Mar 14, 2017

Noah Bear: Six Months

Remember that baby that I told you I was going to birth in the mountains. Well he's here. And he's six months old. And well I never officially announced his presence because having a baby in the mountains and then moving states away with your newborn and your toddler all less than one week from the day you gave birth isn't exactly when you have the most free time.

The sleepless nights of the newborn stage while chasing a toddler during the "sleep when the baby sleeps" hours doesn't leave time for any sort of coherent writing. Someday I'll try to explain this to Noah like my mom explained my baby sister's empty baby book that had a few pictures in the box it was encased in. Sorry kid, there was more to do than to sit down and write every moment of your life. (Just to be clear my mom later finished my sister's baby book and she probably did a much better job years later.)

Our Noah Bear came into this world with a bit of surprise and a lot of expectation. Camp had ended and we waited for his arrival. Since Lincoln was born an entire month early we expected Noah to be early too, but Noah would prove to take his own sweet time. Eventually a little "worry" on a ultrasound would cause me to be induced and our Noah Bear entered into the world.

His first days were crazy. We stayed in the hospital longer than we had planned. Noah went "home" to our cabin at camp with a rolling oxygen tank that he absolutely hated. We had a fussy baby whose fussiness we would later come to find was due to a tongue tie that made him almost starve for the first few weeks of his life. My parents flew to meet us in Colorado where Kyle packed our entire summer cabin into our minivan and drove home while I, Lincoln, newborn Noah and my mom and dad all flew back to Texas.

The next few weeks were a blur of doctor's appointments. Bilirubin this and tongue tie that. Hearing screening here and VLCAD check there. For about a month I thought to myself "what have we done?" and then the dust settled. (Well also the tongue tie was resolved and Noah could finally be the milk drunk happy baby that "everyone else" had.)

And then I was able to clearly see the new little baby we had been blessed with. Noah Bear is a joy. Everyone remarks about how happy he is, his toothless grin can light up a room. He is so very "chill." While Lincoln wanted to be swaddled and coddled, Noah's favorite place to sleep was unswaddled on the living room floor. Fussy baby? Oh, then just lay him on the ground.

Noah has a peace about him which is so very funny because it's one of the reasons I named him Noah. Noah means rest or comfort or peace. And I remember going back and forth about names and thinking that I would love to have a name that meant peace. As I was driving to one of my many doctor's appointments something on the radio mentioned the name Noah and there it was. I felt like the Lord had given me such a great peace throughout my pregnancy with Noah, and now here he is: a model of peace.

It's funny how I probably know him best of anyone, but how I often feel like I don't know him at all. After having Lincoln around for almost two and a half years I know him so well. I look at Noah and I long to know who he is and who he will become. I see so many differences between he and Lincoln and I want to see how that plays out. I wish I had the time to just sit and stare at him like I did Lincoln but that's not our reality. Noah may get a little less of me but that means he gets a special love that Lincoln did not know, that of an older sibling. The way Lincoln loves Noah is a big love and the way Noah's face lights up when he sees his big brother is remarkable.

Noah Bear,

You are filled with peace. You are filled with joy. You are squishy and your smile is contagious. You can roll over and hold that head much better than your brother could at your age which is probably why you won't have to wear a baby helmet like he did. You have no scar on your forearm because medicine has improved so much in the short time since Lincoln was born that you had a different test for VLCAD. Truth is, Lincoln's biopsy results, his scar, gave us more information about you. Your sister Hannah also helped you. The doctors in Colorado were so concerned about you because of Hannah's stillbirth that you got biweekly check-ups and one of those checkups was what led to your induction. We'll never know for sure, but it's possible that weekly ultrasound caught a placental bleed that could have meant your demise. I like to think it was a way God let you sister be a part of your story: her death possibly saving your life.

I cannot wait to know you. I cannot wait to hear the thoughts that I can read deep in your eyes. I cannot wait to see where you run, how you explore and how you grow to bring more joy to those around you. I pray for the day you know the Lord and I pray you know that His love is the best love you'll ever know. And that's saying something because I love you a lot.

If it matters: you weigh 18 pounds, you have a larger than 95th percentile head just like your brother, you can roll over and you can sit up for about three seconds. You started eating avocados about two days before you turned six months old and you cannot seem to eat food fast enough. Your brother and your Daddy make you smile the most and you seem to love me too. You are calm, peaceful, and I love you. Feel free to sleep through the night anytime you want, for now I'll take you sleeping nine hours straight and I'd love for you to learn to nap the way you did when you were a newborn. The "just lay him on the carpet" trick doesn't work quite like it used to but we love you just the same.

Also sorry your six month "photo shoot" was me taking pictures of you laying on your bother's trampoline in a random onesie. You'd been six months old for about a week and I never seemed to find the time to make 'perfect.' These pictures are a picture of our life right now, you're smiling but we aren't winning any awards on Pinterest or anything. But hey, you're a boy, I'm sure you won't mind.

Happy Six Months my Noah Bear. Where did the time go?

Love always,

Feb 23, 2017

Why Not?

Last night my two year old son climbed into his baby brother's high chair as I snapped, "get down!" and turned to my husband Kyle and said, "he's always trying to climb in there."

Kyle looked at me and asked, "why is it that Lincoln can't get in Noah's chair?"

Now he didn't ask me this in front of Lincoln. He supported me and helped get Lincoln out of the baby chair. But he was honestly asking why. And you know what: I wasn't sure.

With the baby chair, I'm not sure if the chair will support my toddler. The chair is built in such a way that if he stands up the wrong way it could be a large fall. And if our 5 month old is in the chair and his two year old brother decides to climb in with him, well, it wouldn't go so well.

The decision is still that he cannot climb into the chair, but I woke up today thinking about my husband's question:

Why not?

See I'm a Type A Mom. I love order. I love structure. I believe kids do too to some extent, at least mine do. Order provides a type of security so that they know what to expect. We have the same nap time and bedtime routine each night and I honestly believe it helps Lincoln go to sleep easily.

But since Noah arrived on the scene I think I've gotten a little bit wrapped up in the order.

The first month with two under two was a whirlwind to say the least. Noah was born in Colorado in a small mountain town hospital where we brought him "home" to our cabin on camp, all while he was connected to a not-so-little rolling oxygen tank. We took our little newborn and his big brother home via airplane before Noah was even a week old and then we had about two weekdays in the first month of his life that we weren't at a doctor's appointment. For a healthy baby, I was one tired momma.

So I think in all the madness I needed some sort of order. I needed something to control. And honestly I think it's been my two year old.

Yes, we are training him and we should be. We are teaching him how to hug his brother without suffocating him and we are training him up to be a non-terrorist, but I think it went beyond that. I felt like all day I was telling this kid no.

"No, don't put your finger inside your sandwich. Roll your sleeves up. No, stop, wipe your hands off before you roll your sleeves up." (Because then I'd have to do laundry.)

"No. Stop. Lincoln! Don't open that cabinet." (Because of the possibility of thinking he was allowed to play inside the cabinet and then would make a mess when I wasn't looking).

"No, don't color with the yellow marker right on top of the blue. It'll turn the yellow blue..." (To "save" the yellow washable kids marker.)

"No, don't hold it that way...

"No, do it faster...

"No, walk slower...

"No, don't close that door, you'll wake up your bother." (When honestly he was sweetly closing the door to "help" brother sleep.)

So this morning I thought about my husband's question. And the answer to "why not?" was me. Because I want it to be easier. I want to be in control. I want to keep every plate spinning just perfectly so that we don't all fall apart.

No wonder my kid sneaks in disobedience every chance he gets.

So today we played.

I prayed that God would keep our day together. That God would keep the plates spinning or remind me that I don't need so many plates in the first place. I remembered that I'm kidding myself if I think that I am the one holding it all together anyway.

And as my kid poured a Gatorade bottle full of water on the back brick porch and my habitual tongue went to say "no! we don't pour out our water!" he giggled. He looked at the way the water splashed and the way the brick turned a different color as the little stream of water ran across it.

And I stopped.

Because why not?

So I got a pitcher and we refilled that Gatorade bottle with water over and over again. Because water dries. He splashed in the puddle and even sat in it and got his khaki shorts all muddy. Because clothes wash. When I went inside for a moment to put his baby brother down for a nap I returned to find his arms elbow deep in a flower pot full of mud as he stirred in weeds and grass and explained in his proud little voice, "I work Momma! I work hard!"

And I just laughed.

I helped him pull up his sleeves and I saw his little eyes look at me asking if he could keep going. He was waiting for me to say no. So I looked at him and smiled and said, "yes baby boy, you're working hard. Momma's proud of you!" and back to 'work' he went.

So we climbed trees today and I let him try to peel his own oranges even though that meant there was orange all over his face and all down his shorts. I let him explore our back yard for the longest time as he pushed his little mower and rode his little bike that he calls a "motorcycle."

We had messy sandwiches for lunch and when I asked him to help me clean up lunch he did it willingly. We had ice cream cones on the porch after nap time and I loved every minute of it.

Yes he was still a toddler and he had his moments. He still got mad at Battleship and threw the pieces everywhere. I still was my OCD self and made him sort the different colored pieces back into the coordinating bins. But he got to be a kid today.

I think I expected him to grow up the moment his baby brother arrived. I think I've set this expectation that he shouldn't run at the zoo and that he should use a napkin at all times and that he should every. single. time. say "thank you" to me so that at least someone somewhere is saying it.

But he's just a little boy.

He's a messy, fun, curious, hilarious little bouncing ball of joy.

And I get to be his mom.

So I can try my best to make him 'perfect' or I can let him explore the wonderful world God created and get a little dirty every once in a while. And yes, maybe I'll have to do a little more laundry, but I bet the kid will help me with the laundry anyway.

Mrs. Frizzle really knew what she was doing, "Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy." Today I loved both of my boys better than I have in a while and I got to love them rather than loving the organized tiny people I guess I thought they should be.

Here's to motherhood and learning as you go. Will tomorrow be even better? Why not?

Feb 7, 2017

Maybe They'll Even Mean Something

I am a perfectionist.

It's true.

I even took a personality quiz the other day that told me; so it must be true. It was on the internet.

I don't mean that I do everything perfectly, not anywhere near perfect. But I have a need for perfection or completion. If the dish pile is too large for me to finish it all then why even start. If I cannot completely clean my room then why even take the time to pick up a few things off the floor. If I cannot make the entire kitchen look the way I want it to, then why spend the time and money replacing the cabinet pulls to 'try' to help things.

Before kids I had more time. If I could go back and tell my 'busy' college self that I'm sure she wouldn't believe me, but I did have more time. I may have filled it with a million things but I was the one who decided how I would spend my time.

Now a kiddo will wake up a little earlier than expected and that pile of dishes I finally started gets stopped halfway through and it's like I never even touched it. So lately I find myself sweeping the floor more often and doing laundry much less. I can usually guarantee I have time to finish the floor, but the laundry 'I probably shouldn't even try to start.'

And to tell the truth, this is also the way I write.

I haven't posted anything here in quite some time. 

I sit down to write often, but often I am interrupted. I have many, many drafts saved but nothing finished. So many times I left things unfinished, that it became easier to not even sit down and write. "There's no way I'll get anything completed so I might as well do something else." And that was it.

Back in the old days of this blog I told stories about the time I thought I lost my camera at the Big 12 Championship and I rattled on about my thesis homework. Then Hannah came along and everything got a bit bigger. My words had more weight. Her story carried so much of God's truth to so many. So sometimes now I sit down to write about poopy diapers and it seems so much less significant. Why even write it?

So I decided a few nights ago that I was going to sit down and write something about not writing. I was going to make it official that I wouldn't be posting anything for a while. I'd give myself a good excuse like kids and lack of sleep and I'd be done.

But before I could write anything, today happened.

The morning was an avalanche of babies waking early and my toddler threw his milk cup at my face hard enough that I fell off of bed. My kid wouldn't stop whining while I was 'having fun' with him making cupcakes because I wouldn't let him drink the batter. I showered last night but I'm sure you wouldn't be able to tell and my five month old decided he would just stop napping altogether.

And then my husband sent me the best article about being a momma and it was perfect.

Not because it was perfectly written. Not because it used the best dollar words.

It was perfect for me because someone shared their story and I remembered that I was not the only one doing this mom thing. I was reminded that yep, these kids are going to grow up one day and I'm not going to have to get to hold them while they nap.

It reminded me that even if my story is not perfect that it's mine. It's the story that God has given me to share. Millions of people don't even have to love it to make it worth something. 

Sometimes only one person has to read it and be reminded of truth. And sometimes that person is me re-reading it a few hours or days or years later.

So I'm not "back" but I'm not "gone."

I'll be writing some time. Between the blessings and the blowouts, somehow the words will come out. And maybe, just maybe, if I've gotten more than four hours of consecutive sleep anytime in the last week, maybe they'll even mean something.

Dec 12, 2016

10 Days of Nativity: 2016

If you were around last year during the Christmas season you may remember me playing with Lincoln's Little People nativity scene and posting it all over the social media. Acting out the Christmas story was a way for me to teach Lincoln about the birth of Jesus, the true reason for the season. This year Lincoln is two and he is already learning about the "Baby Jesus" with "no crib" who sleeps "on the hay" where the animals eat. I love to see his little mind begin to understand who Jesus is, even if it's only through songs and games at this point. I'm excited to see how the 10 Days of Nativity go this year. So far it's been pretty comical.

So we're back at it again and I'm ready to invite you along (And when I say "we" I mean me, Kyle, Lincoln, and baby Noah-who I birthed and never wrote a thing on the blog about because, well I had two under two and needed sleep). Anyways...

In the true spirit of Christmas, I'd love for you to join me for the next two weeks as I challenge you to play with your nativity scenes as you reenact the Christmas story. Feel free to use whatever nativity scene you have adorning your home. If you choose your grandmother's antique set, well, use some caution around the kids and don't hold me liable. If you're looking for a "playable" nativity set, we use the Little People nativity set and it's stood up to the beating of a once one year old and now two year old.

Below are the links to the ten daily posts all right here for you. The posts are the same as last year, because I checked and the Bible hadn't changed so I figured we'd be safe. Each post includes part of the Christmas story as told in the Bible. The posts will include a picture of my Lincoln's Little People Nativity characters telling the story and the scripture reference for that day's portion of the story. Although you can get the posts for all ten days in the links below, each day on Instagram @brittanyhess and Facebook I'll have the simplified posts to keep you on track.

I've pulled out Lincoln's Nativity toys and we've already started playing. In the posts I'll note which characters we'll be introducing that day and feel free to pull out your nativity scenes (Little People or not) and let your kiddos (or roommates) play along as you read. Some of the portions of scripture are quite long, feel free to tailor the length to your personal patience levels...

If you want you can simply follow along and read the posts. Go a step further and break out your own Bible and your own nativity. Or go even a step further and snap a few pics of you and yours joining in the fun. Post those pics to Instagram or Facebook and make sure to use the hashtag #10DaysofNativity so that I can see the pics! Feel free to tag me if you'd like @brittanyhess.

Let's see how this goes with a two year old this year. I'm hoping less people get eaten or licked, but I can't promise anything...

Week One
Day 1: Gabriel Sent to Nazareth
Day 2: Mary's Song
Day 3: Joseph's Dream
Day 4: Travel to Bethlehem
Day 5: Jesus is Born!

Week Two
Day 6: Shepherds & Angels
Day 7: Shepherds Visit Jesus
Day 8: Magi See the Star
Day 9: Magi See Jesus
Day 10: God Loves Us & Sent His Son

Merry Christmas to you and yours and I hope someday I'll get a bit more sleep and I'll return to update you on our lives at the Hess House.

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