Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Daily.

At some point in my lifetime, I'm assuming Maelee won't be thought of every day. Perhaps time will go by for a bit before she is consciously remembered. Even now as we walk through the daily grind with three littles, we are so consumed with them we can barely recall what it was like to be left wanting so deeply. I can say with certainty, however, she is missed daily and still thought of daily. And a big shout out to the oldest boy for many times being the catalyst for these moments. He includes her. The last six months or so especially, Eli will pipe in "and Maelee". When praying for us, he adds "and Maelee in heaven", he adds her name when writing down the family, and when he is divvying out such and such, she gets a portion if it's metaphorically speaking otherwise it's "and not Maelee because she's in heaven" and when he plays she gets representation. Tonight it was the magnaformer structure he built, one side was Evan's, one was Annalee's, one Maelee's, one Eli's. Eli will sometimes wonder or assume things about her with her in-heaven status. It's remarkable how matter-of-fact he is about her and how deeply he feels her existence, though short lived, still mattering.

Mid-March means we are entering into the season that is hers in my heart. Wishing I was in South Carolina to enjoy the amazing weather that is about to descend there, blooming explosions and gorgeous sunshine. I was talking about grief the other day and I know that God allows us to forget some things of the initial shock, or surely the weight of the pain would suffocate our lives away. Yet I also know I can close my eyes and be right back in that ultrasound room. I don't choose to repeat that in my mind every day. Instead I choose to smile when I hear my boy say her name, to feel joy that she's being recognized and SHE MATTERED!

Thank you Lord, for keeping our firstborn in our second born's heart and mind, for our constant reminder that this side of heaven is not perfect.

-Heather

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Lloyd Stories.

I posted this on facebook now and I'm hoping to reach as many folks as possible.

Many of you know my wonderful dad has Alzheimer's. Rather than wait until his funeral, or years when he won't have ability to appreciate, I'd love to overwhelm him with your stories, comments, photos, your memories with him. I'd like to make him a book to include all of this. If you have known my dad in any way, for years or even just met him once, could you please get me a memory? Tell me the kindness, the humor, the impression, the help, the conversation. Tell me the way Lloyd was as a kid, or during his bachelor days, raising his two amazing daughters, enjoying his hobbies or even into retirement. Perhaps you'd rather say thanks or give kind words to him. I'll take any comments, paragraphs, pages or photos you want to give. If it's just to post a few sentences here, that works too. Try tell me why or how you know him so I can help jog his memory if need be. And *thank you* for being a part of his story in some way. Comment here, email Amber or I at: lloydstories at gmail.com or text me. 

If you know my dad in some capacity, if he's left an impression on you, do send me a blurb. I want to go through all these moments with him while he still has the ability to recall people and memories. I want him to feel loved and appreciated and to know that his life matters. He resonates kindness, has shown kindness to so many in his life, I'm hoping to hear stories we haven't heard before and smile with him as we remember together. Celebrating life is a gift and I want to do that now instead of after he is gone.

Thanks, friends.

 -The second daughter of Lloyd

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

ELK 9 Months.

Oh Evan, he's a thrill. He adds to the daily "work" load of my life incredibly but I melt when he smiles at me. I enjoy the stages of my kids as they come. And usually as they go too! It's important to find the good in each stage, treasure it, and recognize they will grow up.

Things to remember about Evan these days...

  • All schedules went out the window due to Florida vacation and sickness (Evan FINALLY has a clear nose and no yucky cough). Meaning he wants to nurse to fall asleep, some days he doesn't nap longer than 30 minutes, he's up a ton screaming at night for God only knows why. SO tired. Me and him and Daddy. I'm hopeful in a desperate way that we will turn a corner this week. I can't recall how long he screamed last night. And if I was smart I'd go to bed instead of type this. Sleep training or a schedule and more food is going to happen to get us sleeping again.
  • His top two front teeth popped through the last few days! Perhaps some of his sleep issues? I'm sure in a week they will be front and center. And for all those reading this, please be gracious to my sweet babe. He's got a serious gap y'all. Serious. I noticed it yesterday and today our doctor mentioned it. Even though we had that frenulum cut... still... this kid will need braces. And might have problems with his s's. And might look like Tow Mater. But darn lovable.
  • Scoot, army crawl, whatever you call it. Evan can get there. If you set something out he wants, he's on it. He can get up to traditional pose but doesn't usually get too far that way. He goes around in all directions too. And is usually slow unless he really has his eye on something. 
  • 7th percentile for height at 2ft, 3in and 72% for head circumference of 18 inches. He has stayed the same the last weeks in weight and is in the 68% at 20 pounds, 10 ounces. Since starting to move, his weight has tapered off as he was about the same a month ago. But no worries, dear ones, the rolls and cankles and thunder thighs are still in full force. And we shall pray he hits that growth spurt one day. #myshortgenesaretoostrong
  • He lights up. He's got such serious expressions thanks to his brow line. But when he sees one of us or something to delight him, he just lights up. His whole being is joyful in that moment and it's a wonder to see. I love capturing it on camera too.
  • Evan likes his blankies, just like his siblings. He loves to smoosh his face in them and chew on them and be all comfy with them. 
  • He likes the squeak of Sophie Giraffe toy, starting to like a ball he can roll, likes to put most everything in his mouth, likes watching his siblings around him, delights to see me or Greg give him our full attention. 
  • Evan used to love the Johnny Jumparoo and still does spend time in it, but not with such joy and amusement as before. We call it the Jump-n-Dump because more times than not, a diaper change soon follows. 
  • He still likes to be put in the baby bjorn, forward facing, with Daddy. This doesn't happen too often but it sure quiets him when he's fussy.
  • I'm way lax with certain things and let less concern me with him compared to siblings as babies (I let him chew a pen yesterday, he has gone without socks or shoes outside in the cold more times than I'd like to admit, I make him go get the toy instead of give it to him, etc). And I hope that is good for him, making him flexible and tough and easy going. 
  • He loves mum-mums like Eli did and has one a day usually. We try give him one to occupy him when we are sitting down to eat. He's ready for more finger foods so the next weeks will be full of new things foodwise.
  • Annalee loves to feed him his baby food. It's messier than when I do it, but she finds it fun and I'm all about a few moments to concentrate on food prep or clean up! Big sister win!
  • Evan babbles at times but no real sound with meaning as far as I can tell.
  • He loves door stoppers. I hear that distinct, loud noise and I know Evan has shimmied his way to the back of a door and fiddling with the stopper. 
  • He's been sitting up by himself for a few weeks, gaining confidence and mobility (going from sitting to crawling). It's nice to have another option to set him down.
  • We lay him on his back to sleep but most usually he goes to his left side and stays there or goes all the way to his tummy, tucking his blanket in with him. 
  • He giggles when Eli fake hurts himself, fake falls, etc and it's a glimpse of our future. 
I love you, Evan Lloyd, and I'm so glad I'm your mama. And I'm so glad I haven't slacked off in taking your month-by-month photos. You're welcome, son.

8 Months 2.14.17

9 Months 3.14.17
-Evan's Mom

Monday, March 13, 2017

Eli Was Right.

My previous "going to be a quick parenting post" turned rant had me thinking I could come across prideful in my parenting style. My main idea was to write down what has worked and may continue to do so! Let me say that I am full of parenting fails as I'm continually being humbled and shaped while I'm exhausted and at my witt's end much of each day.

One major fail happened in the last weeks. Sometime in January or February, Eli was complaining about his coat zipper. Getting him ready in the mornings is an act of God. He is pokey (and after parent/teacher conferences where Eli got glowing marks except the lone constructive criticism "Eli is the pokiest of pokes" we now know it's not just at home!). So anything to make him take longer and just not get it done wears at my patience. He whined for days "This is not my coat! My zipper is black. This is not my zipper." And I kept saying "This is too your coat! Just get it on! Hurry up!!" - quite a few days I recall this conversation and I did make sure it looked like his coat but I didn't think to look for the name I had written last fall.

Fast forward to last week when I get a text from a family at church with a photo of Eli's coat and "Eli K" clearly written in the inside. He was RIGHT! The coat he had been wearing had a neon zipper (but same otherwise). We made the switch and Eli's zipper is indeed black.

So good lessons for this mom with this story. I'm not always right. I need to listen better.

-Black Zipper Kid Mom

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Parenting Style.

Concerning life help information, I'm not an avid reader of books or listener of podcasts or online reader/watcher/liker. I should be better at it. Truly. For me... it's hard to absorb good teaching if I have way too much coming at me. Call me simple or lazy, just stating that's how it is in my life at this moment. Give me some Bible and some hunks of awesome teaching but I'm unable to take loads of teaching from a variety of sources in a variety of mediums without just breaking down in overwhelmed land. It is not enjoyable for me but I aim to change and someday love absorbing loads of good. Disclaimer: I do love that my husband loves this and daily reads, listens, ponders, and absorbs such a wide variety of content in a variety of mediums and I get to glean just the tip of the iceberg of that sometimes.

That said, give me some highlight reel from someone I know isn't theologically cray cray, someone I know and respect, or someone that's life has proven to be done well ions ago or recently. Then let me live it. Because if you absorb all that info and it doesn't change any aspect of you or how you live your life, then it's nothing.

I say all this to say I haven't read a parenting book in full. Pretty sure I haven't anyway. Greg has (all the hallelujah hands here). So I can sort of say that our parenting style comes from some of that knowledge probably. And some from our own superb parents. But the rest of our "style" comes from the grace of God and some trial and error and experience and hope.

And now I'm going to attempt to record parenting insights while I'm in the thick of parenting these three tiny ones. Partially so I can laugh my arse off at myself in twenty years when they are out being adults. I was never really into kids (I was a TERRIBLE babysitter) so me mothering these is all a bit hilariousness. In no real order...

- STRICT and FUN. This is how I described my parenting style to Greg last week.
- I want our kids to respect AUTHORITY. Because we are under the authority of God and they are under our authority. That means when I say their name or tell them "no" or ask them to do something, I expect a response. And quickly-ish. Consistently. But not for outrageous requests on my part beacuse they are kids. But for sure for doing something like "get your snowpants on". Sometimes I am not reasonable and I have to realize my expectations are whack and I hope to just nag when it's truly needed. Early our kids learn they need to listen to authority for small things and big things.
- Parenting is HARD to do well. We do not have the luxury of doing our own thing (for very long) anymore. It's active work. Active. Engaging them. Not just being on my blasted phone or checked out for too long. Much of hobbies and fun and relax doesn't happen like pre-kid Heather enjoyed. So don't pretend parenting won't change you.
- I read an article on SELF-CONTROL being a skill to teach kids and that clicked in my brain. With Eli I can totally see the importance of teaching him how to control his little self. Work in progress here but worth mentioning that I hope to help guide in this.
- SCREENS. I really only want them as a treat. Not as a daily expectation. Kids need to be bored and know how to be bored, to entertain themselves. We go in waves here but overall, our kids are not used to them. Plus they get nightmares easily.
- ANIMATED. I'm animated. They see me living life fully, and hopefully as they get older and see the mundane, American, midwestern, homemaking life I lead and that I'm joyful IN IT, they will know I love life. When I read books I want to be like Greg and be into it. Stories, voices, emotion, goofy.
- FOOD. Way too much sugar. We are guilty of it but thankfully, aren't out of control with candy, soda, and major sugar bombs. Our issues mostly lie with sugar in stuff (ie, our insane amount of processed cereal each morning)! Kids don't need to eat all the time either. So we have a breakfast, 10am snack, lunch, 3pm snack, supper and not dessert every night (which after vacation is crazy hard). Snack times are approximate but lately I'm feeling having a set time works well. Annalee can't whine for a snack at 9am and I give in. Nope, not snack time. Sometimes it'll happen earlier or more often, too, but general guideline helps me.
- They don't get to carry food around the house. Or drinks. Graduate to a real cup sooner rather than later and just don't let them carry a sippy cup. I remind them to drink if I need to but mostly they will just go take a drink or two of water and set the cup back down on the counter and go about their day. My hope as I'm typing this is they learn to "eat to live" instead of needing food or drink at their disposal constantly. Sadly enough, kids, I tend to snack WAY more than you. When you are healthy adults, you'll thank me.
- No drinks late at night. Unless sick or other issue, fluid them up during the day so they don't get used to drinking a crapload before bed or during nighttime. No bedtime cups.
- CONSISTENCY. Oh man this is key. Don't expect them to act a certain way if I'm not consistent in the response. If you give them an inch, they will often take a whole flippin' mile. YET, yet! there is so much GRACE in parenting. Both ways. Sometimes surprise them with grace and let them know it. I need to get better at apologizing to them for my fails and letting them see that process in me, too.
- Be more stubborn. It took me 20 minutes to make Annalee apologize yesterday. I could have given in earlier. But damn it, I'm going to be more stubborn than her. I would have loved to not be doing that for the last twenty minutes. Greg tells her often "You will not win. I am more stubborn than you!" And he is!
- Communicate. We are realists. And we try to keep them informed. Try to help them see other viewpoints. Tell them why I'm asking a, b, or c. I started saying to them when disciplining or requiring of them "in the greg and heather kasowski family, we ____" so they know that we are doing this (and why), but that not everyone does it our way, believes what we do, etc.
- Responsibility. They can often do for themselves what we do for them. We totally dressed Eli way longer than we needed to because his personality lends to being lazy (as does his moms). But they need some sort of responsibility in life. And they may need help (often) to remind them of what they are doing or grace to give them a crazy long time to get 'er done. But make them do it! Eli never zipped his own coat until his teacher told the whole class she would NOT do it after Christmas. And she got that whole darn class of 5-6 year olds zipping their own coats. Love it.
- FUN. I want to have an insane amount of fun with my kids. Impromtu dancing. Joking. Games, Dirt, Sugar. They see me being goofy, see us laughing at ourselves, see us being honest with them and making good out of our day-to-day. Greg is amazing at not coming home from work to sit and veg. He's engaged with them when he gets in the door. He's chasing and hiding and wrestling. I try get down on the floor with them, play or color or watch WITH them. Since I'm home most all the time now, I obviously still need to get things done so this isn't all the time but I want to find joy in being with them. I also want our home to be the place their friends want to come.
- BEDTIME. Best thing us light sleeper parents did was never have the kids sleep in our bed (honestly we wouldn't be able to sleep well with a kid next to us). 8:00 give or take. You are in there and this is it and sometimes it'll take a bit longer but rarely ever over 30 minutes and rarely having to go in there numerous times. THIS IS OUR TIME without you littles. Go the... you know. We COVET this time for us so much. It is hard work when you are dealing with naps as they grow, time changes, sickness, patterns, etc etc but the hard work pays off later when you can have the bedtime routine done, say goodnight and close the door. No kids coming in/out of their room for the next hours, no waking up to a kid in your bed. I'm not sure who told us to work at this but thank you. I love you. I also must say I think sleep is really really really good for kids to grow. I also must say kids are different. Eli needs more sleep than Annalee. He took naps even last summer at five! She's mostly done with naps at 3 and a half. We shall see what Evan, our kid-that-has-to-be-flexible-because-he's-the-youngest, will end up like.
- Manners. I'm not southern awesome and making them say "Miss or Mister" in front of friends' names (sometimes I do though and love it) but they should know how to respect others and how to just be proper. Sometimes I nag Eli and tell him I'm teaching him to be proper. It's not like it's a deal breaker but it's important to me.
- Gratefulness. Along the same lines, we want them to be grateful for the abundance they have. Sometimes at bedtime prayers I make them "thank God for at least ONE thing about/in your day". Simple but effective.
- Greg prays for our kids to have a tender conscious. Such a good hope.
- We tell our kids the most important decision they'll make is who their friends are. We deeply hope they make good choices. Such influence.
- No secrets. We don't have secrets in our family. Just surprises. Nothing hidden. No ugly closet weights to carry. Nothing from friends they shouldn't have to bear alone.

I feel like our HIGH expectations and our strict nature could lead to legalism and resentful kids except that we are also able to be joyful and laugh our bums off and get down to their level often enough to show them our deep love for them. They feel safe and loved.

Struggles we have currently is curbing whining and a sense of entitlement with them, helping them to develop intellectual and emotional empathy and maturity, with Eli for sure dealing with influence from school.

Okay, this was good reflection and processing and motivation for me. Excited to have this down so I can read it and laugh, smile or face palm later.

-Heather

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

ELK 8.

Gorgeous boy here. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Life Moves Pretty Fast.

If you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.

That's right, Ferris.

The blog is supposed to be my reminder to stop and assess and record and be glad for all that is going on in our lives. I am wary of so much of us on the good 'ol internet but it really is a nice way to record life and share a glimpse of us. There is something therapeutic to it all, too, that yes, this is my life and yes, these are my kids, and by golly, I can use words, lots of em', and no one can tell me otherwise or limit me to 140 words or videos that disappear after you watch them. Freedom, God bless America.

As I write this, our littlest man is on all fours, bum in the air. Now he plopped and just his top half is up, alert, looking at me hoping I'll pay him a smile. I do and I'm rewarded with a smile in return! He will start to scoot backwards now, I'm sure of it, and I'll be heading over there to free him from the spot he will stick himself by the chair. He's still slow enough to make it easy for me. But soon, oh soon, we might even have to get a gate!

He has started babbling and it's adorable. Dada dada but we know he's not saying Dad. At least this mama knows that. He has started to be very concerned where I am. He whines for me. Always for mama. I'm his biggest fan. And darn well I should be considering he spends most of his life with me. I am treasuring most moments as I watch him grow, less baby as the days go on and more toddler appears.

-

In complete hilariousness to this post title, I am posting this a month and a half ago after I initially wrote it. GULP. Whatevs. I'm dating it to be when I wrote it 1/28! SO FAST.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

ELK 7 Months.




Here we are, this little baby closer to one year old than he is to birth. I love him. I don't love love baby stage (sorry folks, I like when they can talk to me) but we are soaking up our moments with this babe while he is still full-on baby.

He was in the 4% for height at his six-month check-up earlier this month. And 74% for weight. Sorry boy! He has not been awesome in sleeping UNTIL LAST NIGHT WHEN HE SLEPT FROM 11PM TO 7AM and I woke up SO AMAZINGLY HAPPY and I have had the BEST day because, as you can tell from my all caps, I LOVE SLEEP and I miss it so! Evan doesn't seem to want to be consistent at sleeping or developing a pattern (partly due to his cold from over the holidays and me not sure if he's ready for all that crying it out yet and wondering if he's legitimately hungry since we are slow-going on the solids). Speaking of food, we started with some brown rice cereal before Christmas and he tolerated it. Fast forward a few weeks and a few other foods (avocados, pears), I realized the kid was constipated. Big time. The other two have rarely been stuck (ha!) with that problem so I'm in new territory here. Poor kid. We eliminated rice cereal and give him a tiny bit of pear juice and he's fine but I'm thinking he's got some food sensitivities that the other two never had. I am excited for him to start eating solids more and more so I know he is nice and full for nighttime. So far he will eat whatever except he was really against peas. He loves my milk and nursing and being with me, obviously. He definitely can be impatient for his milk... but overall he's happy.

Evan squeals with delight or just to be heard. He rolls over to his tummy most of the time after putting him down. He can scoot around in a circle, sort of a shimmy, and is getting dangerously close to being not able to be left alone. He reaches for toys and love to chew on them. He loves fingering his blankie and putting it close to his face to sleep. He likes to jump in the johnny jumper and sit in the beast. He tolerates his car seat. He likes to kick his short legs when he's excited. He loves to look up at lights or fans. At church this morning he was fascinated looking up.

There's more but I better go to bed (which I'm deep-down SO SO SO HOPEFUL will be another repeat of last night but sadly, more realistic assuming he'll be up often). But he's still my darling!

-mom