one.

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Our sweet, little boy turned one on March 17th. One. Such a small, itty-bitty number. One. But the impact he has made in our life and the love we have gained because of him is gigantic. I have learned a lot of life lessons in the past year.

1. Love is powerful. Love is infinite. 

Before meeting our Little Man, we had our Girly. We had so much love for her, that we could not imagine how we could possibly have enough love for two. Would we still have time for her? Would we still be able to connect with her? Would she still know that we loved her as much as we do right now? Would our new baby be able to have the same bonding time? Would we be able to connect with the new baby? How could we possibly love another baby as much as we love her? Could our hearts possibly be that big?

Even writing that now, it seems silly. But, at the time, when Little Man was still just growing in my belly, and we had no clue who he was, it was hard to imagine a world with two beautiful children to love.

But, oh my word, is love powerful and infinite. God has created this incredible emotion that can bring you to your knees. Love is so powerful because your whole heart rests on it. You worry about something changing in your love because it is the center of who you are. However, adding more love can only do good. Our Little Man has made me love my husband deeper, love my daughter at another level because of the amazing sister she is, and love my son in immeasurable ways because of all the joy he has brought to our home.

No matter how many children we have, we now know, there will always be enough love. In fact, we might venture to continue to have more children because of all the love they create.

2. Men were once someone else’s little boys.

As new wives, it is hard to see our husbands as anything other than the man that we are sharing our life with. You see when he came into your life and the future you hope to create together. You see your daily lives and how you are making your family work. What we often forget, as new wives, is that our husbands were once someone else’s little boys.

We do not realize that these men were once someone else’s little boys until we have our own little boys. I look at my son and I hope we are doing the very best we can to raise him to be a good man, who takes care of his family, and who loves with all his heart. Then, I look at my husband and I know, that someone else had these same thoughts and she did an incredible job with him. She held him, much like I hold my own sweet boy, and she guided him to the amazing husband I get to share my life with. The Mother-in-Law dynamic is a tricky one, because two women both love the same man…. but in very different ways. However, I am learning, that there needs to be a balance and a respect for the woman who loved that man first. She did raise an incredible little boy up into a wonderful man.

3. Just because they are from the same gene pool, does not make the same person. 

Already in our one year, I can tell that our little boy is very different than his sister. They look identical, but have very different personalities and needs. Our girly is very emotional and needs to be comforted and encouraged. When she is upset, she needs some cool down time. Then some snuggle time to know what better choice to make and the reassurance that we will be there. Our son is already showing that he is not anywhere near as emotional. He is rough. He falls hard and does not seem phased. Our girly hardly used her voice in her first year and our son is loud, crazy loud. He likes his mama snuggles and cuddles, but would rather be jumping and banging and hitting and throwing.

See, we have two children. Two individual children. We cannot approach them the same way. We can have some family core-values that are the same for our home, but when it comes to supporting them and meeting their needs, we have to be flexible to each child’s individual personalities. One-size does not fit all in parenting.

4. Siblings are beautiful.

I have one brother and he is in all my childhood memories. He made my childhood. From the moment he was born until we hit our teen years, he was my best friend. We did everything together and we were always there for each other. We live a zillion (or a thousand) miles a part now, so our relationship is different, but I know he is there for me when I need him.

But seeing siblings from a parent point of view is take your breath away amazing. Our children love each other whole-heartedly. Already they have started to gang up together to defend each other against us. Little Miss will be taking a break and Mr. Man will crawl right over next to her. Girly has embraced him since the moment we brought him home and holds on tight to him every day. They hug and smile and cuddle and scream and laugh and love together. I love knowing that they will grow up together, never remembering the days they did not have each other. I find great comfort in knowing that they will be there for each other, when we cannot be.

5. Old wounds take a long time to heal.

That dang nursing issue still hurts. I need to let it go, but it still hurts. My goal was to be able to nurse by babies until their 1st birthday. Well, with Little Miss we made it (barely) to six weeks and with Mr. Man, we fell 50 weeks short of this goal. The first birthday is hard for me because it was when I had “planned” to be done and it is a sore reminder. I just need to give myself the space and time to accept and move on, but having a baby around does not allow for much of that peaceful reflection.

I have written about this journey before at this link: I Find Some of My Biggest Truths in the Baby Food Aisle at Target

6. Priorities.

We will never be the people who have their beds made before we leave in the morning. Okay, let me re-word that. We will not be the people who have their beds made before we leave in the morning, until our children are at least 10… and even then, it is a maybe. We are lucky if we get to work on time in the morning and no one is covered in poop. And socks, forget about matching socks.

Before we had children, I had this idea of how I wanted our home to look… perfect. Well, through living with two children two and under, I have learned that is more important to make our home feel loved than to look perfect.

So, we have rearranged some priorities.  I have said “no” to many extra things that were not helping me to make my home feel loved and I am trying (it is a long, on-going battle) to embrace the chaos… and to be okay with the clutter…and the non-stop messes.

7.  Let them be little.

When we brought our little girl home we indirectly pushed her to be bigger than she was/is. We were pushing her towards the next milestone and setting her to unrealistic and not age appropriate standards. Then we had our little boy and I realized then how truly little babies are. So little. So innocent. I look at our little boy, as he just celebrated his 1st birthday, and he is still my little baby who still needs our help to do everything he needs to survive. We have decided to let him be little. We are not pushing the next milestone, but rather trying to enjoy the one he just hit. We have stepped back from trying to push our girly to be more than she is right now, even though this is difficult as she is having her toddler appropriate melt-downs. She is two. Let her be two. We will have our time with three when she gets there.

8. Babies are easy.

Let me be clear here, babies are exhausting, completely dependent upon us, and sleep (in our case) horribly. However, now that we have our two children, and our daughter is a full-blown toddler, I realize how easy a baby is. Once you have them figured out, around 4-6 months, they become rather predictable and all they need when they are sad is a snuggle from you, or food. Or both. Toddlers are ticking time bombs of chaotic mess and uncertainty. They test you. They have opinions. They can move very quickly. They have words that they can use against you. Babies love you unconditionally, even if it means they constantly want to be held.

It has been a year since we became a family of 4, when Mr. Man joined our family. It has been a crazy fast year. I hardly remember the first six months, however my heart has never been fuller and I would not change a thing… except sleep. I would add more sleep.

Thank you for the lessons, Sweet Boy. You have taught us so much already. I cannot wait to see what you teach us tomorrow.

But, Little Man, you are technically a toddler now. Go easy on us. We are the ones who feed you and wipe you.

Table for Chaos… Party of 4.

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Going out to eat used to be a special treat for my husband and I… a date. a get-away. a moment to connect without having to do the dishes.

and then we had children.

Going out to eat with a 2 and a half year old and a soon to be 1 year old is anything but relaxing or easy. It is a rarity for us to go out to eat and often times I wonder why don’t we go out? The logical answer is that we are trying to save up some money and we live in a small town with limited choices… but the reality is, we do not go out because when we do, it goes like this:

Upon arrival, we have to be seated in booth where we can trap our daughter and we need a high chair for our son. Our daughter then externally deals with her internal struggle about sitting with mom or in a high chair like her brother. We also have to shuffle around our bag of distractions and our mammoth amount of layers to help us survive the sub-zero temperatures that we live in.

After we have our seating arrangements taken care of, we begin to look at the menu. Little Man has already licked the menu twice and thrown it on the floor. Now, he is after the knife and fork that is rolled up innocently into a napkin. Little Miss is  standing on the booth and attempting to open each sugar packet. We redirect her to a conversation on what she should get to eat. This begins a lengthy discussion on the difference between grilled cheese and the other options. It normally ends with us deciding on grilled cheese, as this is likely to make the least amount of mess.

As soon as the waitress comes over Little Miss asks for milk, to which the waitstaff always brings chocolate milk and Little Miss gives a look of disgust to this other milk. We then have to ask for “white milk please.” The milk always comes with a straw, which Little Miss  has not fully mastered when she is sitting lower than the table, so by the time we have had a chance to decide what we are going to order, she is covered in milk and Little Man has eaten half of the paper placement. <we go to high-end restaurants>

Drinks have been received and spilled. Orders have been placed. Now the hard work begins: keeping the littles occupied until food comes. We frantically pull out each toy from our gigantic bag of distractions, eager to make each one the most exciting thing our children have ever seen. This is always a fail. It is about this time that Little Miss kicks off her boots and begins to shake salt onto the table. We cannot remember the last time we went out when Little Miss kept her boots on for the entire meal. We have fought the fight and lost the battle. Realistically, these winter boots hardly stay on at all.

Little Man begins screaming like a fierce dinosaur chasing innocent prey. We frantically search for anything we can safely put in his mouth to calm the screaming. He is not screaming out of anger. He just enjoys making sounds. Loud, screeching, gastly sounds.

Enter the adorable couple who horrifyingly sees that the hostess is leading them directly into our doom and they politely (urgently) ask to be seated elsewhere. Well played, adorable couple. Well played.

“Poop! Poop!” Little Miss screams while holding her bottom. Thus begins the fun game of “so bored, I should explore the potty.” My husband and I take turns taking her to the bathroom. Often times she runs ahead of us, boots still under the table, grabbing her bottom, screaming “poop!” Very appetizing to all who are around. We have the struggle of deciding whether to keep taking her to the bathroom or risk the chance she might actually poop her pants. Often times the thought of her pooping her pants in public is enough to keep taking her back to the bathroom. (We do live in a small town.)

Finally, our food arrives. We scramble to cut up the grilled cheese so that we can stop the dinosaur screeches and calm the “poop” talk. Little Man eats like a champ and I can hardly keep up cutting. Little Miss takes one bite and then decides if she is going to eat it or not. This is hit or miss for us. Sometimes, she eats beautifully, other times she takes one bite, screams “yucky!” and then points to everyone who is “eat too?”

My husband and I try to eat our meal, while it is still hot, because we are paying for it. Sometimes, when both children are eating amazingly, this is a success. Other times, when children aren’t eating amazingly (looking at you Little Miss), one of us ends up with a toddler on our lap, trying to distract, while the other eats and then we switch. Again, we pay for this. 

Once we finish eating, we have to wait for the waitress to bring our bill or to take our payment. During this wait period the dinosaur screams start up again and Little Miss now stands up in the booth and is trying to touch the people who unfortunately were seated behind us. One of us tries to keep the children reigned in, while the other picks up the pieces of grilled cheese and other food objects from the floor.

We hastily pack up our items, our children, and leave an extra tip for our mess. We make our way out of the restaurant, one caring the baby, the other caring the thrashing toddler and having a conversation on the importance of listening and being kind.

Everyone is buckled and we pull out of the restaurant. We take a deep breath, look at each other and say, we pay for this?

So maybe there is a reason we do not go out much.

We can just make grilled cheese at home.