Saturday, May 25

Bringing Home Baby...Round 3

Little Miss Aubrey turned 3 weeks old yesterday...where has the time gone?!

I feel like that is a question that embeds itself into your life from day one of becoming a parent and persists with a quickening pace with each child you have and the older they get.

It's been a fun 3 weeks...

It's been a crazy 3 weeks...

We've made it through bouts of stomach flu with both girls and stitches in the ER for Scott all while trying to find a new rhythm with 3 little girls...

I suppose the added chaos of the illness and the trip to the ER was very fitting...very telling...of how life goes when you have 5 people living under one roof. You never know what kind of silliness, or craziness, or illness, or woundedness (literally!) is going to crop up. The larger the family, the larger the chance for unexpected details and events.

I think one of the funniest moments was the Monday that Ava went back to school...the first full day that Aubrey was home. I was nursing the baby when the phone rang.  Ella was on the couch after having thrown up all over the bathroom. It was the school nurse...

"Hi Mrs. Littlewood. Ava just came down and has a slight rash on her leg...I wanted to let you know." 

They had had me come pick Ava up from school a month earlier because she had broken out in hives after her bout with pink eye. 

"Um, well..." I said, baby in arms, sick kid on couch. 

"I just got home from the hospital yesterday with our third child, my four year old is on the couch with the stomach flu and my husband ran out for a there anything you can give her?" 

Basically I was saying I wasn't very concerned about some itchy bumps at the moment and Ava was going to just have to make it through the day. 

"We can put some vaseline on it." 

I half laughed to myself...Vaseline?! What's that going to do?! 

But then I realized it would probably have a placebo effect for Ava and she would hopefully feel better for the rest of the day, buying me a few more hours to focus on taking care of the two little girls who needed me at home. 

"Sure! Go for it...Call me if things get worse." 

It was in that moment, and many more like it since, that I realized a very stark truth...the more kids you have the less ability you have to meet all of their needs in the ways that you used to. 

Someone has to wait for crackers and may need to ask for them again 25 minutes later because I've completely forgotten about them. A stubbed toe doesn't get the same compassion it once did, especially not if Im nursing or trying to get a fussy baby to fall asleep upstairs...if it doesn't require stitches or immediate attention you just might have to deal with it on your own! 

The books I want to sit and read to the girls don't always get read, the games I want to  play with them aren't always getting played, and the clothes aren't getting washed, folded and put back into drawers as quickly as they used to (which, if I must confess, was not very quick to begin with!). 

Basically, the things that were just getting done before are not getting done right now, which in some ways is almost freeing because you just have to throw your hands up in the air and say, "Oh well."

Though I do get a little sad sometimes that I can't spend as much time with the girls...or that Ella is left to entertain herself much more often around the house during the day (which, fortunately, she is VERY good at). As my mother-in-law very wisely said while she was here last week..."They do have each other." 

Which is very, very true. Ava and Ella are becoming great little friends (great friends who fight a lot sometimes...but that, I suppose, is the definition of a sister!). Ella has actually been sleeping on an air mattress in Ava's room because they've decided they like sleeping together better than apart (when Scott's mom was here they all slept in a room together and have continued doing so ever since!). 

And so we adjust to the change of bringing home baby #3. Everyone must have more patience, the girls are sleeping together,  and I only have an hour and a half or so to run an errand at any given time. 

It's been a wonderful adjustment. Ava ADORES her baby sister. Ella, well, Ella is amused by her and the fact that she drinks milk from ( a word that gets flung around with amusing frequency these days!). 

As for Aubrey...she's been a great baby (though squawking at me as I try to write this!). She still sleeps a TON! So much so that Scott and I went out to run errands with her last night while my mom watched the girls and she slept the ENTIRE time. It was almost like a real date! 

I feel completely blessed and Scott and I feel...well...complete as a family in a way that perhaps we hadn't before she arrived. The blessing to me of having a baby now is that I feel like I'm getting the opportunity to enjoy the baby stage in a way that I was emotionally unable to the first two times around. With Ava I found myself anxious about so many new parts of life...the adjustment felt massive and completely life altering. When Ella came 20 months later life was a whirlwind of potty training, diapers, meeting the constant demands of a toddler and an infant and then moving back to Buffalo four months later. 

This time...round 3...well, there are no big surprises. We're pretty settled into our life and home here (thankfully!).  The fact that I'm not sleeping consistently at night doesn't phase me as much because I know it is short lived. Her crying doesn't jostle me as much because I know it's just part of having a baby around. I also know how FAST it all goes because I stare at Ava and Ella and cannot believe how big they are and how quickly we got from here (baby) to there (a child almost out of kindergarten). 

Because I know how fast it goes, I'm SO much more deliberate about just being in the moment...

The messy, sink filled, big laundry pile, constant diaper changing, tired moments. 

And so diapered toy dolls sit in infant swings...

Dresser tops are full of clothes...

Boppys and blankets are strewn about...

I haven't showered and my closet is full of ill fitting winter maternity clothes...and there is little time to go shopping for anything that fits....

But we're content...and those other things don't seem to matter as much...

Scott sighs at least once a day and says, "Wow...three girls." 

I laugh at him...He has a home full of hormones and compensates by wrestling with the girls and buying them Nerf dart guns to shoot at each other.  

It's all good and we wouldn't have it any other way. 

Our new sleeping beauty...

Proud and loving big sister! 

My first Mother's Day as a mom of 3! 

Ella in Aubrey's bathtub, which she hooked to Aubrey's carseat!

Saturday, May 18

The Artist's Daughter by Alexandra Kuykendall- A Book Review

Hi Friends,  I know many of you are wondering how I am doing two weeks into my role as momma to three little girls!    I promise I have a post about that in the works (in my head anyway...getting it out onto the computer might be a whole different story!). In the meantime, I promised to post a review on this book and so here it is...All is well in Littlewood land...sleeping baby, busy big sisters (who are finally over their stomach bugs!) and lots of laundry and dust all over the house. We are finding our new rhythm and enjoying the moments...more to come on all of that!! 

Book Review: The Artist's Daughter, By Alexandra Kuykendall

   I loved the title and the cover of this book before I ever read a word of it. The long haired brunette, almost nine years old, sitting in a gondola flashing a sweet smile. The title, "The Artist's Daughter" in black lettering floating above the water in the sky.

     I assumed from the get go that I would enjoy the book. I love memoirs. I love true stories that have taken place in far away places I have never traveled to. I loved the idea of reading another mom's life story-- the memories that shaped her and framed her into the woman she is today and how that has impacted her own mothering journey.

     I also initially assumed that the title, "The Artist's Daughter", was a reference to the author as shaped by our heavenly father (knowing the little bit I did about Kuykendall and her work with MOPS International)-- a concept that I've always found intimately encouraging and reassuring as I make my way, trials and errors, through life.

     I was correct on many accounts. I did enjoy the book: A story that begins as Alexandra and her mother travel through Italy and Spain together just before her ninth birthday... I love the sense of adventure and the free spirit of her mother who takes on teaching jobs and is showing her only child the world at such a young age.

    However, as it turns out, the title is more of a reference to the author's absent Spanish artist father that she meets in Barcelona for the very first time that summer than the heavenly Father with whom she eventually does find a relationship with later in life (though her relationship with God is a significant part of the story). It is a story with much more heartbreak than I had initially expected. The story of a little girl, then teen girl, and eventually adult woman coming to terms with the realization that her father was so self-absorbed in his own interests that he wanted little to do with her.

     Alexandra eventually meets a number of young female mentors in her life who lead her towards a deep Christian faith and relationship with God. She meets and marries a man who seems like an incredibly sweet and supportive husband. And together they have four girls of their own, giving Kuykendall the chance (times 4!) to establish the traditional family unit that she desperately longed for as a child.

    "Even as I write these pages," Chapter 2 concludes, "I have a wheezy baby on my lap, home only hours from our latest visit to the emergency room. I have a toddler napping in a crib that she doesn't want to admit she's outgrown, and two reading and writing freckled girls who need to be picked up from school. That eight-year-old girl in Barcelona, that only child, would have been pleased to know that I almost always have a child at arm's reach and my fridge is full of Diet Coke."

     That paragraph, in many way, sums up the story. That there is hope for healing from our heartbreaks and that as mommas we don't need to carry the baggage from our past into our own families. We get to carve out our own stories and venture out on new paths in our journeys.

      All in all I thought this was a sweet story-- a story that although very different in many ways from my own childhood, that I could relate to on many levels as I strive to create my own family culture. Though it did feel as if the narrative was not as linear as I would have liked at times (that there were several stories going on in one), I found that I was ok with that because life is not linear...and this story is about real life.

     I also found the book to be a relatively easy and quick read that kept my attention (I read it in the last two weeks of my pregnancy!)...the perfect combination for busy moms.

For more information about the book click here...

About the Author

Alexandra Kuykendall lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband Derek and their four daughters. She is on staff at MOPS International (Mothers of Preschoolers) where she is a regular

contributor and consulting editor to various publications and a frequent speaker for the organization. While she spends most days buckling and unbuckling car seats and trying to find a better solution to the laundry dilemma, she manages to snatch minutes here and there to write about the quest for purpose in it all.

About the Book (from the publisher)

When Alexandra Kuykendall became a mother, she knew she had to go back to the beginning. To that hot July afternoon in Barcelona when she met her father for the first time. The only daughter of a single, world-traveling mother and an absent artist father, Alexandra embarks on a soul-searching trip into the past to make sense of the layers of her life-both the memories she experienced and the ones she wished for.

The Artist's Daughter will take you on a journey of discovery through childhood, marriage, and motherhood. Through short vignettes full of both wonder and heartache, Alexandra seeks answers to three life-defining questions: Am I lovable? Am I loved? Am I loving? If you long to better understand the path your life has taken, where it is heading, and who is guiding you, this revealing and refreshing story will push you toward those answers as it changes your heart.

(Thank you to Revell Books for sending a review copy of The Artist's Daughter in exchange for an honest blog review)