Friday, April 25, 2014

The one about Emma

 My sweet Emma. My saving grace in so many ways. Small confession - I never actually thought I wanted a daughter. I know, right. Sure it would be fine, but I have three brothers; what the heck would I do with a girl?

But 2 years ago there I was holding this sweet little doll of a baby and not even realizing what a total gift she was. Now, truth be told, Emma was not immediately the cutest baby I had ever seen. Sure she was cute, because she was mine, but we weren't winning any newborn beauty contests by any stretch of the imagination. Does that sound harsh? It feels a little harsh. Anyway, she had an incredibly fast delivery that left her face swollen and bruised-looking. I always say she was uncomfortable making me uncomfortable. "I'm sorry Mommy, I'll make this as quick as possible.....Oh, did that hurt? Is this an inconvenience? Well let me just get out of here as fast as I can." That's pretty much Emma in a nutshell.

Not only was her delivery over in about two pushes, but she was like the least fussy baby in the world - which was very strange for me. I remember she would just sit in her little bouncer and watch everything that was going on, or stare at the ceiling, or her hands, or nothing at all. She would just wait around until someone decided to hold her, or feed her, or put her to bed. God bless her. I didn't even know babies did that. I remember people telling me babies did that, but I knew the truth. I had one son and he did ANYTHING but sit still, ever. Never ever. I just assumed that's what I could expect from baby number two. Naturally, I was terrified slightly nervous.

But then there was Emma. My quiet, content observer. I've never been so happy to be wrong.

Nowadays Emma has quite a bit more to say. She is after all in those terrific! twos (bleh). What she says is not always my favorite, but I'll tell you what is.....the way she says it. Her voice might be the cutest thing that has ever existed. I could seriously bottle it up and drink it.

Side note - some people feel really strange about making eating references when discussing children, i.e. "He's so cute I could just eat him" or "I want to chew on those chubby little hands." BUT if you have ever just been beyond words about something (particularly a child), you know what I mean! And it's not weird! 

Anyway, Emma has this tiny little girl voice that I can't even describe. It's almost without fail the one thing people mention when they first meet her. I know she will grow out of it eventually (at least I hope so, for her sake), but right now I just want her to sing me the ABC's, or tell me her Bible verse, or read stock reports, anything. Don't tell her, but sometimes I pretend not to hear her just so she'll have to repeat herself. :) Somehow, "poopy-butt" sounds so sweet coming out of her mouth. Uggh, that reminds me. Can I just take a minute to say this is one of my least favorite annoyances of this age? Anything having to do with the words "poop" or "butt" is HILARIOUS to them. Sometimes they decide to throw out letters of the alphabet and replace them with said choice mid song. You know like, "A B C D E F...poopy-butt!" And then they crack up laughing because they think it is the funniest thing that anyone has ever done. I say it's annoying. Except when Emma does's the voice! Ugh, I'm such a bad mom!

Which actually brings me to my next point. I think the most surprising thing about Emma right now is how GOOFY she is. Ok, so I know I was like all gaga about how awesomely low key she was as a baby, but it also had it's draw backs. She was so chill, but it made her kind of serious and some might say...uninteresting? Emma, if you're reading this 10-20 years from now, know that I have ALWAYS been interested in you. I'm just saying some people (Uncle Ryan) liked to hang out with more active babies, and were maybe a little worried you wouldn't have a sense of humor. Not to throw anyone under the bus. How wrong they were my little poopy-butt.

She just says interesting and weird things that were probably always in her head, but now she's learning how to express herself. Yesterday she told me my hair smelled good and then said, "Let's eat it!" She finished the conversation off with a maniacal laugh and walked away. What? Although now that I think about it, I bet she totally gets the baby/consumption association.

Or let's talk about the way she says, "Hello world," in a dreamy voice every time I open her blinds in the morning. Straight up princess yo. It makes me laugh EVERY time.

Of course amidst all of her delightful qualities (unbiasedly observed of course) Emma also presents us with her own challenges. Like the fact that she refuses to be potty-trained. I was not expecting that. Everybody told me that potty training girls was soooo much easier than training boys. And since Rowan was potty trained at 2.5 after about the same amount of tries, I figured my easy peasy girl would knock it out at 2 on the first try. Wrong. You win some, you lose some I guess.

You know, I've been meaning to write this post for awhile. Emma's birthday, after all, was in March. I just haven't had the energy/mental capacity to sit down and do it. But by lunch this afternoon, I knew today would be the day.

We had a particularly rough day in the DeLuca home today. A couple boys who shall remain nameless were particularly rowdy, defiant, restless/fussy, clingy, helpless...respectively. I'll let you decide who was who. It all came to a head at lunch. I was trying to talk Rowan down from a world-ending tantrum about no one eating his applesauce while also trying to keep him in time out without destroying his room (the reason for time out also involved said applesauce). We were sitting on his bed when my gentle giant started screaming and trying to crawl into my lap. He doesn't like yelling. Within a matter of moments I was trying to keep Rowan from flailing his body into the wall, myself or Joseph and at the same time trying to keep our screaming baby from crawling into my lap - which was within the flail radius.

It was at this moment I realized that the entire time Emma had been sitting in the kitchen by herself, quietly eating Rowan's applesauce. Don't worry, she was allowed to eat Rowan's applesauce, he had emptied hers on the floor mid-tantrum. Anyway the point is, at that moment I was very thankful for and grateful to my sweet and quiet observer. Maybe you have to have the day that I did to appreciate that simple act of obedience, but she spoke more love to me in that moment than a hundred hugs and kisses would have. And that's when I knew today was her blog day. Because even though every day is not "Emma's the bomb" day, today was. I want to remember it; I want her to remember it; and I especially want her to know that I noticed. You are loved my sweet Emma Rose, and I hope one day you are blessed enough to have a daughter who is just like you. <3

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

On Being Three (and NOT two!)

You know, March used to make me think of four-leaf clovers, corned beef and cabbage and my Irish grandma. Now when this special month rolls around I have just one thing on my mind - birthdays, birthdays and more birthdays! March is the month that saw all three of our children brought into this world, each 12 months and a week or so apart - March 6, March 15, and March 31. It is an unintentional, very sweet thing that I love about how God has created our family so far. It also means we have two birthdays down and one to go.

Rowan turned three on the sixth and (fingers crossed) may also be turning a crucial corner in his short little life - one that takes him out of the terrible twos (cheers and applause). I know it's more kosher now to call it the "terrific" twos, or so I've heard, but put yourself in a crowded Target with a slap fight distracting you from trying to remember what the heck your pin number is, followed immediately by a lightening-quick grab and dash that lands you stopping traffic in the parking lot, and then you can tell me how terrific it is.

We joke about it, but the twos have been rough. Figuring out the whole discipline thing has been crazy for everyone - yes for us, but also for our strong-willed, independent thinker of a son. Lots of head butting, both figuratively and literally. And we're still trying to nail down the whole consistency thing. Thus far everything seems very situational. Some days (and depending on the offense) time outs are the most effective, some days spankings, and other days a good talking to gets little man right back on track. This has required a lot more effort on our part and being "on top of things" more, but I think we're starting to see the pay off.

So yes, we've had our fair share of tantrums and meltdowns and Target trauma, but what has completely amazed me is watching our first baby turn into a little boy. I look at his curly-haired, mischievous little head on a daily basis and wonder at how big he is. I mean old. The kid talks like he's 3 going on 13. Sometimes it's cute. I walk out of his room after kissing him goodnight and hear "Don't forget to wash the dishes!" Cute. One time he accidentally destroyed an ant hill and leaned down to say, "Don't worry ladies. It'll be ok, girls." He then spent the rest of the day figuring out a plan to get the ants a new home, including buying and donating one. Cute.

Sometimes, though, it's not so cute. My three-year-old already does the eye-rolling version of "Fine!" when he finally concedes an argument. Like I said, 3 going on 13.Yesterday I told him he was going to time out and he yelled, "Never!" like he was channeling Braveheart. He's sassy and he's sweet. He's complicated; he has layers. And I love it.

He's already my little helper, wanting to be part of everything that John and I do. He's obsessed with "smoke stacks" because Daddy works at a refinery. In fact, if you ask him, he goes to his own "smoke stacks" every day as well. He will also inform you that there are exactly five smoke stacks at his particular place of business. This is really important.

But my favorite thing about Rowan has actually been somewhat of a surprise.

He's sweet. I mean tender-hearted, care how you feel, pets little babies sweet. The reason this is surprising is 50% the fact that he was a fussy, unhappy baby that didn't like being cuddled (aka mommy didn't know his body hated milk) and 50% the fact that he is prone to smacking friends (or anyone near him) with the closest sword-like object. All in the name of fighting bad guys of course. And he's loud....and a wrestler...a loud, wrestling, fire cracker of a kid. Essentially he's a boy. :) So to see a sweet and tender spirit developing in this little macho man is probably one of my favorite things in the whole world.

Now that we have one finally coming out of those terrific! twos, we have one waiting in the wings, raring to take his place, yay.  More on that later. But I think we're ready for this one. We've got one under our belt and, lucky for us, it's all still fresh in our memory. Bring it on twos!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Ya feel me?

I am going to apologize ahead of time for the downtrodden and longish nature of this post. If you are looking for a spiritual pick me up or a really good laugh, maybe stop now. I do not have this for you. But on the off chance that somebody reading this might enjoy a little commiseration or someone else to say, "yeah I'm not ok today....but I think it's ok," I'm gonna go ahead and post my bad attitude all over the interwebs. Totally for your benefit. God help us, and you're welcome. :)

I realized today, again, that I have no idea what I'm doing. Or how to do it. I have these three amazingly crazy little people running around my house, almost literally non-stop, and more often than not all I can think about is how I should be doing this differently. Like, I should be doing more of this. Or at least less of that. I'm so scared that 20 years from now I'm going to wake up with all of these thoughts and ideas about how I could have been such a better mom. But then it will be too late.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think we're doing any kind of irreparable damage to the tiny ones in our hands (please God don't let me be doing any irreparable damage to the tiny ones in my hands). But are we being the best parents we can be? Am I being the best mom I can be?

What's scary is I think I am.....and in no way, shape, or form does it feel like enough.

I should spend more time with Jesus. My house should be cleaner. Our kids should watch less tv. I should yell less. We should discipline more effectively. Maybe we're spanking too much.....or not enough. I should be more hands on. I should let them learn how to entertain themselves more. I should be more diligent and structured and intentional about my time with them. I should let them have more free time and self-guided play.

This feels like a life full of paradoxes. How do all of these things happen at once? How do we know what's worthwhile and what's not? We've never done this before. And those who have done it before will swear by 500 different "right" ways to do it. Blah, it makes my head hurt.

Shameful confession: Thinking about all of this makes me want to curl up into a ball under the covers and sleep until winter is over. Or at least until someone can give me all the answers. Also, this might be because I just want to sleep, in general. I think I have about two years to catch up on. But that is neither here nor there.

The point is, it's getting hard.

I didn't always feel like this, you know. We've had our ups and downs figuring out how to be parents, but overall I'd say we've had a pretty optimistic approach to the whole thing. I've been nervous about the unknown here and there, but we've always figured it out and moved on to the next thing.

 Like when Rowan came home from the hospital wanting to nurse for an hour and a half about every 20 minutes. Did we know that was strange? No, he was the first baby and what the heck did I know about nursing? But a week later it was under control. We discovered that pacifiers are a gift from God and babies sometimes need to wait for their dinner. Cool. Bring on the next challenge.

Or how about the time when we couldn't figure out why he wasn't sleeping through the night anymore. Every night for weeks we would wake up and rock him for what seemed like hours thinking THE WHOLE TIME, "I thought we were done doing this, why won't you just sleep? I'm not gonna be able to do this when baby #2 gets here!" And then his teeth came in and he started sleeping better and we looked back and realized we should have just been patient. Boom, challenge over. Give me something else!

But two more babies in two years later, I feel like I'm running out of steam. My body is tired, my brain is tired, and my spirit is tired. Oh, and did I mention my house is a disaster? Challenges seem more...well, challenging.

I know that what we are doing is worthwhile. I know that our children are a blessing. I know this so much that we will be ECSTATIC if and when we find out that baby #4 is on the way (I said IF and WHEN mom, calm down).

But this doesn't change the fact that it is still hard. I am still struggling on a daily basis. Struggling with my attitude, struggling to find grace - for others and myself - and struggling to be ok with struggling. So much is at stake - I don't want to screw it up!

I have no answers. So aside from 100% using this post to vent my concerns and frustrations so I can move on with my day on a more pleasant note, I just want to tell somebody, it's ok if you're not ok. It's ok that you don't have it figured out. It's ok that you are making mistakes and sometimes don't apologize for them or even tell anyone. It's ok because life is more than today.

I know that I am being made new every day. I know that God is faithful. I know that He is in control and all things work together for good for those who love Him. I know that this world is temporary and what matters most is the eternal. I know that He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it. I know that as I fallibly and inconsistently follow Him, my heart's desire is for Him. And I know that He is creating me to be exactly who He designed me to be, and EXACTLY the kind of mom that He wanted my children to have.

So I will continue to ask Him for help, to ask for forgiveness, and to ask for the discernment to KNOW when I need to ask for forgiveness. But mostly I will continue to trust that the person He is creating in me is so much better than the person who I actually am. Thank God.....literally.

If you made it this far, maybe you can relate. But mostly, thanks for letting me get that out. I really needed to hear it. :)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Ode to Sleep

Whoever said "Sleep is overrated" was obviously sleeping too much.

We do not have that problem.

If I could, I would change that quote to, "Sleep is that thing that I used to get a long, long time ago." or "One time I slept. And then I had babies."

Sleep feels like a long lost friend that doesn't really feel comfortable hanging out with me anymore. I wish I could entice sleep to spend a little more time at our house, but our lives have just gone in such different directions. It's obvious he doesn't fit in here anymore.

If I knew what sleep liked, I would shower him with gifts. I would bake. I would sing. I would dance on my head. I would do just about anything for sleep.

As far as I can tell, the feeling is not mutual.

I hate to say it, but I think my kids are part of the problem. They really don't seem to like sleep. Multiple times a day we talk about how wonderful sleep is. How much Mommy really REEEEAAALLLYY loves sleep.

But it doesn't seem to make much difference. I mean, I suppose I can't really blame sleep for not sticking around where he's obviously not wanted.

I just wish he would try a little harder.

What's exasperating is how untrustworthy sleep can be! I frequently go to bed with the hope and promise of deep and restful sleep. But so often I am disappointed. Yesterday started at 2 am; we didn't sit down again until 10pm. Where was sleep then? You understand my frustration.

I suppose this is the season of life we are in. A season of sleeplessness. And somehow, we are functioning without sleep. Although I do look forward to the day when he finds his way back to our home.

Until then, we will make due with naps. Naps, as you know is a close relative of sleep. While he's not nearly as deep or engaging, naps has given us a few blissful hours here and there. The children still don't seem to care for him, but Mommy has made naps non-negotiable. And although naps often has us tip-toeing around the house and fighting the urge to shoot the dog next door, we consider him a friend and a close second to sleep.

Sleep, you are loved and missed dearly. You, my friend, are anything but overrated.