Posted by: Ingrid | July 28, 2014

9 Months: Yoga Baby

Dear Liliana,

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Or should I call you Lily? You have suddenly become half and half, even from me who wanted the longer name. It is still so cute when Jonathan calls you “Lee-nana”.

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This is just a bizarre month. When you hit 8 months we were about to celebrate Isaac’s birthday early, with friends, in Michigan. Now you are 9 months and we have lived in Colorado two weeks. So basically this month of your life has consisted of frantic packing and moving and then frantic unpacking and adjusting.

You said goodbye to two adopted Grandmas, which was hard.

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You thouroughly enjoyed having your Grandpa around for two weeks though! Imagine my surprise when, on his first night with us, I stumbled out to feed you at 3:00 am and found him holding you! Oh yes, you liked Grandpa very very much.

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Your first two nights in Colorado I thought, truly, that you were going to kill me with lack of sleep. After two days of heavy moving bled into two 4:00 am wake ups you chose the next two nights, ALL NIGHT to either fuss and cry or demand to sleep only when face down on my chest as I lay at an angle not designed for sleeping. It was terrible.

And then you cut your second tooth.

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You are by far our worst teether and sleeper so far. Though you did give me one solid 8.5 hour stretch this month which is definitely the anomaly. Now that we have you squared away in your very own room, it may be time to tackle feeding you. Not that you aren’t adorable when you try to eat my face or when you see me sit down to feed you and immediately gape your mouth open like a little fish. I am just ready for you to need me a little less often at night. Please. So, my little 20.5 pound chubster, it is time to take you off your milk-only diet and see how that goes.  Carrots were on the menu last night and you ate… maybe a 1/4 teaspoon.  You wouldn’t even let the rice cereal near your mouth this morning.

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We also need to work on you sleeping without being double swaddled. You seem unable to sleep without it, but you work your way out of it during the night and then, when I am bleary-eyed with sleep you have these crazy ninja baby skills in which you keep me from re-swaddling you. No fun for me. From there we will move on to using those cloth diapers I still have not taken out.

You are still delightfully chill, particularly when you are with people or held. You love seeing yourself in the mirror and laughing with your brothers and grabbing your toes.

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Your hands still fascinate you and you often look like you are trying to do the hula, only with just your arms. Even as a baby there is just something so precious and feminine about your movements and expressions. Even though you have a giant head and not very much hair.

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And when you break out the high pitched: Da-da-da-DAAA you totally have your Daddy wrapped around your little finger. It is so cute. You are so cute. And I will reiterate that I LOVE having a little girl. When you see new people who talk to you, you do this coy, bury-your-face-in-mom’s-shoulder move, and then peek out and smile. It is just precious!

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You are still very vocal and babble a great deal. You are still not mobile, however. You protest being dressed and undressed and laying on your stomach. Granted, we now have wood floors, which would not be my first pick for rolling on, but still.

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You are NINE months old and you don’t move. It has been very handy during the move, however. I just sit you on your bottom with kitchen utensils and know that you won’t go anywhere or get into anything.

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You are incredibly flexible and walk forward on your hands until your tummy is on the floor. You have crazy turn out too. In short, you have all the flexibility that your runner mom lacks. You can be yoga baby.

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Maybe I can get back on track with picture tacking during month 10. In the meantime, I hear you babbling away in your room, refusing to go down easily for your afternoon nap. Time for a second try.

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Love,

Mom

 

Posted by: Ingrid | July 13, 2014

Chasing the Sun

I really thought that when the Man Road Trip (husband, my dad, two crazy boys, minivan, and 26 foot truck) had begun and I was left alone with Liliana for our last day in Michigan that I would sit here in our old house with many profound things to say.  In the quiet I could wax eloquent about how I am going to miss Michigan or blog about my running friends or several other things on my mind as our time in Michigan draws to a close.  Here is the extent of my profundity today.

Moving is really, really hard.  Hard in an all encompassing mentally and emotionally exhausting way.  Add an extra “really” for each child involved.

I got 4 hours of sleep last night in 3 segments.  I really need more sleep and a baby that doesn’t feel the need to eat 6 times in 11 hours.

Yesterday, thanks to a myriad of people we got our stuff (so much stuff!) loaded onto the truck and the house cleaned.  I am particularly thankful for those few people at the end who kept me from being the only one in a kitchen that took forever to clean.  Now it is a matter of packing the stuff scattered around, brushing off counters, turning off lights, and leaving our house behind.

I finally got a chance, at 8:30 last night, to get out for a little four mile run, the last one from our house.  Our town is small enough that you are hard pressed to eke out four miles unless you loop up and down and around.  So little space and so many memories.  It is strange to think that our time here is over.  I was trying to figure out during my run what I would call these years.  I don’t think that I could say truthfully that these were a “good five years” if by “good” I meant anything remotely easy or all-the-time fun.  They have been challenging and full of joy and sadness and disappointment and wonder and constant change.  I can without reservation say that this has been a good end to these years.  This is a good reason to make a move like this and the people who love us were with us at the end of everything.  It has been a full few weeks saying goodbye amid all the packing and cleaning.

As usual, I have had a song that has defined this time, that I have gravitated to when I am running.  Sara Bareilles’ Chasing the Sun has been on repeat more than a few times.  Despite the fact that my mantra with the boys has been: This is a new adventure!  We get to see new things and meet new people!  It is not necessarily my default outlook.  But it is what I want and it is how I want to go into the next chapter of life.

You said, remember that life is
Not meant to be wasted
We can always be chasing the sun!
So fill up your lungs and just run
But always be chasing the sun!

All we can do is try
And live like we’re still alive

Onwards and upwards to the Colorado adventure.

 

Posted by: Ingrid | July 9, 2014

My Heart is Full, My Calendar is Blank

Here’s the thing about friendship.  You can plan how to make friends.  You can try to figure out who you want to be friends with.  But in the end, friendship, good solid friendship ends up being something of a delightful surprise, unfurling slowly until you look back and can’t imagine day-to-day life without that person.

My first few years in Michigan I was getting to know people and by the end of two years was fairly confident of who I would be friends with.  One person in particular, was someone I really enjoyed hanging out with.  You can imagine my dismay then, when one of her friends, an interloper, showed up a few times when I was visiting my friend.  Inwardly I fumed.  The audacity!  How dare she cut into my time with friend X?  The nerve.

But then, this interloper and I, both pregnant at the same time, started hanging out.  When two women are miserably pregnant it is nice to be able to sit down and talk through the details while your two toddlers fling trains and blocks at one another in a different room.  Three years later, and I can say, hands down, that this woman is not only a dear and loyal friend but is also funny and sometimes sarcastic to boot.  And I really don’t know that I could be good friends with someone who didn’t do sarcasm (Oddly enough, that sounds like it should be sarcastic, but it’s not.  I am serious.)

I am so used to looking ahead to the next week and calling or texting to try to get something; a play date, park trip, sanity break, on the calendar, but now, when I look ahead to next week, our calendar is blank.  For three years we have played at parks, at each others houses, gardened together, been miserably pregnant (again) together, done cooking and canning projects, gone to the zoo, and allowed our children to wreak havoc on our local McDonald’s play place.

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Having friends when you have kids is tricky.  I have learned already that there are people I would love to hang out with, but if our kids’ personalities or ages don’t mesh, it’s not going to happen.  I have appreciated so much, while raising little children who do not do things I like sometimes or act in ways I approve of, having a steady friend who is there and who still makes time to be with us.  Aside from that, I also appreciate:

-A mutual agreement that coffee is always available to the visiting friend, because coffee is always a necessity.  Coffee, graham crackers, and bananas are all fair game.

-Knowing that either of us can send texts at the witching hour before dinner with some variation of: “If my husband is a minute late coming home, none of my children will be allowed to survive.” and the other will completely understand but not take it seriously because the frustrations of motherhood MUST come with some hyperbole.

-Knowing that the “where is my child going to school” question can be hashed out for two years without coming to an actual conclusion but that the “denim skirt” factor will always be thrown in, just for fun.

-The ability to hang out for several hours without completing a single thought, and often, a single sentence.

-Knowing that usually one of us will be stuck at home because we have bread rising so the playdate has to come to our house.

-Not thinking that the other person is weird for shopping at the Amish store, making bread or yogurt or most things but also not judging when we buy our kids scary chicken nuggets from McDonalds.

-Knowing that you can laugh about funny things, laugh about hard things, and be laughed at, whenever necessary.

And a truly stellar friend will not only agree to come eat tongue tacos at your house with their entire family, they will come even after you post pictures like this on social media.

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I will miss you, my crazy “I want to raise chickens when I’m about to give birth”, gardening, canning, piano playing, conscientious, snow loving, friend.  Take heart, Colorado is only a 17 hour drive.  In the minivan!  With three small children!

Also, you have my vote as “Most Likely to Succeed in Organic Gardening and Chicken Raising while Living in Antarctica”. :-)

Posted by: Ingrid | July 9, 2014

Love the Ones You’re With

When we moved to Michigan, almost five years ago, we moved to a state without family.  Particularly with a 15 day old baby, the lack of family, or anyone familiar, was daunting to say the least.

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How thankful we were, to soon have two women offer not only their friendship and support, but their desire to be adopted grandmas to our two week old son. (Had they know we were going to produce three adorable children in less than five years they may have thought through their offer a bit more!)

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Growing up, I learned to believe that the people who were always going to be there for you were your family members.  Everyone else would let you down but family, family would be there.  Of course, that begs the question; what happens when family dies?  Or isn’t close by?  Or (gasp!) let’s you down?  And in our case there was no family to be had.  But there were women who were willing to look outside their own families and to love us.

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Now, I will be the first to admit that it is delightful knowing that people love me.  But as a mom, I am beyond grateful to have had loving people step in to be there not just for me but for my kids as well.  I would like to think that I am fairly loveable.  At the very least I can take care of all toileting and dressing needs, stay up past 7 pm, and am capable of occasional witty repartee.

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But to have had people come alongside my (always) loud and (often) messy children, who have allowed us to get away, who have given us date nights and parenting advice, lunch breaks when I could go run, coffee breaks and adult conversation, and who are people we could trust our children with has been an enormous blessing.  Especially from both our adopted Grandmas, I have been the recipient of them living out the philosophy that you should love the people you’re with, even if they aren’t tied to you by blood.

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Our “family” in Michigan will be missed tremendously.  They have been with us on our first five years of parenting; through both good and bad times.  Aside from all of the happy and grateful memories I have, I hope with all my heart that I can become someone who sees the people around me and loves them as well as I and my family have been loved.

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Thank you Granny G and Grandma J.  For everything.

Posted by: Ingrid | July 7, 2014

I have a butter problem

I know that sounds funny, but I am dead serious.  I have a butter problem.

Here is the thing about moving cross country – at some point you begin to take stock of the stuff in your house.  Stuff in your house, in your garage, the basement, the freezer, and the fridge.  Because at some point you have to stop buying too much and stocking the pantry.  At some point you have to start letting things run out.  Hence the butter problem.  I am down to roughly three pounds of butter in the fridge and I am feeling really uncomfortable.  If I make a batch of cookies, a few loaves of bread and a pan of granola bars we will be practically down to two pounds,which, as anyone knows, is almost no butter at all.

This, six days pre-move, is the state of our refrigerator and freezer.

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It felt so good this afternoon to consolidate everything to one fridge.  But then I looked at everything and contemplated my almost daily urges to go to the Amish store to stock up on flour (What if there is no Whole Wheat flour in Colorado?  WHAT THEN?).  And maple syrup.  And chia seeds, maple flavoring, and twenty spices that I may need sometime.  I want to be sure that my fridges are stocked and I have options.  Empty spaces in the fridge and only a few butter cubes make me very ill at ease.

I am finding that this translates into other areas as well.  I fought, (and won) a battle with myself, in which I consolidated 3.5 totes of maternity clothes down to 1 and managed to cull 7 garbage bags of baby boy clothes to give to a friend and still have several boxes left.  The crazy part was that many of those clothes had never been worn by me or my children.  They just took up space in drawers and in the closet to make me feel comfortable.  I have options, all is well.

So it’s more than a butter problem, it’s a stuff problem.  And yes, I’m in the baby and kid stage so it is hard to get rid of stuff and yes, maybe there will be another baby which has a 50/50 chance of being one gender or the other, but still.  We have too much stuff, plain and simple.  We have managed to skate the poverty line for two years and we still have a ridiculous amount of stuff in boxes and food that we will no way be able to finish in six days.  It seems absurd.  How do we have so much when so often it feels like we don’t or like there are so many things that would make life better or easier or more fun?

We have been trying to get rid of things, selling or giving them away, to make room, and yet it seems like there is always more.  Part of me wants to hang onto things and the other part of me wants to sell off everything, even our sofa and chairs and just sit on large cushions in our new house.  All stuff must go!  Make way for space!

And the reality is, when we get to Colorado I know I will be on the lookout for 5 and 6T clothes for Isaac.  For a bunk or trundle bed for the boys.  For dressers.  For a lego table.  For 18 month clothes for Liliana.  I will start building up the pantry and filling up the freezer so it feels “safe” again and not like we’re living on the edge of something precarious.

I am hoping though, that I can at least take the time to think through the things; the butter, the books, the too-many baby clothes, and the extra toys.  Why is it so scary when they aren’t there and what am I afraid of finding in the spaces in between?

Posted by: Ingrid | July 3, 2014

8 Months: I got me some baby legs

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Dear Liliana,

This is a little late, but it has been crazy, truly crazy, this past month.  So here we are, fashionably late.  And yes, I am a little embarrassed by the title of this post, taken from a Soulja Boy song that your Aunt Sarah burned on a cd years ago.  I don’t even like the song as running music, but when I see your big, adorable, squishy thighs that’s all I can think of.

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And you belly laugh when I squeeze your legs, which makes it even better.  So I walk around with a cackling baby chanting: I got me some baby leg! with an entirely different meaning than was originally meant.  Sorry, SB.

This month you are half Liliana and half Lily, depending on the mood and depending on who is talking to you.  Your brothers, for good or ill, are taking much more of an interest in you.

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This means they want to hold you more, roll you around, and, in Isaac’s case, tease you without mercy.  I will admit, you are so funny and vocal when you get mad, I can see why he finds it such a delight.  You’re like a big light up toy that shrieks and gets mad.  Unfortunately, this means more monitoring for mom and dad, since big brother seems to want to push the limits.  Awesome for us.

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You are big.  Still exclusively breastfed those rolls and that baby chub is all from mom.  You seriously have bicep rolls to go with the baby thighs.  I love chunky babies!  Love them!  It never ceases to amaze me how chubby babies get drinking only milk.  You like watching the rest of us eat but really don’t want anything to do with us putting things (spoons, baby Tylenol) in your mouth.  The worst part of vaccinations has been getting you to drink whatever grape or cherry flavored medicine they give you.  Far worse than shots!  I feel like I should be using you as a kettlebell, swinging you up and down, but the thought makes me tired.

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On June 16th, after teething for approximately 5 months, your first tooth (right, bottom, front) cut through.  Finally.  You keep making odd faces as if to say: Hey!  There’s something sharp stuck in my otherwise soft gums!  Even more fun is trying to teaching you not to bite me when you are nursing and ready to switch sides.  You nip me and grin.  Holy OW.

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No crawling, still no interest in rolling, but you sit up like a pro.  You sit up so well, in fact, that when I was trying to get a group photo I sat you on the couch forgetting that you aren’t as stable as you seem (you can see where this is going) and was fortunately close enough to catch you as you catapulted head over heels off the couch.  Mommy safety fail there.  Perhaps, with all of the packing and moving prep it is a blessing that you aren’t mobile yet.  Besides, why move when your brother will bring you whatever you need?  You do enjoying throwing your weight around in the bouncer, however, which has been funny to watch.

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You are grabbing everything.  Faces, necklines, whatever comes near your clutching little fists.  You grab your feet, you grab you clothes, you just want your hands on EVERYTHING.  You are waving, sometimes.  At people but also when you get excited.  Then you kick both legs and wave both hands and it’s a baby party.  You love sticking out your tongue and your recent favorite is bumping the back of your hand against your mouth while making funny sounds and waving.  So funny!  So cute!  And we all make ourselves look ridiculous trying to get you to do it.

You like to talk and babble, sometimes very loudly and sometimes at 4:00 am.  You tend to talk and up the volume, crying only when it’s been too long without a response.

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Sometimes you squeal and sometimes it sounds like you’re singing, you really enjoying using your voice and making sounds, a mix of da, ma, fa, ba,and a few other combos.  I did have a scare when I was decorating your brother’s cake a few days ago (the boys were gone because you never know what kind of language I may use when trying to apply icing to cake) and I said, loudly, a phrase that began with d.  Momentary pause and then, from the living room, you said: DAH!  No more cake decorating for me.

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You love people.  When you are fussy, even if you are hungry, we can stave you off as long as we hold and interact with you.  This is actually what you would prefer all the time and forever.  Your Dad mentioned the other day:  Do you think maybe she’s an introvert?  Then there you were, holding court and babbling away at your brothers and I and crying when any of us moved more than 24 inches away or took our eyes off of you.  You are very much a people person right now and I don’t plan on letting your Daddy live that one down any time soon.  Introvert, indeed!

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Love,

Mom

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Posted by: Ingrid | July 2, 2014

Remembering the Lost Years

What would you think of me now, so lucky, so strong, so proud? I never said thank you for that. Now I’ll never have the chance. -Jimmy Eat World

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This year the anniversary of my mom’s death hit the day before an early birthday party for Isaac (early as in 6 weeks early, so we could have it pre-move).  All day I was cake decorating, cleaning like crazy (do not stop cleaning your house and then decide to have a party in said house  -dumb.),  throwing boxes in the bedroom, going, going, going all day.

One thing that seven years has taught me is that the grief changes.  What I felt when she died, when I was six months married starting my fledgling adult life is different than the grief that hits me now, seven years later with three children who will never have the opportunity to meet their Grandma.

So often I think about the now or the future: What would you think, Mom, if you could see life right now?  But this year, trying to keep track of  three little children and how quickly they grow I grieve more for the then.  I am acutely aware that I am the keeper of memories for my children’s first years.  What I choose to remember, record, and write down will be what they end up with when they are interested (if they are interested), maybe decades from now.  The thousands of daily things: funny sayings, when they walked, what they liked, how they slept, so much of that is linked to me and my willingness to chronicle it.

The more I remember these things for my own children the more I realize that I didn’t just lose my mom when she died, I lost my first five years of “memories” and stories.  Was I a good eater?  Did I bite when I got teeth?  Did I sleep well?  Did I transition well to solids?  What did you think when you held me?  What did you worry about?  What did I play with?  Who did I play with?  What was I like?  The questions I would ask a mother of small children came too late.

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In the dark of Isaac’s room a few nights ago, when I was about to leave, he suddenly hugged me and said: If you were dead I would miss you and be so sad.  (Wha…?) Because sometimes mommies and daddies die.  I don’t even know where that came from, truly, it took me off guard.  But he’s right.  You don’t get the guarantee that your parents will be alive when you are an adult and having children.  So I write and record as best I can in the midst of chaos and try to live in the present with all of my unanswered questions, grateful when I find my mom’s old recipes, notes scribbled on a scrap of paper, or pictures, like these three that I came across last year but had never seen before.  Those memories completely lost except for the click of a camera.

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May angels lead you in.

Hear you me my friend.

On sleepless roads the sleepless go.

May angels lead you in.

Posted by: Ingrid | June 26, 2014

I know he loves me

Even after 7.5 years of marriage, when you feel like you know so much about your spouse, it is delightful to feel loved in a way that speaks to your heart.

Yesterday Husband got home and the following conversation ensued:

Husband:  So I decided that you and Liliana shouldn’t drive out to Colorado with the minivan and moving truck.  So I booked you a flight.

Me:  GAH?!?  What?!?!  (In my head I picture him randomly clicking on any flight from Detroit to Denver, happily unaware of a huge price difference.  As the Handler of Finance Spread Sheet, this is an unnerving thought.)  No!!!  I will be fine.  We can drive.  You didn’t have to do that.  Seriously.  I’d feel like such a wimp.  What mom can’t deal with three screaming kids in a minivan for 17 hours of driving?  I’m a total wimp if I fly.

Husband:  No.  You aren’t a wimp.  You’re wise.

Me:  But I didn’t book the ticket so I’m not wise, I’m the victim of the equivalent to a wisdom drive-by.

Husband:  So are you okay with it?

Me:  (Shamefacedly) Yeah.  I really love the idea.  And I don’t want to know any details about the guy-trip out to Colorado.  I don’t care what you feed them, where you sleep, or the number of DVDs they watch.

Husband:  Great!  I just wanted to feel the idea out first.  No way would I make a big financial decision without checking with you first.

Me:  ARE YOU KIDDING ME???!!!

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is true love.  It also ensures that I will be somewhat sane when we arrive in Colorado. :-)

Posted by: Ingrid | June 25, 2014

Remembering

June 24th was my mom’s birthday.  Unlike the first few birthdays after her death, today’s activities were spelled out for me.  We spent most of the day 2/3 kids free, moving boxes from the basement to the garage and stacking them in piles.  Stair climbing with book boxes is better than a high intensity workout!

Sometimes people ask me to tell me about my mom and I don’t know what to say.  I can describe her.  I can give a caricature of who she was.  I can tell you some semi-funny stories (Have I told you about the sandwich she sent with me to Kindergarten one day? Homemade whole wheat bread with unsalted peanut butter and alfalfa sprouts that she grew under the kitchen sink.) But I don’t know how to adequately give words to who she was and how she shaped me.  What do you even say when you know your mother is behind almost everything you do or don’t do.  Behind the way you think about yourself.  The way you think about the past and the future.  Behind the things you wish you could do but never will and the things you will adamantly refuse to do even if you were paid handsomely.

Who was my mom?  I feel like I can still only answer that with “it’s complicated”.

How is it possible to even explain that?  I know that it can’t be easy, ever, to lose a mother, even if she is in her 90’s.  But I would like to presume that if life ran its course in a semi-normal manner, you would have that struggle for autonomy and individuation but eventually you could come out the other side and be friends.  Is that how it all works out?

I wish I could answer that question definitively.  I would give almost anything to be able to, just as I would give so much to have her see and hold her grandkids, to listen to parenting advice over the phone while rolling my eyes, which seems to be what the majority of friends in my age bracket are currently doing.  In my packing I came across a collage of pictures from her birthday seven years ago.  The last birthday.  The last time I saw her alive.  The pictures are faded, blurred, just like the memories and emotions from that day that felt so sharp and intense during the 24 hours I was home.

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Your mom may drive you (more than) a little nuts, but do me a favor and give her a hug today.  Just because she’s still there and some day she won’t be.

Life is so short.

Posted by: Ingrid | June 23, 2014

Our Life in Boxes

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I have concluded that packing with small children anywhere in the vicinity is as close to a sisyphean task as you can get.  What mars the austerity of packed and taped boxes more than a kaleidoscope of 10,000 legos and small cars strewn around the room?  Also, my children are excellent unpackers of whatever I want packed AND are pack rats to boot (as is my husband).  I am less a pack rat now than when I was younger; somebody has to be willing to throw things away!

In the midst of all of the packing I keep blogging in my head (because nothing says no blogging like moving and three kids, let me tell you).  There is something about having to get words down where someone, even one person, may see them, that helps me process better and capture more.  Yes, I do still keep a journal, but those entries read something like:

Gah!  So many boxes! How do we have this much stuff?  Cannot take more packing.  Have people died from moving stress?  I think they have. So stressed.  No house.  How can there be nothing to rent?  I will die if we have to live in a two bedroom house for a year.  So stressed!  Toys everywhere.  Boys are bouncing off walls.  We are sucky parents.  I am tired and stressed.  Still no house but we are moving in less than 3 weeks.  HOW DO WE HAVE THIS MUCH STUFF???

I am nothing if not inspiring in my journal these days.  As an aside, I found my first journal entry from when I was eight years old and we had just moved from South Dakota to California.  I kid you not, I open with: I keep thinking about the good old days and all of my friends in Watertown…  The what?!?  Hello, eight year old going on eighty.

So it is crazy-ville here.  And added to the crazy are all the goodbyes on so many different levels mixed in with the fact that this is the month of June which is already tinged with sadness because it will always be the month of my mom’s birthday and the anniversary of her death.  I am trying to decide which scenario is harder:

-Moving across country two weeks after having your first baby

-Moving while pregnant with two children when your husband is teaching and you have to pack everything up

-Moving with three children back across the country

But why choose when you could do them all in five years?  And again with the “how do we have this much stuff?”

The facts: We are moving in less than three weeks.  The house is chaotic.  We have two freezers full of food.  I have to make a dragon cake in 6 days for my almost five year old who is celebrating his birthday early while we still have friends around.  I am so sad to leave.  We (I think) have a house to rent as of about 30 minutes ago.  I am ridiculously stressed but need to process in a more coherent way than I am able to do in my journal.

So maybe I will be blogging more.  Or going insane.

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