Monday, July 3, 2017

Residency: Chapter One

I get asked a lot about how residency is going. And often I just try to be witty and throw out a casual answer like "It's going" and change the topic. Mostly because a) it's easier than trying to explain and b) I don't really know how it is going because truthfully it is just different than I thought.

This year has been both harder.. and easier than we expected.

Intern year hit off with more than a bang.. it was kind of a catastrophe actually. Within 2 months we moved, bought a home, fixed it up, had a baby, and during all that Brian was thrown into his first rotation in the ICU where he was working 100+ hours a week at times. 

To say we were overwhelmed is an understatement. 

I remember flopping in bed at midnight after just ripping out the flooring in our new home and crying because I hadn't seen my husband in 3 days because he was working 12+ hour nights and our last communication had been to snap at each other from our exhaustion and stress and whip out a few awkward hugs that meant "I'll see you when I see you and maybe we can work this out then" and wondering how in the world I was going to survive THREE whole years of this.

I felt guilty for being upset with him when he was the most stressed, tired, exhausted physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally I had ever seen him. I wanted to support him but I too was exhausted, feeling overwhelmed, and about to have a baby.

And at that moment I thought to myself that this was way harder than I had ever imagined.

But then flash forward only a month later where we sat chilling at a park eating Little Caesar's pizza while watching Lydia chase some rolly-polly bugs and we were casually talking about how nice this new geriatrics rotation was and how we were able to see Brian so much more.

It felt like a dream and that the last hellish rotation of ICU was just a really really bad nightmare.

And at that moment I thought to myself that this was easier than I had imagined.

And the year continued like that.. 2 weeks of stress, 6 weeks of not, 4 weeks of exhaustion, 1 week of not, and so forth.

Honestly this post has been a really hard one for me to write. I have probably written 5 different versions of what I want to say and none of them felt right to me.

I sat on the phone, talking to my friend back in Chicago whose husband is just ending his 3rd year of medical school and tried to put into words what this year has been like, and I even struggled spitting the words out to her.

It's not that this year has been that awful or anything, it has just been so different than I ever imagined. Had you asked me how it was going every 3 of the last 12 months, I would have told you different answers at each stage.

I worried about writing this because I didn't want the whole "woe is me" or "pity my hard life" or anything like that. I know a lot of what I experienced this year is normal for many people and not just the wife of a new resident.

Often I find that to explain our experience I talk a lot about the negative aspects which make it sound like I'm complaining and I really really don't want to sound like that or that my life is really negative when it isn't.

I just want to be real for those who experience similar situations.

I wrote a post "To the First Years" and gave advice on what I wish I would have known or heard starting medical school. And this post is kind of similar but aimed at residents and what I would tell myself a year ago if I could.

You see, it is so much easier to look back on a trial or a life experience and see what you should have done or wished you had known at that time. And in a lot of cases, though it was a difficult time, in the end many of us wouldn't give it up because we learned so much about ourselves or our loved ones or we just grew stronger in ways that can only happen once beaten down.

So here is what I learned or how I would prepare myself for the year that was a head of us.

1- Take a Big Breath. Breathe in and breathe out.

I can't tell you how many times we have to verbally say this out loud to each other. But in that breath your senses awaken a bit more. You feel your lungs fill with air, you hear the exhaling air through your nose and you will see and think a bit more clearly.

Most of the time Brian holds me as I cry or worry. He's always been my protector and comforter.

But the night before he started his first day of residency as an intern, I had the chance to reverse those roles. I held him.

He was feeling completely overwhelmed. Besides everything that we had going on in our lives, he felt he was drowning in expectations given by others... his family, his school, me, but most importantly his expectations for himself.

He had waited for this moment his whole life and yet here he was and he didn't feel as smart or strong or ready as he had always thought he would be.

In that moment I found myself telling him to breathe. Just breathe.

When the tough times of pure exhaustion came. We learned to take a breath.

And when the moments of pure joy came. We learned to take a breath. A different breath though, one where we savored it a little bit more and enjoyed the feeling of joy.

When our second daughter was born we took a deep breath in and held it there a little bit longer.

When Brian came home from work one night with tears in his eyes from being beaten down by a resident's harsh (and cruel) words. We took a breath.

When I felt lonely and friendless I learned to breathe.

When Brian surprised the girls and I by coming home hours earlier because it was a slower day, we took a breathe of happiness.

In and out. In and out. Just breathe and live.

2-We are in this together.This is our squad.

One time I was waiting for Brian to come home because I had to run to an eye appointment and he had told me he would be home in time. So I waited and waited and started fretting and worrying that I wouldn't make it on time.

I watched his car drive into the garage and I let the anger start to boil a bit as I waited for him to come inside. It was a good 5 minutes before he came inside and I was frustrated. I even thought to myself I deserved to be frustrated. He knew he was late. He knew I was waiting and yet he stayed in his car for 5 minutes extra instead of running inside and allowing me to run to the appointment.

When he walked inside I let him know I was mad as I left the house.

As I was driving to the the eye exam thinking about all the 'good' things I should have said, I had the thought come to my mind "You are in this together." But I pushed it away because I was just too frustrated.

I started thinking thoughts like, "I am home with the kids all day holding down the fort. I clean all day. Do your laundry. Make you lunches and dinners. Do your shopping so there is soap when you want it and toothpaste always in the drawer. I am lonely and don't have friends or a social life because I don't speak to anyone above a 2 year-old all day. I never do anything for myself and all I asked of you was to be home at this time so I could get my eyes checked."

And the thought came more powerfully that time, "You are in this together."

It wasn't until a few nights later that Brian came home from a long day and the kitchen was not clean when he walked in and I didn't have dinner and the kids were ornery from shorter naps and had gone to bed early. He walked in and did a big sigh and then started angrily doing the dishes. When I came in to welcome him home he said, "I don't have time for this. I go to work for 12 hour plus days and come home to a messy house that I have to clean and I still have to finish my notes and read about tomorrow's patients but I am just so tired. I just can't do it all. I want to be with you and the kids and now they are in bed for the second night in a row and I haven't even seen them in days."

And this time while he was speaking the thought came again that had come so strongly the week before, "You are in this together." And this time I listened and I understood.

It is so easy for Brian and I to point fingers or say that one situation is harder than the others. But that isn't the solution. What we have had to learn is that we are in this together. We shouldn't be against each other but supporting each other, listening and holding each other through it.

I once had a friend tell me that what she and her husband do sometimes before they go to bed is to ask each other what the other is currently struggling with. They talk about it and then the opposite spouse prays with them but for them and their struggle. They are truly willing to bear one another's burdens and get through it together. Since hearing this, Brian and I have tried this as well and it has helped us to stay more connected and on the same team.

When we got married and we said yes for "time and all eternity" we didn't place exceptions on that. We didn't' say "except when you leave the kitchen dirty and drink all the orange juice in the fridge" or "except when you are late coming home and don't put gas in the car." We are together through eternity and that includes everything each person goes through and experiences.

We are learning it is important to stay connected in other ways too. We need date nights, monthly temple trips, talks away from the kids and talks with the kids. Planned and unplanned family night outs and just the candid moments in between.

There is no one else I'd rather be in this with. This little family is my ultimate #squadgoal and I can't let myself miss that.

3- Support, Support, SUPPORT

This can go a few different ways. I'm talking about supporting him. He's tired and working hard and so are you, but this won't last forever. Cheer him on, tell him you are proud and grateful for all he is doing. Uplift him and love him.

But I'm also talking about supporting yourself and kids. You need someone cheering you on too. Having family nearby was our biggest reason we chose to come back to Utah. For us, nothing beats family.

But we also grew used to amazing friend and ward support systems while living as students both at USU and in Chicago. We had expected to find that here but it didn't come as quickly. It has and still is taking more time and effort than it had before, and time is just something that doesn't come smoothly with Brian's schedules.

Regardless, keep searching until you find it and hold on if it is already there. Surround yourself with people who build you up and keep you floating when it would be so easy to sink.

4- Learn to be independent. I had to learn this in medical school and then relearn it here.

With family nearby this usually means that there are more family gatherings to go to-baby blessings, baptisms, monthly family dinners, the usual holidays, and the spontaneous game night, etc. Brian can't go to most of these events and so I often go alone. Thankfully they are family so it really isn't that hard to do.

For me the harder stuff to do is going to activities or neighborhood bonfires or BBQs with just me and the girls. These are things I would want Brian to come with me to and before this medical stuff I wouldn't have gone by myself.. but now I do.

I know too many people who wait. They are the ones who wait for their circumstances to change.

I was this person at one point. I waited for Brian's days off for us to go do things. And I waited some more. And finally time was just slipping through my fingers and I realized that while waiting I was not living.

We still have to live the life around us. I can't stay shut in to my house waiting for Brian's day off so we can do something. Nope. You learn to get out with you and the kids without him.

Being independent also means wearing the pants on the "adulting" things that Brian usually does. For me, it meant I do the bills or mow the lawn or get projects done around the house and don't wait for him to have the time. I make the phone calls to schedule plumbers or the internet (which I hate doing). I call the insurance company to go over benefits, etc. I'm not saying I do these things all the time. I'm saying that I don't depend on him to do it if it needs to be done.

5- God is good

Brian's Sundays in medical school were very free. He never had school on Sundays and rarely if ever had rotation or clinic needs that took over. We made a family decision that he would never study on Sundays and that they would be days for family, church, and God.

We have not been able to keep that decision alive in residency. Brian works most Sundays and so we have had to readjust. We make time for our priorities. When someone says that they "didn't have time" to do something, most of the time what they are saying is that they "didn't make it a priority". Of course there are exceptions, but most of the time that is exactly what it is.

Prioritizing family time is important, prioritizing God is even more. While he may not be able to physically go to church all the time, there are still many other ways he can make time for God. You need to do what personally works for you and your situation but you need to make sure it is something you make happen.

Some of the things that works for Brian are these:
-Daily Scripture study as a couple, a separate one with the kids, and family prayer
-Listening to scriptures and conference talks to and from work
-Reading the Ensign on downtime at work
-Family home evening on his days off
-Monthly temple trip (or in our case it was every 5 weeks)

It was October, General Conference weekend.. and Brian had worked the night shift and came crashing down the stairs on Saturday morning where the girls and I were watching conference. He sat down just as Elder J. Devn Cornish spoke on "Am I Good Enough? Will I make it?" and it was NOT a coincidence that Brian came in at that time.

Brian was feeling beat due to a tough rotation and a resident who was very negative. He needed someone to believe in him when he didn't quite believe in himself just as Elder Cornish had experienced. For Brian to come in at that moment and hear a man speaking of similar experiences of residency, spoke to Brian and told him that God was aware of him and his situation.

We need never do hard things alone because we have the best cheerleader and coach one could ever have. Make God a priority. God is good and he is on our team.

6- Don't forget to Live.

Brian has truly handled residency like a champ. But he is human and so I did see a side of him that at first had me wondering who the heck he was and where my husband had gone.

But he'll come back. And he has.

This isn't Groundhog Day where you are stuck in the same day forever. Meaning that you won't be this poor, this lonely, this busy, this crazy or a new intern family forever.

It also means that you won't have a 2 year old and 9 month old or living in a fixer upper or driving that blue Honda CRV forever either. When residency is over you will have an almost 5 and 3 year old, possibly a new car and less to fix on the house and who knows what else will change...

Don't think of life as "some day it will get easier and better and we can finally live" because it is not true. These are some of the best years of our lives. Don't forget to live.

Fnd the joy in the stage and focus on it so that you can look back with fond memories and be grateful you overcame the challenges and trials that will make you stronger if you allow them to. You have the choice. Choose to live and love it.

So there you have it. At least my view of this last Intern year. We're doing it just like you, and your grocer, and the Coldstone ice cream scooper, and everyone else.

And now time to reminisce about the awesome time we had last week in a beach house in California celebrating the end of Intern year... while Brian is currently finishing up his his first 30 hour shift in the ICU as a second year resident.
Bring on PGY-2. We are ready for you!

Monday, June 5, 2017

The SECOND Second 9 Months

As I sat down to write this I found myself rereading my blog post from when Lydia turned 9 months and the things I had learned in those first months of motherhood.

When Lydia turned 9 months old, I wrote a post about 9 things I had learned since she was born. They were heart-felt and resonated deep within me as a new mom. Then life went on and I continued to learn new life lessons with my ever growing child and family and in some ways I forgot and pushed away what had been so important to me those first 9 months of motherhood.

I sat down to write about my second 9 months with my second baby and found myself rereading that first post "9 months in and 9 months out" and I wish I would have reflected sooner. I needed to hear it all again and again.. and it has got me thinking about what I've learned (and relearned) this second time around.

1- I have learned to take off the I-DO-EVERYTHING-AND-ASK-FOR-NOTHING badge and realize that sometimes I need to do a little bit for myself to keep the peace in the house. 

A mother is a giver. She gives of her body, her time, her heart, her sleep and energy, and some give up careers to be a mother. There are times when I sneak into the other room to eat a Popsicle because I don't want to share with my kids or I slide the iPad with Super Why playing to my toddler because the baby is still sleeping and I want to catch a few more minutes of shut-eye myself while only one is awake.

But most of the time I can't do things for myself immediately. If we are all hungry, the kids get fed first. Most of the time the girls walk around dressed and clean while I stay in yoga pants that I've been wearing for 4 days straight and a pony tail and Sunday's make-up still on my face.. and it's Wednesday. 

And while I wanted to throw a pity party for myself at times, I had to learn to be an advocate for myself and not feel guilty about going to the gym and having my kids in the daycare for an hour. Or the fact that I turned on the tv so I could get that shower in before naptime so that I could also take a nap with the girls. 

If I take care of myself too, I am a happier and nicer mom.

It's okay to ask for time to take care of you.

2- Change and adaption is the new normal. Each time I thought I had something down or I thought because I had done this 'baby thing' before that I knew what I was doing.. I was proven wrong.

I still felt much much more confident this time around, but there were things about this baby that was different just because these kids are different people. Adeline didn't thrive on routine the way Lydia did and she is pickier with her milk feedings and prefers solid foods. Small things that have just thrown little holes and changes in my normal. 

And I've learned (and continue to learn) to adapt.. and roll with it the best I can.

3- I am learning more and more that I can't control everything. When it is just you.. you have more control about what goes on in your life. And then you get married and you lose some of the control. The more people you add, the less control you hold. 

When it was just me and Lydia, I had much more control over what was going on each day.. I thrived on routine and my baby followed suit because it was something I could control most of the time. My perfectionist personality showed through with a lot of things. I was in charge of bedtimes and naptimes and feeding and play. I knew my baby and our day like clockwork and it was easier to plan things.

In my second, second 9 months, I have learned I can't control each day and all that happens. That means that sometimes play dates get cancelled because the whole house of Larson's need a nap, or that the kitchen that was sparkly clean before the kids woke up is now in shambles and they've only been awake for 5 minutes. I can't control all that because that is life with two kids.

I can't control that we got all ready for church and drove through the snow only to leave during the first hour because the baby had a fever that I didn't notice before. I can't control that.

What I can control, is my response to it.

And that is everything. So maybe this just goes with learning to adapt with the change and responding the best I can. 

4- I can do hard things. That has been my motto this year. I have been out of my comfort zone in different ways, especially as we have tried to fix up this house while having a new baby and new job. I remind myself when something I need to do overwhelms me that I can do hard things. I can do it. 

When I wanted to paint the kitchen cupboards and that moment hit when things have to get worse before they get better and you wonder what the heck you just did to yourself (Add on the mom guilt of having your kids watch more tv to keep them out of the kitchen and also having a tired husband who wants to be supportive but doesn't love all your DIY projects and lets you know it).. I told myself I can do hard things and pushed through it.

I can do hard things when we stayed up late watching The Last Decent with your husband and you haven't watched a movie together forever so you keep watching even when you know you need to sleep. Then you end up dreaming about it when you do go to sleep and toss and turn. Then the baby is up because her teething gums hurt and your toddler has a bad dream about a boat (at least I think she was telling me that?) and you check your fitbit to find out you only slept for 2 hours the whole night and now you need to go to church but you can't even keep your eyes open.. etc.. I can do hard things.

5- Parenting is different for everyone and... each kid requires different parenting. 

I have been that judgmental person of the parent in the Walmart.. and the one at the park and everywhere in between. And then I became a parent and realized how hard and unique it is. I remember coming home from the hospital with my first thinking "People are just letting me come home with a human being that I am in charge of and they trust me to take care of it?" It's a huge responsibility.. and it is HARD!

My parenting is different than that of my sister's parenting.. and it is different than my mom's. My parenting is even different than my husbands and it most certainly is different for each of my children. And I suspect it will only get more different with each child as well. 

The key to parenting is that you do your best. AND you don't judge.

6- Don't be afraid to ask for help. I could cry as I write about this one because in the past 9 months I have had to ask for help more than I secretly want to admit. 

Most Sundays I go to church by myself because Brian has to work. While I realize so many people do this all the time, it has been new for me. And while some Sundays are smoother than others, it is so much better when I ask for help. 

On Mother's Day this year, Brian was working and I spent the morning cleaning up splattered urine and spit up. I got the kids in the car to realize I had left the lights on and the car was dead. We were already late for church, but I got the kids in the stroller and we walked.

I arrived hot and sweaty and we missed the sacrament but at least we were there. The family we normally sit by (and who are my church angels) weren't there that day so we looked for any open seat. The only seats available without disrupting more were on the back row with the aisle in front. We squished in and pretty much immediately the circus started.

Addie spit up and Lydia was throwing a fit as well as the goldfish crackers all over. I found myself going back and forth between the two to entertain them and get them to be quiet.

I was feel flushed and stressed (and still sweaty from walking) and finally the couple next to me took Addie so I could clean myself up from spit up and try to calm my toddler down all while faintly hearing a talk about how wonderful mother's are and their patience and realizing I was quickly losing mine. The sweet lady on my other side leaned over to me and said, "You are doing great."

They were just the words I needed to hear but they also got the waterworks going and I quickly grabbed my ornery Lydia and ran out of the chapel to find an empty classroom to cry in.. which only made Lydia freak out more ("Mommy cry?! Why Mommy sad?") in which she did a loud sympathetic cry for me. I wiped my tears quickly, calmed her down, took a huge breath and returned to sacrament meeting.

The rest of church I had people helping me right and left. And I told myself to let them help. I can't always be the helper and I need to learn to let others serve and help me. I needed it that day and many days since.

7- Write things down. You think you will always remember. But you don't.  While pictures are a great way of journaling these days, words can still go farther in our memories. 

Our awesome phones have these cool things called "apps" and you can find some sweet note taking and journalling apps. What I do is tell myself I can't get on Instagram or Pinterest or something until I have written in my note app about our day. And I am always so happy that I do because you just forget the day to day things. And sometimes what felt huge then isn't and what felt too small to mention turns out to be so special.

It's moments like what is pictured below. I think I would have only remembered that we had lunch with Brian while he was working a long shift. But thankfully I wrote down how excited both girls were when they saw him and how even my heart jumped. I also wrote about how Lydia insisted on wearing her little Doc McStuffin's backpack when she has no idea who the character is, she just likes being like daddy.

Write things down.

8- Nurture your husband as well as your kids. He needs some love and attention too. Teaching my kids that daddy and mommy's relationship comes first is hard and I am not the best teacher in this subject while these kids are so little. But it is something I want to learn more and get better at as they get older and can understand. 

We are striving to make date night more of a priority and that paying for a babysitter is indeed worth it.

This was our first date night (that wasn't the temple) in months. And I was giddy with excitement that it was actually happening because it had been so long.

Sometimes I let the kids completely take over my time with him and my energy for him. This and many many more dates and nurturing is needed.

9- It will all turn out okay

We recently watched the NBC series of This is Us and we loved it. At first it made us all worried that all our mistakes as parents will come out in our kids as they get older even though we are trying our very best. But then as the show went on things turn out okay just like I know they will in real life.

It's learning to have faith and continue to develop it. Isaiah 8:17 speaks "I will wait upon the Lord..and look for him." This has spoken deeply to me and taught me that when frustrations and trials come I must draw nearer to my Savior and I will be strengthened and healed. By doing so, my faith with increase and I will see the positive outcomes and feel the joy that accompanies them. 

We will be helped in this parenting journey and I am so grateful for that because I only know what I am doing 5% of the time. But in doing my best, I know that things will work out as they should. 

With posts like these I find myself worrying about offending others... to those who struggle to create their families I worry about sounding like I am complaining when I have these two babes in my arms. And to those of my friends who don't want to be a mother because they feel their life will only be diapers and laundry, I worry that my life reflects that worry.

But to both kinds of people I truly hope my life is real. Not perfect or staged or negative. 

I love this life and I write these things down for my own sake as well as in hopes someone will feel more normal and know they aren't alone. 

Satan would have us feel isolated and alone in our struggles, destined to compare ourselves with the lives of others and constantly fall short. It is my small hope that by being vulnerable and honest with what I struggle with and learn that someone else can be uplifted. 

9 months is a long time in so many ways, but I really do feel like this hasn't been long enough. 

I want more. More time to soak in the happiness I feel right now. 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Because of Him

I love this picture.

It captures a few things that are pretty important to me.

See those two little girls?

The blonde hair, blue-eyed one who insists on carrying a backpack or purse all the time and who hates socks (as shown by one on and one off). She had a heyday with the Easter egg hunts and kept opening everyone else's eggs, downing the contents, putting it back together and placing it back in its hiding spot. Sorry family if you had any empty eggs in your color. You can blame her.

And see the other little beauty? The one with huge hazel eyes and a squishy face who is wondering if the camera is edible? That little pug just wanted to crawl around and find out what things she could eat.

Then there's that tall handsome man on the side.. who is just happy to be home and finally be able to go to church as a family only to find he felt so exhausted that he struggled staying awake.. but even then, he was there. He was able to partake of the sacrament that so many of us take for granted. And what makes this picture even more special is that he wanted to take it.

Lastly there is a very special person on the left side behind Adeline's head.. Our Savior. It is Him that we celebrate this day. It is His life that we commemorate and His glorious resurrection that we rejoice in. Because of him, I have this forever family. Because of Him, I too will be resurrected with those I love. Because of Him, my life has meaning.

And so does this picture.

.. and this one

Happy Easter. May we rejoice in our friends, family, and Savior each and every day.

Thursday, March 16, 2017


I tend to count time by how old Adeline is. And we moved into our house the week she was born so it is interesting to think that we have lived in this home for 6 months already, but it is much much MORE interesting to think that it was ONLY 6 months ago and this little beauty entered our home and hearts.

I'm pretty sure most parents say the usual hashtags at times like these... #timeslowdown #stopgrowing #wherehasthetimegone etc and to be honest, I feel like echoing them! How often as a child do I remember sitting in my 4th grade class of Mr. Reese and look out the window at the snow and feel like time had just stopped and it was taking FOREVER for the snow to melt and for school to be over. And now it feels the opposite. While the snow has mostly gone (if Utah's weather makes up its mind) it feels like it wasn't that long ago that I held my little 2 month old in my arms as the first snow fell and we decorated for the holidays.

Now, I hold my 6 month old and look out the window to see the grass beginning to stretch and grow and watch the rain fall outside while my 2 year old begs to go jump in the puddles.

My growing baby journal is a reminder of my growing baby and I have to force the nostalgia away and embrace it all with love. I truly love these little girls.

I tried and failed to get the same angle of this shot. I was too lazy to look it up and compare.. So this will have to do. This is me at 5 months, Addie at 5 months, and Lydi at 5 months. You can definitely tell they are my kids.. but what you can't tell is that besides the amazing double chin that I've got, Adeline is a spitting image of me. (And her eyes are more round).

I hear all the time about how much Adeline looks like me. It is funny how when Lydia came along we felt like she looked exactly like me, and now when I look at her, I think she is more of a mix, while Adeline often looks like my baby pictures. It weirds me out sometimes because I look down at her and have the thought what it would be like to have held myself!?

The joke these days is that Adeline is my look-alike and Lydia's spitfire personality is my act-alike. I feel bad for Brian to have to deal with me that many more times ha.

On another note.. Lydia's look-alike is not even in our family.. and we get it all the time whereever we go..

She's a Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen twin.. or triplet. Like 30 years too late.

And yes.. I coudn't help myself on posting 4 of these.. had to try a few different angles ha.

So... there you have it.

And now.. while we took cute pics of Addie for being 6 months, we also snapped a few of us for being married for 6 years! Another page down in the marriage journal!

I planned to crop us out of the living room at the time.. but now as I look at it, it seems silly. This is exactly where we are in our 6 years of marriage.. baby toys and all.

There are a lot of 6's this year.. (I even turn 26 in 6 months and Brian turns an upside down 6 and turns 29 in August.. I know, I'm pushing my limit here haha).

Here's to the number 6!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Life with TWO

I love being a mom.

But being a mom requires some adjustment. And now, being a mom of two.. has required even more.

Let me be frank... My first "wake-up call" as a mom of two happened as Adeline started crying for food as I was finishing feeding Lydia from a messy mac & cheese dinner.

I hurried and put Lydia in the tub, grabbed the baby and started nursing her beside the tub. Lydia then started yelling "poop!" which is what she does to let me know she needs to go.

So one hand on the baby eating, one hand pulling Lydia from the tub, to the toilet.. both kids start crying as I try to use a towel to mop the floor with my foot from all the water that spilled out from pulling Lydia out..

When all the sudden.. I have to go to the bathroom too.. and as I'm only just a couple days post-giving birth, this means I really really have to go!

But Lydia is on the toilet and I am feeding a baby.. and so.. I'm in a predicament.

I selfishly get Lydia off the toilet, hurry and go.. and as I put her back on I realize there is poop on the floor because I had grabbed her off mid-go.


Face palm.

And I thought to myself [sarcastically].. "Wow Anna, you really rock at this mom of two thing!"

I remember the last time I kissed Lydia goodnight before we brought her little sister home. And I remember the first time she saw the "baby" and smothered her in kisses and a good eye poke. I hope she will always love her as much as she does now. (Just maybe a little bit more soft).

I kind of feel like I'm on some sort of safety patrol between Lydia and the baby.. CONSTANTLY.

Lydia loves on that baby so much that I felt like I had to keep her in her crib for the first 2 months to avoid Lydia's excited and overly squishy (not to mention suffocating) hugs.

The crib strategy worked until Lydia figured out how to climb into the crib. So then it was putting the baby in her crib with the door shut... but then Lydia learned how to open the door. So now.. I just listen for a door opening and that is usually my cue that I have about 1 minute and 23 seconds before Lydia is in the crib trying to hold the baby.

My next wake-up call happened at my first Sunday back at 9 AM church.

Brian was working and I was determined to get it right by myself.

I had it all together. I was up at the crack of dawn so I could shower, do my hair, and brush my teeth all before the babies woke up.

I got both kids fed, dressed, and I had time to pump so that I would have some milk to feed the baby at church and wouldn't have to leave to go nurse her.

But the best part of it all was.. I got to church EARLY.

You read that right. I was early enough that we actually got to choose our seats and have time to kill and even listen to the prelude music.

Lydia didn't know what to do with herself and wanted to dig in immediately into my church bag for toys and treats which is normally fine.. but I wanted to savor those.. Savor this time where I wasn't rushing and hushing my children.

The Bishop's wife came over to me before the meeting began and told me if I needed to go nurse the baby or something then she'd be happy to help with Lydia.

I thanked her, but secretly did a little jig inside because that wasn't going to happen.  I had this mom thing down! I was all set!

And then the meeting began.

And it was all great. For about 10 minutes.

Lydia was happily coloring and eating raisins. We made it through the hymn, announcements, and even the bread part of the sacrament.

But the baby started getting fussy.

Never fear! I have a bottle! As I am about to pull the baby from her carseat to feed her, I feel something warm and sticky on my hand..

I look into the carseat...

And the baby has pooped all up her back and front.

There is a POOL of poop surrounding her.

My heart panics but I breathe.. I got this. I can just feed her in her carseat and then go change her after sacrament.

But all of the sudden, I see that underneath the carseat.. you know the little holes the straps go through to hold the baby in? Ya those? Well poop is LEAKING out of those onto the bench underneath.

Gross... really gross..

And I realize.. I didn't pack a change of clothes for the baby.

And I didn't pack the right sized diaper either.

And so... I gather toys for Lydia, rush her to the Bishop's wife... grab my belongings and the baby carseat and try to catch the poop dripping out of the carseat as I exit the chapel.. get in my car... and drive home to quickly bathe the baby, pack my neglected needed belongings, (plus cleaning supplies for the bench) feed the baby.. and get back before the end of sacrament.

And that ended my determination to always have it together.

Instead, my determination to just roll with my best would have to work.

So this is what life with two kids is like (at least for me).

With just Lydia, sometimes I felt like a champion and other times I had no idea what I was doing. It could feel easy and yet it was the hardest thing I had ever done to start the road to motherhood. It was madness and pure happiness.

Over time, I gained confidence. The times that had felt so hard started to feel more manageable. And I felt like I was in a groove.

So we added a child.

Don't be fooled.. what looks like precious kisses in this picture is actually just Lydia wiping her nose on the baby's head. Yep.

And yes.. as shown above, we have some very crazy moments and it gets tough. But I find that I am learning so much this time around. And truly the good outweighs the hard by a long shot.

Here's my list of Lessons with Two:

Find balance. When Lydia wants my attention but the baby needs to be fed.. who wins? When Adeline is crying for me to hold her but Lydia is making a mess by dumping the bath water over the tub? Who gets it? Finding that balance can be so tricky and tiring. I can walk away feeling guilty for choosing to not let my bathroom become a swimming pool by letting the baby cry so I can clean it up.. or I can walk away from Lydia to change the baby's diaper when Lydia desperately wants me to color with her. I can't let myself feel guilty that I can't give my 100% to both children all the time.

Enjoy the small moments. When I do have the opportunity to give my full attention to a child (because the other is sleeping or something) I am learning to give it my all. Lydia is napping and Adeline is wide awake.. enjoy laying there on the floor with her and handing her toys to put in her mouth-even if there are dishes that need to be washed. It is just soaking in the joy on Lydia's face as we three sit in the dark with a flashlight on or allowing her to dump out the toy bin just to play peek-a-boo two times before moving on to something else. Enjoy those fleeting moments.. because that is what they are. Fleeting.

Fits happen. Lydia is my spirited child and often is loud and rambunctious. This also makes her fits seem a million times worse at times. I often feel like I have to hurry and 'calm her down' or that she has to go a whole day without a tantrum for me to feel like a success as a mom. But I am learning. Fits just happen. It's part of the stage. Lydia is 2 and learning how to control her emotions and she'll get there. It doesn't mean I'm a bad mom. Just one that has to learn to be extra patient.

There is only so much you can do. Dealing with two sets of needs at once is hard stuff. When both kids are screaming and it makes you want to scream too.. Take a breath. It is impossible to be the same mom with your first as you are with your second. My attention is split, but I am more confident the second time around and I need to let that confidence take over sometimes.

Prepare ahead. When you go out or have plans to go out. Just make sure to always refill the diaper bag with the much needed-family necessities. This time around I make sure to fill the bag after we get home from something because I definitely know myself well enough to know that the next time I am grabbing it, I am probably in a hurry.

It's okay to be tired. And it's okay to nap! (Even if there is a pile of laundry up the wahzoo on the bed). This one is hard sometimes, even now that Adeline is no longer a newborn. When both girls are napping I have always seen it as the time to get things done. That's when I can tidy the house, do some laundry, and clean the hard water stain in the toilet bowl. But there are some days that the baby had stuffy nose and was up 3 times and Lydia had a bad dream and was up asking for milk and comfort. And those days I really just want to lay down and take a nap with the girls. But I again let myself feel guilty for getting some rest even if I deserved it. Looking at all the "other" moms who seemed to have so much energy and are doing so much with their kids-they have tired days too. We just aren't seeing the big picture.

Let the older child get promoted to Mommy's Helper. Lydia has her moments where she gets jealous.. She'll get jealous when the baby gets milk and she doesn't. Solution? I have her help feed the baby. Does it always work? Nope. We still get tantrums. But we'll get there. Same with the bath.. When I bathe the baby, Lydia wants to be in the tub too. Solution? Have her help me wash the baby's legs. Most of the time Lydia loves being mommy's helper and for me I just needed to let her help more because she is excited about the baby too.

You really do have room in your heart to love another. Maybe this was a silly worry. But I was worried while pregnant that I wouldn't be able to love this new baby as much as I loved Lydia. Or that I wouldn't be able to connect with her or bond. Or that I would love Lydia less because I had someone else to love too. What's amazing is that it isn't about making room in your heart to love another, it's about your heart growing to hold all the new and overflowing love you have. I love and adore Lydia and I equally love and adore Adeline. All that has changed is that my ability to love has increased.

I am sure I have many more lessons to learn, especially as the girls grow and our family eventually grows. So I'll probably continue adding to this list.

I truly love these little beauties. They bring my home and life so much joy. I'm just so happy to be their mama.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The good is there: a 4 month old and my wild 2 year-old

We have a 4 month old on our hands! I have to keep repeating that to myself because it really has just flown. But what is funny is that Brian and I were talking about how it feels like Addie has always been with us. I love life with this sweet babe in it.

This gray-eyed girl is our sweet and chill little chunk. She weighed in at 15 lbs and is 25 inches long which puts her at 70% percentile for weight and 85% for height. For some reason I have tall babies though Brian and I are not very tall ourselves.

Adeline makes life so much fun.. and busy. She is getting closer to sitting up by herself and enjoys grabbing on to toys or tags, or whatever is hanging in front of her.

She has wicked hand-eye coordination. It's kind of weird to me. She will grab food from our hands, hold her bottle to her face, and bat away our hands and kleenexes and nose suckers from her face. She is a fighter and knows how to get away. I am struggling with clipping her fingernails because she is awfully good at squirming away.

But we really all adore her. When Lydia wakes up, the first thing she wants to do is go get the baby and I have to keep Adeline's door firmly shut to prevent Lydia from waking her up to play. Having these two girls together is so much fun-even if I have to play the role of referee.

Brian's week off was supposed to be a vacation somewhere exotic, but when buying a house and normal bills and the "joys" of fixing up the house hit and then adding a baby that still gets up at night, and head colds-- the vacation turned into a stay-cation, which has turned into something a little too chill and unplanned. Not really how I wanted to spend Brian's one week off for the next 6 months.. but if there is anything I'm learning it's that I gotta embrace it and make something of it.

We went and watched Moana in theaters and loved it. If you haven't seen it then go watch it. I've been singing the songs all day. Even Addie watched a good portion of the show before zonking out.

We were "thrilled" to find water in our furnace room and downstairs bathroom this week. With the crazy weather going from freezing to rain and melting all the snow, we spent a good portion of Brian's week off rotating towels around and pulling up carpet and linoleum. Talk about adulting and learning the true lives of home ownership.

And with talking about life with Miss Adeline, it seems only right to give updates on Miss Lydia too.

Lydia is soooo animated lately..

Lately? Who am I kidding? She is always animated.

Lydia's make-believe play is exploding and I LOVE watching it. She has a big Mickey and Minnie Mouse that she takes to the potty, feeds them food, puts them to bed, changes their diapers and just loves on.

Her vocabulary astounds me and I really have to watch what I say because she will repeat me. I realize how much of a little girl she is growing into these days whenever I look at her or when I listen to her "read" to herself. She used to just repeat the animal sounds but now she says their names as clear as day, "Dolphin, Giraffe, Duck, Shark..." She has recently learned about Foxes, but the problem is.. she doesn't say the name very well and it always sounds like she is saying a very naughty word. Brian and I find ourselves wishes we had waited to teach her what a fox looks like.

While I love this age so much with her curiousity and learning, I am also really struggling as a parent.

I find that there are days when I have very little patience towards her and the things she does.

For example, if I have to leave the kitchen when she is eating to go change Adeline's diaper. Lydia will act out for attention and throw ALL her food on the floor. Or if I am reading a book or cleaning the bathroom, she will seek for my attention by making a mess because she knows I will rush over.

And I get it. I do. She wants me and ALL of me there with her.

But as a mom of two, I can't be solely focused on her all the time. So my goal is to find that balance right now.

Another problem we are having is Lydia's dominance.

She has an extremely dominant personality. She is very controlling, demanding, and bossy. And yes.. sometimes it can be cute, but it is so overwhelming sometimes as well.

At the gym daycare the other day, Lydia got written up for pushing another child and drawing with a pencil on another child's face.

I had to sign a paper saying I understood that if Lydia got 2 other write-ups then she would be suspended.

I got in the car and cried.

My two-year old is a bully! I felt (and still do feel) so helpless. How can I explain to my two year-old about her behavior when she had already probably forgotten what she did wrong. We teach her to be "soft" and use words like 'kind and nice' but she doesn't understand those words as well as the word "soft."

So that is where I am with Lydia right now. I love her with all my heart and more, but I am being tested in the parenting area with how best to raise her and help her understand to be kind.

And moments like this pictured above may look staged, but it caught me off-guard completely. I was going to take a picture of Adeline when Lydia came up. I was thinking she wanted to just see herself in the selfie cam, but instead she gave me a hug and I was able to snap the picture and catch that brief but special moment.

I live for moments like these. Moments that let me know I'm not an all-bad parent. Moments that let me know that this time with Lydia is just a phase and if I continue to try and to raise her the best that I know how and as polite and kind as I can.. then I'm not failing.

Now.. to go make the rest of the week a good one.. Hoping to throw in a Jazz game and skiing (if I can kick this cold)... Did you see that game last night? Brian and I were pretty pumped listening while folding laundry.

And a side note on Brian: Marriage is NOT always what happy wedding pictures, facebook posts and the "quick pretend we weren't fighting" face you make when you are around others. I think we are all learning to open our eyes a bit more to look behind the pictures and read between the lines. And while Brian and I struggle in our own ways just like anyone else.. It does help to uplift and compliment each other.

Brian has been such a Mr. Mom all week. He got up with Adeline a few times (she had a stuffy nose which makes it so she struggles sucking on her binky which makes it so she struggles sleeping). He's done laundry, kept his cool with our flooding basement, taken us girls swimming and to a movie, and still wants to massage my aching shoulders from lifting a bit heavier than I should have.

Look for the good in each other. Because it is there.