Sleep Deprived

I planned a nap, you’re going to get this post instead.

At 2:45, after a more tiring morning, all kids were in their rooms for their afternoon nap.  Pretty Girl should be down for 2-3 hours, BroBro for about 2, and Littlest Man was due to be woken for his next nursing at 4:00.  My mind wondered.  Just what was it I should do with this precious quiet time?

There was the to-do list; long, and growing by the minute.  There was the book; intriguing and too often neglected.  There was the exhaustion; overbearing and almost overwhelming.

Which one would win the battle?  The list, the book or the nap?  NAP?  I needed a nap!

Littlest Man turned 8 weeks old today.  Oh, the moments have been so precious….but oh so tiring.  Sleep deprivation has been harder this time around.  Maybe it is due to the fact that caring for an infant is not “new” or maybe it’s due to the fact that I’m a few years older, or maybe it’s just because there’s a 4 and 2 year old sibling that alone keep me on my toes but whatever the reason, I am tired.

Both BroBro and Pretty Girl started sleeping through the night at exactly 7 1/2 weeks.  I think that maybe I was hopeing Littlest Man would do the same.  Well, 7 1/2 weeks have come and gone and a full night’s sleep has not yet been gained.  Now, at a few days past that mark I have started to feel frustrated. I think I knew I could make it to that point, almost giving myself a goal point.  Now, I just feel tired.

So why is it that I have a blog post during this time; this sweet time when I should have taken that much needed nap?  At 2:45 everyone was down and asleep and I was just about to lay my head back and close my eyes but at 3:15 Littlest Man was awake and screaming his presence.  As I listened to his cries and begged him to sleep his scheduled 45  minutes more, I too began to cry.  I needed this time and I was frustrated.  I wanted to hurl myself on the ground and throw a tantrum just like my 2 year old daughter.  

Torture in it’s rawest form, sleep deprivation has left me grumpy, impatient, frustrated, and emotional.  It has given me days that I have been so tired that I have lost my balance just standing in one spot and many more where I have found it virtually impossible to think clearly.  Not only have I felt miserable myself but I have felt that I have made the life of those around me also miserable.  I have earned no “Mother of the Year” awards lately.  With most days resulting in total chaos, I have felt almost incompetent to handle the day-to-day situations that arise from staying at home with 3 young children.

But wait, it hasn’t be TOTAL chaos.  I recently read the following two posts:   The Crazy Comes in Waves and Toot Your Horn that seemed to hit this very struggle that I am currently facing.  Both of them pointed out the importance of focusing on the positives of each day rather than dwelling on the struggles.  As I read both of them, I nodded my head in agreement.  Noting that this was me!  This is where I am right now.  How right they were.  Not every moment has been chaos.  Not every minute has been stressful.  I have had many good days.  I have had several where I have felt rested.  We have continued to work on school.  We have made it to our music class, library time, and playdates.  We have read books and played with toys.  We have had fun.  God placed those posts in my reader for a reason.  And he did it twice because because he knew I was just tired enough to only half pay attention the first time.

I can do this.  Sleep will come and with the help of God I will survive and so will my family.  I do NOT pray these days to pass quickly.  I know way to well how the moment they are gone is the same moment I wish them back but I do pray for my own continued patience as I savor the next few nights…or weeks…or do I dare even say months of precious, baby-hoding sleep-deprivated time.

Please Lord, help me to not just nod my head in agreement as I read these words of hope and encouragement but to live them out when I am struggling the most.  

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I’ve Been Nominated!

I’ve been a “blogger” for just a few short weeks and have only gotten 4 posts published but I’ve been nominated….nominated for the Versatile Blog Award!  Thank you to misstatejones who, while surfing the vast World Wide Web, came across my blog and was intrigued by what she saw.  So as a recipient of the Versatile Blogger Award I now get to do some fun stuff.

I get to list 7 fun and interesting things about myself:

1.When I was in elementary school, I was one of 3 students in my grade and 1 of 8 in the classroom because the school was so small that they had to combine two grades into one.

2. As an adult, I am a woman of routine and a creature of habit. I hate taking risks in anything and everything.  I guess that makes me a pretty boring person.

3.I am a “greenie” – yep, I use the reusable bags, I recycle, I compost, I avoid disposable products, I purchase environmentally friendly cleaning and beauty products, I use cloth diapers and yes I have even proudly turned my husband into the very same monster…too bad the cleaning bug hasn’t hit him too.

4.I am also a thief! ALL of my ideas come from books or the internet – lesson ideas, scrapbook layouts, recipes, discipline strategies, party plans, everything is a result of somebody else’s creativity. I just add my own twist and always give credit where credit is due.

5.A strength and blessing tied in one; I am a huge perfectionist. I know it can ALWAYS be better. But at the same time I am also a huge procrastinator – not a good combination!

6. I get a total high from both saving money and having a completely organized space!  Both are like a puzzle that always needs to be solved.

7.  While an intense planner, I have come to realize that my life is nothing like I “planned” it to be.Here are just a few examples:  I thought I would have 2 children (I currently have 3), I thought I would work full time until I retired (I taught for 11 wonderful years and then became a stay-at-home mom), I thought my kids would be going to the nearby public school – after all I would be teaching in the public school (I have home schooled my oldest through his Kindergarten level and as long as God see’s it fit, I plan to continue in this wonderful adventure with him and his younger siblings).  So, planner or not, my life isn’t as I planned it to be….IT’S BETTER!  My Heavenly Father is a much better planner than I.

I also, in turn,  get to nominate 15 other blogs.  Here they are listed in no particular order:

  • Frugal Fun for Boys:  This is a great blog with lots of wonderful ideas on how to keep those boys entertained…cheaply
  • Meet the Dubiens:  Fun, fun stuff. I especially like her fun food ideas
  • Learning 4 Kids:  A stay-at-home mom who has dedicated her blog to sharing fun playtime activities that encourage learning
  • Quirky Momma, Kids Activities Blog:  I have come across so many good ideas via this blog
  • I heart Crafty Things:  So do I but I am not crafty.  This blog helps.
  • Savvy Nest:  A personal friend who uses her blog to give fun and simple tips on how to live frugally.
  • Happy Hooligans:  All about old-fashioned fun, this home day care provider shows us how she gets messy and uses imaginative play and outdoor fun.
  • Inner Child Fun – A blog about enjoying the simple pleasures in life
  • Pajama Mama – crafting and homeschooling while still in pajamas – that’s the way I live my life!
  • Miss Jr. Chef – Ah, this is too much fun.  For kids who love to cook, this blog is full of kid-created videos on how to make some kid favorite  food.
  • Naptime Review – A SAHM who uses her blog for real life consumer reviews and other fun kid stuff
  • The Mob Society – For moms of boys by moms of boys – a community of boy moms working together to reach the hearts of their boys for the glory of Jesus Christ
  • MOD Squad – Because I have a daughter too – a community of girl moms here.
  • Cupcake Love Affair – Makes me love cupcakes…just wish they turned out as pretty as pictured.
  • Thirfty Crafty Girl – My kinda girl!

Here are the rules of award acceptance once you’re nominated:

  • Thank the person who gave you the award.
  • Include a link to their blog.
  • Share 7 things about yourself.
  • Select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.
  • Nominate those 15 for the Versatile Blogger Award.
  • In the same post include this set of rules.
  • Inform each nominee with a comment on their blog.

Thanks misstatejones for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award!

Snack Packs!

So, I have found one of the most frustrating times of the day for BroBro is the time right when he wakes up from his nap.  It is during this time that BroBro says he is “starving”.  Starving right after nap time usually means little to no patience and lots and lots of whining.  Add to this the common fact that during this time, I am either just finishing something up or nursing Littlest Man and you can begin to see why this has historically been a rough point in our day.

The solution?  The SNACK PACKS!

These have worked perfectly.  There are two baskets; one that sits on the counter and one that sits in the fridge.  Each have been filled with small tupperware containers that have just the right portion of a healthy snack.  They are both within easy reach of little hands.  When the kids get up from their naps, instead of asking me for a snack and having to wait or going back and forth with what they get and how much they get, they just grab one container and they are on their way.  The snack packs are just the right portion, they are easy to grab, and they provide the much needed choice for an independent 4-year old.  Our house is now a happy house after nap time!

Examples of snacks used:

*  Fridge – grapes, cheese squares, mini carrots, cantaloupe slices, apples

*  Counter – trail mix, crackers, raisins, pretzels

Rocks, Rocks Everywhere!

One main curriculum that we have used this year for homeschooling has been My Father’s World. I love this curriculum and definitely plan to use it again next year.

One of the things that I have enjoyed about the Kindergarten level in this curriculum is the way it is broken into themes.  This ends up being a perfect way to focus our curiosity and organize our weeks.  In the past we have talked about everything from the sun and the moon to the apples and the octopus.  This week’s theme was ROCKS.  We started off the week by reading about the wise man who built his house on the rock and the foolish man who built his house on the sand (Matthew 7:24-29).  We discussed how Jesus is our rock and how important it is to listen and obey and build our own life on the rock of Jesus.

We read books about rocks and Big Man discovered that they have different names depending on how they are formed and different hardness depending on how they can be scratched.  Next, we embarked on a nature hunt for….? You guessed it! ROCKS! I started off asking them to find 10 of the coolest rocks they could find.  This soon proved to be way too small of a number as I quickly realized that preschoolers and toddlers care very little about looking closely for the cool factor and way more about being the quickest to get their basket the fullest.   Once we got home, a bowl full of soapy water and a scrub brush was all they needed for another 30 minutes of entertainment.  It was at this point that just a couple of those cool factors started to make a bit of sense.  Big Man began to notice some of the differences in their shapes and colors.  This was 30 minutes well spent….for ALL of us.

Later in the week I was glad that they thought it more exciting to collect a basket of rocks.  We ended up using this rocks to sort and order.  We put them in a row from smallest to largest and then from lightest in color to darkest.  We even found that the basket of rocks made, challenging but yet still fun, building blocks.  They could be manipulated and turned in different directions and we played around with them trying to see how tall we could get them to stack before they all came tumbling down (or got knocked over by Pretty Girl, whichever one occurred first).

We used our theme of rocks to also talk about what objects float and which ones sink.  Along with various other objects Big Man predicated that the littlest of rocks would float while the larger ones would sink.  He was so excited to see he was right when his largest rock fell to the bottom of the bucket but quite surprised to discover so did the itty bitty one too.  I believe his comment was “HEY!”  We also tried markers, balls, apples, water bottles, paper clips and various other objects.  He sorted all the objects into those that would sink and those that would float and now will proudly tell you that the size of the object does not matter.  It is wether or not the object has air inside that determines if it will sink or float.

For added fun I found a paper version of the game Rock, Paper, Scissors and we finished our week by pulling out the acrylics and painting rock people (and a few monsters).  It has been a fun and full week of many ROCK DISCOVERIES and who knows, there just may be a rock monster family production at our house tonight.

Acts of Kindness

“How are the older kids adjusting to the baby?”  

This has been a common question lately.

The answer:  “They have adjusted quite well to Littlest Man, it’s with each other where the trouble lies.”  

Of course since this has been a hurdle for the last 6 months it has very little to do with ‘the baby’ and much more to do with them.  For most of the day our home operates more like a boxing ring (without the boxing).  On one side there is an extremely strong-willed, very independent, only child wanna-be 4  year old (almost 5 year old).  On the other there is an almost as extremely strong-willed, also very independent, wanna do everything my brother does, 2 year old.  I am not sure which one gets the upper hand throughout the day but I do know who gets the short end of the stick; ME!

Most situations carry out as the following:

Big Man doesn’t like what Pretty Girl does and Pretty Girl only wants to do what Big Man does.  All of what she does, of course is what she has learned from him.  Big Man loses every bit of the small amount of patience that he possess and throws a fit.  Pretty Girl, hurt by Big Man’s reaction, also throws a fit.  With a newborn, you can imagine that there is also most likely a hungry, wailing infant in the background. In these situations, there is not much that I am not still learning but I have learned that 5 year olds have absolutely no concept of “Just ignore your sister and she will stop” and 2 year olds have  no concept of…well…just plain “Stop”.

I know, I know.  I did grow up as an only child myself but I am not completely naive.  Sibling rivalry is common…it’s part of life…it’s what brothers and sisters do, HOWEVER, I do wish to teach my kids that while there are times you are frustrated by the other there should be more times that you are not.  Each one of us has a role to play in this family and we can best show our love to each other by living up to the role effectively.  This means teaching Big Man how to love and protect his younger sister,   teaching him that girls have different needs than boys, and teaching him that being mean is just not an option.  It also means teaching Pretty Girl that she can trust and depend on her older brother, that boys are rough and tough (so they think) and that people have boundaries.

I have tried to handle the conflict with conversation and consequences.  I have also handed it over to Daddy and asked him to take on the responsibility of disciplining when the heart became an issue.  Progress is being made but I realized that for Big Man, the important part is for him to see that Mommy and Daddy are on the same page with this and that we are working together as a family.

As a result we have started a new dinner time routine.  It now includes a family devotion time.  While scoring the internet I came across a resource from Focus on the Family (Canada) called KIDS of INTEGRITY.  The lessons are family geared and last about a week.  Each night a bible story is read and questions are asked geared around that week’s topic of discussion.  Several hands-on activities are also included as well as memory verses and prayer examples.  Creative discipline ideas are also listed. Do you want to guess what the theme for this week includes?

                                            Kindness

So this week each of us, Mommy and Daddy included, worked together to make kindness flags.  As each day progresses we are each on the lookout for acts of kindness performed by the other.  If an act is spotted then that person’s flag is put into the jar.  The goal:  Everybody has their flag in the jar by the end of the night.  I just wonder what kinds of acts I will need to do to constitute having my flag put into the jar.

Success?

It has been almost impossible to get back into the routine since Littlest Man was born.  Yes, a good part of it has been the wonderful ability to have the two older kids spend extra time with friends and family while we/I work to get adjusted but the majority of it has been due to the fact that I have just been way too tired.  Even though the sleepless nights have been nothing different than the two older kids I have found it much harder to cope with the less sleep this time around.  I am sure it is due to the fact that daytime with the older kids does not lead to rest time as it did when the first one came around.  Sleep deprivation is indeed a very uncomfortable form of torture.

Success is occurring, however, in very small doses.  One day last week we were able to accomplish a good, maybe I should say acceptable amount of school – a task that has been put on the wayside for over a month. Success also occurred as I baked brownies for a funeral held at the church (ok only moderate success here as they were ever so slightly undercooked and still way to warm to cut before I left the house but that is what makes them good, right?) and got Pretty Girl to her music class on time.  Big Man even worked on his workbook page and a busy bag without complaint or interruption during the class.

The beautiful sunny afternoon called for nothing else but time spent outside.  With the temperatures reaching into the high 80s and me wondering if it wasn’t getting close to pool time nothing seemed like a better play theme than water.   I kept it simple here, giving the kids each a bowl with small cups to fill, a spoon to use, a straw for blowing bubbles, a water bottle with holes for the fun of it and a cap just in case.  Notice that the bowls are almost identical with identical objects placed in them and spaced just far enough apart so that each child should be able to play in their own bowl without distracting or getting distracted or maybe more rightly put “annoyed” by the other.  I have grand visions of them being able to play with things like this together and having a great time doing it but right now those things are just that; visions.  For now I will enjoy the moments that they get to explore on their own and the seconds that they do end up working on those together.

Success!  Yes!  The morning went well, the kids were feed, the time outside was enjoyable.  Time for the older kids to lay down for a nap, Littlest Man to get changed and me to take a quick snooze.  RIPPLE in the WATER!  Littlest Man’s diaper change leads to an unexpected visit to the doctor and a late night at the ER.  Was I getting too confident?