Dear sisters, It’s the dead of winter. There’s so much snow, temps are frigid and the drain hose on our washing machine keeps freezing, making it impossible to do laundry until the space heater thaws it back out again. The laundry piles up. The house is dirty. My car is filthy, but am I going to clean it when it’s 5 degrees out? I am stuck inside with kids, or stuck inside at work most days. The skin on my hands peels and cracks, no matter how much lotion or coconut oil I rub into it. I feel stale and grumpy and tired. I hear Dar Williams singing, can we live through February? So I remind myself of all the good in my life. Cross-country skiing in snowy woods helps me like winter. You get your body moving and the cold is brisk and invigorating. We are reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Long Winter to Miriam at night, and I am so grateful that I do not spend my days grinding wheat so I can have bread to eat and twisting hay so I can have heat. We have heat automatically, I just plug in a space heater or turn up the furnace if I want. I have pork roast and brownies and wine. But those are fleeting joys. I also have the joy of my children, which is infectious and renewable. Having a baby in the house is constant entertainment. Eve is such a delight, she brings us all so much happiness every day. So, here’s your bleak midwinter pick-me-up.
Last week I got out the nice camera and did a photoshoot on our bed with the girls. It was Miriam’s last day of winter break. I put up the shades in our bedroom and the daylight reflected off all the snow to give me some good natural light which is usually hard to find in this dark house. I don’t have the amazing photography skills of my husband or Bradley, but I can do a few simple things. I put on the portrait lens, get close to a window and start shooting. Eve’s first few months are not as well documented as her sister’s (neglected second child!). I used to make a new album for every month of Miriam’s life, isn’t that amazing? I guess working three days a week and only having one kid did give me a lot of free time. This little photoshoot is one step towards better documentation of Eve’s babyhood.
So let me tell you about Eve at (almost) 4 months. She coos so beautifully. She loves to communicate! She is so interested in watching our mouths move and trying to imitate the movement and sound. She is starting to reach for toys and can grab on to a ring and wave it around for a bit. She is playing with her hands a lot, putting them together, sucking on her fists, and still trying to suck her thumb. She grabs her blankets and twists them in her hands, and sometimes covers herself up. She seems close to rolling over when she is on the floor–she lifts her legs and rolls her hips to the side, but can’t get her upper body to follow yet. She loves to be held in a standing position, or to sit propped up. When she’s laying down she tries to get her head up so she can look around more. She really does not like tummy time because her visual field is so much more limited when she’s on her belly. We should do a better job of giving her more tummy time so she can practice holding her head up for longer periods of time.
Oh, oh, and she sleeps through the night! No one is more surprised about this than me. It seems that some babies just do this. She picked up on my natural rhythm quickly. I take her to bed, nurse her laying down with the lights off, put her on her mattress next to our bed, and she gets it. Night is for sleeping. A few nights ago she slept from 9:30 pm to 6 am, when I woke her to nurse. I am stunned, and grateful. We sleep trained Miriam at 17 months (after she had ear tubes put in) and only then did I get a good night’s sleep. I feel mostly good these days, able to function at work, able to give of myself at home, because I am rested. Wow. I know this may not last, but for now, it’s wonderful.
The photoshoot yielded a few great shots of Miriam too. This one, she is also growing fast, and I get little glimpses of her grown-up beauty in these pictures. I am reading Raising Your Spirited Child and learning a lot about better ways to interact with my headstrong girl. She and I, we are cut from the same cloth, and we can get into some epic battles of will. It seems that I am a spirited parent! So, we are not the greatest match for each other. I am learning as I go. You guys, this is hard work. Sometimes it’s so relaxing to just be with my baby, instead of all the complicated emotions involved with my 5 year old. Miriam also wants to cuddle with me more, since she sees me nursing Eve all the time, and it’s hard to have a gangly 5 year old on my lap. She inevitably elbows me or knees me and it ends badly. But, as she grows, I am enjoying her developing mind, her energy, and the big questions she asks. I got a few good shots of the girls together. This is, of course, hard to do, as neither of them listen well when I ask them to look at me and smile. But the candids turned out pretty well anyway.
These midwinter days, we get a lot of quality time together. We are looking forward to spring, which will feel so good after this long, cold winter. Miriam is excited for a garden. Eve will be learning about green things for the first time! All she has known so far of the outside world is cold and snow. The world has so many wonders you have yet to see, Eve. I’m so glad I get to be there to show them to you. Much love, Rachel