Countdown to September – Baby #4!

Be prepared for the most anticlimactic announcement in the history of announcements:

We’re pregnant.

Yay!

Now, of course we are brimming with excitement and looking forward to Baby #4 joining the family sometime in September or October (and planning for another home birth in Mexico).  We are grateful to have another life to welcome to the world and into our home.  The kids already know how to talk to the baby and Leah is particular about making sure my shirt is pulled up and my belly is exposed when it’s her turn, especially if she’s ‘reading’ a book to the baby.  Oh, and the name suggestions are out of this world.  Possibly blog-post worthy all in their own right.

The reason for the wah-wah nature of the announcement is that I wanted to start writing about how I’m processing becoming a mom of FOUR KIDS.  My heart and mind are already picking up habit loops based on what I think life will be like, trying to grasp onto some sort of plan to help us survive those first few months.  Let’s face it – newborns are the most unpredictable creatures on the face of this earth.  And for an INTJ mother whose StrengthsFinder score is all DisciplineStrengthsFinder score is all Discipline and whose DISC score is a soaring S, a tiny, wailing, inconsistent, irrational human is so hard to deal with.

I love them.  Yes.  But there’s a lot to process and I want to use this space to help do just that.  Here’s to new life and more diapers!

Simple machines – wheel

It was wheel day today.  The kids used all the simple machines we’ve discussed so far (inclined plane, lever, wedge, and wheel) to make this own machines.  
  
  Hunter is explaining how the energy travels through his machine. 
 And what a surprise on our walk this morning – a REAL machine doing work.  We watched for a bit and the kids pointed out the different simple machines they saw on the backhoe. 

Lately…my mornings

Mornings have become the sole moment of my day that I truly crave and cherish.  For the first time in my life, my alarm is set for a time before 6:00 AM.  On purpose.  After reading this book (in Spanish!) and leading an online challenge group on this book, I came to realize that mornings can be for me.  Sure, that sounds selfish and yes, I still struggle with the tension between selfishness and self-care.  I’m finding that when I take time to do a few simple, nourishing things in the mornings that the rest of my day unfolds much more peacefully and gently.  I could use the mornings to do laundry, answer emails, flip through websites, write thank you cards, and knock off a few other items from one to-do list or another.  One of the chapters in this book really resonated with me when it challenged the reader to do what is important but not urgent in the mornings (echoes of this paradigm-shattering book).  Use those early hours to focus on the areas of my life that fill me up, that I long to grow in and develop but can’t seem to make space for in the rhythm of my everyday life.

So, what are those things for me?

Gentle exercise.

It’s only taken me 30+ years to learn that I don’t like sweaty, heart-pupming, aerobic intense exercise.  Give me some Pilates or Yoga and I will leap out of bed with anticipation.  I’m working through this challenge with a personal goal of also doing a set of Yoga flows each day (one more every morning…up to four today) and loving it.

Writing.

This blog has become my outlet for thoughts, processing, questions, and the occasional brain-dump.  When I write, I am happy.  It relieves my brain of all the internal processing and conversations I have with myself and puts it all somewhere I can cycle back to and browse through if I need to.

Reading.

So far I’ve only been able to read through a chapter of the Bible before I move on to the next part of my morning.  I would love to add a few pages of a growth-type book as well, like a non-fiction leadership or human-behavior type book.  I’m reading this one right now and would love to knock out a few pages each morning.

Music.

Yes, I’ve been hitting YouTube up for some cheesy ‘morning music’ to play while I write and I love it. I play it through my headphones because it helps me stay connected and focused to what’s in front of me.  Why?  I have no idea but it does.

Each night I set my alarm for five minute earlier than the night before.  Each morning I find myself scrambling to fit in all that I want to do before the kids wake up and the momentum of the day sweeps us away.  Tonight when I click those numbers on the clock a few more digits backwards, I’ll smile and know that the morning will be waiting for me.  Just me.

It takes a year

After three kids, I’ve learned at least one thing:

It takes me a year to feel like ‘me’ again.

The days start to make sense, we fall into some sort of rhythm, and I can slowly begin adding pieces back into my life that feed and nourish me.  Funny thing is, though, that we usually try to start getting pregnant about a year after our last baby was born…which means we are gently moving towards the thought of Baby #4.  It’s sort of cruel and hilarious at the same time – right at the moment when I start to gain momentum and see some progress and wholeness ahead of me, everything is thrown to the wind as we begin from ground zero again.

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Happy Birthday to me feeling like me again!  source

Now, I love being pregnant.  If I could be pregnant for months on end, I totally would.  There’s something about growing a human being inside me that fascinates me.  The nutrition, the science, the ways I can nurture my child even before he or she enters the world is so intriguing to me.  I actually take better care of myself while I’m pregnant than I do in most other seasons of my life.  Something about knowing my actions directly affect another human being helps me up my game a few notches.

However…I have loved the last three or four months of my life.  Leah is a few months past one, and Hunter and Madison are well into their preschool years.  I can set my alarm for a certain time in the morning and know that I have an hour or more to myself to focus on the necessary but not urgent stuff that fills me – reading, writing, gentle exercise, listening to calming music.  In the quiet morning hours I am filled with hope and expectation for the day.

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The thought of another baby dashes those hopes into a fine, powdery dust that drifts away on the morning breezes.  Oh, how I long for another little one in our family.  That ache of ‘We’re not quite done yet’ pulses strong inside me.  Hence, this entire entry resonates with contradiction, right?  The tension of expectation and sacrifice – knowing there are great and precious things to come, but facing the loss of a few of my own precious things along the way.

When I peel back, zoom the view-finder of my life out a few degrees, and realize that this portion of my life, the baby-toddler-preschool ages of child raising, is merely a blip in the entirely of my existence, I can slowly exhale and realize it will be okay to let go of the things I have picked back up during the past few months.

There will be many mornings for me to read, write, sit, notice the quiet and the sunrise and set my day along the path I intend it to go.  For now, I am soaking in the mornings that I can and cherishing the ones to come.  The ones that begin around 2:30 AM with nursing snuggles, sore backs, tired eyes, and shushing of babies.  Those are the fleeting moments which I truly long to grasp before they slip away forever.

Why it seems like I don’t care

A few months ago, I learned something revolutionary about myself.  At first I thought, “Naw, is this true?  Is this actually a thing?  Like, other people out there feel the same and think the same as me?”  It almost felt like an excuse for some of the ways I approach certain circumstances, or a cop-out for avoiding certain things.  As I kept reading and researching, though, I’ve come to realize that it’s true:

I am a Highly Sensitive Person.

It’s not just a phrase.  It’s an actual thing.  I think it was this post that got my wheels turning, and then this one really hit home.  I checked out the book (as well as this one, which I actually enjoyed more) and dove right in.  I always knew I was an introvert, but slowly a whole new world opened up before me.

So what does it mean, to be a Highly Sensitive Person?  According to Dr. Elaine Aron, who coined the term, the HSP “has a sensitive nervous system, is aware of subtleties in his/her surroundings, and is more easily overwhelmed when in a highly stimulating environment.”

Um, yes, yes, and YES.

If two people try to talk to me at the same time, I feel like my brain is going to explode.  Any sort of visual or audio violence or suspense is a HUGE no-no for me.  It’s become a part of my daily rhythm to head to my bedroom while the kids are napping and resting in the afternoons, pull the shades, turn on the fan, and lay in bed and read.  I don’t usually fall asleep but those few moments of quite darkness are like gold.  Here are few other statements that ring so true about me, taken from the online “Are you Highly Sensitive?” quiz:

I am particularly sensitive to the effects of caffeine.

My nervous system sometimes feels so frazzled that I just have to go off by myself.

I startle easily. (even my husband sneezing sends me through the roof!)

I am annoyed when people try to get me to do too many things at once.

I try hard to avoid making mistakes or forgetting things.

Changes in my life shake me up.

I find it unpleasant to have a lot going on at once.

I am bothered by intense stimuli, like loud noises or chaotic scenes.

When I must compete or be observed while performing a task, I become so nervous or shaky that I do much worse than I would otherwise.

While I don’t ‘score’ a perfect 100% on the quiz, some of these statement are so true at a gut level for me, it more than makes up for the few that I don’t relate to.  As I read through this list for the first time, I could hardly believe that other people actually feel, act, and think this way, too.  I’m not alone!  I’m not weird!  And hey, I may just actually be kind normal!

Here’s where things become a bit sticky.

I’m a mom of three young kids.  Living in a country that is known for it’s social, loud, festive culture.  As a missionary who serves in some really desperate areas with some heart-wrenching realities.  In community, where we eat, work, pray, socialize, and meet in groups, all the time, and ‘doing things in team’ is one of our core values.

What does that mean?  So often, so many days, on almost a constant basis, I feel like I’m battling the current, swimming upstream, pulling a heavy load behind me and can’t catch my breath.  I know that God called me to live here, doing what we do, with the people around us.  Not for one second do I doubt that truth.  I love, truly and deeply, the mistiness that we serve with and would never dream of changing our life for a second.

Yet…

…if you see me sneak out during that intercession time where we’re sharing photos of the refugee crisis?

…if I am quiet during the entire meeting?

…if I don’t leave my desk all morning and keep my headphones on?

….if I keep my eyes averted as I walk through the dining hall?

…if I don’t say hi, hug you, kiss your cheeks, and spend 10 minutes asking how you, your mom, your cousin, your gramma, and your teacher from third grade are doing?

…if I decline, once again, the trip to the movies that everyone is taking?

It’s not that I don’t care about you.  I probably do, I promise.  I’m learning that it’s okay to place healthy boundaries for my mind, heart, emotions, and eyes, so that I don’t exhaust myself at every turn.  It may seem like I’m distant or withdrawn.  Really, what I’m doing is preparing for the long-haul.  Yes, I would love to sit and talk with you.  Share what’s on my heart?  Of course.  Let’s just find a quieter place where our hearts can open softly and safely to one another.  I don’t want to use this HSP ‘label’ as an excuse to be cold shouldered.  I want to understand how God has made me, and how I am called to best serve as I remain true to how He’s made me to be.

Simple Machines – the lever

We started a new unit today – machines!  This video had us giggling all the way through it and I LOVE the vintage animation.  It reminds me of classic Sesame Street episodes from when I was a kid.  Hunter especially loved the parts with the ‘fat man.’

The Berenstain Bears are a favorite in our house, and this book does not disappoint.  We read through the third section’s pages about machines and discussed levers and what they did.  By the end of the week we will learn about the wedge and the wheel, and then start on big machines (Hunter specifically told me he wanted to learn about exhaust pipes and motors and construction equipment) next week.

Learning about levers just begs for a hands-on approach, so we headed to the table and but our own levers.

At first we used a long Lego piece, a triangle pencil holder, and a handful of pennies.

It was hard to balance the lever with the same amount of pennies on each side, but he kept trying.  After a few attempts I leaned back and asked him, “What else can you do with the lever?”  He took it from there and tried a few more variations.  Instead of forcing him to a conclusion or what I think he should learn, I let him take the lead.


Finally, Hunter changed the fulcrum to another Lego piece and tried a new variation of the lever.  He actually counted how many bumps were on the long Lego piece so he could place the fulcrum exactly in the middle.