Friday, October 22, 2010

Clementine Turns One Today!

I know it's cliché, but it truly does seem like yesterday that my little Clementine was born, and now my "baby" is one year old!  The more children I have running around in this house, the quicker the baby seems to grow up.  I'm not able to savor every moment of babyhood, take millions of pictures or journal pages and pages in baby books.  (In fact I don't think Clementine's is filled up any farther than her birth story!)  It really is hard to grasp that her babyhood is gone and toddlerhood is upon us.

Granted, a one-year-old is still very baby-like in some ways.  Clementine is cuddly, still nurses and sleeps with me, falls asleep in my arms and wants to be carried a lot.  But she's like a baby on wheels.  She's been walking for about a month now and is literally running around after her brothers all the time.  She's jabbering away and attempting real words.  She loves her baby doll and turning over pages of books.  She has a sense of humor and holds little grudges and is sensitive and temperamental.  She gives kisses and hugs and helps with laundry and understands "No."  She's really her own little person!

So this is the first time we've reached a first birthday without there being another baby on the way.  In fact, the longest we've ever gone in our marriage without being pregnant is 10 months.  I don't know if I can write what I'm feeling about that.  On the one hand there's a real ache to be pregnant again and for the promise of another sweet, precious, tiny baby.  I don't think many people understand *why* a mother of four - three of whom are young and very close together in age - would want another baby.  But there have been a few moms I've talked to who really related and understood that kind of bittersweet grief and longing I'm feeling.  I can't explain it and it's really too tender for me to even blog much about it.

Then I also feel that I need a break from pregnancy and nursing and being postpartum for a while.  I've been varying combinations of those three things for the last 6 years.  Also I want to really be *present* for my children, not so harried and exhausted that I'm just meeting their basic needs and unable to really enjoy them.  Again, it's hard for me to really dig into this much here, so I'll just leave it at that.  I hope we have another baby, but I feel [mostly] good about waiting a couple years before that happens.

In the mean time, Clementine will be my baby.  Thankfully she's still very cuddly and a huge Mama's girl, which is a comfort for the Mama.  =]  I think it will be very fun to have the toddler be the youngest child in the house for once, and I just adore having a little girl again.
Look how big she is!

Folding laundry with Mama
Fearless and cute
A book lover already
Playing while Mama makes dinner
Playing with brother

I think I end up saying at least once a day, "I just love this girl!"  Not, of course, that I'm not simply crazy about my other kids.  They are amazing.  But there's something about my little Clemmers that is especially endearing right now.  She's just still so "into" me!  I know that sounds narcissistic, but what I mean is that even though I'm lamenting over the end of her babyhood, there's still enough baby left in her to keep my arms full.  Clementine has surely gotten independent, but not as much as my other children!  I get a few little snuggles and cuddles with them in a day but I still get lots with Clementine.  Even when she's playing she wants to be close to me or touching me if possible.  She is my sweet, darling little girl and I am so totally in love with her!

So, with all that baggage and conflicting emotions aside, I want to say

Happy Birthday, Clementine Grace!
Your birth one year ago was truly incredible, 
and I have loved you more every day since then.
I am glad you are YOU, 
that you are ONE, 
and that you are a GIFT from God to me!

Clementine's Birthday Montage

I love making these photo montages, you might have noticed by now.  I mean come on, all the sweet photos of your child set to music...what better way to capture the fleeting moments of childhood and tug a tear or two from moms (and probably Grandma's) eyes?  Seriously.  So here's Clementine's First Birthday Montage.  Even if you don't cry, you'll at least probably feel like saying "Awwww!"

And if you're feeling especially nostalgic, like I usually am, you can watch her birth video here.  Doesn't it seem like you were *just* watching this for the first time?!  Seriously!  Someone stop this rapid flying of days, please.  The mama hearts need time to catch up...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

When My Brain Takes a Leave of Absence

I am in a mushy-brained, bleary-eyed, face-splitting-yawning fog of sleep deprivation lately. Not quite on par with having a newborn, but I'm still pretty tired. Clementine is finally getting her first tooth but to make up for lost time she's getting 4 at once, and waking up about 4 times a night per tooth so that's a lot of night waking. And now that Grace is in school I have to get up a 6:30 every morning... didn't think of that when we signed her up....

And then my husband and I have been acting like crazy 20-somethings with no kids and staying up too late, (like past TEN PM people!) for a couple nights in a row, so it's all adding up.  Plus, what with babies who nurse at night for over a year, toddlers who sleep in bed with us, preschoolers who have bad dreams and come into bed with us or need a drink of water, or when I was pregnant and having to get up to use the bathroom, (and some nights all of the above happen!)  I haven't gotten a night of uninterrupted sleep in 4 years, 3 months, 1 week and 5 days.  (Or since the day Moses was born, to be exact.)  So it's REALLY adding up.

Anyway, all that to say that sometimes (most of the time?) my brain is firing on one cylinder.  Often I find myself thinking, "And whyyyyyy did I do that???"  I have many examples.  For the sake of my vanity I'll give you one.

Judah is playing outside on our back deck.  His back is turned to me and my mommy-radar is going off telling me that I should just check and see what he's doing.  I knock on the window and wave when he looks at me, but I still can't see his hands.  He looks at me with this deadpan look that Judah has absolutely perfected and then turns away again.  I knock and wave again.  Still deadpan, still hiding whatever's in his hands.  Now I know I have to see what he's playing with so now I go outside.  Suddenly he's all eagerness to show me what he has, like he was just on his way to turn over this dangerous item to the proper authorities.  Uh huh.

He hands me a small metal hammer and says quickly, "Mo-Mo got dis."

"Moses, where did you get this hammer?"
"Out of the junk drawer."
"Okay, don't take things out of the junk drawer and for sure don't play with hammers!"

I turn to Judah and say, "That was naughty of Moses.  Now I'm going to whack him with this hammer."  And I swish the hammer through the air a couple times.

Now in case you aren't up on our family dynamics right now, we've been having a lot of trouble with the boys fighting.  Sometimes it gets pretty ugly, too, and occasionally I've had reason to worry that there will be serious injury sustained in these fights.  Also, we may have a Jacob and Esau sort of thing going on because the younger in this case usually dominates the older.  Judah has an aggressiveness that usually makes him the "winner" and Moses the one who comes crying to us.  Basically, Judah doesn't need any more violent ideas.

So I tell him I'm going to whack Moses with the hammer and he just looks at me, totally deadpan and serious for a couple seconds.  Then slowly a sinister grin spreads across his face and he nods his head a couple times in a conspiratorial manner.  I can just hear him thinking, "Yeah....wack Moses with the hammer... great idea, Mom!"

That's when the realization that I just did something really stupid starts to flood through my groggy brain....

Sunday, October 3, 2010