Too many vowels

Micah is a fairly good communicator, but being two, he still has many idiosyncrasies of language. One of his troubles is many vowels in a row. If I ask him to do something or if he is something, he’ll answer with “I mam” instead of “I am”.

This is somewhat problematic at our house because

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So, Micah has adapted his brother’s name, and refers to him as I-zay-ga. Because of this, baby’s nickname has become Zega (rhymes with Sega, as in the gaming system). He’s in good company with Emma Boo or just Boo, Hanno Nano or just Nano, and Micah Man or Cakers.

What things did you or your kids call their siblings besides stupid head?

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The state of the homeschool address

How do you homeschool with a baby?

You just do it.

I know that sounds overly simplistic, but it’s the best explanation I can give. People talk about how to keep your house clean or get the dishes done or be more productive at work. In the end, it really comes down to just doing it.

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The first week, my parents were here and largely managed the toddler. The second week, Bryan worked from home and handled stray contingencies like toddler poop and homeschool community day. Both of these weeks, the girls did not do math which knocks an hour off their day.  The third week, we had no homeschool community, so we took vacation and I planned out lessons for the next six weeks for Hannah and streamlined Emma’s planning sheet to make it easier to fill out after her seminar day.

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Until this past week, we were back to full school with math and mom tutoring the Essentials class and taking everyone to our homeschool community day all by myself. How did it go?

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Overall things went well. School got done. We made it everywhere mostly on time. Everyone got fed everyday. We did some cleaning up everyday. We held the baby. We read stories. Children played outside. We had dessert. People got clean. The furnace inspection happened.

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Things could have gone better. We could have gotten school done earlier. Perhaps, the laundry could have gotten folded more often. Sometimes, we had grumpy attitudes. Mom could have better insured that all children were dressed for the weather.

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But overall, we were successful, and beyond just doing it, here are a few reasons why I think we didn’t go under:

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I’ve been trying to prioritize my rest. I’m generally terrible at this, but as I’m getting older, I’m maybe getting a little wiser. If I’m not getting around 7 total hours of sleep, I’m going to be crabby. No one wants a crabby mom. Better to wake up Bryan for help or let baby sleep on a sister or something to ensure that I can function because people need me around here.

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Along with that, I’m taking all the help people will offer. Someone asked, “Do you need a meal?” I have freezer meals in the freezer, but I replied, “We would never turn down a meal,” because that is one less thing that I have to think about. Also, I’ve realized as I get older that if someone wants to help and you refuse them, it’s kind of a jerky thing to do. This includes help from in house family members. Do you want me to change the baby, Mom? Yes, please.

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I’m managing my expectations. If the house is getting messy, I’m trying to determine what we can do right then or soon to help fix it. Five minute pick ups for the kids with candy rewards when they make their goal are working wonders. Should I bribe my children? It’s working, so yes. When I’m limited to what I can do with a baby in the carrier when I’m not feeding him, I’ll take what I can get.

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We’re trying to incorporate the fun. Things slow down. I said no to at least three field trips in October and several other activities, but this gives us more time during the day and at dinner to play and sing silly songs or just to appreciate the humor involved with toddlers and babies.

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Finally, I’m slowly working on getting a regular schedule for baby so that now, he’s only really getting up once a night which, although the nights are still short, helps quite a bit. And he’s getting older which means that he’s getting better at playing and staying entertained for short time periods so that I can get a few things done.

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Now, throwing Christmas preparations in with this has been a little tricky, but we’re getting there all the same.

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What questions do you have about homeschooling with babies and toddlers?

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Friday

After the trauma of Wednesday, Thursday was a quiet day of recovery, I think. I was really too tired to notice much other than what was directly around me. Friday dawned anew, though, and with it came those troubles of its own warned about in the scriptures. During Isaiah’s first feeding, he threw up most or all of his feed. I’m thinking about what wonderful germs we must have picked up in all those clinic visits Wednesday. He refused to eat after throwing up, smart kid, but since I’m nursing, this required potential action on my part. If he wasn’t going to nurse well all day, I was going to have to pump. Boo. I went to get my pump and sterilize the parts. Isaiah went down for nap, I put everything in a pot on the stove to boil. I turned on the burner, and Micah had to pee. I take him potty and get him dressed, and when we come out, we both smell something. I hurry downstairs expecting to see some hot metal or melted plastic because I was sure the cause of the smell was turning on the wrong burner. I was right about the burner, but the smell was a rag, on fire. I tried smothering it with a pot lid, but that was awkward and taking too long, so I poured my teapot over it. The smoldering rag sizzled out. Now I turned on the oven fan and ran about the house opening windows. Thankfully, the smoke detectors didn’t turn on and wake the baby, but they probably need replacing. Finally, I turned my attention back to Micah and got him some cereal. He decided to try milk on his cereal which he immediately drank out of the bowl. While chasing the last few Cheerios with his spoon, he upended his bowl onto the floor, so I paused my fire clean up to do soggy Cheerio clean up.

Much as I do when ants invade my home, the fire situation flipped a slightly OCD switch which led to compulsive kitchen cleaning. So, I suppose an upside to all this drama is a shiny clean kitchen. The girls probably wouldn’t agree though as they became conscripted labor for tidying up.

As the day went on, Isaiah didn’t throw up anymore, and we even made it to Walmart to get some gifts we needed for Sunday, but by the end of the day, we decided pizza was a great idea for dinner.

This week has obviously been one for professionals that your shouldn’t attempt at home, or one that causes me to need professional help, one of those.

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Wednesday

I discovered mid morning that Isaiah had some hair and fuzz wrapped tightly around his toes. This is a condition called a hair tourniquet. I worked to free them. However, I kept watch over him, and by afternoon, it became apparent that I hadn’t finished the job since his toe still looked quite swollen and indented

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I called into the clinic, but it was nearing the end of the day and I didn’t receive a response. When Bryan finished coaching quizzing and I finished feeding baby, I headed out to get someone to look at it. First, I went to the wrong clinic. They sent me to the Acute Care clinic across down from east to west. After looking, consulting, looking, consulting, they sent me across town from north to south to the ER. The doctor suggested I get some emotional support because “it would be harder on me than on him.” I guess I look like a delicate flower. I was more concerned about sitting in the ER waiting room for hours with a baby than the procedure which I saw pictures of on Google earlier in the day. Amazingly, though, they called ahead and there really was no wait. The treatment involves cutting the toe to free it from the hair tourniquet. They numb it first with a shot which was the hardest part, well, that and trying to stop bleeding on an active little guy who has no interest in holding still. A nice grandpa was the nurse, though, and he had some magic clotting bandage. We headed home where Bryan, who had thankfully taken charge of the other three, informed me that I had worried half the church by texting him to let him know that I was headed to the emergency room. I updated Facebook to set that aright and called my parents with whom I had been consulting. Thursday things looked much better.

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All this in the day that Emma is taking her midterms. Exhausting.

And that was just Wednesday.

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Why does the baby’s breath smell like gingerbread?

We sat down to dinner in stages. I was helping Emma prepare for her test tomorrow, so Bryan went down and heated up the Sloppy Joes that I had pulled from the freezer earlier that week. He got Micah and himself some food first, and then I sent Hannah down. Finally, Emma and I headed down. Micah thought the meal was great and ate it all up quickly. Bryan said that since he (Micah) had finished, he could have a gingerbread Oreo (these are surprisingly tasty by the way). Micah ate his cookie and was thirsty, so he got a drink from his water bottle. The rest of us continue to eat. Bryan turns to the baby in his chair, “No, Micah, you can’t put things in the baby’s mouth,” as Micah tries to give Isaiah a drink from his water bottle. Later, I pick up Isaiah and notice that his breath smells like gingerbread. Since baby’s breath often smells like old milk, Bryan’s thinking this might be a good baby breath mint applicator.

Has your baby ever smelled like cookies? Have you tried the gingerbread Oreo cookies? How do you keep your toddler from helpfully shoving things in baby’s face?

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Isaiah 2 month update

I thought I would remedy the relative silence on the blog about Isaiah. It’s like he’s a royal baby that you only get a glimpse of him every few months.

He’s more than two months. He’s doing two month old things like smiling, cooing, staying awake longer than 15 minutes at a time. He’s growing well, he weighs over 12 pounds now. He did well with his shots. He’s spitting up much less since he was put on an antacid. I hate meds for babies, but no one in the house still walks around with a burp cloth and that was a constant before. He’s napping in his bed which is a wonderful thing for getting a few things done and for him actually getting a nap because his brother is, well, let’s just say that the girls came upstairs the other day and said, “We found the perfect book for Micah,” it was Mr. Noisy. Truth.

And here’s some many pictures.

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Yes, he’s a good baby. No, he’s not sleeping through the night. Yes, unfortunately, my floor usually does have a pile of toddler toys on it and school books. We’re a work in progress.

He’s a keeper, though, like the rest.

Do you have any questions for Isaiah? I’ll pass them along as he doesn’t have internet access yet.

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Bedtime songs

I love to sing to our kids at bedtime, especially to Micah who sings along. But, every so often, he’ll throw a monkey wrench in the whole bedtime process by requesting a song that doesn’t exist.

“What song do you want?”
“Umm, the monster truck song”

At first, this would throw me, but soon I realized that this is my cue to make up a song about monster trucks. Currently, the song about monster trucks is a favorite, so I thought I would share it with you in case you, too, get a request for a song about monster trucks and feel a bit put on the spot.

To the tune of “Mary had a Little Lamb”

Micah had a monster truck
Monster truck, monster truck
Micah had a monster truck
It vroomed to him each day

Vroom, vroom, vroom, vroom, vroomy vroom
Vroomy vroom, vroomy vroom
Vroom, vroom, vroom, vroom, vroomy vroom
It vroomed to him each day.

I find the second verse to be particularly inspired, don’t you?

Do your kids request imaginary things?

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The gap

How many years between Hannah and Micah?

I get that question a lot. It’s 6 and a half. That’s not really an acceptable gap I guess because I get a lot of “wow” that sounds a little like “why” in response.

I can see where that gap might make little sense to some. We were done with diapers. We already had two. I was busy with homeschooling. The girls were big enough that we could travel easily.

I’m not here to justify my choices, though. Just meeting Micah dispels most people’s objections. That boy. Nope, I wanted to talk about the blessing of my gap.

Most people assume the blessing is helpers, but I’ve got to say, that blessing is almost overridden by the fact that older kids are BUSY and I just have to keep going to choir, to quizzing, to homeschool groups, to youth group, even just keeping the schooling going is quite a bit of work with a newborn especially if they don’t stay intrinsically motivated to complete their work in a timely fashion. We can’t just stay home when I need a nap or someone needs to potty train. Also, about 50% or more of their helping goes toward cleaning up their own messes or messes that they have, perhaps with good motives like playing with little brother or perhaps with mal intent like an uncontrollable urge to cut paper into itty bitty pieces, contributed to.

So if that’s not the blessing, what is? It’s perspective. I have a twelve year old. How that happened I have no idea, but I know now in a way that I didn’t twelve years ago that these days will pass. I can soak up baby goodness with abandon because I know we’re not going to be here for long and we will never be here again. I can accept some shorter and sleepless nights because I know that this too shall pass, it won’t last forever. I can set that baby down while I take care of myself for a few minutes because I can clearly see that crying a little and sometimes a lot did none of the others any harm. I can let Dad do his thing even when it’s different from me without worry because he has only made the other ones better little people, no one has died from cereal or McDonald’s for dinner while mom’s gone. Beyond that, since this is number four, I can know with certainty that this one will be different from the others, so I don’t have to worry when learning strategies or discipline or relationships or milestones look different because I know that I’ll have to learn and experiment with this little one just like the others.

Maybe you don’t need a gap to have that kind of perspective, but I’m grateful for mine because it lets me see that clearly. Also, I’m a little grateful I didn’t have what looks like it will be two very busy boys when I only had a six year old and a four year old around because the 50% of their help with keeping a helping eye or three on these guys will probably keep them out of the ER once or several dozen times.

What helps you have perspective with your little people?

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A communion meditation

I was taking communion today, and I was thinking which is something I typically try to do because I think it is important to participate in the sacraments mindfully. It’s too easy to simply take the elements and not think after hundreds of times, so I will intentionally pray, mostly that Christ would make me worthy through himself to participate in communion.

Today, I was praying and looking at my little guy sleeping in my arms, and I thought of the great differences between Jesus and myself. The verse came to mind about how Jesus had poured out his life for many, and I thought about the pouring out of life that happens when one has a tiny infant. All of parenting is or should be a pouring out of your life for others, marriage too for that matter, but the newborn stage is particularly grueling for me because of both lack of sleep and the seemingly constant meeting of needs with nursing 8 or so hours a day.

So I was thinking about Christ pouring out his life versus me pouring out mine. We both give/gave up sleep except His complaint when he was woken was that they didn’t have faith, not that he needed more sleep. We both are feeding and providing from a seemingly inadequate source yet while Jesus simply looked to Heaven and trusted God to provide what was lacking, I worry and stress about what I am unable to do and be. He didn’t turn others away regardless of the time or whether He was heading to do something else. I have done both. When others sought to elevate Jesus, he humbled himself. When others don’t recognize my efforts and elevate me, I sometimes feel grumpy and unappreciated. It just made me think how great our Savior is. He did all of this perfectly when I do not.

So when I struggle, especially in this precious but demanding season, I can look to Jesus. He can sympathize and provide what I’m lacking, and I can know that He covered this sin too in His death and resurrection. He is enough when I am not.

If for no other reason than that they point me to Jesus, children are indeed a blessing. Of course, there are many, many other reasons.

Do your kids drive you to feeling singularly inadequate?

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A note to dads

Do you even know?

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I mean look at that. I’m going to dip poorly into sports analogy here, but that is the star player on the team.

Most people would think it’s this one.

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She’s got the whole crew gathered around. And it’s true, she shoulders a lot of the work.

But when this one does what he can do best,

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then the other ones don’t go crazy.

Without Bryan getting up some with this little one and helping shoulder some of the housework load, I’d be stretched too thin, in the words of Tolkien, “like too little butter scraped across too much bread”. But because of what he does, our house has had a lot more moments of fun, silly enjoyment, and more love than snappy frustration that happens when chaos abounds and the mom who is needed by all the people can’t fix it.

Things like this

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and this

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and this

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mean that there can be a lot more of this

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with happy mamas and happy kiddos.

So dads, never feel like because you didn’t give birth or you don’t do the majority of the day to day stuff that you are inconsequential. You’re not. Your active participation in fatherhood and marriage makes the whole world run a lot more smoothly and more pleasantly. You are vital to the happiness of your homes.

Carry on, good sirs.

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