But Remember, My Three Best Friends Came With

Sometimes, I feel like if I'm going to talk to you all in real time, I need to preface the post. I can get so into a rhythm of sharing Worth Sharings, This Is How I Feels or The Great Big Essays on Motherhood, that I forget how much I enjoy sharing with you all about nothing, or maybe it's that I'm sharing about everything. 

It's been three months since babygirl was carried into Oakland Avenue, and it has been the most exhausting, wearying and trying three months of my life. I can't tell you how many nights were spent, particularly in those first two months, holding a crying babygirl, with me sobbing right along with her. I was holding her, sure, but I was offering no real comfort, because in those moments, I needed it too.

I've come a long way since those tearful nights right after my husband and I made the decision to move. With the addition of reflux medicine and the truth in the fact that colic really does clear up around three months, Colette has become unrecognizable. She's seriously calmer, quieter and more predictable than Eli was at this age. It's bizarre. Mike and I often still find ourselves in disbelief that she's the same baby we had just a few weeks ago and there's this part of us that is still walking on eggshells around her, just waiting for her to keep us up all night again, burning our ears with her cries. But beyond a few nights here or there that have only lasted a few hours or so, and the typical fussiness that always comes with a baby at this age, she seems to be pretty stable.

It's funny, because I cried when she was crazy and I'm crying now thinking about how not-crazy she is and far we've come. A lot of people are asking me how the transition to two has been. They have also been a bit worried about me. Admittedly, the posts have been heavier around here. A little raw. But it's where I'm at. That's not to say I am not LOVING motherhood. I do and I always have. It's the best job I've ever had and there isn't a day that goes by that I'm not so thankful I have these two amazing kids to raise and I get to stay home all day with them.

But my world sorta imploded when my second arrived. With Mike taking a new job out of state five days after she was born, we had just 10 weeks to sell and purchase a house, say goodbye to everything we knew, and move into temporary housing. And with Colette having the one-two punch of colic and reflux - well, it made for a tough few months.

For me, it's a bit hard to sift through all that's been happening in the last three months to know what was hard because of adding a second, or what was hard because I had to prepare my house to sell with a toddler at my feet and a baby in my sling. I can't tell you if I was distressed and weary because I was constantly trying to carry both my clingy toddler and my newborn up and down the stairs or because I was flying back and forth to our new hometown in Chicago, living part-time at my mother-in-law's and part-time in a house that didn't feel like mine since we change the decor to sell.  I can't tell you if I was tired because babygirl was literally up all night or because of the mountain of cleaning, organizing, paperwork, phone calls and emails selling and buying a house requires. (Okay, I can tell you - I was tired because of babygirl. Hands down.)

And so my writing here reflects that. It's not just transitioning to two. But some of it is. A lot of it probably. Yet each post doesn't mean that's everything there is to it, they only spotlight one thing I'm feeling in this season out of many, many feelings. The thing is, as moms, we're always going through different seasons in this one big huge season of motherhood, right? This is a more difficult one for me, but it's not the end. It's nothing to be concerned about. In fact, it is just the opposite. I know from experience that these seasons, the ones that put our character and values to the fire and show how they burn, they are the ones that refine us to gold. And isn't that what we should want?

I think I'm nearing the other side of this trying season. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We get possession of our new home in mid-April, and we have a couple contractors lined up to do some work on it, then we'll move in as soon as it's completed. To be honest, I'm not sure I'll feel totally settled and "out of the woods" until we're in our new house and our stuff is unpacked and put away. But the dust is settling here. I've had a lot more time to rest here in temporary housing. With Colette going to bed around 7 p.m. every night, Mike and I have our evenings back to spend time together - or let's be honest, veg out while binge watching Suits. I've been able to get out and go on walks with the kids, and spend more time in the kitchen.

It's kinda a weird feeling this stage I'm in. I'm back to some of my old routines, but yet I still feel a bit off kilter. Like a wanderer. Out of place and unsettled.

But then I look around and see Eli riding Mike around like a horse, shouting "Giddyup!" and Colette hanging out on her playmat talking to the giraffe's colorful feet and everything centers itself again. I may be in an unfamiliar place, but it's a bright and blinding reminder that my home is not made up of four walls around me, it's the people that live in it. 

Before we moved, every time I would get down on it, I'd remind myself, "But I get to take my three best friends with me. The three people I love most, in this entire world, they're coming too." And somehow, it took a bit of the sting out of it.

And so as hard as it's been, it's really been okay. It's good actually. I'm good. I can see the light ahead - in fact - when I think about it more I'm in the light right now. I've got everything I need and could ever want right here in front of me: my family. Because in all of this, as cliche as it is, they're really all that matters.

So onward we march to the next adventure.

*Photo: Leah Fontaine

Eli - 23 Month Update

As usual for me lately, this post is coming super late! While I wrote the post about three weeks ago, I kept waiting for a chance to take different photos for this month as Eli wasn't in a very good mood the day we tried to - aka - he woke early from a nap, was super grumpy and wouldn't smile. But oh well, real life, right?

Naps: One nap a day, around 1 p.m. for two to three and a half hours.
Feeding: Two percent milk (16-20 oz./day), water all day, table foods three times a day with a snack after nap.
Clothing: 2T
Bedtime: 7:30 - 8 p.m. Sleeps 12-13 hours each night.

Eating: I think he went through a growth spurt this month, because it felt like I could never give this little boy enough food! He's super agreeable to really eat anything now, I feel like we've finally pushed past some of the pickiest eating days. For a long time I wondered if that Baby Led Weaning method worked because he was so finicky with food, but these days, Eli eats everything. Particularly now that we can barter with him, I can tell him he needs to finish his meal and then he can have bread/chips/dessert/etc. It's amazing that it works, and often he forgets that he even wanted the other food! Of course, when he requests food, he still wants grilled cheese, quesadillas, anything with cheese, but overall he happily eats anything I put in front of him. 
Sleeping: 
Totally back to normal here. I don't think we had a night waking all month! Which was so nice for me! His naps really range from 1.5 hours to four hours, usually around two hours, but they're a little all over the place for duration. For him to wake up happy though, he really needs to get the two full hours, so it always stinks when he wakes early!
Development: 
This kid is a chatter box - we're now up to five word sentences. His first one was "Momma sit down, righ' here!" (Eli has never been shy about letting me know exactly what he wants.) He's getting better at stringing the words together without the pauses in between so it feels like I'm actually having full conversations with him instead of cave-man talk. 

He continues to love imaginary play and I'm always amazed at the things he comes up with. I'm starting to realize what a sponge he is because often, he'll start saying/doing something that I KNOW I haven't ever done or taught him. Like one day he came home from nursery singing "Ring around the Rosies" - he'd just hum the main tune, then shout, "All fall down!" and collapsed on the floor. I was shocked! 

He's also really into always having a buddy help him do something or play along side him. He lost a bit of his stamina for independent play this month, but I think it's likely because of all the transition we've put him through. He always wants, "Momma's help, Momma play, Momma finger - walk?" I love that he loves to play with me, but it's been a bit hard with how clingy he his. He started to not like it when I'm holding Colette and will shout, "No, no, no, Colette down. Momma play." It breaks my heart that I'm having to teach him to "share" his momma with his sister. 

He's still really into shouting his colors, counting randomly and singing his ABC's. His colors are down pat, but the numbers and letters are sorta a grab bag for what you'll get, which is completely adorable. 



Mommy/Daddy Update:
We're doing really well. I've really begun enjoying Eli's age - he's an absolute riot to be around and I feel like I'm either doubled over with laughter over the funny things Eli says and does all day, or I'm sitting there guessing out loud what he's trying to tell me and we both end up giggling when start to realize it's a lost cause. He's just so adorable when he's trying to say something but can't remember how! While our lives were still in a lot of upheaval this past month, I was so impressed with how well Eli did. He spent nearly a week with each grandparent set as we flew to Chicago with Colette, and while each time we had a couple days of him transitioning back to - well, not getting what he wanted all. the. time. and being told "No." again - overall, he did awesome and Mike and I love seeing him continue to get closer and closer to our extended family. I'm looking forward to this next month with him - while we'll still be in a lot of transition as we FINALLY make the move to temp housing in Chicago - we won't be tossing Eli around so much, so I'm hoping the move goes smoothly for Eli since Mike and I will be around all the time to care for him and give him some much needed consistency and security. 

When Your Heart Breaks For Your Children: Where To Turn When You Can't Protect Them

My children are young, so young that they mostly live in a Pleasantville-like bubble. But over the past year, that bubble has been pushed and poked a few times. There have been a few holes here and there, but I work quickly to patch them. And for the most part, the bubble remains.

But that is not the point of this. The point is just the opposite. The point is that the bubble will inevitably burst, no matter how I try to support it. The point is, I am realizing very quickly that I cannot protect my children from everything.

It's an uneasy feeling knowing you can't solve the problem, fix the issue, deal with the matter. I'm a problem solver by nature; an avid, rabid researcher; a Pull Up Your Bootstraps, Have A Little Gumption And Everything Will Be Alright kinda gal.

But there are some things in life parents just cannot solve.

I remember being little, believing my dad was in fact the one that hung the moon. He was my world, and there was no problem he couldn't solve. And I was right to believe that. That's what daddies should be: everything wonderful and strong and solid and trustworthy that this world is made up of.

But today as a parent myself, I look back over my childhood and realize as much as I know he tried at the time, he couldn't protect me from everything. The day the girls at recess kicked me out of their friend group. The day I was made fun of for being tall and wide. The day my heart was broken and confused by a boy.

He couldn't protect me from those things. They happened. I was crushed.



My son has some vision conditions, and his eyes are not doing well. Appointment after appointment, the news just seems to get worse each time. In person and if you pay attention, there is evidence of his vision loss on the outside beyond just the glasses, and already he has been called names by the older children at the park, or been privy to inconsiderate, piercing statements that should not be said at all.

My heart breaks for my son. Not only because his eyes will probably always serve as a challenge to him - a roadblock I cannot clear, a thorn in his flesh I cannot remove - no matter the interventions we throw at it. It also breaks because people are mean. They are inconsiderate. They do not think.

It has been my first lesson as a mother that my dad knew all along - I cannot protect my children from everything.

They will burn from the sting of a well-placed name or overheard gossip. They will hurt from friend that is no longer a friend. They will ache over a love lost and be scarred by the break of the heart that always comes with.

And as their mother, I will burn, hurt, ache and scar right along with them.

But then, when our tears have been cried and dried, when the anger is spent and the hurt is slowed, and the headache and tension has left our bodies, I will ask them:

"Are you going to believe them? Will you believe what they say?

Or will you believe what I say of you? Or even more important, will you believe what Jesus says of you?

Because you are perfect to me. And you have been made perfect in him. Oh baby, you are at a crossroads and I know you are hurting right now, but you have a choice to make. You can choose to believe them, or you can choose to believe truth.

Because you are more than their empty words. You are more than their rude stares, their snide comments, their brash criticism. They know nothing of who you truly are or who you will become. Don't let this stop you. It is only a crack, and there isn't a crack that The One cannot seam.  Don't let them cut you down at the knees. Stand up strong and tall like I know you are.

You have a choice to make.

Are you going to believe them? Will you believe what they say?

Or will you believe me now? Will you believe the truth of the gospel?"

No. I cannot protect my children from everything. But I can point them to the one who can.

The Rock. The Pillar of Cloud and Fire. The Potter. The Burning Bush. The One On The White Horse.

As I think about it more, I can see why God designed it that way. It is in our weakness that he is strong. It's in our cries for help that he hears and answers. It is in our distress that we are set free. It is in our troubles that he has mercy on us.

And so I think as a parent, I can find peace with not being able to protect my children in everything. While it pains me to know that my children will experience the harsh and sour world more than I'd ever want them to - I know that it is God's way of revealing the incredibly soft and sweet contrast of the gospel.

So I am preparing my heart for the hurt as well. Because when you hurt my babies, you hurt me.

But as our hearts heal together, I will say to them, "You have a choice to make. Will you believe them? Or will you believe me?"

And I will remember in that moment that I cannot protect them from everything.

But I can point them to the one that will.

Like this post? I also share a whole lot more on this motherhood gig over on Facebook (Oakland Avenue) and Instagram (@laurawifler) and I'd love it if you followed along!

Photo courtesy Leah Fontaine. 


Oakland Avenue >> Living and Dining Room Source List

I'm just quickly checking in today with a short flyover of where the furniture and decor in our living and dining room is from. I've had a lot of questions from you all about where certain items came from since the reveal a couple weeks ago - and a handful of requests for a full source list. Well, it's taken a bit, but I'm back today to share the full rundown of where things are from in case you'd like to nab similar items. 

Alright, here we go:

Light Blue/Grey Lamp: Base is from Crate&Barrel (old), landed it at a deep discount because it didn't have a shade. I picked one up from a local lamp store in the Twin Cities.
Mid Century Side Tables: Craigslist
Basket Under Side Table: Home Goods
Couch: HOM Furniture (old)
Pillows: Motif Pillows (custom)
Coffee Table: West Elm
Fern: Bachmans
Marble Pillar Lamp: West Elm
Tochkeys: Old
Gold Tray: Target
Painting: Lindsay Letters
Roman Shades: JCPenny.com


Basket (with blankets): Home Goods
Black and White Blanket: Terrain (old)
Wallpaper: Hygge & West
Blue Velvet Chair: West Elm
Pink Lumbar Pillow: StuckOnHue
Drum Floor Lamp: Target.com (Old)
Rug: Rugs USA


White Chair: West Elm
Blue and White Pillow: Motif Pillows
White Blanket: Crate & Barrel (Old)
Dot Paintings: DIY (Frames from Michaels)
Brass Side Table: West Elm


Card Catalog Credenza: DIY
Concret Planter and Branches: Gift
Tochkeys/Tray: Old (Mostly Target I think)
Coffee Table Books: Amazon.com, Second Hand, etc.
While Lamp: Crate & Barrel (Old)
Basket: Home Goods


Mid Century Pendant: Shades of Light
Table: Schneidermans (Old)
White Chairs: Kmart.com


Blue Ikat Curtains: Fabric from Ballard Designs (I used hem tape to turn them into curtains.)


White Frames: Ikea 
Basket for Toys: Home Goods

And that's it! Please let me know if I've missed anything or you have any other questions about it - I'd love to answer.

Photos courtesy Anne Golliher.

Oh, Momma, You Are Doing A Good Job

I stand in line to use the restroom in the bathroom at the airport. Babygirl in my sling, finally asleep for the first time in five hours. A woman, just a bit older than me asks me, "Are you the one that had the newborn on the plane?" My face flushes, and I look down for a bit. "Yes, I'm so sorry she was so fussy!" I respond. "No! I thought she did awesome! I have two boys, five and seven, I remember how tough flights were for them. It'll get easier," she replies. I tell her thank you, that I sure hope so, and that this is my second baby so I should be better at this airplane thing.

She just looks at me, she sees me, and says, "Oh, momma, you are doing a good job."

***

I walk out of the bathroom and take a seat near the benches by the baggage pick up. Babygirl has woken and it's time for her go back in the car seat for the ride home so I pull her out of the sling. As her little body uncurls, two elderly women, on my right and my left oh and aw. "Her hair!" "Her eyes!" "How old?" "What's her name?" The compliments and questions come fast and furious and I say thank you and answer the questions as quick as they come. My husband drops the baggage around my feet for safekeeping as it comes off the belt and I begin to open our stroller with one hand as I hold babygirl in the other. "Oh, let me sweetheart!" the woman on my right offers. She is not young, I think I could be her daughter, more likely her granddaughter. I let her know I've got it, I do it all the time with one hand. But she sees me struggling and she pushes me gently out of the way. I verbally walk her through the steps to open it and woman on my left comments on all the "newfangled contraptions young moms have - so complicated!" I smile and sigh a little. 

She looks at me, she sees me, and says, "Oh, sweet momma, you are doing a good job." 

***

I am walking out of baggage claim when I receive a text from a friend with two littles at home just like mine, asking how the house hunting is going. I tell her we haven't found anything yet. Maybe the next trip. She asks how babygirl is sleeping and I tell her the truth: Not well. But I add that it's likely our fault as she had to share a room with us the entire time in the hotel - hopefully this week will be better. 

She reads between the lines, she sees me and says, "Oh,  don't worry momma, you are doing a good job." 

***



Three times in under an hour I heard those words. "Oh, momma, you are doing a good job." 

And three times in under an hour I needed them. 

Do you need them today? Because I will say them to you. 

"Oh, momma, you are doing a good job."

There are the rare days where I feel like I've got this mom-thing decently down. And then there are all the other days when it overwhelms and drowns me. And in this particular season, I'm looking for a life raft more often than not. I feel like I'm surviving each day, living hour by hour, no time to think ahead, just dealing with the needs of now. There seems to be no ends to my days, just a continuous cycle of Do The Next Thing. These are the days where it can feel like I'm making no difference, having no impact, where I'm just not doing a very good job. 

But then I hear someone tell me I am. From someone in a stage of life just ahead of me. From someone on the other side. And from someone right here in the trenches with me. Three times I hear it. And three times it takes me to begin to believe it. 

Do you need to hear those words today? Because I will say them to you. 

"Oh, momma, you are doing a good job."

We're in this together, you know. I've never felt more camaraderie, more community in this motherhood gig until it began to drown me. What I'm learning is that the life rafts are all around me, in the form of all the other mothers swimming in this sea. Some are closer to shore than others, but the truth is, no matter where we are in the waters, we all have the ability to save each other from drowning with just a few words. 

Do you need to hear those words today? Because I will say them to you. 

"Oh, momma, you are doing a good job."

And I will say them again, and again, and again. As long as it takes for you to believe it.

"Oh, momma, you are doing a good job."

Like this post? Here are some of the other most popular posts on motherhood. I also share a whole lot more on this motherhood gig over on Facebook (Oakland Avenue) and Instagram (@laurawifler) and I'd love it if you followed along!

The One Thing I Hope My Children Learn From Me

This is what I want to tell you today. This is what I need to tell myself. 

Today my toddler, Eli had the flu. It came fast and strong and unexpected like it always does. He was in my lap when it finally showed itself, ending up all over my jeans, my shirt, my floors, and my hands were not thinking when they reached out to catch the brunt of it as I superman-carried him to the bathroom.


Colette has The Colic, and The Reflux. Which basically means she has The Cry Forever At Night. Or as Eli likes to say, "Colette cry all time!" 

Out of the mouths of babes. 

And she received her two month shots yesterday and seems to have yet to forgive me for it. 

The crocodile tears from the past two days sit in large puddles on my hardwood floors, with no time or energy to mop them up. 

I worry about Eli's temperature. If he's getting enough liquids or too many solids. I worry if Colette's chubby thighs were really chubby enough to protect her at least a little from the painful pricks of shots. I worry if I just gave her Autism, even though when I think long and rationally and remember my careful research in the past, I don't believe the tales, but I just can't shake the thought. 

I think about these past two days and remember that I haven't given Colette enough tummy time. I also wonder if I've stimulated her enough - there is only one toy hanging from her playmat after all - Eli has stolen the rest to "snuggle with." Speaking of being stimulated, I wonder if Eli is getting enough as well. The guilt creeps in a bit about the Daniel Tiger he watched today. But he was sick! That's my excuse today. And at least Daniel teaches good morals and people skills! That's my excuse all the other days. 

The thought of pre-school enters my mind for no other reason than I'm likely crazy to be thinking such thoughts. At first the thought seems amazing - One Less Need To Meet For A Few Hours A Day! - then my heart breaks - with guilt for thinking such thoughts. And probably because I remember a good mother's heart should be sad about her baby going to school. 

But secretly, mine is not. At least not today. 

The thoughts keep rolling through my mind, tripping over one another as I lay another towel down in Eli's crib, show him an old ice cream bucket and fake vomit into it as I try to teach him that's where it goes. Colette's cry plays soundtrack in the background as he giggles and fake gags into the bucket as well. I laugh on the outside but on the inside I know it'll never work. 


We've all heard the term the "trenches." It has likely become a bit cliche, overused in motherhood to where it no longer seems to mean anything to the hearer. And maybe that's for good reason. Maybe that's not. A post for another day perhaps.

But today I want to talk about something else. Today I need to tell you something. Something I need to tell myself. 

The days you wear vomit on your leggings, snot on your sleeve and yogurt in your hair, those are the trenches. And in that moment, the word "trenches" is anything but trite. 

And so here is what we mothers must remember. 

Here is what I need to remember.

If nothing else, I pray my children will see that I love Jesus. 

I worry about the after-affects of vaccinations. I stress over stimulation. I desire a clean and picked up house, a freshly vacuumed floor and to make elephant-shaped pancakes for breakfast. I think about reading aloud enough, giving breast milk long enough, and teaching the difference between sky and periwinkle blue. 

And sometimes, it sure looks a lot like I love those things. Because that is where my time, my thoughts, my efforts and my energy goes. 

But I love Jesus more. 

And I want my babies to know that!

If nothing else - I beg - at least that.

But often, I lose sight of what is important when I'm in the trenches, setting my gaze on singing the alphabet song over and over, planning Pinterest-perfect birthday parties, finding an all-natural cure to diaper rash, and researching the best ways to implement independent playtime. 

Yet even if I don't, the world will be sure to teach my children their ABC's and 123's. It will heal the diaper rash, throw the parties and teach them the independence. 

But the world will not teach them about Jesus. 

Or maybe it will, but it won't be truth. 

That is what the trenches are for - wading through the messy, mundane days and finding the meaningful, the miraculous. It is there, among the dirty laundry, full sinks and the Outrageous Orange and Inch Worm Green crayons. It sits in our homes in the form of tired eyes, hungry tummies, plastic toys and innocent questions, just waiting to be seen, talked about and focused on. 

It is these trenches that reveal God's gift of grace to us the most. It is in the bland everyday that we mothers can find the bright gospel of eternity come to life. It is in the dirty days of now that we live in the hope and promise of the clean and pure days to come.

There is meaning in the mundane. There is truth in the trenches.

It is these trying, wearing days that we reflect the truth of the gospel to our children.

We love them, because He first loved us. 

We will wash their dirty, because we have been made clean.

We will hold them, because we are being upheld.

We will always be there for them, because He is always there for us. 

We will carry them, because he is carrying us.  

It is these trench-filled days that I pray that if my children learn only one thing from me - just one thing - it is that their mother loved Jesus and showed them who he was each and every day of their lives.

Not they would remember me as a great cook, or a fabulous party thrower. Not as a fit mom, or a funny mom, or the mom that was always volunteering at their school, or always knew what to do what to do when they were sick, or never missed a game or a concert. 

Those things would only be a bonus; the icing on the cake of what I hope my children remember from me. What I hope that they would say, is when things got hard, she ran to the cross. When she was in the trenches, she trusted Jesus. That more than anything - more than them, more than daddy, more than anything this world had to offer, she loved Jesus. 

This is what I want to tell you today. This is what I need to tell myself. 

Show your children Jesus in the trenches.

Show them that you love him. 

This is what matters. This is all that matters. 

The world will demand to take care of the rest. But this. This is too precious. Too important to leave to the world to get wrong. 

So today, in these trenches, remember the truth: This is your chance to show them the meaning in the mundane. The miracle in the mess. 

It is your chance to teach them about Jesus. 

Like this post? Here are some of the other most popular posts on motherhood. I also share a whole lot more on this motherhood gig over on Facebook (Oakland Avenue) and Instagram (@laurawifler) and I'd love it if you followed along!