End of Summer

September was tough. October painfully slowly got better. I’m so looking forward to Christmas!

Parenting is so hard sometimes. Life is just difficult. I know I am in the season of little children, a messy house and no money but I have been feeling very overwhelmed.

Due to a teacher strike my girls where home an extra month from school. This also happened to be the month that my husband started his new position which is an extra hour commute each day for him. More kids, less family time and less help made for a stressed out Mommy, crabby kids who had meltdowns regularly, mommy too, and a very chaotic house.

The month got pretty bad for all of us. I ended up getting pretty depressed from being overwhelmed. Livi was having epic meltdowns a couple times a week and a bad attitude the rest of the days. Evie is all drama wrapped up in a little cute package. It got pretty bad for all of us. Too much yelling, lots of crying and I ended up using parenting techniques that I never wanted to use. That month destroyed me really. It broke me and made me dig deep. I needed to figure out how to be the mom I wanted to be again.

We made it through the tunnel and things are looking up. My kids are back in school which really helps their focus and my sanity. I’ve been able to spend some one on one time with each of them that we each enjoyed. I got to go out for a night with Jon, and spent some time alone for myself. It had been a REALLY long time since I had some time for myself. Self-care is so important. So is sleep. I needed more sleep too!

With the strike over my two big girls started school again. Livi is now in grade one and Sofie is repeating Kindergarten. Sofie had to wait to do the gradual entry thing for Kindergarten again which was really hard for her. She was very ready and excited for school. When we would drop Livi off each day she went and sat with all the grade 1 kids on the carpet and got very upset when she wasn’t allowed to stay. The grade 1 start was a little rougher for Livi. Because they missed the first few “getting to know you” weeks she was thrown in to learning and having expectations put on her. She loves responsibility but on her terms. We went over some of the things that she was having troubles with and I spent some extra time at the school with Sofie for some things, so she knew I was close, which also helped.

In the 5 weeks that they’ve been in school now, both girls are thriving. Livi’s reading and drawing has improved by leaps and bounds! I love hearing her read. I was getting worried she’d fall behind since she seemed to be so against reading by the end of the summer. She wrote me a note a few weeks ago though that said “I luv yoo mumee.” Her drawings are awesome too 🙂 She doesn’t love drawing but enjoys it every once in a while.

Sofie is doing AMAZING! She is following all the routines, lining up, sitting and paying attention, and saying SO MANY WORDS! A few weeks ago, I had a full conversation with her! It was so exciting! We speak words to each other, but this was a real conversation! It went like this…

Sofie had been crying and whining at Jon for some time, and then turned her attention to me. 
Sofie “Mad”
Me “You’re sad?” She had been crying so I thought she was mixing it up.
Sofie “No Mad!” (with the mad hand sign)
Me “You’re mad. Why are you mad?”
Sofie “Music”
Me “You are mad that Daddy turned off the music?”
Sofie “yes”
Me “Do you know why daddy turned off the music?”
Sofie “No”
Me “because you were touching the computer”
Sofie “no touching. I sorry.”

That may not seem like a lot but it was HUGE. We had her IEP this week at school and it went really well. We are starting two programs with her at school to hopefully help her start reading and writing. She really doesn’t like writing… motivation is key. I’m very excited to see her grow with these this year!

Evelyn is talking so much more too. I love all her words. She still has that tiny high pitched baby voice but is starting to say choppy full sentences. It is so sweet. I sometimes just want to eat her up. Having a baby you know is your real last baby is hard sometimes. These are the last moments I’m going to hear those squeaky baby giggles from something I created. The last few “kids” firsts are still coming but they are coming too fast. It is an emotional thing. I can see how so many mom’s overcompensate with their last to keep them their “baby.” She is good at reminding me what a big girl she is though. She got her first black eye, mysteriously while lying in her bed. We think she sat up and folded forward on to the head board.

Jon is doing AMAZING at his new job. I’m so very proud of him. His boss has full confidence in him and his head is getting appropriately inflated. It takes him away from us an hour longer a day which has been hard but we are making it work. He leaves early and makes it home before 5:30 most
days. He has most of Christmas off and a week in November too which is such a blessing!

Some days are still very hard. Evelyn is a very demanding baby. Livi needs so much emotional support and I feel like I don’t do enough to teach Sofie. I’m learning to have grace for myself, and others. I am enough for my family. I do a lot of things wrong but I do a lot of things right too! I adore them all.

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Post-Christmas Blues

Yesterday was a good day.  Last weekend and even most of this week has been actually pretty great. It was the first really good few days in over a month. It has been really rough lately. Stomach flu and cold for all of us, sleepless nights with the baby and many behaviours from Sofie especially… which didn’t make my life particularly pleasant. Even Livi had a few meltdowns this month. They don’t happen often for her but when they do, they are epic.

We expected some residual issues with the post-Christmas blues. Kids and adults, alike, generally have the ‘blahs’ afters Christmas. I feel like it hit our home, or at least me and Sofie, a little extra hard this year. Sofie had a mild form of the flu for the first two weeks back to school and Livi got it quite bad the next two weeks which ended with us taking her to the ER for dehydration. Then I got it.

I didn’t realize what was going on with Sofie at first. She is quite disconnected from her body, so she doesn’t always tell us what hurts. She wasn’t really running a fever but was having some MAJOR behavioural issues. She was throwing everything, clearing table tops, hitting, screaming, flailing and she even pulled our hair, which she hasn’t done in years! I was getting disheartening reports from school and she freaked out in her car seat and managed to get out while we were driving home one night in order to attack her sister. I ended up having to sit in the back with her. We’ve never had to do that before.

It’s been hard with Sofie this month. At least I think we have a reason for her behaviours but it didn’t make things any easier. I didn’t know how to help her through it. She regressed. We were at a loss. I’ve found that my patience with her has been shorter since then too.

I felt alone.
Parents of typical kids don’t get it.
I don’t expect them to ‘get it’, I just wish they did.

It is a lonely place sometimes. It’s hard to empathize and listen to friends complain about their kids not doing their chores or having to take all their kids to one child’s doctor appointment, while I’m waiting for the day Sofie helps get herself dressed even and I, at least once a week, cart all my kids to some kind of appointment which usually interferes with Evie’s nap time. I don’t want to compare our lives but we live in such different realities sometimes.  I do have a network of other parents with special needs kids, but we are all to busy and exhausted to actually put energy in to developing relationships! On respite weekends when Sofie is at my sister’s house I have a taste of what it would be like to just have two typical kids. It is a completely different world. I think I would be bored. I’m sure I’d be back to work full time!

I don’t mean this as any type of regret for adopting Sofie or judgement on others. We don’t have an easy life but it is nothing compared to some others. We love our chaotically boring life, most of the time… It is just my life and right now I’m entertaining bad, yucky, blah-day feelings. They come every once in a while but they seem to be staying a bit longer than usual right now. I thought maybe writing them down on the blog might help me get over them.

Sofie is truly amazing. She seems to be mostly through all the upset. She is speaking so much more. She can spell her name. She is developing her pre-writing skills. She can run, jump, and of course loves to dance! She likes school and is learning what is appropriate. We are learning how to help her better too. Livi is incredible. She only wants to spread love. She adores her sisters and helps out so much. She lives for making Evie laugh and hugs both littles every day. She is learning to read and loves school. Evie is joyous and such a climber. She is loud and starting to communicate more. Her smile lights us up and we love hearing her laugh at her big sister’s antics.

I do have friends and family who surround me with love, non-judgement, and support in whatever mood I’m entertaining at the moment. I got to visit with one of those friends on Saturday, which helped make last weekend much better. Although Sofie flushed her sons electric toothbrush down the toilet, there was no anger or expectation for me to replace it. I know that her response was genuine too, not just being polite. Friends like that are few and far between, at least in my world. I’ve never been one to have a huge circle of friends, just a small handful that I would trust all my deepest thoughts and fears with. I am so thankful for them.

Despite our household’s sleepless nights, slight depression and ailments, there was real joy this last month. Jon and I did get to go away for a night. The first time we’ve had a night with out kids in over a year! It was lovely. We had a friends wedding in Seattle and decided to stay over night. Sofie was assessed for her letters and she knows at least 10 of them and can spell her name. There has been much laughter and love between my girls who absolutely and completely love each other. Sister love is a beautiful thing. Evie’s hair is finally long enough to put in some adorable pig tails. I got a special, full shopping day with just Livi who continues to astound me with her courage, kindness and desire to help others. I am also just loving watching and listening to Livi learn to read!

This past weekend was Family Day long weekend. Although it is a new holiday and we didn’t have any big plans, we got to visit with some dear, real friends we haven’t seen in a while. Jon’s sister and brother in law where in town so we had a family dinner and a good, much needed family meeting. Livi got to have ‘respite’ at her Gramma’s house for a night. And, we got to take the big girls ice skating for the first time where they had SO MUCH FUN! Sofie was able to stand in the skates but hated them. Once we let her slide in just her shoes she loved it. Livi amazed me with her persistence and ability! She was zipping around using a bar and ventured out quite a bit without one!

I think writing this all down has helped. Not sure if I made any sense, but I’m not sure if I make sense on a day to day basis. I guess I’m okay with that. It’s my life, in all that is beautiful and broken.

Seasons

I wish I had the ability to blog at least once a week. That isn’t going to happen right now. This season in my life is busy. I am stretched thin. Especially last week. I feel like there isn’t any of myself leftover to actually take care of myself. I’m sure every mom has days, weeks, months or even years like this. I’m hoping it’s not months… or even weeks. I’m hoping things reorganize themselves this weekend. It doesn’t look promising though since our dryer just broke and I have 6 loads of laundry to wash.

This is going to be an update post. Another one. I make this blog in to a blog book for my kids to maybe read when they are grown, so I always feel like I need to document everything, even if it was two weeks ago now…

Halloween
This halloween made be cry tears of happiness. I stood behind Sofie at yet another door that she had eagerly ran up too, excited to trick-or-treat. This is her third halloween with us. The first two she just managed to do a house or two then spent the rest of the night in the stroller. This year was different. She did nearly as many houses as Livi. She was excited to! She ran up the drive ways! She said “treat” to the home owners, for ‘trick-or-treat’. She said and signed “thank-you” and “bye”. She asked for “more” from some of the home owners who she thought weren’t giving her enough 🙂 My princess made me smile. This was a big accomplishment for her.

Evie was my little red riding hood and all bundled up happily in the stroller watching her sisters and other kids run around. Livi was Rapunzel. She, of course, was so excited for trick-or-treating. She was in her glory. I also got to volunteer in her class party that morning. So fun! The week before I got to help chaperone the girls first field trip! They did SO good on the bus which they were so excited about!  We went to the pumpkin patch! It was great meeting some of their friends and getting to know some of the parents a bit better!

Sofie
This week, we have noticed a little bit of regression in Sofie. (There was a poop smearing incident, which hasn’t happened in over a year.) There’s been some upsets to her routine…

Last week we had her IEP. It went great. I felt like we were all on the same page. I had been nervous but my mind was eased. This week, with out notice, her main EA left. I found out at the end of the EA’s last day, when I was picking her up. Her teacher also informed me her last day would be the next day. What?! Why was there absolutely no notice given? Ridiculous. While we are in full favour of teachers and EA’s being free to leave and take other positions, this hiring, postings and seniority bumping process in the school system is insane. It is not in any of the children’s best interest AT ALL. I intend to write to the school board to make my concerns for this process known.

The teacher that always covers sick days in Sofie’s class will be covering until the posting is filled. She has a brand new EA, until her post is filled as well. So frustrating. I haven’t met the new EA, but she is brand-spankin’-new. While I’m trying to have an open mind about the situation and hope for the best, some things already happened on the first day which I am not thrilled about. I’m trying to tell myself to relax. It was only day one.

Livi
Livi needed a mental health day on Thursday. I’m in favour of kids taking mental health days every once in a while. They need a break too. I did want to understand why she was needing it though. After some cuddles and conversation I discovered that she was upset that she had done some of her letters backwards. She thought she was the only one. The teacher had her correct them which took her too much time and she didn’t get to play. Taking a long time to complete her work has been noticeably ongoing since the start of school. At home, when things seem to difficult for her or don’t go the way she wants, she gets upset or quits. I wasn’t sure how worried I should be since the teacher didn’t think it was a big deal. Now that she is wanting to miss school because of it, I’m worried. We will get a hold of this perfectionism and performance anxiety that she has.

She comes by it naturally. She is the first child of two oldest children who are perfectionist in our own rites. We are working on ourselves but now we need to jump it in to high gear to help our daughter. I don’t want this to follow her. I don’t want her to think her self-worth is tied to perfection. I don’t want this perfectionism to jump to her physical body where things could turn deadly with eating disorders or cutting. I used to cut. I know. It may seem like I am jumping to extremes here, but I feel in my gut that this is big. We need to help her through this now. I’m researching articles and looking for books with strategies to help her and us. I think I’ve come up with a few things already. Pray for her and us in this.

Evie
Evie has a stubborn side. I think it is funny how I see it so clearly already. She hits and throws things very purposefully! Gah! She is so sweet though. Livi was crying one day and Evie crawled up behind her and lay her head on her back, as if to give a hug.

Evie is my not the easiest baby in the world. She is very inconsistent which I find frustrating. Some nights she is up four times to nurse and others she sleeps through. Some days she is a whiny clingy mess and others she is content to play by herself and nap perfectly through out the day. She is at a disadvantage as far as a schedule goes though. She has to tag along to pick up her sisters from school, run errands, or go to appointments. Her naps and sleep cycles are frequently interrupted. Curse of the third child, I suppose.

Sisters
My daughters are such good sisters to each other. I love it. Watching them together is priceless. They are going to be such wonderful friends.

Livi, these days, has me especially awe struck. She is such a caring, responsible and empathetic big sister. If Evie cries she races to find a toy for her and redirect her attention. She watches out for Sofie, constantly. She plays with both her sisters, running and chasing. She lets them both climb on her. She is so patient with both littles. She shares with them. She uses her words with Sofie and takes the time to teach her. I’ve said before that if Livi got paid for the amount therapy she does with Sofie she’d have her college and down payment for a house in the bank already! Her love warms my heart.

Sofie has been better than I had ever hoped with her baby sister. I was so scared of the back lash of behaviours I’d get from Sofie and afraid that Sofie would hurt the baby. She does push her every once in a while but otherwise she is pretty amazing with her. She pets her hair, squishes her cheeks and asks to hold her.

Evie will come into her own place as the baby sister. I don’t know, yet, what place she will hold. From her coy and beautiful smile, I see her bringing a quiet, peaceful joy. She is more laid back, in some ways. I think her big sisters will seek her out for those quiet moments of needed peace. She reminds me of my mom, who reminds me of my Grandma. Both are strong, courageous women who have quietly overcome a lot in their lives. They are the pillars of their family, who graciously put up with a lot, but bring so much needed peace.

Jon
I don’t always write about Jon, unless it pertains to me. He is a much more private person than I am and I try to respect that. He has also had a hard week, for his own reasons which are his to tell. His hard weeks add to mine. I want to listen and give him what he needs but after weeks like this, I feel to stretched to be the wife he deserves. I know he understands and, usually, doesn’t hold it against me. He really is a very understanding man, a good husband and an incredible father.

Me
This next week I am going to try and take some more time for myself. I’m going to go shopping, even though it is for the kids I will enjoy it. I’m going to eat sushi… (Update – it’s Sunday now…I ate it last night and really enjoyed it!). I’m going to watch a romantic movie… or at least a romantic TV episode of some kind. I’m going to have a clean house (even though that may add more work, I feel much more relaxed when it is in order). I’m also going to start reading a Brene Brown book, which will help give me a little perspective in my current season of life. Christmas is coming and Caramel Brule lattes are at Starbucks again, both make me very happy. This next week will be better 🙂