Saturday, August 27, 2011

Getting Better

We have a glowing "first week" report. Already on the second day, Bella was ready to go back and assured me that she wasn't afraid anymore. In fact, she insisted on riding the bus rather than having Mama drive over and walk her in. ;) That's my girl! She is making friends and seems to love her teacher & all the new activities/routines.

As for me, I was knocked flat on my back again for a few days this week with recurring HG. All I can do is be the best Mama I can be and try to get through the next 20-ish weeks with as much grace as possible.

I've been doing a lot of soul-searching over the last few weeks, and I will share my thoughts here soon.

Thanks for thinking of and praying for my baby girl!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bella's First Day of Kindergarten

Something has changed.

It started when we got her hair cut last week.

Suddenly, those big blue eyes that she has grown into became GIANT eyes that I remember peering from her tiny face as a sick baby. She seemed so fragile then. She was just so little and helpless.

The haircut completely changes how I perceive her. Those eyes stand out again, no longer eclipsed by long brown curls.

Last night around midnight, Bella was crying inconsolably and I had to take her back to bed. When she woke up, she was giggling with Sophie again but as the morning went on, she got quieter and quieter.

When we parked on a neighborhood side street to walk into the school together, she said one thing: "I'm scared."

Her hand clutched mine tightly, and she didn't say anything else until we got to her classroom. Not even goodbye to Sophie. I walked her over to her name, and she sat down. I tried to get some "smiley" photos and stay upbeat, but her hands were in little nervous fists and she only gave my half-grins.

I squatted next to her chair for the next ten minutes, just rubbing her back. The bell chimed, and the principal urged us to leave the classroom and let our babies start their day. Mrs. J, the kindergarten teacher, came over to Bella and told her it is okay to be scared. She said that Bella could hold Peter Rabbit and give him squeezes when she felt afraid. I kissed her and told her I would see her soon.

It took EVERY ounce of strength I had to hold my own tears in until I had a private moment.

Before I walked down the long hall, I turned one last time and snapped this photo of my tiny girl.

My baby... my little tiny fragile baby who needed her Mommy so much... today, I had to let go a little bit.

I don't know that either one of us were ready for this day.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Word to the Wise: "Private" Facebook Profiles are NOT Private

Lesson learned this morning: When you have 600+ friends, a "private" Facebook account isn't private. I've had one of my status updates submitted to a page that one of my 628 "friends" likes, doing an article that pokes fun at people. However, there are real people with real feelings associated with those sites, and the name "Lerin" wasn't blurred out. Sorry everyone... there is a slash & burn coming on my Facebook friends list. Please don't take it personally.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Baby Shower Ettiquette for the Fifth Time Around

As of this afternoon, three people have asked me... "Is anyone throwing you a shower?" And I honestly don't know what to say!

So, I have to ask the whole wide bloggin' world:

When you have 4 adorable children (one boy and three girls) and a fifth one on the way (whose gender will not be "peeked" at before birth)... is it appropriate to have another baby shower? I've had showers for each baby, and it has always been fun. But honestly, there isn't much that I "need" that we don't have. And for a lot of my friends, this would be the third time around on the baby shower thing with me. I guess we could always use diapers, since I failed miserably at the cloth diapering thing with Ben & Lucy. We will definitely need a new carseat and a new baby swing, but those are rather big ticket items and I would feel odd about putting them on a registry.

And another issue... When would we even do it? I'm due in January. Normally, I'd say November or December, but that is a really tough time for a lot of people... juggling multiple commitments and family events and physically/mentally/financially recovering from the holidays. I don't even know when I would want to have the party! I'd hate to feel like I was stressing anyone out with planning and/or trying to fit in my gathering at a busy time.

Please, help a mama out. What do I say? Should I just throw myself a "sprinkle" with pedicures and cupcakes and no gifts necessary? Honestly, I just want to get together with my girlfriends and take pictures for the scrapbook and get excited about the baby! But I don't want to answer with a nervous giggle and a "Why, do you want to throw me one?" anymore. It's awkward. ;)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Back-to-School Fun

There is always a moment before I leave the house where I ask myself: should I bring my big fancy camera or just use the cellphone one? There was a time when I always brought my big fancy camera, but it proved to be a big distraction for me. It was like being there, but not really. I can't just snap a photo... I have to MAKE a picture. So I've started going with the cellphone camera more and more for all my snapshot needs. It leaves a little (okay, a LOT) to be desired in the image quality department, but the quality of time I spend actually with my kids instead of playing with settings and DOF is a good trade off in the end. ;)

This photo makes me laugh so hard every time I see it. I am excited to share it with you. It's just such an authentic representation of exactly who they are. I love it.

I snapped this one last night at the back-to-school ice cream party. It was lots of fun. We saw all of our friends, and even had a reunion of sorts with some old neighbors... Lindsay, you may remember the family. :D It turns out we will be at the same school for this year, at least until our neighborhood school is complete. It's set to open for next year, and I can't wait until we can walk to school every day just as I did as an elementary-schooler.

I still can't believe that Bella starts kindergarten on Monday.

Today completely wore me out. I woke up feeling nauseated but somehow dragged myself out of bed and got everyone ready for the day. Lucy screamed and kicked for a good ten minutes while I wrestled her into clothes, brushed her hair & teeth, and got her shoes buckled. My baby girl was screaming, 'NO SCHOOL! NO SCHOOL!' I bribed her into the car with a lollipop. Yes, I did.

Pretty sure that there would be a nuclear meltdown upon dropping her off at preschool, I called Adam to see what he thought. I was ready to forget the whole thing. However, he talked me into giving it a try. The funny thing is, when I took her in to class, she started to whimper and then she reached for her teacher. I passed her over and she waved bye to me. I was amazed.

I guess she got it out of her system at home? Anyway, she did have a fun day and stayed all the way until noon. She even ate some yogurt for snacktime. She never eats yogurt. I am duly impressed.

While she was at preschool, I took the kids to spend three hours at Chuck E Cheese. No, it wasn't the smartest thing for a nauseated pregnant lady to do, but I had to think of something to do indoors that was close enough to the school in case I was called to pick up a screaming Lucy. Did you know it is possible to amass 708 tickets with three kids in three hours? Again, I was impressed. They spent it all on cotton candy and Nerds candy. Which probably explains why my sugar-high children were crazy little monkeys at lunch.

After we picked up a NOT CRYING Lucy, we headed to Double Dave's for some GOOD pizza. ;) I even ate 2 pieces of it. It wasn't easy managing a buffet with four children on my own, but I did it.

Of course, now I am so tired that I can hardly keep my eyes open. I think it was worth it though. I think Lucy is going to be okay after all, and the big kids got a fun day of playing and pizza before school is back in.

And best of all? I didn't throw up.

Monday, August 15, 2011

How It's Going

We tried again on Friday to take Lucy to school for an hour, and she cried through the first twenty minutes. When I came to get her, she was doing just fine! She was sitting at a table eating some cereal for snack time.

As part of the continuing effort to ease her in, we took her again this morning for an hour, and she cried for ten minutes. When I came to get her, she was sitting in her teacher's lap as happy as could be.

I will try her for a few hours tomorrow to see if it works, but told her teachers to call me if she started crying again. I will be sticking close by so I can come get her as soon as she needs me.

Lucy likes to TALK about preschool... but it's when I leave that the fear sets in. I hate it! I know she is getting used to it, but I am definitely questioning whether it is the right time to start her. I'll let her go at least this week, and then we'll see what happens. I know she is fine after awhile, but that SAD heartbroken face when I leave is too much for this Mommy's heart! I told Adam I can't bear it much more. It makes ME cry too! It sure is reassuring to see her smiling and playing when I come to get her though. :)

In other news, we are running around like crazy people trying to get all of our errands and shopping and appointments and paperwork done before school starts on Monday. I have been down and out for so long, that it is a nightmare trying to play catch-up at this point. The lines are long with fellow last-minute mommies. It will be different next year... I'm determined! ;)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The "First Day" Report

As you can see from the pictures, the morning was PERFECT! She was so excited to go to school. The first image is a snapshot next to the front door. The second image was taken in front of the school doors, where she is saying "SCHOOL!" The last one shows how she immediately ran inside to get busy playing, with a fast "Bye Mommy!"

I was so shocked by how well it went. There was a little boy who was not willing to separate from Dad, as you can probably see from the third photo. I cropped out of respect, naturally.

The big kids and I left and headed to Pump It Up for a pop-in playtime. The kids LOVE that place, and we haven't been since the infamous birthday party when Lucy broke her arm coming down the bouncy slide.

My phone rang at 10:30... Lucy was hysterical. Apparently, all was fine until one of the kids start crying for their Mommy. Lucy remembered she wanted Mommy too. He calmed down; Lucy didn't. After thirty minutes of inconsolable crying, they asked me if I wanted to pick her up and try to ease her in an hour at a time over the next week. I agreed and herded the big kids into the car.

When I got to the school, the kids were outside. Lucy was being held by Miss Amy. The moment she saw me, she started crying again and reaching for me. Her voice sounded hoarse. She kept saying, "Mommy back soon! Mommy back soon!" so I knew she was remembering what I said in our practice. However, I think Mommy wasn't back soon enough! ;) Poor baby said "No no preschool. Want Mommy and go nigh-night." While I was debriefing with Amy, Lucy started saying she wanted her ponytails off, shirt off, dress off, shoes off. She was DONE.

After a good lunch and a good nap, all was well again.

We are going to try for just an hour tomorrow morning. I feel so sorry for her! It started so well and ended so sadly! While I would LOVE for her to enjoy preschool and stay to play, I honestly have no reason to force it. I told her teachers that I'm not going back to work and I really don't need to push her... I don't care if she wants to be with me 24/7 for the next year or more, until she's ready! She is only this little once, and if she isn't having fun there, I would be more than happy to keep her home with me. This is for HER, not for me. Amy asked me to give it some time. She said they love Lucy and don't want to lose her just yet. I said we'll see how the week goes! ;)

So, that's the report! Wish us luck for tomorrow morning!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Practice Makes Perfect

(This is what her hair looks like every morning before we spray it down with the water bottle and use her frizz-fighting creme.)

Lucy is growing up, and she understands so much more than I think she does!

When we had our appointment at Texas Children's Hospital to cut off her cast, I was warned that the noise is very loud and most children will cry. Lucy kicked, cried, and screamed getting it put on (two weeks after the initial break and soft cast) so I was expecting the worst. About a week before, I started practicing with her. I felt a little silly, but thought it certainly couldn't hurt to try.

I had her sit on the coffee table and used a little pretend tool, and mimicked cutting it off. I made really loud noises, saying: "Now I am going to cut off your cast. BRRRR! REALLY LOUD! All done. It's off!" I did this over and over with her, and she thought of it like a game.

When we finally had the appointment, I talked her through it just as we had played. When the saw came on and the noise started, I said: "BRRRRR! REALLY LOUD!" just like at home. She didn't cry or try to pull away at all. Once they opened it up ad took it off, she said, "All done." I knew then that she remembered our game and had made the connection.

We are practicing for something huge, this week.

Lucy is going to preschool for the very first time. She will be in a two-day program for three hours at a time at first, then once Ben starts in September, she will stay through lunch and nap too.

We've been talking and practicing, and she asks "More prackiss" about fifty times a day. ;) I walk her to the office room door and say, "Bye, Lucy! Have fun at school!" At first, she would say, "I cwy." Now she says, "Bye Mommy!" Then I come back and say, "Lucy, I'm back! Let's go home!" as she runs to my waiting arms.

She is going to have so much fun. She loves playing with other children her age. They do art projects, messy sensory fun, outdoor play, and story time every day. I can't wait to give her these fun and special experiences. Sophie started two-day preschool at 2 as well, but both Ben and Bella waited until they were 3. I hope she is ready! We just stopped nursing this month, and that was the only thing that I thought may be rough about preschool for her. Now, we've made that transition and I think she is ready to play.

My hope is that her first day goes off just as we practiced. I will let you know tomorrow.

Monday, August 8, 2011

My Summer Reading List

My summer reading list is quite small. It consists of exactly one book. However, I've been working on it all summer! I remember when I used to devour a whole book in a day or two. Mothers of almost-5 don't have that luxury anymore, at least in my experience.

The book is "Boundaries" by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend. Getting through this book is going to be life-changing for me. I'm already getting a drastic makeover on my perception of who I am and what it means to be a "giver" without being taken. ;) Really, though, I think this book is as important & necessary for me to read now as "Co-Dependent No More" was back in 2003.

I will share more when I finish.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mr. Fantastic!

Adam celebrated his 32nd birthday in true Wheeless style... with "birthday week." We've gone out to eat, celebrated with swimming and a cookout and cupcakes, gone to finally see the last Harry Potter at the theater, rented a movie with the kids, watched a Dynamo game together, and wrapped it all up with a trip to Ooh La La.

We sure do love you, Adam!

Monday, August 1, 2011

All you need is LOVE... in ACTION!

All you need is love.  But that love should motivate you to ACTION.  Love without action, like faith without works, is not worth a whole lot.

In my previous post, I urged my followers to donate to UNICEF by text to help relieve suffering in East Africa due to the famine.  Eleven MILLION people are affected by the famine... it is a staggering number.

After reading so many heart-wrenching accounts and seeing photos from the BBC news, I couldn't help but respond to one person's call to donate to UNICEF.  However, I jumped right in and donated without doing any fact-checking and then urged you to do the same.  For that, I am sorry.

As a Catholic, I cannot donate my money to charities that promote abortion.  I was directed to a few informative webpages this morning.  The official position of UNICEF is that they have not and do not promote abortion, stated clearly here.   But then there are some documented discrepancies with that position found many places, such as this one.   In fact, the Vatican defunded UNICEF in 1996 because of it.

This is just to say, please do your reseach when deciding where to donate.  Don't jump in based on your emotional response to a crisis or based on your favorite blogger's plea.  ;)  Instead, take a bit of time and really make a wise decision about which charities you are comfortable supporting.

I'd like to direct you to Catholic Relief Services today.  They too are doing important work all over the world, and their policies align with my Catholic faith.  You can even click this link to donate directly to their emergency fund for East Africa.