3 Things I Didn’t Expect About Having 3

I still sometimes can’t believe I have three children. It seems that more often than not, most people have their kids closer together- somewhere in the realm of 1 1/2 – 2 years apart. Me, on the other hand… well, I needed time to recover! I actually wanted my second to be that distance from my first, but we had the hardest time conceiving her. Once she came, we realized just why we needed our bearings! This time around was a discussion for a few years coupled with a crazy lifestyle. But, since we were finally settled back in Georgia (or so we thought…) we decided we wanted another. After a year of grueling health issues for me, we were beyond blessed to welcome a new little boy this year.

Life has been interesting ever since. After a somewhat traumatizing post-birth experience, we are trying to juggle the holidays with a new baby. Even more interesting are the things I just didn’t expect the third time around.

There’s still no sleep

While he sleeps much better than my daughter ever did, he’s the biggest cuddler I’ve known- he loves to be held! Since this is the last time I’ll get these baby snuggles, I try to embrace the moments- even the longest exhausting ones. I’m not entirely sure if I thought I would have a few tricks up my sleeve for the first couple exhausting months by round three, but… not so much. Luckily, we’re coming up on week 7 here (SEVEN), and we are evolving into a bit more of a routine.

The amount of time it takes to get out the door

Seriously, I added one, not ten. But it seems to take about ten times as long for us to get out the door- and it’s not even just the baby! With the oldest being 7, he is forever remembering “just one more thing”. My 3 year old daughter (almost 4), forever brings an entourage of stuffed animals, purses, and accessories- “just to leave in the car”. Meanwhile, I’m throwing my nursing cover, a few diapers, and a change of clothes into one of my larger purses (with a stocked diaper bag that I throw in the trunk and rarely use) and bucking the baby into the carseat. By the time this is all accomplished, I’m exhausted- and I haven’t even started the car.

How much my family would grow

 And in so much more than numbers. Watching my kids with their new baby brother is one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced. It is truly astonishing to watch their own relationship as the older siblings evolve into an entirely new level. The usual bickering has often become playing together, or let’s go do this as mom’s busy with the baby. Or they will suggest that we all play a game together instead of waiting for us to insist on family time. Don’t get me wrong, the bickering is still alive and well, but there’s also an added dimension to each of my children now that our dynamic has changed.

Yes, this is one of the best pictures I have with my kids. They photograph much better than I do! How have your family dynamics adjusted over time? 

 

Life Happens

Sometimes, every day life gets in our way. We can be so caught up with what has to be done, that the small wonders and amazing moments in life can be missed. Luckily, our kids are around to teach us a thing or two from time to time.

The other evening, my son was busy with soccer practice. Demanding my full, undivided attention, my 3 year old daughter yanked on my hand so that I would fall in line behind her and walk over to the park. Laughing, I shook my head at my husband as we journeyed across the field.

As we approached the playground, her small hand clasped in mine, her steps slowed. I glanced down to find her staring at the play structure with a bit of trepidation. As she is not one to normally back away from a challenge, I was confused as to what was causing her sudden hesitation.

“Mama, I don’t want to fall,” she says to me, eyes huge and searching mine.

“Sweet girl, you climb and slide all the time,” I tell her with a smile. “You can certainly do it”.

Climbing into my lap I settled my hugely pregnant belly on the bench, she pauses as my stomach gets in her way.

“Mama, is baby going to be able to climb?” she asks me.

“Well, eventually he will. He has to grow to be bigger and stronger, like you and your brother. Then, one day, he’ll be able to climb”.

Thinking about this, she stared at the playground a little longer. We sat quietly for a few minutes, with her not quite ready to leave but not jumping in either. Finally, I said it was time to go back to the fields.

“No, no, wait!” she cried. I took a breath, anticipating the arguments that always seem to come when it’s time to leave, well, anywhere. “I have to go down the slide! I want to teach baby!”

Off she ran, darting around the side so she could climb. Settling down at the top of the slide, she hesitated. I told her that she could do it, we had to go.

And then, I stopped.

I watched her face, nervous but determined.

I watched her push off the sides, slowly at first, then with more strength.

Then, I watched her fly down the slide with pure joy on her face.

She ran over to me and threw her arms around me. “I did it Mama, I did it!” she exclaimed, brimming with amazed excitement.

I smiled down at her in amazement, at how such a small child could face such a big-to-her fear so quickly.

“Yeah, baby. You sure did. And you? Were amazing.”

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Raising a pack: going from two to three children

Being a mom of any is tough; Lindsey is a full-time working mom of four kids under 5! When I first considered adding another to our family, I was a bit apprehensive and asked for input. Now that he’s almost here, I’m pretty much in a panic and thought it would be great info to revisit. Looking to her for sage advice, Lindsey talks about the transition from two to three children- and how she loves her pack.

Having your first baby, most of us will agree, means a relatively serious lifestyle change. Fortunately, it comes on slowly. They sleep a lot at first, and while you don’t get more than a few hours of sleep at a time either, you also don’t need to do much entertaining early on, and their needs are relatively simple. (That’s unless you have a Rebecca baby, who screams for no discernible reason… but that’s colic, and that’s another post).

For those of you who’ve added a second to your Oompa-Loompa army (tm my friend Dave), you’ll know that you get a new skill set. You get to do the baby things over again (which, to be fair, are a bit less intimidating and easier learned the second time), but you get to do them while also corralling what is usually a rambunctious toddler. (I’m unable to find statistics on this, but anecdotally among my friends, I’d say an average age difference between #1 and #2 is about 2-3 years; if you know anything better, please tell me, since I’m curious). What you learn in going from one to two children is nothing new, per say, it’s just doing two skill sets (one you learned with the first baby, one you’ve learned along the way) at once.

And how about three? According to the 2000 Census, the average number of kids in families with kids was 1.86. There are about as many families with 1 child as there are families with 2. What do you have to accomplish to live life as one of the outliers?

Let’s see. You have to, once again, re-learn your baby skills.

You have to continue to manage the other two children, at least one of whom is likely a toddler.

You have to do this all at the same time.

But really… it’s not that bad. No, seriously.

Going from zero to one is a culture shock. Going from one to two is a whole new level of juggling people. But going from two to three… for me, was just a matter of degree. It was much like one to two, only I already had the juggling skills. Also, by the time I had three, my oldest was almost three, and she was starting to be useful. You know those times when you discover a diaper was much dirtier than you expected, but it’s already off, and you don’t have the wipes, and the baby wants to roll, and the toddler is climbing on your back? Yeah, a 3-year-old who knows where the wipes are comes in really handy then! Not to mention… she does great at keeping her sister occupied while I’m taking care of the baby. Or keeping the baby occupied (now that the baby likes peekaboo) while I’m taking care of the toddler.

In short, going from 2 to 3 kids is nowhere near as difficult as having your first or your second. It is harder (I mean, it’s one more to get dressed in the morning and fed at mealtimes), don’t get me wrong- but the transition is easier. I remember being nervous that we’d be outnumbered, but it hasn’t been that bad- really, once two are toddlers or older, they don’t demand as much attention, and it’s rare more than one REALLY needs attention at any given time, much less all three. And again… sometimes, they just pay attention to one another, which works out well. We do fine dividing them into 1/2 combos between us when the situation warrants.

I’m proud to be a mother of three… growing up in a family with two kids, it’s a new dynamic to me, and I’m glad I feel somewhat in control of it (well, so far). All kids are special, but I feel a little bit extra-special that mine are a crowd. (Two would be company. And whatever.) A flock. A brood. (I can’t go for a pack. As my old paralegal liked to point out, the smallest pack she can think of is gum, and that has 5.)

For more on life with three kids, I also recommend On Having Three Kids- a brilliant essay, and I can completely relate to the points she makes. (She’s got other good essays on that site, as well.)

 

A glimpse of the future- back to school and a memory captured

It seems like yesterday that I just brought him home… this tiny little bundle of which I was completely responsible for. I spent the next few years holding on so tight…

Then I brought home his sister. Anxious to be like her big brother, she did everything she could to keep up with him. I tried to hold on to her just as tight…

Today, I had to do the exact opposite, and let them both go. Oh, it’s only for a few hours, and they will return to me at day’s end. But it’s a symbol of things to come, of growth continuing, and of what the future will hold.

1st grade and Preschool never seemed so grown up…

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Three things I love about being a mom

With summer winding down, my kids are getting a bit restless. We’ve been out of school down here in Georgia since May, so suffice to say, it’s been awhile. With back to school looming on the horizon and baby on his way in just a few short months, I figured it was time to take a look on the bright side- and at the things I love about being a mom.

Watching my children grow, learn and change.

I love watching my children learn new things. The excitement they get when they achieve a new task or activity is one of the most awe-inspiring things I have ever seen. For example, my 6 year old has been working through first grade learning books all summer long. More often than not, I sit down to help him and only have a few words to say before he goes “Ohhh” and starts figuring the rest out on his own. Or, watching my three year old work on her name, biting down on her lip with determination while trying to make letters and asking me how to spell every word under the sun (“Mommy- how do you spell refrigerator? Um, let’s save that for later…) Watching them learn and figure things out is such a gratifying experience.

How much my kids teach me

While it is not only our job, but our responsibility to teach our children, sometimes I am amazed at how much I learn from them. I have learned that sometimes chores and tasks can wait and that it is more important to stop and smell the roses (or to play race cars and baby dolls). My kids have taught me that what I do affects them and sometimes it’s important to say you’re sorry. Most of all, my children have taught me that there is no limit to how much the heart can love and that I am so lucky and blessed to have them in my life.

The feeling I have when they call me “mom”

Whether it’s my son’s increasingly older-sounding voice or my daughter’s sweet (loud) one, there is no greater feeling than being called mom. They look to me to guide them, to comfort them, to teach them. They count on me to protect them, to kiss their hurts better, to snuggle the monsters away. They hold an unwavering trust and confidence in me, an all-encompassing knowledge that mom can make it all okay. The depth and responsibility that comes with the expectations my children have of me is down right humbling. But there is nothing in this world that inspires me to be a better person than hearing those two little voices calling for mom.

What are some of your favorite things about being a mom?

Embracing the ages and stages

My daughter was in our bed again.

Sleep has never been a friend of hers. Why rest when there is so much going on? Why sleep alone if I can sleep in my mother’s arms?

Bedtime rolls around. Her brother is easily tucked in, mumbling good night as he falls asleep before we even hit the lights. We try to settle her down, tucking her into her bed, assuring her that everything will be all right.

Rounds of hugs, kisses, and see you in the mornings ensue. Eventually, we finally close the door and say good night.

Within half an hour, as we enjoy some quiet before we turn in for the night, she comes sneaking down the stairs. She pauses, waiting to see when we will notice she’s there.

Tucking her face behind her bear, she slowly comes over to the couch, pausing to see what we’ll say. With a shake of my head and a small smile, I open my arms, and snuggle her close.

Sometime around 4 am she came quietly into our room. She pulled at the covers until she could climb in, snuggling down as if it were her rightful place to be. With a soft sigh, she turns over, grabs on to me and drifts peacefully off to sleep….

Sleep has never been her favorite thing- unless it somehow involves me. With my occasional travel, she sometimes grabs on even tighter. With the baby coming, I sometime grab on even tighter.

Because this time around, I’m even more aware of how fleeting time can be. I know how soon she will be claiming more and more independence, and that the day will come when she wants to be left alone. So for now, for each night and each morning that I wake up with a three year old flung over me, I just hold her close and think of how fast time flies. And how soon I’ll miss her climbing into our bed.

The guilty days of motherhood

Do you ever have a day that is so hectic, you are not sure when (or if) you had a chance to breathe? A day in which you have 100 things to get done and 20 more pile up? A day that just as the dishwasher breaks down, you get a call with something that has to be done rightthatminute, followed by a phone call of crappy news?

Then, adding to the stress, your kids have been fighting all day, trying to get and keep your attention, and just generally being insane.

These days? Can come far too often. So do the days where you’re just attempting to navigate your norm, like balancing work and the kids, errands and playtime, and anything else that flies your way.

Recently, I had a day like this (okay, we’ll pretend it was only one). By early afternoon, I was close to tears, in a panic that my children have barely seen me throughout the day beyond me telling them to go play, stop fighting or to generally be quiet. Add on that I’m over five months pregnant, and it was a pretty moment.

Or not so much.

The days of feeling overwhelmed are sometimes… well, overwhelming. I wonder how on earth I can balance everything that needs to be done around the house, get all the work done, and still spend time with my kids.

Sometimes, something just has to give.

When it’s the mountain of laundry that still has to be done, that’s one thing. If it’s the trip to the grocery store that gets skipped so we end up with takeout or leftovers, I can deal. Even if I’m not a far ahead on a work project, I can usually manage.

But what about when it comes to my kids?

Some days, I feel like I’m existing around them. Between everything that needs to be done, the work that piles up, and the chaos that ensues, they are off playing by themselves or doing something while I’m nearby- but not actively doing it with them. There are also times that they wheedle and beg me to be involved in every.little.thing that they do, and that’s just not humanly possible. Even still. The guilt. It weighs me down and makes me worry that I am not there enough.

Despite the days we spend four or five hours at the pool.

Despite the days we go to the movies or out to lunch or to the museum or storytime.

Despite the snuggles and board games and wii games we get to sometimes play.

The times when this is not possible? Seem to take away all the times it is. And we’re right back to square one: that darn guilt.Throw in a third baby on the way, a traveling husband, and summer vacation? This work-from-home mom is a hormonal, stressed out, guilt-ridden basket case. Even though, I am putting most of it on myself.

At least until they drive me crazy…

How do you handle those guilty-feeling days of motherhood?

Vacation dreams vs. summer reality

Do you ever have one of those summer days weeks months where you just need a break? Not the lock myself in the room and ignore everyone kind of break (which is always nice if slightly impossible), but the warm, sandy, ocean breeze type.

summer realities vs vacation dreams

Right now, I am having visions of lounging on a beach, alternating between leisurely flipping through a magazine and building sand castles with my kids. I have dreams of a fairytale family vacation that involves frolicking in the surf, endless rounds of miniature golf, and ice cream cones at sunset. My children will go to sleep at 8 pm and my husband and I are going to sip drinks on the balcony overlooking the vast ocean below. (Hey, I said it was a dream!)

Of course, I realize this is not what is going to happen.  I have two kids with summer activities, I’m expecting a third in October, and have work and soccer commitments to juggle. In reality, lounging on the beach is actually refereeing at the pool, and sand castle building translates to navigating the over-crowded indoor play place while a hundred moms try to avoid the blistering Georgia summer sun. This summer will be the summer of “instead”.

…instead of fruity cocktails by the sea, I’ll be drinking leftover juice boxes discarded by the pool…

…instead of long, leisurely strolls on soft sand, I will be sweeping gross sand from the indoor place out of my house for days…

…instead of lazy mornings where everyone sleeps in, I’ll face early mornings where my kids have more energy than should be allowed…

And somewhere, in the midst of it all,  try to remember to savor it all as my last summer as a mommy of two.

What are your summer realities this year?

 

Baby genders {giveaway}

Over 6 years ago (yikes! how did that happen??), we brought home an adorable little boy into our lives. 6 pounds even, 19 1/4 inches long, he couldn’t wait to come into this world- ironic, since he’s our calm, easy-going child. He arrived at 35 weeks and has kept us smiling ever since.

Then, a little over 3 years ago (yikes again!), we brought home a precious baby girl. 7 pounds, 3 ounces, and 20 inches long, our tiny little bundle survived a drama-filled pregnancy, surgeries included, to make her appearance a whopping 10 days late. She’s kept us on our toes ever since!

This year, around October 29, 2012, we will welcome one last bundle of joy. Tomorrow, we head to the doctor for an ultrasound, and ideally can find out the gender of the baby. We have gone back and forth with when/if we’re going to share with everyone (though I’m not sure I could keep it to myself!). To help you enjoy the fun, let’s see what you think it is! Guess which gender I’m having and you can win a Kindle to enjoy this summer! Put your answer in the rafflecopter widget below to be entered :)

Have fun and thanks for enjoying this with me!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Time flies by- Rockin’ the Baby

We all know how fast time goes when our little ones are growing. But when you take a minute to look at those little tiny baby pictures, it seems as though the time disappeared the last time you blinked. I’m linking up with Shell’s Rockin the Baby with pictures of my little ones!

My early little boy- a surprise baby, a surprisingly early delivery!

Also my happy, easy-going baby- a smile for everyone.tylerbaby

Then came our hard-earned little girl, stubborn right down to her late delivery. You can see the attitude already.

A mama’s girl from the start, she’s been wrapped around me- and our hearts- for over two years now.

Finally, my babies today. Where on earth does the time go?


Head on over to Shell’s Rockin’ the Baby to get your baby fix!! Link up yours for a chance for great prizes!