When your daily activities are in concert with your highest priorities, you have a credible claim to inner peace. – Hyrum Smith


Best times

Note:If this post seems oddly out of order that's because it is.  I started writing it over a week ago, then life (and other blog posts) happened.  Just wanted everyone to know it's not all doom and gloom in the Rausch household...

I have really been enjoying having three kids.  I am actually pretty surprised by my own positive attitude.  I'm not trying to brag.  It's taken me a long, long time to adjust to motherhood.  It has been a slow, less than graceful process.  Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time would know that!

Tonight I was thinking about the parts of my day that I enjoy the most.  I was surprised to realize that the time I tend to treasure the most is the time I am able to spend with each child individually.  I absolutely love the late evening hours.  Parker and Maddie are tucked into bed, and I can give Jack my undivided attention.  After he eats, he takes a leisurely bath.  He loves the water (so much so, that he has fallen asleep during his bath at times).  He will stare at me wide-eyed while I pour water on his little belly and sing lullabies.   I lay him on our bed and gently dry his tiny arms and legs.  We have entire conversations in coos and gurgles.  I kiss his squishy cheeks, and he rewards me with an enormous toothless grin.  After wrapping him up in soft pajamas, we play on his mat in the living room.  He has some "tummy-time." With eyes as big as saucers and raised eyebrows, he seems to surprise even himself with his upper body strength.  I cheer him on as if he were an Olympic athlete.  When I notice his brow begin to furrow in frustration, I scoop him into my arms and cuddle with him.  Finally, he is swaddled and carried up to his crib, where after a few brief cries, he drifts off to sleep.  He is amazing!

Tummy time!

Then I have time to think back on the rest of my day.  I adored my "special time" with Maddie today.  While Parker was at preschool and Jack was napping, Maddie and I just played.  We ate play food in the basement playroom.  She served the food and was quite bossy.  "No, Mommy!  Don't eat yet!  We have pway!  Gah is gweat.  Gah is good.  Wet us thank him for our food.  By his han we are fed.  Give us, Ward, our day-wee bwed.  Amen!"  I would take a pretend bite, and then if I went for another bite, she would repeat this mantra.  "No, Mommy!..."  After we ate (and prayed) for a long time, she decided it was time to do our nails.  She insisted on painting her own nails ["Because I'm a big guh-wuhl!"] and mine.  Salon-quality, let me tell you!  She was so happy to just be with me, and it warmed my heart.  She kept repeating, "Dis is Mommy-Maddie special time. Not Buddy [Parker]?"  I replied, "That's right."  "Not Jack?" she'd ask.  "Just Maddie," I smiled.

Future make-up artist

The best time of day with Parker often comes during "quiet time."  I have given up on the nap-time fight.  Parker and Maddie are sent to their rooms for "quiet time" during Jack's afternoon nap.  If they fall asleep, fine.  If they don't, fine (as long as everyone is actually quiet).  Often I will slip into Parker's room during this time.  He's always surprised to see me.  I put my finger up to my lips to let him know we have to be very quiet, so Maddie (who is directly across the hall) won't know I'm sneaking in.  "Do we get to have special time, Mommy?!" he whispers excitedly.  I grin and nod.  We play Rescue Heroes or build train tracks or read books.  Then I tuck him into his bed, snuggle up next to him and sing Silent Night (his favorite song) quietly into his ear.  He closes his eyes, murmurs, "Mama, mama, mama," sighs, and kisses my cheek.  It is the best.

First day of preschool this year

Now if only I could figure out how to be just as fun-loving and affectionate when I have all three of them together.  *Sigh*

Just so you know

Dear Parker & Maddie,

Sometimes I question whether or not writing this blog is a good thing.  It started out as a way to help me remember all of the day to day details of your childhood (that I feared I would forget).  I wanted to fill it with cute memories, funny stories and the like.  In fact, I have omitted several incidences that I would rather forget (either because of your bad behavior or my own). 

However, I fear that one day you may read this blog and wonder, "But what about all the bad days?"  Like today.  And sadly, many other days.  It's not that the day was all bad.  I just found myself failing over and over.  I want to write about it because I want you to understand...I want you to understand our life situation, my motivation, and what I think and feel about you.

#1.  I love you both so much that it literally makes my heart ache.  I will always love you, though I may not always like your behavior.  Your are my precious, precious gifts from God. 

#2.  Life is challenging right now, and it's not your fault.  Parker you are 4, and Maddie you are almost 3.  You are both active, strong-willed, and inquisitive.  Jack is only 2 months.  He requires a huge amount of my time and energy.  I know it's hard to be patient while he's eating and quiet while he's sleeping. 

#3.  I have the best intentions.  Like when I promise you both some "special time" and Jack wakes up early from a nap needing to eat right away.  Or when I say we will go to the park but then realize Jack hasn't had a nap in his bed all day and really needs one.  Or when I say I'll play a game with you while I'm nursing him, but your game requires me to sit on the floor and I can't find a position that doesn't break my back, so I have to move (which, according to your rules, ruins the game you've created). 

#4.  I'm sorry.  Kiddos, I'm a sinner.  Though I start out with good intentions, my own selfishness often prevails.  I snap at you.  I yell at you.  I glare at you.  I am so, so sorry.  Mommy is a work in progress.

I want you to know that after I was finally able to tuck Jack in for the night tonight (after a very, very long day), I went to each of your rooms, kissed all over your sleeping faces and whispered in your ears, "Mommy loves you.  Mommy loves you."  I want you to know it deep inside.  I want you to believe it despite my bad behavior.  I want you to remember it.  I love you. 


Roller Coaster

I think perhaps I've chosen the wrong name for our blog.  The Rausch Roller Coaster might be more accurate.  When I nurse Jack in the middle of the night, I often find myself reflecting upon the highs and lows of the day.  Our days and weeks really do seem to consist of just that...extreme highs and extreme lows.

Take Friday, for example.  The kids were so excited.  They had been waiting all week for this day.  You see, Aunt Beetle [Natalie] had graciously agreed to have us spend Friday night at her house.  We were going to celebrate her birthday (which was on Wednesday) and all go together to Applefest in a nearby town on Saturday.

Starting on Monday, the kids began to ask if it was Friday yet.  They began packing on Wednesday:
1 blankie
1 pillow
1 soft toy
2 hard [plastic] toys
tra-bull [travel] cup (a special cup daddy bought for each child that had a straw and a lid...only to be used on long trips)

This trip was going to be special.  We would not only see our beloved Aunt Natalie and Uncle John, but we would get to spend time with cousin, Sebastian.  This kids are completely in awe of this little guy.  Every time they see him, he is doing something new and amazing.  First it was smiling, then batting at toys, then babbling, crawling, walking.  They can't wait to be around him!  The vast majority of our visits have occurred when they come into town.  They live north of Cincinnati (and if you read on, you will understand exactly why we don't make the trip often).

The Thursday before the trip we had another high.  I took all 3 kids on our first ever trip to the grocery store by myself!  Even more amazing...it was a huge success!   We not only bought the ingredients for Aunt Beetle's cake, but we also purchased all the groceries we'd need for a week - with no major meltdowns. 

When we arrived at the house, we began work on the cake.  I put the kids in charge of dumping the [pre-measured] ingredients in the bowl and turning on the mixer.  In hindsight, this was not the brightest idea.  They would inevitably push the lever too hard, mixing at level 5 instead of 1.  After I was covered in flour and had wiped down the counter and floors for the umpteenth time, I decided perhaps it was best if they were responsible for turning the mixer off after each ingredient had been added.

Come Friday, we were ready!  After dropping Parker off at preschool, Grandma came to watch Maddie and Jack while I hit a huge consignment sale.  A few hours later, I returned home with Parker and a ton of fall kids' clothes.  I felt like the day couldn't get any better.  We were all giddy with excitement about the sleepover.  When I put the kids in their rooms for "quiet time" I packed the van.  I woke them early, in the hopes they'd be quiet [read: groggy] for the car ride.  That was my first big mistake. 

By the time Aaron got home, every one had been screaming and crying for an hour.  I fed Jack, and we hit the road.  Mistake #2:  Not making sure everyone had "gone potty" before we left.

We took the kids through the McDonald's drive-through for a super-healthy dinner (with the all-important toy included).  Mistake #3: Mixing the kids' juice with water and putting it in their "travel cups."  Juice box = 4 ounces.  Juice box + water = 10 ounces.  (We would soon pay for the combination of mistakes 2 & 3). 

Then we made mistake #4...Aaron and I decided we wanted a healthier option and stopped at Subway.  By the time he re-entered the car after getting our dinner, Maddie was already straining against her seat buckle, crying that she wanted to get out and asking, "How long [until] we will be there?!"

After we'd been on the expressway for about 10 minutes, the real chaos began.  "I need go potty!"  "Me, too!"  "I'm about to weak [leak]!"  "No! I'm gonna leak!"

Stop, potty, start again.  15 minutes later, repeat.  During the second stop, I purchased some popcorn and poured equal amounts into their now empty happy meal boxes with the express instructions not to spill it.  Moments later popcorn was sailing through the air.  Daddy was not happy.  Maddie was giggling defiantly.  Parker was whining, "She's throwing popcorn at me."  Useless threats ensued.  "I need go potty!"  Then traffic.  No end in sight.  "I NEED GO POTTY!!!" 

It was nearly 8:30 at night.  The car slowly inched toward the next exit.  We decided we would have to head home.  The real tears began to flow as the kids realized their dream trip had ended before it had even begun.  Cue the wailing: "NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"  Then Jack began to scream.  With three crying children, we made our last potty break, cried "uncle" ourselves, and turned the van around.

Our week of joy and anticipation had come crashing down around us.  After all three kids were tucked into bed, Aaron and I sat in the living room with wide eyes, shaking our heads.  "What happened?"  How had we come to this?  There was a time when a trip to Cincinnati was a hop, skip, and a jump.  We'd listen to music, sip our drinks, perhaps the passenger would read a magazine.  Those days were certainly over. 

As I nursed Jack later that evening, I listened to the soft sighs and squeaks he made as he snuggled close.  Kissing the top of his tiny head, I thanked my lucky stars that those days were over.  I'll take my roller coaster any day.



Being a grown-up

This morning Parker threw Aaron under the bus...big time.
As he was drinking his milk, he said, "You know, mom, Daddy breaks all the rules."
I was wiping down the counter.  "Oh really?"

Parker: Yeah.  Last night, he gave us [pausing for effect] chocolate chips...in the living room...while we watched a show!
Me: Hmmm...
Parker: Maybe you should have a talk with him...

I chuckled.  I have to give Aaron credit.  He did, after all, take all 3 kids so that I could go to Bible study by myself last night.  It was wonderful.

I explained to Parker the order of authority in our house.  I explained that mom and dad were on the same team, and dad was kind of like the team coach.  I smiled, "One day you will be the daddy and have to make lots of decisions, too."

Parker let out an exasperated sigh.  "I know mom.  I know what it's like to be a grown-up."

"Oh really?"

"Yeah.  You have to be patient with kiddos, be kind, do good responsibility, don't mess everything up, don't knock down buildings..."

Thank goodness he understands the importance of resisting the urge to destroy buildings.  We must be doing something right.


Just Jack

Just wanted to write about a few milestones for Jack and some family dynamics...just so I remember.

He went for his 1 month check-up and weighed in at 10lbs 1oz.  He is sleeping 5-6 hours at a stretch at night and on a 2.5 - 3 hour feeding schedule during the day.  He still only cries when he is hungry or tired (very distinct cries; hungry sounds like a snorting little piggy, tired sounds like "la, la, la").  In short, he's a perfect angel.

On Sunday, right after a feeding, he looked up at me and gave me a huge open-mouthed grin.  Since then he has smiled every day.  Today (Thursday 9/8/11), he rolled over from his tummy to his back.  It surprised all of us.  Maddie and Parker had been sitting next to him on the playmat on the livingroom floor.  Once they saw it, they wanted to see it again.  We placed him back on his tummy, and Maddie tried to assist him by grabbing his stomach and rolling him.  (Poor little guy's head would have slammed back and hit the floor had I not caught it.) 

Big brother and big sister love him so much.  They still argue over who gets to take the dirty diapers to the trash.  Maddie "speaks" to him often in a language only they can understand ("goo-goo, ahhh").  Parker rinses his dropped pacifiers and places them in his mouth.  They rock him in his carseat while I get ready to go places.  They gently bounce his little chair and talk to him whenever they get the chance.  They always want to hold him and have their pictures taken with him. 

There were many times I was really worried about having three children.  Would there be enough of me to go around?  Could I possibly love another child as much as I loved Parker and Maddie?  Would he get enough attention?  Would I ever have a moment to myself again?  How on earth would I handle three on an outing by myself?

As I lay on the table for my postpartum exam, feet in the stirrups, Jack in a carseat in the corner, Parker and Maddie sharing a chair next to my head, my questions were answered.  Sometimes there is not enough of me to go around.  Of course I could (and do) love Jack as much as Parker and Maddie.  He is growing and happy and will have just enough attention.  I may get a moment to myself again...in about 18 years.  And finally, I will handle 3 on an outing by myself just fine...perhaps not with as much poise and grace as I would like, but we'll survive.


The Progression of Play

So we found some craft sticks (that look like medical tongue depressors) in the basement...Parker immediately inspected the package, spotted the sample crafts that could be created, and proceeded to choose the most elaborate one.  After much begging, I agreed to make the dinosaur.  It was ridiculously difficult, but we made it.  Then, of course, it had to be painted.

My instructions were as follows:
Paint only the dinosaur with your paint brushes.

Followed by:
Yes, you may use your hands to paint the dinosaur.

*Sigh* Yes, you may paint your entire hand, but not any other part of your body.  (Those are tattoos on Parker's belly, in case you were wondering.)

I began to see this was a losing battle...
Okay, don't touch anything.  Go outside, take your clothes off, and you can paint whatever you want (on your body...do not paint the van, garage, stroller, etc.) while I wipe down the table.

Moments later I exited the house to find little, naked, greenish-brown monsters running around in my driveway.  It was reminiscent of a scene in that 80's movie, the Blue Lagoon.  A boy and girl were stranded on an island after a shipwreck or plane wreck or something.  Years later, when another ship was searching for them, the rescuers saw what they assumed to be savages/natives on the beach and continued on their way.  Sadly, they really were the missing children...They had just been playing in the mud and sand and acting crazy.   I had to laugh.

After lots of play, I instructed them to stick their hands in the air, march directly into the bathroom without touching anything, and climb into the tub.  This is the part where I lost my patience.  The door frames, the shower curtain and my shirt were all smeared with paint before they finally made it into the tub.  Grrr...Oh well.
That water never looked so dirty!

Despite the messes (or maybe because of them), it was an amazing morning.  Playing with these kids -  actually, just allowing them to play - is my guilty pleasure.  I always start out with a vision of how things will go (nice, neat, orderly).  The kids inevitably have a different idea.  Some days I fight them and force them to do things my way, and then no one has fun.  However, on days like this one, when (by the grace of God) I remember they are 2 and 4 and won't be for long, I can let them just be kids...and it's a blast!