Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Turning the page.

We're done having babies. We don't have the money, room, or sanity for more children and while I fully believe God spends a lot of time laughing at my plans, Nate and I are doing our part to prevent the arrival of any more Breyer babies. If God chooses to send us more despite our best efforts, well — that's up to Him. But they'd better be accompanied by a bag of cash or giant check because oh boy. Childcare is not cheap, friends.

Most of the time I have peace about this decision. Working full-time and raising kids is no easy task, and I tend to hover somewhere between "stretched pretty thin" and "about to snap" as it is. I can't imagine needing to attend to another person's needs when I'm barely attending to my own. Do you know how many days a week I show up to work with food on my pants? Most to all.

There is no way I could handle a baby right now. Knowing that doesn't seem to be enough to deter the pregnancy and baby pangs, though.

My sister-in-law, who just gave birth to her first child, recently told me she felt like she was the only pregnant woman on earth. And I laughed, because I've felt the opposite. From where I stand, everyone is pregnant. Friends, family, pretty much everyone at Target. And adorably so. I can't help but look at their bellies wistfully, remembering how it felt to have my own tiny babes kicking away inside me.

Last week we met our nephew for the first time, and I turned into a puddle of sweet-talking goo. Nate and I left the NICU and I was like "Remember when that was us? Don't you miss those early days with a newborn? Doesn't it make you want to do it again?" He said "no" without hesitation. But the memory of rocking my babies into the wee hours flooded my mind and my heart and it hurt.

It also made me question our decision. Is this it? Are we really done? How can you ever close a chapter that sweet?

Deep down, I know that our family is complete. I love my children, and I feel so blessed that I get to not only experience motherhood, but the unique relationship between a mother and daughter and a mother and son. My kids are such a gift. But they are also a lot of work, and right now we have our hands full. I think ahead to school and sports and activities and all the exciting things Calvin and Audra will be doing soon and I have no idea how I will be there for them in the ways I want to be while also working the way I am now. How much harder would that be with another child?

It's easy to romanticize having another baby, because there is nothing in life more wonderful than breathing in the smell of your baby's head while they sleep on your chest. Heaven on earth. But that form of heaven only lasts so long. And that, right there, is my problem.

Every baby I see, every pregnant tummy I meet, reminds me of one simple truth: my children are growing up, and I am helpless to stop it.

Calvin is a kid now. He climbs everything, jumps off everything. He talks back. He bites his nails and his feet stink from days filled with running. He hates taking baths and he begs to watch TV shows featuring superheroes and Lego Ninjas and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He says he wants to be a crystal finder when he grows up, and the tiny sparkling rocks all over my house support his claim. He dresses himself every day and his hair sticks up and he almost always has snot on his sleeve. He doesn't need help brushing his teeth anymore. He clears his own plate, gets his own glass of water. His beloved bear has been mostly relegated to his bedroom, and he no longer asks to take it to school. There is nary a trace of baby left in my firstborn.

Audra is nearing the end of her babyhood. Three months shy of turning two, my girl looks older every day. She chatters constantly, and has pulled together a full sentence or two within the last week. She sings little bits and pieces of Ring Around the Rosy, ABCs, Are You Sleeping, Jesus Loves Me, and various pop songs. She can count to five, and has started identifying a few colors. She wants to stand and pee in the toilet like her big brother. Her hair has gotten so long that we have to do it every day — pigtails, ponytails, barrettes. She helps dress (and undress) herself, and can put her shoes on without help. She runs, climbs, giggles, and plays. She's far more interested in her brother's toys than her own, and has claimed his Woody doll as her own. She pushes Captain America around in her stroller. She feeds her babies dinner and rocks them at bed. She throws tantrums that can be heard five towns over. She still has dimples on her hands and rolls on her thighs, but I'm not fooled. I know how close we are to kid-dom.

Those pangs I keep having? They don't have anything to do with me wanting more babies. I don't want more babies. I want the babies I have to stay small, tucked safely in my arms where I can breathe in the smell of their little heads forever. Having more children wouldn't stop the pangs from coming. If anything, it would only distract me from them for another two years — a band-aid fix for a heart condition without a cure.

It hurts to let go, to close such a sweet chapter with my children. But that's what motherhood is. Sweetness and sorrow. I may never be able to hold a baby without my heart aching a little bit, but that's good. That ache serves as a beautiful reminder of all I have been blessed to experience as a mother to my children.

We're done having babies, but we're just getting started raising kids.

There is still so much sweetness ahead.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Summertime and the livin' is easy.

If I had a list of things I love most in life, sitting in the sun on the beach with a book and a drink would be at the very top. Right above Diet Coke, Friday Night Lights, and sweater weather. And that list would be laminated, because I have nothing but love for days spent like this:



This is the only one where we're all looking. A real framer.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

T minus 365.

Pre-K is no big deal. It's not even real school. Which is why I only got sniffly instead of sobby when I dropped off my baby and his little bag of school supplies last week.

Next year, though? The title of that post will be something along the lines of SOBFEST 2014. Bring the tissues! I'm partial to Puffs Plus.

Pre-K might not be "real" school, but he sure is learning a lot. Especially in the areas of backtalk and sass. Put this kid in an attitude contest against any 13-year-old girl and she will lose. But man, is he funny. The other day he kept insisting I "spill the beans. SPILL YOUR BEANS, MOM." He has absolutely no idea what that means, of course. Also, this morning he told Nate he had a nightmare about being on the edge of a very high cliff, then followed it with "I'm scared of the dark in my room and also of hikes." Pretty sure he meant heights, but close enough. I'm scared of hikes, too.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Shower the people you love with love.

I posted this on Instagram last Friday night, and got some interesting responses.

Just to be perfectly clear: I'm not pregnant. But my sister-in-law is, and Nate and I are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our first nephew. Figured we may as well throw his mama a shower while we wait for his cute little face to show up.

I've decided throwing parties is similar to having kids, in that it seems like a really good idea until you go into labor. You kinda forget about the work. But then you do the work and the result is spectacular and you're like "I totally want to do that again!" even though you're hemorrhaging/staring at a mountain of dirty dishes.

Anyway, once I got through the shower labor (i.e. cleaning my house with two kids and a dog underfoot...oh, and did I mention I was in the middle of tagging all of my children's clothes and toys for a consignment sale at the same time? For the last two weeks my dining room has looked like a combination of the sorting counter at Once Upon a Child and the floor of a preschool classroom), it was so much fun. My dear friend Julie co-hosted and my mother-in-law and sweet friend Lisa helped, too, so I had very little to do with the food prep. Which is good, since we probably would have ended up eating a giant baby shower sub. Although my new-found mantra of "purchase all party food" did result in a pretty amazing order of mini s'mores cupcakes from Taste of Love bakery.

Since we all know parties require a theme these days, Jules and I decided on a woodland baby shower. But a slightly vintage one, because this is an Abby event and you know how I love a good Mason jar. Thanks to Julie's excellent collection of canning jars and vintage luncheon plates (complete with a spot to ash your cigarette!) and my extensive trolling of the Goodwill figurine shelves, we ended up with a sweet little party perfect for Mary and her baby boy.
 Home Sweet Home | Woodland Baby Shower

Home Sweet Home | Woodland Baby Shower
I mean, seriously. Look at those figurines. Ugly in grandma's living room, but adorbs here.
 Home Sweet Home | Woodland Baby Shower

Home Sweet Home | Woodland Baby Shower
Have you ever seen a prettier vegetable presentation? All Julie.Home Sweet Home | Woodland Baby Shower
 Home Sweet Home | Woodland Baby Shower

Home Sweet Home | Woodland Baby Shower
 In deep love with my chalkboard.
Home Sweet Home | Woodland Baby Shower

Home Sweet Home | Woodland Baby Shower

 Home Sweet Home | Woodland Baby Shower

 If you think Vistaprint is only for people who want 100 free ugly business cards, you're wrong. They have cute and very inexpensive invitations. You may have to dig a bit to get past the 90s designs, but they're there. This one had a super cute back side, too.
Home Sweet Home | Woodland Baby Shower
 Nate's mom made her famous granola as favors. I cut pictures out of a Peter Rabbit treasury I got at Goodwill and tied them onto jelly jars. Fabric on top was leftover from Audra's embroidery hoops.
Home Sweet Home | Woodland Baby Shower

Home Sweet Home | Woodland Baby Shower
 Calvin and Nate went on a nature walk to collect branches for me, then I cut out those little leaves from paper leftover from my wedding. All about the recycling. And the hoarding, apparently, since I still have paper from my wedding.
Home Sweet Home | Woodland Baby Shower
 Cute mama-to-be with the beautiful quilt our mother-in-law made for baby Breyer. My kids each have one, too. They are so special!
Home Sweet Home | Woodland Baby Shower
 Julie, Mary, Me. B&W because we all look tired in color.

Loved showering sweet Mary with some love before she meets her little guy. She's worth the work. :)
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