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Monday, December 14, 2015

finola and the terrible twos.

I never did a half-birthday post for Finola.

I think that I was too tired to even realize when her half-birthday was.  I think last month.  Maybe the one before?  Anyway, the point is, I've been tired...

...and struggling, ya'll.  With the whole "momming" thing.

Lately I morph into "tired, cranky, angry mommy" more often than I care to admit.  Anytime there is an issue where I don't get enough rest this happens.  So that is most days lately.

For me, "rest" is not just sleep, but quiet time away for introspection.  Away from the chaos that is my children.  Nap time, while I rarely nap, is my "rest time" because it is quiet, I can write, or just get re-centered.   Now a huge chunk of nap time is de-stressing from putting Finola back in bed about thirty times.

I don't mean to complain.  I really can't.  It is just a hard season for me, compared to what I've dealt with thus far.  Finola, from birth, has been a pretty easy kid.  Sure, it took her ten months to "officially" sleep through the night, those 1-2 awakenings for food were not so bad, considering she went right back to sleep after.

And napping.  What a dream!  She settled into a sleep schedule pretty much at birth, all I ever had to do was lay her down and she gave me a smile and went to sleep.

Transitioning to the toddler bed?  Again - easy.  I could put her in bed and say 'good night.'  At least at first.

We are now going on a month of Finola repeatedly getting out of bed at both naps and bedtime.  We know she has had some nightmares that are making her afraid of her darkened room.   But even when we leave a lamp on, door open, she still creeps downstairs, or into her brother's room.  We have begged, bribed, threatened, yelled, calmly stated the consequences, tried to love her through it, given her a million second chances, given her zero second chances, done the "silent retreat" method, and let her cry it out.  Nothing has been too successful.

Hubby can deal with this okay, but for me, it causes a lot of stress.  It is as though I never get a rest from mothering, but it continues until I am so exhausted I want to cry.  On normal days I am mentally pretty much done at 7pm, ready for Hubby to come home and help and so I can pour myself a glass of wine.  Now it seems I am not really done until 9pm, sometimes 10pm.

So you can see why having a third baby at this point is kinda frightening for me!!!  I can't imagine getting up with a baby multiple times per night on top of Fin's refusal to stay in bed.

Anyhow, besides the recent sleeping drama, Finola really, honestly, is a joy to have around.

She has a very big personality.  She doesn't take ANYTHING seriously (opposite of Cormac, my over-thinker/over-analyzer) but rather laughs at everything.  She is not afraid to make demands and push the envelope until she gets her way.   She loves to dance, loves to sing, plays pretty well independently, and is a complete button-pusher.  She knows exactly what to do to torment her big brother, teasing him mercilessly when she knows what makes him mad.  I think she does it out of sheer amusement, not to be mean, but we are working on being kinder.

She doesn't let anyone push her around...in fact, she may be a tad too aggressive.  While other kids might cry if someone takes their toy (ahem, Cormac) Finola will give that other kid the stiff arm, possibly knock them down, stare them straight in the eye and state, "That's mine!" We are working on that, too.

She is a good listener for the most part, seeming to want to do the right thing, even thought every part of her two-year-old brain urges her to just do what she wants and see what she can get away with.   She hates when Dada reprimands her and he can send her into tears with even semi-disappointed look and stern voice.

Even still, she is very much a mama's girl.  Nine times out of ten only mama's snuggles will do.

The potty training is going AWESOME, much to my relief.  We did things a bit differently with her, but she has taken to it well and rarely has accidents, even in public.  Like I said, she wants to do everything herself, just like her big brother, so I think that has helped a lot...having him as a model. SO happy to be diaper free...just wearing pull-ups during sleeping time!

Lots and lots of energy.  I guess I just make really loud + energetic kids.
she is "roaring" here.  she is very much a lioness!
Favorite foods are fruit and ice cream with sprinkles.  Hates chocolate.

She is a pretty good conversationalist.  Speaks very clearly for her age, makes good eye contact, and doesn't beat around the bush.

Well, that is Fin, six months away from being three.  Supposedly that is worse than two, although I don't think I remember that being the case with Cormac.  It is possibly I am choosing subconsciously to forget.

I looked back on the post I did for Cormac at 2.5, and cannot believe I already had baby Finola at that point.  So fun to compare and see how very different they were at this age...and yet some things are the same.

I love having a girl, particularly you, my little Nola.   I hope we are best friends when you are older. I hope you love Jesus with a fierce passion.  I hope you never lose your tenacity and loud, joyous laugh!  I hope you always ask me to scratch your back and say things like, "Mama, I make you happy!" Because you do.  You really do.

Now, get back in bed.  ;)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

the tree - and traditions.

As a kid I distinctly remember trudging through knee-deep snow in the woods, following my dad with his saw, searching for our Christmas tree. 

There was no official "tree farm" but we were allowed to go through and pick out anyone we could find on the land of one of the church elders, free of charge.  We always found one, a big one -- tall, yet buxom with boughs of Balsam needles, the easiest for little hands to put decorations on.

The tree was put in the basement family room of our split-level home, which also housed a huge stone fireplace whose wide hearth was the stage for many a performance by one of the four kids in our family.

Lights on our Christmas tree were always blue, decorations hand-made by us or folks from our church.  Nothing super fancy; yet Christmas always felt magical at our house.  My mom always made sure Christmas was really beautiful for us.  In actuality, we were spoiled.  We always got the "big gift" we dreamed of each year, whether or not we could afford it.  And the smorgasbord of food on Christmas Eve, from which we filled up plate after plate to nibble on while opening gifts, was nothing short of amazing.  Mom was intent on making Christmas a holiday we would dream about all year.  She always made it happen.  Her efforts made the entire month so special.

I think it rubbed off on my sister and I, as we both have confessed to trying to do the same for our young families - create that magic.  Mom set the bar pretty high.  For example, I can't imagine not having a real tree, despite the lovely artificial ones that are out there.  It is tradition.  Others? We always open our gifts on Christmas Eve, after coming home from church and putting on our Christmas pjs.  I have special foods I make for that night.  Christmas Day is about relaxing and eating and maybe not leaving the house at all. Any family is welcome to come and visit us, and eat and be merry with us...but we will be in our pjs, most likely.

And there are a few new traditions...a birthday cake and singing for Jesus, Polar Express movie night, and cookie exchange parties with friends.   New and old, together.  Our Christmas.

This year, as we have every year since we got married, we went to a tree farm out in the country to chop down our tree.   A new place this year, but every bit as fun.
snuggling on a hay bale in the barn.
baby trees!
the wagon trail.
um, the kids were a bit cold.  forgot the mittens.

following dada, wearing his official, bright red, tree-chopping sweater he wears every year.
"wait for me!" 
even the trees look cold.
frozen spider webs.
collecting rocks for her pockets, per usual.
they look peaceful, though probably arguing.
winner?
this was the one.  WAY too big but we decided we could cut it down to size if necessary.
Yep, Hubby lugged that behemoth of a tree with his bare hands a quarter mile back to the barn.  By the time he got there he was in his t-shirt and no hat, sweating profusely.  Ah, memories.  :)

Meanwhile, I was with the kiddos getting warm with hot chocolate, homemade cookies and hot dogs.

It was a really nice morning; although, being from Minnesota a bit of snow would have been nice! You know, just in December...January 1st it can all melt... :)

+ + + + + + + + 

This season of Advent, roughly the month of December, is about preparing for the coming of a Savior for mankind.  Christmas Eve we celebrate that miracle birth of long ago.  A baby, yet a King.   However you celebrate, whatever traditions you and your family have,  keep that truth in your hearts!