Blog a la Cart

One Month (and counting)

35 weeks

One month from today is my official Guess Date for this little one’s arrival. While battling a hideous cold turned sinus infection, slash the onslaught of a particularly gross round of conjunctivitis, I’ve been spending my days in bed looking at old photos and videos of when the girls were first born. It makes me all the more excited to welcome that squishy, Mr. Magoo face into our family in a month or so.

The girls excitement is particularly wonderful. They attended a “Sibling Class” at the birthing suite of the hospital with a L&D nurse this weekend. They learned to diaper and swaddle and hold a newborn, and talked about life with an infant in the house. They also got a tour of the facility where Courtland was born and this little one will arrive. I think it helped Courtland, particularly, who has been rather nervous about what is going to happen when I go into labor.

Admittedly, they’re both curious. Sunny asked me after school yesterday if I was nervous to have this baby born. I explained that I wasn’t nervous, per se, but that there was always some anxiousness about birth, as I have absolutely no control of when baby decides s/he wants to arrive. It could be in two weeks or six. It could be in the middle of the night or the middle of the grocery store. It could be lightening fast or long and hard like her birth.

Birth has definitely been on my mind and I’ve been revisiting not only my own experiences but those I’ve witnessed since. I am wishing and willing for an experience more in line with Courtland’s than Sunny’s, but recognize that this babe and I will go through something entirely our own. And I do not get control or say over when or how it happens, only in how I respond and react in the moment. I’m trying to not overthink or dwell too much, as it does me no good. I’ve got a wonderful birth team assembled – complete with James, a doula, a birth photographer, and Kaki’s Fairy Godmother who is stepping up because in all likelihood my sister will not be able to be present for this baby’s arrival due to her teaching schedule. She was by my side for the girls’ births – and I know the comfort that I personally find in being surrounded and supported by people I love and trust during those vulnerable, powerful moments of birth. While I hope this one is speedy like her 2nd born sister, I’m preparing myself for whatever comes our way.

And I am so looking forward to those early hours where I first get a glimpse at the wide-eyed gaze of this new little life and person. Making all these months, and particularly these final weeks, of discomfort and inconvenience, well well worth it.

Here are the girls in their first hours of life when we got some legit face time with their sweet mugs and those wide eyes.

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Highly Attuned

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A package from a kid’s clothing company arrives at our doorstep. Courtland, eager to see the contents inside and knowing that her Momar always includes something for all her grandchildren, immediately tears into the wrapping.

Inside she finds silky soft cotton infant nightgowns and cozy footed baby jumpers. She then arrives at two fuzzy, furry white jackets, sized appropriately for her and her sister. The look is the stuff of a well-styled and fashion-forward Pinterest kid (think: Quinoa). I find myself wishing for one in my size.

Courtland eyes it skeptically, however.

Do you want to try it on? You can wear it to school today if you’d like.

No, thank you.

Ok. Any reason why not?

Mommy, I think my friends at school might tell me I look funny if I wear it. It’s different. I’ll just wear it at home.

I find my heart crumbling. I know that my children will face insecurity and judgement/criticism by their peers, but I thought it’d be when they hit those tumultuous tween years of puberty and hormones and awkwardness. A time when everyone is uncomfortable in their own skin and projecting insecurity on others. Not at age 4 in a preschool classroom.

Courtland has always been acutely aware of social dynamics, sharing stories of who is friends with whom, and who plays well or doesn’t play well in her classroom, and navigating how she fits in among her classmates.

She’s also highly attuned to how others around her dress and present themselves, and then turns that own lens on herself. She notices if I’m “fancy” or put extra effort into dressing myself in the morning.

Just the other day she said, “Mommy, I like your outfit.” I wanted to understand what she was noticing about the way I was presenting myself and prodded, “What do you like about it?” She responded, “Your earrings are fancy and your hair looks nice. Do you have meetings today?”

I, in fact, did have meetings that day, and it is indeed true that I tend to put in more effort to my outfit/styling/morning prep when I know that I have meetings with someone other than my computer screen on the agenda. How shrewd of her to make that observation – but it also teaches her that I tend to get “fancy” on days when other people will be spending time with me, as though I am dressing for others, and not myself. An important reminder for me as a parent and role model. It’s important that I teach her that I also sometimes dress-up just for me, for no one else’s gaze.

With that in mind, I tried to tackle the furry jacket conundrum later that day when she got home from school.

Kaks, do you like the furry coat? And does it make you happy to wear it?

Yes, it’s so soft and fuzzy, like I’m a teddy bear.

Well, if anybody says anything not nice about your coat you can just tell them that, and tell them that it makes you happy. I can’t promise you that no one will say anything negative, but you can just explain why YOU like it so much.

Okay, Mama, I’ll try.

So she wore the coat to school, and has worn it a number of days since. When I asked her if anyone noticed or commented on her coat, she relayed that her teachers had said she was so snuggly but that her friends hadn’t said anything.

I don’t think anybody really liked it, Mama. But that’s okay, because I really like it.

Now I just need to keep reinforcing that message with her because it will only get harder with age and peer pressure and social norming, particularly for a kid who is so attuned to those things, to resist the urge to conform and lose her own sense of style/happiness. And it’s a reminder for myself to do the same.

Also? I really need to get back in to accessorizing the way this kid does. Such flair and fun!

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Sister to the Rescue

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Yesterday, Courtland came home from school devastated because her light up wand had broken when she slipped on some ice. James and I had little luck calming her hysterics.

Through some sisterly sixth sense, Sunny had a book she’d written titled “Courtland and Ramona” at the ready, along with a picture she’d drawn of Courtland and a snack she’d saved from school for little sister because of its purple packaging.

Sisterhood, man, it’s thebombdotcom.

A Comedy of Errors

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This week has been A Week. A series of events that when considered independently are really quite manageable. Annoying, but manageable. But when put altogether make up a glorious, ridiculous comedy of errors. This week is not our finest.

It didn’t help that I began the week falling prey to Courtland’s cold. Sleep is already pretty iffy these days with baby’s movements and my limited bladder serving as regular disruptions, but coupled with a searing sore throat and stuffy nose, I spend most of my nights tossing and turning and my days just trying to get through with a pounding headache and achy limbs. I am not at my best.

And then the dogs went and got themselves sprayed by a skunk late one night, so James was up shampooing them with a concoction of baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and dish soap in 20 degree February weather, while I researched how the hell to get the smell out of our home, and James. It lingers on to this day, as do bowls of vinegar strategically placed around the house that shall allegedly help on this front.

The next day, we awoke to a kitchen filled with dog vomit and diarrhea (likely the product of the dogs licking the skunk oil that still remained on their coats during the night – even after multiple washes, the oil lingers). And, we arrived post-work/school to a home without power, so we had an evening of candlelight and no potable water, flushable toilets or functional showers (life on well water!). James feared that he was coming down with a GI bug that’s going around, and I am just thanking my lucky stars that that turned out to be a false alarm because OMG, I can’t really even go there if that had been our evening given that we were without functional bathrooms.

I’m still very much under-the-weather and feeling lousy as all get, but our housekeeper (who was Courtland’s nanny and has been a part of our family’s lives for going on five years) came over today and brought sanity to our home that was turning into a war zone, and tomorrow is Friday, and a new sectional sofa arrives, and my sister comes to town for a long weekend to help watch Sunny on her day off from school Monday, so I have many many things for which to be thankful.

I realize that I often write about the antics of our life chez Cart. While the characters and specific circumstances may be ours, these experiences are not unique to anyone parenting young children (or with other dependents in their lives). While it may seem that I’m complaining or woe-is-meing or bemoaning this life and these situations, the reality is that I am acutely aware and deeply grateful that any “problems” that we’re managing are just that, manageable. And comfortable. And so dang easy in the grand scheme of life.

We are privileged beyond measure.

Yes, vomit clean up sucks. Sleep deprivation makes you loopy. And sick kids are pitiful and no fun. But their sicknesses are treatable. Bodily fluids are cleanable. And, eh, I can sleep when I’m dead. The real warriors are those fighting for daily access to power and clean water and sanitation – something I may be inconvenienced with for a day or two but take for granted nearly every other day. For their children’s safety and health. Keeping a roof over their family’s heads and food in their bellies. Access to education and economic opportunity. Fair treatment and wages and life experiences.

I share the less fun moments of our life to avoid painting a sugar-coated view of parenthood and as reminders to appreciate the ups. But also, most significantly, as comic relief, because I am so dang fortunate that these “issues” I’m sharing can be confronted and looked back on with humor and laughter. And in my own way and however I can, I am fighting for a world in which all parents have that luxury. And teaching my children to stand up and do the same. A reminder to use my voice, and my vote, and my dollars, and my privilege to make whatever difference I can as not everyone is on equal footing, and I have the ability (and I think, responsibility) to help be part of the change.

Coming Home

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That little outfit both Sunny and Courtland wore home from the hospital when they were born. I gave it an itty bitty, cozy upgrade this weekend for this cold weather baby. Booties and a hat that may not fit for more than a week (or at all, if this kid takes after his/her oldest sister). But they can always be cute doll clothes. The pom pom accents are everything.

I spent this weekend binge-listening to The Longest Shortest Time (a suggestion courtesy of a reader, thanks Hannah!). It’s so fitting for the stage of life I’m in, and was the perfect backdrop to these knit goodies. Baby hats are just so quick and easy and addictive!

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I made up the hat pattern as I went to mimic the Simple Bootees

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Baby Bonnet details

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Simple hat details

Portrait of Parenthood // 2

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Sunny’s pink eye raged on. Courtland’s seal bark wouldn’t quit. The Gummy Bear’s bum rested squarely on a nerve. And so we holed up in bed, with two furry black beasts for company, and the antics of a one Ramona Geraldine Quimby for entertainment. And it was the kind of mundane yet comforting afternoon that made us feel like we were doing this right, despite sickness and contagion and discomfort, that this was the life we were choosing and loving. And we didn’t need or want to be anywhere else but here.

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Of note! We changed the arrangement of our bed so that I don’t have to do my most dramatic beached whale impersonation every time I need to pee (which is quite often, think hourly, these days). Also, there’s now room for the co-sleeper to be affixed to mama’s side of the bed once baby does arrive. Bring on the switch from hourly urine evacuation to hourly breast milk expression. Oh the bodily fluids of this stage of life!

Valentine’s Prep // 2016

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Given our weekend quarantine thanks to contagious eyes and aggressive coughs, we spent Saturday morning prepping our classroom Valentines. As has become tradition, we turned to Minted for the girls’ cards.

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^^ Sunny selected a puppy-themed card (ever the dog-lover and our future veterinarian (or so she claims right now)).^^

valentine2016_Minted_Blogalacart-3^^Courtland was immediately taken with the purple egg cards. Her favorite color paired with a nod to our backyard flock? Eggscellent, indeed.^^

valentine2016_Minted_Blogalacart-12^^We also ordered corresponding stickers to seal the envelopes – a perfect task for our preschooler who wasn’t quite ready to write her friends’ names herself (she can read them all, but she’s still learning how to write her letters).^^

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^^I particularly loved the option to add a Tic-Tac-Toe board to the back of their cards this year for a little something extra special. ^^

valentine2016_Minted_Blogalacart-2^^They also wanted to give little presents with their cards, so Courtland opted for sparkly bouncy balls and Sunny for heart-themed bubble wands (thanks to Michaels for easy, small gifts).^^

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valentine2016_Minted_Blogalacart-11^^After much writing, licking, sealing, stickering and assembling, they are ready for exchanging with friends!^^

Order Minted classroom Valentines here. And check out Valentine’s Day prep 2015 and Valentine’s Day prep 2014 (when Sunny was Kaki’s age! Oh hashtagonslaughtoftime!).

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Shop more Minted Classroom Valentine’s here.

5/52

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“A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016.”

Sunny: Her hair has grown out enough that she’s back to being my living doll. Only so many more years (months?) when she’ll tolerate (dare I say enjoy?) having her hair styled by her mama. We got in the Valentine’s spirit before prepping this year’s cards for our friends at school. Also, this photo hides the raging case of pink eye that she contracted from her little sister. It just won’t quit. Courtland was hardly affected by it, whereas Sunny’s eyes are weeping yucky, gross awfulness that seals them shut multiple times an evening. We’re going on day five of this filth despite a regimented dose of antibiotics.
Kaki: Meanwhile, this kid’s winter seal bark is back thanks to a cold so it’s next to impossible for her to sleep at night. Most of yesterday evening was spent lathering Vicks on her chest and feet and turning the house into a tropical rainforest to try to give her some relief. Her very sour mood is the unfortunate result of this cough.

We’re all feeling sleep-deprived and disgusting. And, I am feeling so dang grateful that we cancelled our trip to California, given that we would have been managing all this illness from a hotel across the country. Sometimes things happen for a reason. We’ve been able to spend the past two weekends hunkered down at home, napping, watching movies, reading stories, knitting, and prepping the house for baby. We’re too gross and cranky for public consumption, and what better time than cold January days to be forced to stayed holed up at home.

More details about The 52 Project here. To view all the portraits in the series visit here.

The Health Benefits of Knitting

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I’ve been saying for years that it’s my way to de-stress and unwind…

“The repetitive action of needlework can induce a relaxed state like that associated with meditation and yoga. Once you get beyond the initial learning curve, knitting and crocheting can lower heart rate and blood pressure and reduce harmful blood levels of the stress hormone cortisol.”

More…

Often people ask “Where do I find the time?” And the reality is, unlike sewing or baking or other tactile crafts, knitting is very portable. I knit when waiting at the pharmacy for a prescription to be filled, or at the bus stop for the kids, or in the waiting room at a doctor’s office. I pull out my needles while sitting in the pool bleachers during Sunny’s swim practice, in the waiting room at the girls’ dance classes. I have a project in my purse at all times so whenever I have a few free minutes, I can crank out a row or two. And I usually carve out 20-30 minutes every evening to listen to an audiobook or watch an episode of a TV show while knitting as my way to shut down before bed.

When all put together, it’s amazing how productive I can make those otherwise lost minutes that I would spend aimlessly scrolling through my phone. I also like to knit during long meetings, lectures or presentations. I always have to gauge my audience as I think people assume that I’m not paying attention if I’m embroiled in twiddling needles, but in actuality, I listen better and absorb more if my hands are engaged in activity. It’s actually an awesome way to process information and stay focused in the present.

Sunny has asked to learn to knit, so we picked out yarn for her inaugural scarf (a rainbow assortment, naturally) and we’ll see how she takes to it. Given how much she’s enjoyed Cat’s Cradle, I have a feeling it will be a successful match. I’m happy to extend a love my grandmother taught me when I was young to another generation, especially given all the benefits.

And here’s the latest little sweater for our Gummy Bear. A simple and practical kimono design. More details on my Ravelry.

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The Whaley Carts

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Their relationship in an image.

The way her world and her happiness is wrapped up in this person who has the patience and tenderness to crawl into a tiny floor bed night after night when she stumbles in to our room and simply says, “I need my Daddy.” He is always there for her, and it is one of the greatest gifts she’ll ever receive in this life, a person who models such unconditional love, comfort, and patience for her.

And while he complains about the near nightly midnight disruptions, he hasn’t made a strong effort to curb this behavior. Likely because he knows, as all parents do, that this time shall pass, far faster and sooner than we’d like. And while she’ll always need her father, her limbs will grow and spread and she won’t seek his guidance, and comfort, and love in the same way. And oh how he’ll miss that need while championing her growth and independence. And we’ll lie in bed whispering about “those nights” and “that time,” and envelope ourselves in nostalgia for the disruptions and inconveniences of early parenthood – the greatest paradox of this whole wild experiment we call raising a family.