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Katie's Parenting Journal

Entry 31 - February 15, 2011
Life Is A Marathon; Pace Yourself

Santa and EmmaLife truly does go by so very quickly. Before I have even had a chance to blink it seems, I have a two and a half year old and a six month old. Will and Emma are the light of my life. They make me laugh and fill my heart with such happiness. We live in a way that I only dreamed of before. It's a simple, joyful life, filled with trips to the zoo, children's museum, coloring, playing Play-Doh, and singing songs.

So why in the world am I so freakin' exhausted? Well, I think it's the aforementioned activities and the fact that I feel as if I never sit down from sun up to sun down. I love these children with everything that is in me, but there are days when I just want to lock myself in the bathroom to get two minutes to myself.

In November, I got a part time job. It is a great opportunity in that it is 100% work-from-home and I can do it any time that I'd like - which means that I often find myself up at 1 AM just trying to meet the deadlines for the week. While Emma is a great sleeper, she is still a six month old baby, which means many of those same nights I don't stumble to bed until well after midnight, I am then stumbling to her room for a 4 AM feeding. She sleeps through most nights, but she seems to have an internal notification system that lets her know when Mama went to bed far later than she should.

WillSo, how are the kiddos doing? Well, of course, I am their mother and hardly unbiased, but I think they are doing great. Will is a toddler in every sense of the word. This is both amazing and frustrating all at once. He can communciate everything he wants and needs now with little room for confusion. Again, amazing and frustrating, because sometimes, what he wants is not what he is going to get. This results in a tantrum. His tantrums are actually mild in comparison to some that I have witnessed, and they are still a fairly rare (once a week perhaps?) event, but they are still there. He can count to twenty, say his ABC's, sing dozens of songs, identify common shapes, put on his shoes, and his working on his colors. We recently introduced a chore chart, which he is getting the hang of. We keep it simple (brushing teeth, clearing his plate, feeding the dog). He still takes regular naps every day and goes to bed between 8:30 and 9:00 every night. I rarely hear from him before 8 in the morning, so he is doing great in the sleeping department. He is still a pretty picky eater, though he can be counted on to eat chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, grapes, baby carrots, and cheese on a fairly regular basis. He is a GREAT big brother, always excited to see his sister when she wakes up from a nap, giving her unsolicited hugs, and bringing her toys to play with.

EmmaEmma is sitting alone for long periods of time. She loves to jump in her bouncer and play with soft toys. She is eating like a piggy after a somewhat slow start with solids (we basically started and then stopped for three weeks as she had little to no interest). She is eating carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, chicken, applesauce, bananas, blueberries, and rice cereal. I am making almost all of her food as I did with Will. She has been slowly weaning herself from breastfeeding in favor of the bottle. I had supply issues after a bout with mastitis and she would nurse for just a few minutes and get frustrated. I tried all sorts of things to increase my supply, but it wasn't happening fast enough for her to be satisfied and we slid down the slippery slope of formula. So right now, we breastfeed in the morning when she first wakes up, and then I will offer her the breast for the remainder of her feedings, but usually end up finishing off with a 6 - 8 ounce bottle. I do nurse her for a few minutes right before bed, but that's more of a comfort/settling session rather than for nutrition. I have to admit, I am a little disappointed with how breastfeeding has gon;, I was hoping to nurse her until at least a year and I sense the morning feed won't be around much longer. I am trying to resolve my feelings with it and realize that she is happy and healthy and that is all that matters. And boy, is she happy. The one thing that everyone says about our girl is how happy she is. She is always smiling and content. She rarely cries, and usually if she does, it is brief and easily resolved. And oh, how she adores her big brother. The one thing that you can't appreciate until you see it, is the bond between your children. I am stock piling these memories of their sweetness together for the days when they will likely fight like cats and dogs.

WillMike and I had a rough transition to parenthood when Will was born. As it does for everyone who has a baby, everything changed literally overnight. I gave up my career to stay at home, which was and continues to be the right decision for our family, but is not always the easiest one (although I have come to the conclusion that there is no "easy" way once you have kids - there are challenges to working and challenges to staying at home). Learning to be a family of three took us awhile. Then we introduced Emma into the mix. While I would say that the transition to two children has been much easier than I was expecting, it hasn't been without its own challenges. We are doing the best we can and I have to say that I wholeheartedly endorse marriage counseling. We were both reluctant to spend what little time we do manage to have away from the kids on a therapist's couch, but we were far more reluctant to think about ending our marriage. It has turned out to be the best thing for our relationship. It's not perfect, but it is a step in the right direction.

One thing I have had to learn about being a mom (and especially once Emma was born) is that I really have to pace myself. I can't do everything. I can TRY, but eventually, I will burn out and my kids pay the price of a tired, grumpy mommy. There are areas where I have had to learn to let go (not every meal is going to be a paragon of health and virtue, the house isn't always going to be clean, and we are going to be stepping on Cheerios and Hot Wheels for the next 17 years or so). I am having to redefine some of what I thought being a "good" parent meant and figure out what works best for our family. I am also learning that I absolutely need to have time for myself, even if I feel guilty, even if I don't feel as if I "deserve" it, I must have it in order to be a better mom.

This parenting thing is the hardest, yet most rewarding thing in the world.

~ Katie

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