45 - 2

Not much to report here. Baby Girl’s pretty quiet for now. (I mean, obviously. But she’s also pretty quiet, activity-wise. I’m thinking she’ll have a more sedate personality. We shall see!)

She’s shaping up to be just as big at her arrival as her siblings were at theirs. At my 32-week sono they estimated her weight to be 5lbs, 3oz, which sets her up to weigh around 9 pounds at birth. Imagine that. Her big sibs were 8lbs, 10oz (4 days late), 8lbs 15oz (10 days early), 9lbs, 1oz (7 days early), and 9lbs even (4 days late). So I’d say that 9 pounds is a pretty good guess!

We still haven’t chosen a name for her, and as we’ve barely talked about it, I don’t see us coming up with one anytime soon. But that’s pretty typical for us. We don’t usually get very serious about our baby-naming discussions until a few weeks from delivery, when I’m so hormonal and weepy about it that Brennan takes pity on me. Then we whittle down our list to a couple of options and decide when we see the baby.

Okay, on from Baby Girl No Name to…

—3—

Baby Girl who shouldn’t really be called Baby Girl anymore!

These Walls - 7QT45 - 3

Can you believe this little one is now 20 months old? She’s a real toddler! And, toddler-like, she’s starting to express some opinions, exert some independence, sneak in some misdeeds, etc. Overall, though, she remains super sweet and easygoing, and we are completely in love with her.

It’s been really interesting to see how she’s coming along developmentally as compared to the boys. She’s been saying a decent number of words for months, and now she regularly uses little phrases and sentences. (She ends every meal by holding up her plate and saying, “I done, Mama!” At which point I promptly melt into a puddle of maternal mush.)

These Walls - 7QT45 - 4

She’s absolutely in love with babies and baby dolls, so I think she’s going to be preeetty happy here in about a month. We’re just going to have a big task ahead of us, keeping her eager little hands in check around her baby sister. Oh, well. That’s better than the alternative!

—4—

This one started preschool this fall. Can you believe it?

These Walls - 7QT45 - 5

I’m not sure I can, yet I rejoice in the development. (I mean, seriously, the Hallelujah Chorus would have been completely appropriate for the start of this school year.)

And it’s not just me. I think he is also much happier these days, what with the fun school to attend twice a week, the relative peace on the other three weekdays while his big brothers are at school, and a generally reliable rhythm to his days. I think this is a kid who likes to know his schedule.

He’s still a screamer, but as his language skills (slowly) improve, he’s expressing more and more and screaming (a little) less. The other day he told me, “I so angy!” and I almost laughed for joy. (But I didn’t. Because it would be really annoying for your mom to laugh while you were telling her how angry you were.)

These Walls - 7QT45 - 6

He’s gotten to be a (mostly) sweet big brother and good playmate to his sister, which I’m just pinching myself over. I did not see that coming. He also regularly pulls off what is possibly the cutest moment of my day, when he comes down the stairs after his nap all sleepy-eyed, smiling and whispering “Good morning, Mommy!” Again – I melt.

—5—

This one has entered Kindergarten. Kindergarten: real-deal, all-day, away-from-Mommy school. And he’s done great.

These Walls - 7QT45 - 7

I thought he might not. He’s my mama’s boy, the one who clings to me and smothers me with hugs and kisses each day. I thought he’d be afraid, that being away from home all day would be hard on him. But he seems fine! He loves his teacher and he’s making friends and he hasn’t complained once about going to school. It’s been such a relief.

We celebrated his sixth birthday at the end of September and I think it may well have been the happiest day of his life. We held his party at a local bounce-house place where he and a bunch of his friends and cousins were able to run and jump themselves silly. He had a Star Wars cake and got a bunch of nice (mostly Star-Wars-themed) gifts, and at the end of it all we revealed his biggest gift to him: a guinea pig.

(We should cue the Hallelujah Chorus again here.)

I am not a pet person. I have nothing against animals; they just don’t do much for me. I don’t care to really touch them or play with them, so why would I ever want to go through the trouble of caring for them? Brennan is more of a pet person than I am, but he’s also more of a practical person than I am, so it’s been easy for him to say no up until now.

These Walls - 7QT45 - 8

But this child. He just loves animals. (This past Sunday as we left his religious education class, he announced to me, “I want to be a saint, Mommy. I want to be an animal saint like Saint Francis, because I love animals so much.”) He loves them consistently and passionately, and it might have been the time he wanted to keep a cricket he found at the drug store, or the time he cuddled and kissed a baby snake he found in the yard, but he finally wore me down. And so Brennan and I decided it was finally time for a pet.

A caged one, but a pet nonetheless. Meet Houston:

These Walls - 7QT45 - 9

The kids are in love. Brennan seems to like him pretty well, and I’m guess I’m warming up to him. He is pretty cute. And thankfully, he seems to have a good temperament for being surrounded by a bunch of little kids. Our house now smells like guinea pig cage, but whatever – our house kind of smelled to begin with.

—6—

Now onto this one.

These Walls - 7QT45 - 9

My boy! My sweet, thoughtful, growing-too-fast firstborn. He’s in second grade now, old enough for me to start seeing glimpses of what he’ll look like, and what he’ll be like, as an older kid. It’s bittersweet.

This child has lately been my reminder and my hope regarding seasons of life and difficult phases and how they pass. The last half of the summer (the slower half) was hard for him. He’s super social and loves people and I’m seeing now that he’s a much happier person when he has people and work to occupy him. For a while there, he’d just about pulled into the lead on the ‘most challenging child’ front, but once school started, he perked up immediately. Second grade, including his lovely teacher and (from what I hear) great class have been so good for him.

Except for tiffs with the brother nearest in age to him (and what’s new in that, right?), he is such a good big brother. Our daughter adores him. She’s taken to walking next to him with her hand in his, and backing herself right into his lap when she sees him sitting still. He reads to her, and the other day I caught him helping her down one of our terrace walls in the yard: He climbed down one level, she reached her arms out to him, and he put his around her waist and lifted her down. Then he climbed down the remaining level and did the same. (Again with the melting!)

These Walls - 7QT45 - 10

He always humors the 3-year-old when he wants someone to play outside with him, he helps him and reads to him, and he does a pretty good job of keeping tabs on the little guy.

And even with his just-15-months-younger-than-himself brother, he can be so generous. When he received his first little cash gift from the tooth fairy, he gifted one of his (two) dollars to his brother. And he seems to have done so every time since. This week I was kind of annoyed when the 6-year-old held out his hand to receive one of the 7-year-old’s tooth fairy dollars, tossing out a flippant, “It’s mine, right? I get one every time the tooth fairy brings you two?” But there was no hesitation or annoyance on the big brother’s part: “Yes, you do. It’s yours,” he said. For all their squabbling, I think they view each other as partners, and that partnership is one of the greatest gifts in my life right now.

—7—

Now for my husband.

These Walls - 7QT45 - 11

I guess I’d say Brennan is doing pretty well these days. After a frustrating run at work for a good long while, he has finally started a new position. Brennan (a software engineer) has done this several times since I’ve known him, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him shift from work that was so dull to work that interests him as much as this new job looks to do. I’m relieved!

At home, Brennan has been keeping busy with projects, of course. He recently finished a section of iron fencing on a couple of the walls that surround our back patio. It was a long, dirty process: the fencing arrived unfinished, so Brennan had to grind them down, prime them, paint them, attach feet to them, and install them himself. He also added one light post, moved another, and painted all three. Here’s the final result:

These Walls - 7QT45 - 12

Isn’t it pretty? Now we just have to host an outdoor cocktail party or something. Once we pull all the weeds growing out of the patio. And move the sandbox out of the way. And get rid of all the junky, broken toys. And buy patio furniture. And, like, have a little TIME on our hands…

Which these guys pretty much never allow us.

These Walls - 7QT45 - 13

These Walls - 7QT45 - 14

Brennan has also just finished painting the boys’ new bedroom. (The room shuffle goes like this: All three boys will be moving up to a room on the third floor. Our daughter will move into what was her brothers’ room, and we’ll put the new baby in the nursery for now. When she starts sleeping through the night decently well, we’ll put her in the same room as her sister.) Brennan’s next project? Building bunk beds!

***

Alright, I’ve bored you plenty by now. I hope that you and yours are all well and that the beginning of this new season/school year has been as good for you as it has for us. I hope to “see” you back here soon. Hope. We’ll see. Maybe you shouldn’t be surprised either way.

Also, don’t forget to hop on over to Kelly’s for the rest of this week’s Quick Takes!

These Walls - 7QT45

Last Week of Summer

This week I have: Cleared away probably 30 pounds’ worth of papers from my kitchen “organization” center; gone to an ob appointment (baby’s heartbeat sounds good); taken three small boys to the MALL for new shoes; taken said boys to restaurants for lunch three days running; gotten two of them back-to-school haircuts; attended a parent orientation for one boy’s school and a volunteer training for the other’s; gone late-night grocery shopping; met up with two of my girlfriends to take our combined seven boys to one of those crazy indoor bouncy house places; taken the 3-year-old to his Pre-K open house and the 5-year-old to his Kindergarten orientation; spent an afternoon swimming with my three boys and a girlfriend and her three girls; and – joy of joys – discovered a (several times over) leaky bathroom ceiling and a roaring, sparking air-conditioning unit.

These Walls - Last Week of Summer - 1

These Walls - Last Week of Summer - 2

These Walls - Last Week of Summer - 3

These Walls - Last Week of Summer - 4

These Walls - Last Week of Summer - 5

This week I have not: Written another installment in my “What This Catholic Wants in a President” series. Oh well.

These Walls - Last Week of Summer - 6

I have high (and probably unreasonable) hopes for our schedule once my oldest begins school on Monday. For one thing, we’ll be getting up at an actually reasonable (meaning early-to-us-but-probably-not-to-anyone-else) hour, so we’ll have to be able to fit more into the day, right?

For another, I have this brilliant plan to do housework in the mornings (the only time of day when I reliably have energy), rather than frittering away those hours with coffee and Facebook and Diane Rehm. Productivity makes me so happy.

But really, my hopes hinge on that wonderful, almost-unknown-to-me, shimmering mirage that people call “nap time.” Because my biggest challenge in the napping department, the one who would creep into my space every five minutes rather than rest his beautiful head on the inviting (to me) sofa pillow – he’ll be AT SCHOOL. And I’ll be left with (1) the baby who naps for up to three hours a day and (2) the preschooler who falls asleep all over the place.

These Walls - Last Week of Summer - 7

I don’t think it will be that hard to trick him into falling asleep at a time and place of my choosing. (Yes, yes – I know: unreasonable hopes.)

At any rate, I’m hoping that as we settle into the school year and a schedule, I’ll have more time to dedicate to writing. At the very least, I know that I’ll have charge of my three-year-old for five fewer hours per week and my five-year-old for THIRTY-SEVEN AND A HALF (sob!) fewer hours per week and that has got to count for something.

We’ll see how it turns out.

‘Till then, I’ll be recovering from this exhausting-but-mostly-fun Last Week of Summer Vacation and haphazardly trying to prepare myself for the First Week of School. Wish me luck! (And maybe pray for some greatly multiplied sleep?)

These Walls - Last Week of Summer

I Love You So Much and So Much {pretty, happy, funny, real} (Vol. 18)

{pretty}

My boys are turning into quite the little naturalists, which is obvious to anyone who approaches our back door.

These Walls - I Love You So Much and So Much {phfr} - 1

(I require them to leave their rocks, sticks, feathers, etc. outside. Depending on your outlook, that will make me seem either curmudgeonly or very clever.)

These Walls - I Love You So Much and So Much {phfr} - 2

These Walls - I Love You So Much and So Much {phfr} - 3

These Walls - I Love You So Much and So Much {phfr} - 4

These Walls - I Love You So Much and So Much {phfr} - 5

When they first started leaving rocks at the door, I was annoyed, not wanting a cluttered entryway. But as their “cowections” grew, I began to warm to them.

At this point, I do believe I might actually find the collections beautiful – or {pretty}, at least.

These Walls - I Love You So Much and So Much {phfr} - 6

These Walls - I Love You So Much and So Much {phfr} - 7

I certainly like what they encourage in my boys: wonder, curiosity, an eye for detail, one for beauty. They’ve begun paying more attention to the birds – not just noticing them, but identifying them too. Indeed, my four-year-old came to the back door the other day holding a dead bird, its wings splayed and stiff. “Look, Mommy! I found a dead bird skin! It even has claws!”

It was a woodpecker, which is, I think, why he’s been particularly interested in that species lately. The day after the dead one, he spotted another (living) one just outside our kitchen window. He sat for a good hour with his grandmother, perusing her birding field guide and asking her questions.

He even drew one.

These Walls - I Love You So Much and So Much {phfr} - 8

These Walls - I Love You So Much and So Much {phfr} - 9

Lovely, isn’t it?

These Walls - I Love You So Much and So Much {phfr} - 10

Just one random, unrelated {pretty} — look at those curls!

{happy}

We’ve had lots to be {happy} about this week.

After losing our bees over the winter, new ones arrived.

These Walls - I Love You So Much and So Much {phfr} - 10

My oldest son “graduated” from pre-school. (This is happy! I know it is! But I keep having to remind myself that it’s not actually the saddest thing to happen to me in some time.)

These Walls - I Love You So Much and So Much {phfr} - 12

These Walls - I Love You So Much and So Much {phfr} - 13

The kids’ chairs all set out with balloons looked so sweet and cheerful.

These Walls - I Love You So Much and So Much {phfr} - 14

Of course, at first the kids were too interested in the balloons to pay much attention to anything else!

These Walls - I Love You So Much and So Much {phfr} - 15

Also, there’s this child:

These Walls - I Love You So Much and So Much {phfr} - 16

Well, there are these too:

These Walls - I Love You So Much and So Much {phfr} - 17

These Walls - I Love You So Much and So Much {phfr} - 18

They each make me awfully happy.

But that first one – he’s been such a lovey little love lately. I’ve been hearing “I wuv you, Mommy.” more times a day than I can count. One evening he said, “I wuv you so much and so much” and it struck me so greatly that I’ve been using it with him too.

I love you so much and so much.

Isn’t that just a joy?

Another evening he said, “I wuv you sooo much, Mommy, because you’re so beautiful.” Later it was, “You smell delicious, Mama!”

My brother pointed out to me that my boy could simply be sucking up in anticipation of my discovering some great damage he’s done, but… I don’t think so.

These Walls - I Love You So Much and So Much {phfr} - 19

{funny}

These Walls - I Love You So Much and So Much {phfr} - 20

{real}

How about for this one I tell you about meeting another blogger in {real} life?

Those of you who follow Catholic All Year may know that the Tierney family has been vacationing in the DC area for the past week. Well, when Kendra mentioned their plans on her Facebook page (including a plan to visit Annapolis), I messaged her to offer her family a tour of the Charles Carroll House. The House was the Annapolis home of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the only Catholic to sign the Declaration of Independence. And I just so happen to be on its Board of Trustees, so… it worked out!

These Walls - I Love You So Much and So Much {phfr} - 21

The Tierneys were lovely – and just what I expected from having read Kendra’s blog. (So, there’s authenticity for you, right?) I hope they enjoyed the visit, and that talk of plaster and paint and persecution and politics didn’t bore them too, too much. (Though we had a wonderful, knowledgeable docent, so I don’t think that’s the case!)

These Walls - I Love You So Much and So Much {phfr} - 22

These Walls - I Love You So Much and So Much {phfr} - 23

 

These Walls - I Love You So Much and So Much {phfr} - 24

One of Kendra’s boys found a soccer ball in the bushes. Perfect!

 

These Walls - I Love You So Much and So Much {phfr} - 25

I love that my boys have been able to spend time at this beautiful, special place.

I know that Kendra’s little Frankie, at least, enjoyed running around the grounds with my boys and those of my friend Betsy. She and her three met us in Annapolis for the tour (during which Betsy monitored my boys) and a playground outing. Thank you, Betsy!

These Walls - I Love You So Much and So Much {phfr} - 26

By the way, for those of you who don’t read Catholic All Year, you may (may?) be interested to know that just as I hosted the CWBN Mid-Atlantic Conference at my home a couple of weeks ago, Kendra hosted the CWBN California Conference at her home a week before that. Small world, right?

I think that’s it for me this week! Be sure to stop over to Like Mother, Like Daughter for the everyday contentment of {pretty, happy, funny, real}.

pretty happy funny real[1]

Reset, Catch Up, Move On: 7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 31)

Well, hello there.

It’s good to be back on the blog after my month-long, completely unintended break. I wish I had tales of fabulous travel to make up for my time “away,” but no, we’ve been here the whole time. We’ve been busy, but just in the ways young families are apt to be: We spent time at the county fair, at parks, and at more playdates than I can count. We celebrated my father’s 60th birthday with a good ol’ Maryland crab feast. We’ve been meeting new friends and catching up with old ones. My son has started his second year of preschool and I’ve been trying to organize my home and my mind in preparation for the upcoming season of school, celebrations, and hopefully, writing.

And on that last count, I’ve been stuck.

I had a tremendous response to my last post, the one on breastfeeding (or rather, on not breastfeeding) and I kind of didn’t know what to do with it. So I thought I’d wait a few days to process everything. (Bad idea, Julie. Bad idea.) Soon enough I became caught up and weighed down by all those horrible events going on around the world and I figured I needed to write on them before I did anything else. But (surprise, surprise) they’re not the easiest to write on, and it didn’t take long before I was stuck in the mire, both mentally and spiritually. After a couple of weeks of unproductive writing, I decided to work on cleaning up my physical space so at least something would be heading in the proper direction.

It was the right decision. And it brings me to where I am today: Reset. Catch up. Move on.

What better way to do that than with a 7 Quick Takes?

7 quick takes sm1 Your 7 Quick Takes Toolkit!

—1—

The biggest thing to happen in the past month, I suppose, is that my four-year-old started his second year of pre-school. I’m not the sappiest when it comes to the passage of time, but I admit that I’m really starting to feel the weight of having just one more year before I turn my first baby over to full-time, full-day school. Sniff, sniff.

P1200556

P1200565

His brothers and I went to the park to console ourselves.

P1200568

P1200571

P1200575

When we returned to pick up our guy after his class, the little one up there in green gave his big brother one of the tightest, most earnest hugs around the neck ever. Gosh, next year’s going to be hard.

—2—

My actual baby (five months old yesterday!) has the most pathetic-sounding hoarse voice right now. When I brought it to my husband’s attention the other day, he looked at me with these dull, accusatory eyes and said, “It’s because he’s been screaming so much at night before you go in to get him.”

WHAT?!

“No way!” I said, “I go in as soon as I hear him!” He just looked at me. With those eyes.

So that night, wouldn’t you know it, I woke in the middle of the night to find my husband standing in our room holding the unhappy baby. “He’s been screaming for quite a while,” he said over those awful, pathetic, hoarse little cries.

My poor baby. I don’t have a problem with babies being left to cry themselves to sleep when necessary, but how sad is it that my little guy has been screaming so much in the middle of the night that he’s gone hoarse? For no reason other than that I’ve been sleeping right through his cries? Oh, the guilt…

—3—

In my defense, though, I’ve been sleeping unusually poorly lately. This baby, like each of my boys, has always been a pretty good sleeper. Until the last few weeks. He seems to be in a phase (a growth spurt, maybe?) where he’s honest-to-goodness hungry in the middle of the night. I usually respond by offering him a pittance in the form of nursing for hours on end while I doze in the rocker. But frequently that’s not enough, so Brennan stumbles downstairs to make a bottle and I attempt to feed it to the baby without dropping either it or him. And every night lately I seem to find myself feeling around in the dark for my little pacifier-addict’s fix, praying and hoping that it does the trick so I don’t have to spend another couple of hours sitting on the tailbone killer.

Sleep, baby, sleep!

Sleep, baby, sleep!

Anyway, I don’t need to explain exhaustion to anyone who’s ever had a baby. I’ll just add that the situation has made me realize something: God sure knew what he was doing when he gave me the parenting cross (vomit) that he did. My boys have vomited enough to teach me that I’m actually pretty well-equipped to deal with the stuff. But exhaustion from the rare phases when my boys aren’t sleeping well? It makes me a wobbly, achy, dizzy, headachy crybaby. I’m being quite honest when I say I can hardly handle it.

I never thought I’d be grateful for vomit, but now I kind of am. At least, I’m grateful that I feel well-equipped to deal with our most bothersome parenting challenge.

What about you? What’s your parenting cross? Do you (strangely, maybe) feel that it suits you?

—4—

(Speaking of crosses…)

We’ve had another snake sighting. I was rounding the corner of the house to get the boys in the car when I saw it on the ground, just inches away from our feet. I LEAPT and ran and squealed and shuddered and my boys… they just stood there. They stared at me with gaping mouths and they were quick to not obey my pleas to RUN! GO BACK INSIDE! NO! COME HERE! JUST COME HERE AS FAST AS YOU CAN! Once they realized I was bleating on about a snake, they started in on the “But where is it? I want to see the snake! I want to see it! I wuv snakes!”

—5—

A few days later we had an exterminator here to check out some carpenter ants that my husband had discovered in the house. After he left, Brennan was updating me on what the exterminator had to say about the other pests we’ve had lately. (Bats, groundhogs, etc.)

Me: “What about the snakes?”

Him: “Snakes?”

Me: (Giving him the look this time.) “Yes, snakes.”

Him: “Oh! I didn’t even think about snakes. Did you want me to ask about snakes?”

Me:

Him: “Are you really concerned about them?”

Me: “Yes, I am concerned about the possibility of a nest of snakes under our parlor. I don’t exactly want more snakes slithering out of our children’s toys.”

So he proceeds to tell me how he found that some things in the basement had been disturbed and he figured it was probably because big, huge snakes had knocked them over while they were slithering every which way like they own the place. (Or something like that.)

That night I dreamed of snakes. Lots and lots of snakes. Everywhere.

—6—

A couple of weeks back we met some friends at a park and ended up having one of our coolest experiences all summer. The boys spotted one of these little guys:

20140819_111918

And then another, and another… climbing out of a little mound in the playground mulch. They had just hatched! It was so exciting, like those films you see of baby sea turtles floundering toward the surf.

20140819_111540

At first my friend and I wouldn’t let the boys touch the critters because we didn’t want them hurt. (The turtles, not the boys.) But then we realized that it probably wasn’t a good idea for baby turtles to be making their way to the middle of a playground on a bright, hot day with lots of littles swarming around. So we let our boys each pick up one or two and gently place them in the grass.

20140819_111731

(I realize that somebody out there might scold us for this, maintaining that we should never disturb wildlife for any reason, but I was not about to allow baby turtles to be squished by running little boy feet if I could help it. For the turtles’ sake and the boys’.)

20140819_111615

20140819_111527

20140819_111910

He’s pretending to be a turtle.

The boys were so sweet, and so interested. We could hardly divert them from their find for the rest of our visit. All I can think now is: Thank goodness it wasn’t snakes.

—7—

I’m a little hesitant to make this commitment, but I feel like I need to make some commitment to myself to get me back into writing regularly, so… here it goes…

I pledge to post every other day for the next two weeks.

It’s not quite 7 Posts in 7 Days, but for someone who hasn’t blogged for a month, it’s ambitious! Wish me luck, and stop on back to see if I keep my word.

 

Happy weekend, all! Don’t forget to stop over to Jen’s to check out all the other Quick Takers.