Dear Scout

Scout,

I don’t even know where to begin. Your second birthday will be here in a matter of weeks and I’m struggling to grasp how much faster life goes when you have kids. These last two years have challenged me more than I ever thought possible. I’ve never cried more, laughed more, worried more, slept less or experienced joy more in all my life and I owe it all to you, my sweet girl.

You are so patient with me and my constant failures as I walk my way through mommyhood for the very first time. It’s so hard to understand the feelings constantly colliding as a mom. One minute I’m about to rip all my hair out because you insist on drawing all over every.single.solitary.thing BUT paper, and the next minute I’m a gushy emotional mess because I can’t believe I’m taking the actions of a toddler so personally. You have taught me more about myself and about life in general than any other person. You’ve shown me my true strengths and weaknesses. You’ve shown me what really matters and what’s really not that big of a deal. You’ve helped me to find wonder in small things again, like flowers along the sidewalk and the tiny little finches that perch outside our kitchen window.

You are SMART. I know every parent thinks their kid is the smartest kid in the world, but you want to know a secret? You really true are. You know so many words and sentences and songs. You count to ten all of the time, and I’m still trying to figure out where you learned that because I don’t remember spending that much time teaching you. You know where things go in your bedroom and that you can’t go outside without me. You are constantly figuring out how things work on your own and it amazes me every time.

You are so sensitive to how other people are feeling. If I’m having a rough time and trying my best to hide it from you, you still figure it out. You crawl up on the couch and snuggle close or hold my face in your hands and tell me “it’s okay mama”. If you see someone crying I can see that you want to make them feel better, especially in movies.

You are joy. Every morning you are so happy to see me and it makes my heart burst every time. I’ve never been a morning person but spending the mornings with you have become my favorite part of the day. You give big hugs and snuggle in bed with me for a while before we eat our breakfast and watch some Barney. When we go out on our mornings walks you take in everything around you. You love to point things out to me, or to touch a new plant, or smell a flower. You live in the moment and I adore that about you.

You are hilarious. You don’t even realize how funny you are. You don’t even try to be funny but it’s such a natural part of your personality. I love that about you. My funny girl.

There are so many things to say but I always fall short. I’ll never stop being completely humbled and grateful that God gave you to me. I know I have a lot of work to do and I’ll fail more times than I care to say, but I hope you know how much I love you. Every night, even on the hard days, when you finally fall asleep I pray over your little spirit and thank God for the gift that you are to me, the girl who made me a mama. I love you to the moon and back a thousand times.

-Mama

Greetings

Hello world of WordPress,

Obviously I’ve taken a bit of a break from writing since my cousin passed away. Anytime I sat to write it just didn’t feel like the timing was right. I couldn’t think of anything worth writing and my heart wasn’t in it. Not to mention I’ve been bouncing between California, Oregon, Nevada, Alaska and South Carolina since May with my 15 month old. But mostly, I couldn’t muster the motivation.

I want to say thank you to all of you who wrote encouraging words on my last post. It was so kind and appreciated. Your prayers and kind thoughts towards my family, particularly my aunt, uncle and chase’s brothers, have made an impact to be sure. The power of prayer and love is an amazing thing.

I’m still not sure what I want to accomplish with this post other than setting my writing routine back in motion. I’m excited to sift through and read posts from you guys that I’ve missed the last month. In the meantime I thought I’d share some pictures of Scout and my’s adventures so far this summer. Happy to be back in the world of writing.

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Real Mommyhood Talk

Scout has had a rough couple of days. I was prepared for this to an extent because babies are always a little different when their “norm” is thrown through a loop, but goodness gracious. She has been angry, grouchy, and defiant almost nonstop. Not to mention that nap times and bedtime have once again become clouds of dread that hang over me all day. She.screams.non.stop.  I know there are a million opinions in the mommy-wars of crying it out vs. cradling them to sleep. I’m not adding fuel to the flame and I’m not seeking advice. I’m just tired. My back is so messed up from my last month of pregnancy (a 9lb 5oz baby does that to a 5’2″ woman) and she hasn’t stopped growing since. She was 27lbs by her first birthday…. I didn’t hit 20lbs until I was 2.5 years old. I had been attending Pilates since last fall, but have taken a two month hiatus and HOLY COW do I feel a difference. Need to get back ASAP.

ANYWHO. All that to say that rocking her to sleep is just not in the cards anymore.

She has also been screaming any time I say “no” or reroute her from her desired walking path. She screams if she is happy, sad, mad, glad, bad, etc. I’m so overwhelmed and a little baffled by this terrible-twos persona that seems to be taking place in my 1-year-old.

I know a big part of this is confusion. She hasn’t seen her dad in 11 days (the longest she has gone so far). I know we’re in the beginning stages, but it does make my heart hurt to see that she really is affected by him being gone at such a young age. I’m thankful that she won’t remember this season of life, but in the day-to-day it is hard for my mama’s heart. FaceTime is a little bittersweet and honestly becoming more of a burden. She doesn’t understand why she can talk but he isn’t actually around. Wah. Poor baby girl.

We’ve been in Costa Mesa with my aunt the last week and I couldn’t be more grateful  for the mornings she swooped in and took Scout so that I could sleep in a little longer. Sleep is a weapon, am I right?! Bad sleep = bad days. Good sleep = feeling like a new person who can take on just about anything. She also let Scout hang out in her home office a couple of times so I could take a breather. Thank you Auntie Tikadar!! (Tikadar is not her real name. I couldn’t say “Auntie Dar” as a kid. Tikadar came and stuck for life)

We are now at my Godmother’s house in Oceanside and it’s so nice to see her and her family. We don’t see them often and today was their first time meeting Scout. Scout wasn’t in the greatest mood. Of course it makes me feel awful that she isn’t being her usual sweet sassy self but instead screamed her head off the entire time we were at lunch. They didn’t make me feel bad for a second which I appreciate beyond words.

Times like this are so hard but they’re good because it gives me perspective. Yes, I’m exhausted. Yes, Scout is screaming her head off and I kind of want to die from embarrassment and (once again) exhaustion. BUT, she’s a good girl. I don’t want her to start associating me with impatience, exhaustion, or lack of tenderness. I want to respond with grace and patience even when I am so tired I could fall asleep standing up or burst into sobs. Kids can bring out the best or the worst in you. They really can. I know I’ll fail more times than I succeed but if at the end of the day Scout is still happy to see me walk into a room I’ll consider myself a pretty decent mom.

I love you baby girl. Thanks for still giving me goodnight kisses despite life being a little bit tough right now.

Flying Solo

Today my husband Grady hopped on a plane for South Carolina. He’ll be at Fort Jackson with the Army for three months while Scout and I get some quality girl-time.

We had to drop him off at the crack of dawn this morning. Scout was up for about two second and then fell fast asleep by the time we got to the airport. I felt sorry for Grady that she wasn’t able to blow him a kiss (it’s the cutest thing EVER) when he said goodbye.

As we got closer to the airport I could feel myself getting nervous, which I didn’t expect. Part of me worries it will be three months of being stuck in that feeling when you are counting down the minutes on the clock for your husband to get home from work so you can have a little break…I know that was a run-on, but ya know what I mean? Part of me is totally confident that the time will go by fast and I’ll be able to master this single parentdom NO PROBLEMO! Especially since I have orchestrated our summer to be with different members of extended family almost the entire time. Thank you family!

I also know I have no room to complain as there are mama’s out there that take care of kids alone 24/7 365 days a year. There are mama’s who have to tackle deployments with more than one child and with no family to help share the load. So when I look at it from that point of view. I really can’t complain.

I also didn’t think that I would cry, but I did. I didn’t totally lose it but tears definitely came. I tried REALLY hard not to because I could tell Grady was having a hard time this morning as he got ready, and when he saw that Scout was asleep.

So, Scout and I aided the cockles of our hearts with breakfast at Eclectic Kitchen, walking around IKEA and getting some cute things for the new apartment. Retail therapy works, yo.

We love you, Grady! You’ll be home before we know it.

 

Golden

I follow this wonderful blog and today she shared 26 writing prompts for bloggers with writer’s block! Thanks TSIG. I’ve saved her list and throughout the year I will go back to it when I’m at a loss for blogging inspiration.

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“What struggles have you been facing recently and what would you say to someone who is going through the same thing?”

I’m actually in a pretty chaotic season of life right now. We just packed up our place here in Bend and will be moving it up to Portland on Friday. We’ll be officially living there as of August, but during the summer we’ll be scattered across the states. My husband leaves for three months on Saturday to attend CH-BOLC (Chaplain Basic Officer Leadership Course) in South Carolina with the Army and I am flying solo with our 1 year old. Scout and I will be bouncing between Oregon, California, Nevada and Alaska visiting family to break up the time. I am SO grateful to have family and in-laws that are willing to scoop us up. So I guess you could say I am struggling with the reality of the exhaustion I’m going to be battling this summer. I’m not complaining. Three months is nothing compared to deployments in the military. I grew up in the Army, I’m a chaplain’s kid myself, but this will be the first time I’m the adult navigating single parenting waters while the hubs is gone. I’m choosing to look at it through the lens of excitement and thinking of fun ways to spend time with Scout.

I’m also in the process of writing my book. Actually I hesitate to say writing…. I’m in the research phase. It’s historical fiction and so there is a vast amount of research to be done. I’d be lying if I said I’m not loving the research phase. I love research! It’s so fascinating. It’s exciting. However, I find myself getting discouraged and feeling like the timeline I have isn’t going to work out.  I need to be a little more disciplined with the avenues I’m choosing to research. There is no way everything I discover is going to make it into my book. It’s not a history book.

So, to parent who is about to fly solo for a long period of time: You can do it! You absolutely can. You have to. Look at it as quality time with your child/children. Like I said, I’ve been researching fun things to do with Scout throughout the summer; places to go, things to see and do. I’ve been brainstorming fun packages we can send to Grady while he’s away, and ways to talk about daddy to Scout while he’s gone. I know she won’t remember this season of life, but Grady and I will and I want to make the best of it.

To the discouraged and overwhelmed aspiring author: Don’t give up! Make.it.happen. There are plenty of other things to do with your time, but if writing is your passion you won’t give up. If you plan on making a career that will support you and your family you WILL make it happen. There is no other option, right?

 

Sleep

Once upon a time there was a girl named Ali. For 26 years she had all the time in the world to sleep. The availability for naps was endless. She could stay up as late as she wanted and sleep in past eight most days. It was fabulous. It was amazing. It was temporary.

Then one day Ali welcomed a beautiful, energetic, strong willed little girl into the world. She was everything Ali ever dreamed of and so much more. She couldn’t believe how much joy the baby girl brought into her life. She also couldn’t believe how much sleep she was no longer getting.

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I must have been told a thousand times to take naps while pregnant. Did I? No. I’ve never been a good sleeper, but I assume (like with most things) if I had worked at it, naps would have eventually come easily. Instead of napping I spent my pregnancy working and preparing for our little babe. In hindsight 99.9% of the things I spent time doing I could have saved for my last month of pregnancy. What I couldn’t give to go back in time and take every single nap that I should have.

For me, the hardest part of motherhood has been the change of sleep. Sleep affects everything! If I’m having a hard time being patient with Scout, it’s from a lack of sleep. If I am crabby and getting frustrated about little things that don’t matter? Lack of sleep. Poor thought life? Lack of sleep. Eating too much? Lack of sleep.

So, I’m trying to find ways to make the most of the time I’m actually asleep. I know that sounds funny but hear me out.

(1) I put away my phone an hour before I go to bed. This has made a HUGE difference. My brain is so much quieter by the time my head hits the pillow if I haven’t been looking at a screen right before trying to sleep.

(2) I don’t fall asleep to the TV anymore. I know it’s bad, but you get so accustomed to background noise that sometimes the quiet is too loud. But, sleeping in a room that isn’t flickering with the TV light has been a big difference maker as well.

(3) Keep the room cool! I have a fan on every night. No matter what the weather is like outside. I keep extra blankets at the ready incase I get really cold, but let me tell you, sleeping in a hot room is miserable! Sleeping in a cool, dark, room with the breeze of the fan? Heaven.

(4) I listen to an audio book before going to sleep. My eyes aren’t sore. My brain isn’t stressing about the things of the day or the things that need to get done tomorrow.

(5) Go to sleep as early as I can! I’m a night owl so this is incredibly hard for me. But the last two weeks I have been making myself be in bed by 9:00. That way I’m asleep by 9:30 or 10 at the latest. I like to be up before Scout because I’m in such a better mood when I get my quiet time in for the day (introvert) before she’s up for the day.

So, those are my tips. It’s not rocket science but this is what has worked for me!

Mother’s Day

grandma2 (My mom, grandma and me :1989)

Happy Mother’s Day! I’ve been blessed with a lineage of strong, kind, loving, fierce, loyal, hardworking, generous, hilarious, fun, God fearing women. Couldn’t love them more if I tried.

wal mart 8 And an extra big thanks to this squishy beautiful delight (she’s only a couple weeks old here…someone hold me! How was this over a year ago!?). Scout June, I love you more than all the words on all the pages in all the books in all the world. Thanks for making me a mama. I’d get you the moon if you asked. -Mumma.