Scattered Thoughts on Mothering These Little People

29 July 2015

Sometime in the last year Jake has grown up into like a real KID.

I'm not used to mothering a real KID. For a long time motherhood was very toddler-y. I could engage him in activities, plop his sister down to watch him, and go along my merry way of interrupted semi-productivity.

Then I got sick with baby 3, and when I came out of the haze, Jake was a kid. A kid who plays with real legos and goes to swim lessons.

This makes me a mom who steps on legos and drives her son to activities.

I was pretty suited to toddler motherhood. I don't really like going places, and so for those couple of summers when all my child needed was a bucket of water and a porch, and I could prop up my feet with some enriching chick lit, I was in a pretty good spot. That just can't happen everyday, now that Jake knows the word "boring."

He's found out so much about the world that I successfully obscured for a very long time. He knows about candy and toys and where to buy them and who has money to buy them. He knows that certain restaurants have playplaces and others don't.

Lucy June has settled into a phase of lovely high pitched screams when she doesn't get her way and wants to do everything herself. Buckling the car seat: "MINE DO IT!" Spreading butter on her toast: "MINE DO IT!" Putting on her pants: "MINE DO IT!" It's as...endearing as it sounds.
And I'm learning. I'm learning how to understand what our family rhythms will look like. I'm slow to adapt and little people change quickly. I mostly recognize "phases" only in the rearview mirror.

Jake will always be the one to break me in.

This hurts me for him. I've needed a lot of breaking in. And the more I tread down the path of parenthood, the more breaking in I need.

Motherhood seems like such a paradox: Enjoy the little things without being overwhelmed by all the little things. Slow down and embrace today, but be ready to change tomorrow because your kids are growing so fast.
There's a necessary fluidity to mothering littles, and that fluidity can drown you or it can buoy you up.

For the past six months, I've been drowning. We've overcommitted ourselves in a variety of ways. This whole pregnancy feels kinda like an overcommitment.

Honestly it only takes about one kid to feel overcommitted to this whole mothering gig.
I know from talking to many many mothers that preserving time for yourself and a sense of yourself is a constant struggle. But if I'm learning something in this 33+ week of pregnancy in Houston's summer glory: sometimes struggling isn't the answer.

I want to learn the strokes of motherhood. It's easy enough for me to swim when the time is right, but in the difficult seasons I'm still learning how to float.

We have a lot going on in these last six weeks of pregnancy: there are some pretty big waves on the horizon. But the thing about this pregnant body: it floats. It floats pretty darn well, if I let it.
Many thanks to this lovely little friend who let me use the images she took when her family came with us to our creek house in South Texas a couple weekends ago.

For the Love of Frozen Yogurt - TCBY Giveaway!!!

24 July 2015

If you know me, you know I'm kind of a health nut. I drink bone broth. I put matcha green tea powder and whole lemons in my smoothies. After several finicky years, I've mastered the kale salad. I juice with ginger root. You know. Just like the cool kids.

I actually learned recently that a pregnant mother's diet in her third trimester will shape her baby's palate more than any other time in the baby's whole life! So right now I'm making the rounds through all kinds of strong tasting food to spice up the amniotic fluid for little Baby Three.

But when it comes to dessert, I don't play around. I don't cut corners. I will sneak spinach into a smoothie, but never into a milkshake. Scouts' honor.

And I love ice cream.

All of it.

All the ice creams. Gelato. Custard. Sherbet. Soft-Serve. I'm sure I eat it everyday.

And Frozen Yogurt  - despite its healthful aspirations - is no exception.

When TCBY reached out and asked if I was interested in joining their #GetTheScoop campaign, I first asked myself if it fit my "blogging niche" and how it would interact with my blog's "authentic voice" - actually no - I didn't do anything of that. Because, friends, I live in Texas. It is July. And I am pregnant. I just said: "Free Frozen Yogurt. Yes Please and Thank You" and then mini-vanned it to my neighborhood grocery store.

TCBY is pioneering eight new flavors and stocking it in grocery stores in Texas, Arizona, and Colorado. Find it in a store near you.

I was honestly a little skeptical about how good it would be. It brags 7 probiotic cultures and lower fat and cholesterol than regular ice cream, and that's very well and good, but I still hang my hat firmly in the "eat nutritiously before dessert and then eat dessert" ring. So it just wasn't going to fit into my eating life unless it was...well...delicious.

I picked out Sea Salt Caramel Swirl and the kids picked out Extreme Cookies'n'Cream.
And then we embarked on the arduous process of ensuring it was completely delicious.
And Jacob helped.
Both were creamy and tasty and had only the faintest yogurt-y tartness.

Visit their website to see when the TCBY will be giving out free samples and coupons in your area!

And if you live (or love someone) in Texas, Arizona, or Colorado, and would like to win three months of TCBY Frozen Yogurt products, then Rafflecopter it up.

Housing Situations

23 July 2015

So we bought a house.

Wait!? Didn't you like JUST buy a house and then do some renovations and do a terrible job documenting it here on the blog?

Yes. This is true.

Last summer we bought a major fixer upper, and we majorly fixed it up, and my laptop hard drive crashed, and we lost all of our before pictures, so all my Before and After Dreams got a lot less exciting. We're also not done with a single room in the house. It's amazing how long you can let the last two hours of work in a room just languish before you're finally "finished."

But!? Those are bad excuses. You should at least do a post about the kitchen.

Right again.

And WHY did you buy another house??

(I'll leave off with the dialoging.) We bought the first fixer upper with my brothers. We all looked at it as an investment. We would eventually either flip it or turn it into a rental property. For the last 7 months we've all lived together quite happily, but all good things come to an end, and my brothers just bought a triplex in hip Houston, where they will be heading in August, and Jacob and I found a great deal on a place a few miles away from where we are now.

The new place needs a LOT of work. We will blitz a lot of it over the next six weeks and see whether we can pull off a prenatal move in early September. Here it is behind two years of neglected landscaping. Lord help us.
It even came with its own rodent. We like sharing housing with rodents.
Jacob has been overworked, and I have been overpregnant for a while now, so maybe (maybe?) the timing's not perfect, and maybe (maybe?) we're overcommitting ourselves again, but when you're having babies every other year, it's never the right time to do anything...and I've long since accepted that we're just...THOSE people.

We are the people who've been living with two uncles and just invited ANOTHER uncle to come live with us when he moved to Houston in May. So that makes three uncles and one family of 4.5 sleeping in a 1400 sq ft house for a couple of months. (The kids are bunked in our closet...which leads me to:)

We are the people who build bunk beds for our kids in a closet. (See. Not as bad as it sounds.)
We are the people who move while pregnant. EVERY TIME. This one's not quite fair because usually the baby is precisely the reason we move. Lucy June moved us clear out of state.

And every time I make some comment about how on top of each other we all are, Jacob says: "Abraham Lincoln was raised in a one room log cabin." Then he rests his case, like this is some kind of ultimate comeback.

The funny thing is. I don't really mind any of it. It's actually more stressful for me when we do something totally normal, like buy a lightly used Toyota Sienna. Living with three uncles is feeling pretty par for the course.
Whenever we open a bottle of wine it gets finished and another gets opened. Whenever I make dinner I have multiple adult mouths telling me how good it is as opposed to a couple of kids eyeing it suspiciously. I never venture into the Uncle's Bathroom, and I often have an extra pair of hands to hold a baby or pair of feet to kick a ball with a four year old.

One uncle will venture along with us to our next house, and we'll quickly have a newborn, so the house will still be full, and I will like it that way.

And I've promised Jacob to do a MUCH better job documenting this new remodel. Should be fun because:
But be sure to check back tomorrow. I'm giving away some ice cream. :)

Banana Coconut Cream Popsicles

10 July 2015

 The kiddos and I made popsicles this morning.

They helped pour ingredients into the blender and turn the on and off switch. Their eyes widened with expectation and delight as we filled the molds. And then I whisked the popsicles away and said they wouldn't be ready till after naps. I remember reading in Bringing Up Bébé how, when French families make treats together, they make the bébés wait to eat them until the culturally accepted snack time. It teaches patience or something? So I felt very French as I tucked our treats in the freezer...and kinda mean. And I liked it.

I confess that I'm not such a big popsicle fan. I'd just rather be eating ice cream, so I do. The kids however love them, and since you can tweak recipes to make them more nutritious, I think they're real winners as far summer treats go.

As soon as we've made popsicles more than twice, I can justify upgrading from our dollar store molds and land me some of these. My minimalist leanings always fly out the window when I want to embark on some vaguely nutritious new kitchen adventure. I feel like I'm doomed to fail if I don't have all the right gear. Do you suffer from this?

Say hello to a popsicle recipe that's hardly dessert it's so good for you. Well, the popsicles are very sweet, so there is the sugar thing, but otherwise: Snarf 'em down kiddies! Even your hippy grandmother would approve because I snuck in some maca root and grassfed gelatin!

Banana Coconut Cream Popsicles

1 can Coconut Cream
2 Frozen Bananas
2-3 T. Maple Syrup
1 tsp. Gelatin optional
1 tsp. Maca Powder optional
1 Tbs. chocolate sauce optional

Blend all ingredients except chocolate in blender, pour into molds, dollop some chocolate sauce on top (bottom?) and feel very fancy while twirling it in.

If you have some killer popsicle recipes/ingredients/tips/gear - or if your name is Jenna and you make gorgeous popsicles and blog at Wilber Huset - you should divulge in the comment section!!!

I would be grateful. My kids would be grateful! And my husband would be long as the kids eat them outside mostly naked and I tackle them with a wet wipe on their way back inside. #messophobicfather.

30 Weeks of Baby 3

07 July 2015

I'm not a consistent blogger.

You've probably noticed.

This is a blog, and as such I think I've done a pretty good job at maintaining it in a certain tier. Mediocre design. Filtered cell phone photography. Rare substantial content. I don't see myself breaking from this trend as much as I would like to go all Camille Styles on you.

But I also have always managed to post a pregnancy update at 30 weeks with each of my now THREE pregnancies. So: Tradition! Tradition!

I'm a sucker for pregnancy updates and bump photos. When someone I follow on social media isn't bumpdating (sorry! ouch!) I get surly. And I always click through to see how much better/worse she wears this pregnancy over previous ones. I'm not critical. Just curious.

So here it goes. How I'm wearing pregnancy 3. Words first.

Ugh. This one's been tough. Nausea for 22 weeks. I earned myself some serious spider veins. I haven't had too much back pain yet, but I've had shin splints? Or something like them? My midwife was about 0% concerned about my shin pain, and so I'm trying not to be either. I haven't googled it yet, and that is helping.

I haven't been able to jog at all really. With my first I jogged till 34 weeks, and I managed to jog at least some with number two, but every time I try to up the waddle this time around, I get all kinds of weird pressure and pain. I have been walking a lot. If I don't walk, my shin pain and back pain get worse and I'm positively puffy by the end of the day.

When this pregnancy started, Jacob was working all the time, I was sick all the time, Lucy June stopped sleeping through the night, and Jakeboy became a holy terror of a 3.5 year old. It was rough. And then it got better. Then I picked my head up off the pillow to see that it was getting better. Around week 22, we suspended ourselves in a slow and hopeful dawn. Now the hot summer day is upon us, and life is pretty good.

Here's Jake @ 30 weeks. And Lucy June @ 30 weeks. And here's Baby #3 at a technical 30 weeks and 5 days (but who's counting...) (!)
And for good measure. Here's the paternal half at 30 weeks while I adjusted camera settings...
Such a sport. Such a sport.

Bye for now, friends!

Things I'm Loving this Summer

01 July 2015

Hullo, July! I'd like you to note how relatively cool June was and its manageable number of mosquitos. Its watermelons however weren't that great, so you could totally one up her on that account.

Anyhoo, some things I've been loving this summer:

- 1 -
Grilling Pizza: We love pizza. A year ago I started using this recipe for crust from The Kitchn and haven't looked back. It's remarkably easy. Sometimes I'll put in a little semolina flour if I want a more crackery crust. We put out toppings and build our own pizzas on parchment paper and then toss them on the grill.

My brother in law even cracked an egg on his last week, and it was just about the most beautiful sunnyside up I'd ever seen.

- 2 -
Homemade Ice Cream: We have my mom's Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker on loan, and Costco has been keeping us in some decent quality cream. I've LOVED being able to try out all different flavors especially since our summer has been Blue Bell-less. And by all different flavors, I mostly just mean different ratios of malt and salt.

- 3 -
Hang Drying Laundry: I've gotten back in the habit of hang drying laundry. (I LOVE hang drying laundry. I even have a post in my draft folder all about how much I love hang drying laundry, but every time I try to publish it, I get nervous that it sounds all "Rah rah simple life! I'm doing it better than you!" - and since I am #nonconfrontational #forevah, in the draft folder it stays.)

Our dryer has been taking a looooong time to dry clothes, so out on the line they go, and I'm reminded of how much I love the activity. Admittedly, Houston is kinda soggy and even the sunny day turns on you in a matter of minutes, so while hanging the clothes out on the line may feel like a breezy pioneer poem, many a load has been frantically retrieved to the tune of thunder and in an onslaught of Braxton Hicks as I waddle dash outside to save the dry laundry.

- 4 -
A Zoo Membership: At the beginning of the summer we got a zoo membership. This is apparently something you "just do" if you're a mom in the city. I have no idea how to urban parent. All the parents I knew growing up just sent their kids to the creek and told them to watch out for fire ants. Things like theme parks and zoos were HUGE annual efforts. While I balked at getting a zoo membership, I love it. We can have a day there or a morning there or just drop by when we're in the neighborhood. We can plan a morning playdate there and see half a gorilla and call it good. We can picnic and get the kids completely zonked at the splash pad and head home in time for naps. And nobody makes any comments about how close your kids are together...because it's already a zoo.

- 5 -
Lentil Salad: A friend of mine tuned me into this lentil salad recipe recently, and it's changed my relationship to the blah lentil. I typically make it with more balsamic vinegar than ACV, maybe not quite so much mustard, and whichever of the spices I happen to have. New Roots calls it the best lentil salad ever, and I can't really attest to that, because it's the only lentil salad I've ever had, but it's delish. I've tried all kinds of add-ins, and haven't gone wrong yet.

Linking up with Jenna!

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