Wednesday, October 30, 2013

My sister's baby-bump

One of my favorite parts of this last pregnancy was watching my little sister be pregnant too.

I wasn't sure I would ever have siblings who were having babies at the same time as me. They just all seemed like they were either too young or on another path as I carried and birthed my first three kiddos. That is what happens when you get married young and start having babies right away. I have been thankful for cousins who were family-growers alongside me the last 9 years and for the lovely smackerel of nieces and nephews I have via my husband's family. So feeling like I was much closer to moms older than me, reveling that some of my peers from my youth are now starting families, and contenting myself with the idea that my kids would be great older-cousins to my eventual nieces and nephews I was pretty satisfied with my little plot of baby-raising earth.

I didn't know what I was missing.

Then *woosh* came the news Heidi was expecting and *wheeeeeee* my heart rose like a "welcome baby" balloon released at a raucious baby shower.

We were going to have babies together.
Due only a month apart.

This baby was a sweet surprise wrapped snugly in the pretty package that is my little sister.
I saw her with new eyes.

Suddenly we were closer than we had been for a long time. Late night phone calls talking birth and breastfeeding. Parenting questions and motherhood worries bounced across emails and texts. We were on the same plane again. Headed to the same destination. Destination: Motherhood, capital of crazy.

It was reminiscent of the days when we were in the same stages of imaginative play as little girls, or as teens when we enjoyed the same creative pastimes and fashions. We are only three years apart but life has taken us through many eras of tightly-meshed sisterhood bonding and a few times we felt light-years apart. We have gotten along pretty well, for the most part. Both passionate and emotional which has lead to an argument or two - but family loyalty and sister-love runs deep and I've always known she was only a phone call away when I needed her. I always knew there are things that only she can truly understand. And as grown-ups, it didn't matter how long between sightings, it was a good time when we were together. We come from the same stuff. That means a lot.

And now we were back in the same ballgame.
Those months were a beautiful thing to watch.

At the culmination of this baby-growing thing she asked to take her pregnancy pictures and attend her birth.

I said yes.
No way I would say no to that glow.

She was irresistable.


Positively radient.
Love you, Sis!
Congratulations to you both.
Love, Raimie Lu

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

I'm not pregnant anymore (and my maternity photo shoot)

Too long since I've been here. A misbehaving computer will very quickly steal the joy of this blogging thing, let me tell ya! Oh well, gotta push through barriers and jump hurdles. Warrior-on and all that jazz. Writing will never happen if I don't DO IT.

So here goes again...

I gave birth.
Almost 11 weeks ago.
(really need to change my blog profile pic)

Baby Beckett is currently blessing me with smiles and coos, almost full nights of sleep (not holding my breath that will last), and good eating habits that have equalled nice growth patterns.

But sometimes I still need to remind myself I'm not pregnant anymore.

Like tonight, I was making supper as part of our hectic evening. I start serving seasoned ground beef over fresh spinach and topped with salsa. I hand the first plate to a kid. He promptly begins to make a fuss about how I put his meat ON his spinach. So I trade that plate for an unfilled one and give the offending plate to another child. This time I separate the meat and spinach and put the salsa on the meat. Oops! I am in trouble again. He wants the salsa ON the spinach but NOT the meat. Another trade. Gonna get it right, hopefully before we run out of plates. One juggling motion too many and a plate hit the floor face-down. There is salsa, spinach, and hamburger splattered all over and a broken plate. And in comes my daughter to complain HER food wasn't arranged properly either. It was like my life had hit the floor with that plate. I am steaming at this point.

"Just eat your food the way I serve it for once. If you would have made your way to the table with your plate when I first served it this would not have happened! This is a lot of food to be wasted! Now go eat, please!"

Clean. Clean. Clean
Fume. Fume. Fume.

[baby cry]

"What!? How many times do I have to tell you not to take your brother out of his swing without asking?! I don't care if you think he has been sleeping long enough or if you saw him wiggle so he must want held! Now he is woke up and all upset so I can't even eat before we leave for the PTO meeting! I am sick and tired of you not listening to me! How am I supposed to manage everything when your daddy is gone this week if no one listens to me?! It is like I am talking to the wind around here! All I do is clean up messes and no one is even thankful. We are not doing this anymore! There are orphans in Africa who would love their meat on their salad and would always clean up after themselves for the privilege to live in a nice house like this!"

My son's face is blank. He has no idea how we got from a spilled plate and a crying baby to orphans in Africa. I'm not sure either. I guess it was probably underlying stress about getting out the door to PTO, Mr. Loggerhead being away, and a messy house that was clean only a day ago. The dropped plate and the bothered baby just turned up the heat under a boiling pot and over the edge we went. A few cool-down minutes later, as I sat nursing the baby and scarfing down my supper at the same time, I recall my son's expression of sheer confusion mixed with panic. I have seen it before. It has been worn by my dear husband a time or two. During pregnancy I have sometimes gone from clothes left on the floor to World Peace in about 3.0 seconds. It's a hormone thing, OK? Hello, Pregzilla!

But I'm not pregnant anymore.
I have no such excuse, right?

No hormone roller-coaster to blame this kind of thing on.
No cravings to which to attribute crazy eating habits.
No growing unborn-baby to reason away the belly bulge.
No energy-drain to name suspect for wanting more sleep.

So what is a girl to do?

Apologize. Hug.
That's a good start.

Then introduce the fresh line-up of culprits to your confused family:
Postpartum hormones
Breastfeeding cravings
Leftover baby-fat
Night-time feedings ('cause I'm sure they will be back)


From when I was still pregnant:

 Pictures of my parents as children in the corner.

 Like a time warp.

 Prayers for the unborn child


This man puts up with a lot, when I am pregnant or not.

And these children are watching and listening all the time.


Tonight, long after the mess was cleaned up, the baby soothed, the meeting attended, the husband talked to, and the children of Africa prayed for, I was contemplating my explosion.

The final line of my son's recent book report on Where The Wild Things Are came to mind.
"I learned that we should try to say what we really mean and always use kind words."

So next time, "I am really worried we aren't going to get out the door to an important meeting, can you please help me? I miss daddy and I bet you do too. It stresses me out a lot when things aren't organized and cleaned up, what can we do to fix that?" might be a better choice for the occasion and we can save the children of Africa speech for a more appropriate time...

Like next time I'm pregnant.

Happy Tuesday, y'all!
Raimie Lu

P.S. Maternity photo credits go to my little sister Katie. She is only a sophomore but her photography knocks my socks off. Thank you, Katie!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Robot day and the 4 real reasons I do crafts with my kids

Dear Friends, 
Looking at my instagram feed and this blog you will see a lot of pretty pictures, sweet moments, and a creative thing or two. This is true of a lot of mom-togs and mommy-bloggers. The part I don't like is that sometimes this puts people on a pedestal of having "perfect lives" and it makes moms who don't do things the same feel bad about themselves and their own parenting style.

If we dig a little deeper I think we all know that nobody is perfect and that nobody has it all together all the time. But there is still a sense of disquieting reactions to these types of posts in the mom-media realm.

I hate the idea of anything I share about my life being even the slightest bit hurtful, guilt-causing, or the stem for discontent to another mom. Our loads are heavy enough without adding burdens to eachother.

This post is hard to write because it's baring a raw part of my momma-heart. So hang tight. It might get bumpy. But it's all true.

I want to share why I do creative and crafty things for and with my children. How, as pretty as it looks in pictures, it is for much messier reasons. How it is a matter of survival for me in this time of my life.

I don't do crafts and fun activities with my kids because I am a good mom. I do them because I am NOT naturally good at this role and crafting helps me get better.

Let me explain - not the hundred or so even more complex reasons why creativity is important for humanity, for mothers, or for me as a person or a mom - but specifically in regards to doing crafty things with my kids.

1. A planned, intentional activity (like a craft, game, art project) feels like an apology or a bandaid for the times I was not focused where I should have been. In my mind it says, "I love you. I'm sorry I was impatient and didn't take the time/thought to do umpteen things properly today. But look, I am slowing down now. I am looking at you. Let's do something special." I hope they get that message.

2. I do not have "everything together" a lot of the time. Planning and organizing a project makes me feel put-together. Even when the whole thing rarely goes as planned - the kids get distracted, bored, don't finish, or don't cooperate. It doesn't matter because, even if they run off to play elsewhere or I have to pop in a DVD to buy a few minutes to finish the craft myself, it makes me feel like we added something nice to our day just by planning and semi pulling-it off. It feels like we accomplished something meaningful.

3. Crafting is controlled. There are countless things about life I can't change  - the weather, work schedules, cost of living, health concerns, other people, world issues. But we CAN craft and make our own brand of sunshine. I find joy in practicing that privilege.

4. Group-art is about both self-awareness and selflessness. When we craft together we are each putting a part of ourself into our work; it is personal and expressive. I like seeing my kids' characters in what they make and how they do things. But also, since we are sharing the project, we work together and blend our labors. We are pouring out a portion of who we are, exchanging it with one-another, and taking in the gift of knowing eachother better and learning from eachother. I think that is important as a family and I love watching it as a mom.


So if you see cute-crafts we did together on this blog or in pictures on Instagram you will know the truth:

It's not because I naturally exude cutesy glitter, ruffles, and craft-stick creations.
It's because my human-nature spills much nastier things and crafting with my children helps me clean up the toxic spills - both mentally and relationship-wise. It works like a temporary magic eraser for my anxious, self-doubting, guilty, bored, lack-lustre, uptight issues connected with being an imperfect soul. These times are therapy sessions, cleansing floods, life lessons, quiet love-notes, wordless explanations. They are a blessing.

I don't want to be a better mom than somebody or as good of a mom as someone else.
I want to be a better mom than I am and as good of a mom as I can be.
Crafting helps me do that.

I think we could all use a few such powerful tools in our mothering tool-belt.

What are your "mama-magic" tools? What do you do when all crazy breaks loose and you just need a little something to feel like it's all tied back together for a while?

Raimie Lu

P.s. These were shots from Robot Day.
It was crafty-happy-making at it's best.
Noisy, chaotic, normal, wonderful.
Just what we needed. 

When all else fails, break out your robotic-mom voice.
Pure magic.

Have a beautiful tomorrow, wherever you are.
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