When I think about the past year, Act I and Act II comes to mind. Act I was the first half of the year where I was finishing up my third pregnancy and Act II was the birth of Natalie at mid-year (May 26th) and her early babyhood. This is a good time of life. I can feel it. You know sometimes when something is happening to you and you just know very deeply "I'd better cherish this." Well, this year has been that kind of year. Maybe because I suspect that Natalie will be my last baby, I am taking special care to enjoy every transition and change, not just with her, but in watching the other children develop relationships with her and with each other. Also because this is probably my last year with all of us at home together all day, because while I have investigated homeschooling for so long, I'm still on the side of the fence where I'm probably going to send Frannie to K. So I spend a lot of time watching my three babies play and fight under this roof and I appreciate it all so much.
While I know that this is a special time of life, it has its challenges.
Adam is now 2 1/2 and this whole year has been a challenge with him and his temper. I've written a few posts about it, but have actually refrained from mentioning it too much because I don't want it to sound like my difficulties with him are the biggest aspect of our relationship together. The truth is that we spend a lot of time having fun and I enjoy his developing personality a lot! He's got a funny little sense of humor. He calls me Thomas a lot. He purposely says things that he knows will get an exaggerated "What!?" reaction out of me followed by excessive tickles. Everyday he requires a lengthy dose of cuddling and tickling. He is very sweet to Natalie (although now that she is moving and ruining his trains he's getting pretty mad!) He loves to be read to, and yes, he is absolutely in love with all trains (thank you for all the train Christmas presents everybody!)
As far as his temper goes, learning to manage that has been hard! I sometimes marvel at how "smart" I can be in some areas but how quickly this 2 year old can completely give me a run. Essentially Adam is Veruca Salt- when he wants it, he wants it NOW! And if he doesn't get it NOW then you will pay. You will be on the other end of a blistering scream the likes of which my father has heard from his side of the phone many times. Other times it starts off as as a sulky whine that ends up being a crying scream. I've learned that all things lead to crying eventually. I have tried all manner of tactics to improve things and really the only things that work are time outs for bad attitudes and counting to 3 for commands. The counting to 3 is because otherwise I could ask him to come to me all day long and he wouldn't. If I get to three and he still hasn't come then I go get him myself and he gets a little swat on the bum. Since he is minding so much better, everything else is better. On my side of things, the crying for other things doesn't bother me as much because I know he is a sensitive kid. I am accepting the fact that sometimes I will be THAT mom with THAT crying kid in the store especially if he is tired or if his sister is poking him too much. Most of the time he's very delightful to be around.
As far as Frannie goes, she's my ultra girly-girl sweetie who loves dresses and giggling. She also requires a lengthy daily dose of tickles and cuddles. She enjoys crafts and cooking together and she and Adam play all manner of games. Some favorites of hers are "jump in the pillows" where she gets all of the bedroom pillows and puts them on the floor and she calls "ready, set, GOOOO!" as they race down the hallway to jump into the pile. She also likes "Jumpin' Daisy" which is basically her and Adam jumping on the bed while I sing this made up song. Both she and Adam ask to play "Work that Body" almost every day. Work that Body is another made up song game where I sing this rhythm and they run around. I change the rhythm up and directions up and they move accordingly. Sometimes it's slow, sometimes fast, and I often throw in a FREEZE! She is very helpful in terms of getting things for the baby when I need them and overall she's just a sweetheart. The one thing she hates is to clean up her toys and her room. She turns into a wet noodle at the very mention of such a task. Fortunately one day last month I gave a random frustrated threat that if she didn't start cleaning Santa wasn't going to bring her any presents and all of a sudden I've got a decent picker-upper on my hands! A Christmas miracle! So thank you Santa Claus for putting a little fire under my girl's bum. I hope this lasts. It probably won't.
Little sweetie Natalie can do no wrong. She's the darling of the house right now. She constantly surprises me with what a little mover she is. A few days after I shot the picture of her standing, I caught her climbing up the first stair step. She is just wasting no time with learning to get from point A to point B. She turned seven months old the day after Christmas.
From Jason's perspective, life could probably be separated into three categories: Life at Work; Life at Home; Life on a Bike. At work he gets somewhere between 50-100 emails everyday and is always writing checks, filling orders, problem solving, you name it. He does so many things at the office I can't even categorize them all. When he gets home we have dinner and he has time to be with the kids. He is also with the kids early in the morning. One of the most helpful things he always does (and I appreciate this sooooo so so much) is he gets the kids their oatmeal and feeds them before he goes to work. He then puts a movie on for them and leaves for work. At about that time Natalie wakes up and so do I. Doing this gives me an extra 30 mins to one hour in the sack since I don't have to wake up when Adam does. I LOVE YOU FOR THIS! Every Saturday morning he goes for a long bike ride and I think it is his favorite part of the week. He has a biking blog where he writes about his travels and experiences. The man loves his bicycles.
As far as trips go, I was able to go visit my Aunt Carrie and cousins Miles and Parker in October. I will post pics and more details in a a separate post! I'm so glad we went to visit her and the kids. I am hoping in 2010 that Jason and I find a way to do more trip-taking, particularly camping.
I continue to teach Bradley Method classes. I'm teaching two sessions a week, Friday nights in Claremont and Saturday afternoons in Chino. It is wonderful to share the time of pregnancy with other couples and one of the fun off-shoots is that I've made some friends along the way too.
So 2009 is done and gone. It's been a year of homemaking and family and lots of hugs and kisses from little arms and hands and sweet little lips that say "Mom. I yuv you."