Friday, August 27, 2010

Still Kickin’

Yes, we are still around, and all is well at the Cowart household. It is a little de-motivating to think of posting any updates sans pictures, but I was thinking tonight what bad timing it was to have broken my camera when I did—just before I had Ian—and how my blog would surely have SO many posts by now if I had not broken my camera, and then it dawned on me that 1) Perhaps that’s thinking a little too optimistically about how much blogging I would actually do and 2) Perhaps breaking my camera was one of the biggest blessings at just this perfect time.

Let me explain: I’m not very excited about posting updates without pictures—or rather, I figure readers would want to see pictures of our growing boy and our goings-on, not merely wordy updates (yes, I’m aware of how wordy they get, and I’m over it). In my imaginary life, also figure that Casey will convert the pictures I’ve taken with his camera at some point, and at that time, I will post about that particular event (in reality, I have to admit, that will NEVER happen. . . the posting, that is, not the converting. . . although I do wonder sometimes). So, the result of this is that I have not blogged in over a month, and haven’t felt the need to do so. In fact, I’ve rather enjoyed my break from blogging—not even a hint of guilt.

Not only have I seriously tapered off in the blogging department; I have also been very so-so about checking e-mail. I even went a whole two weeks without checking/reading blogs and e-mail, and let me tell you, it was pretty relaxing. The Amish really have something there. . .

What I’m trying to say in these many paragraphs is that we are so enjoying living that we don’t have much time for updating. And I’m really thankful for my broken camera that forced me into being so-so about updating, because I have felt a wonderful freeness about the whole business.

Not giving it up though. Just feeling totally fine with updating sporadically. We’ve had so much going on (in a good way—not just busy-ness) with company in and out and enjoying the waning summer and watching our boy change and our girls’ crazy antics. I love having a newborn—it forces life to slow down and I really see my children and watch them. I laugh a lot more, and Casey and I exchange many more raised-eyebrow and trying-not-to-smile glances and take time to snap pictures the likes of the rose bud that Ruby planted in the dirt this evening (so we could grow a rose bush) or the third-of-a-page coloring book picture that Claire beautifully and painstakingly colored. (She showed it to Case when he got home that day, and he said, “What a pretty picture. Where’s the rest of it?” We explained that there was no “rest of it.” It was torn before she colored it.)

Even though I am with them almost every moment of their lives, I miss so much by doing stuff. I’m not talking over-the-top projects or activities or anything: just the daily maintenance of laundry, meals, dishes and the training and physical care of the children can keep my day busy enough that so much goes unnoticed. (In another way, too. I have become that mom that I once watched—dumbfounded—completely missing the disobedience, disrespect, naughtiness of the child standing inches away from her. Though I’ve seen no video documenting it, I’m under no illusions about it: I am that mom. There’s no way I’m not missing something.)

Still with me? I really didn’t get on here tonight to wax sentimental. My intent was to actually give somewhat of an update, so here goes:

Ruby lost her first tooth a couple weeks ago. Twice. Only minutes after it came out, it dropped from her hand and we haven’t seen it since. I think it may be under the refrigerator. If I could, this is where I would insert a picture of . . .

{Ruby sporting her new smile.}

Ruby is extremely helpful and responsible, and growing in these traits daily. Before Ian was born, she figured out how to get Haley out of the crib (safely, yes), and that has been a fabulous blessing for my hugely-pregnant-and-anemic-and-don’t-know-it self, on to my I-just-had-a-baby-and-need-to-reduce-stair-climbing self, and now on to my I’m-making-dinner or nursing-Ian self. That one thing alone has changed so much about our days.

We’ll be starting our first school year mid-September, and R & C are very excited to start Kindergarten! We have the curriculum all organized in a cabinet and have even started on a few things (so mom can get a feel for the teacher’s manual as well as gain confidence :). I had started this free downloadable phonics program with Ruby in February, and we have seriously taken FOREVER to do it (40-some units, and we’re just now getting to the 30’s—not how they say to do it, but I’m over that, too). Ruby can sound out many words, since by now she knows quite a few phonics rules (sh, th, ch, long vowels, silent e and many phonograms and blends) and nowadays, she’ll sometimes sound out words on her own (signs, labels, etc.—actually, Claire does this, too, though she does not know as many of the rules.). Counterintuitively, Ruby seems to really love reading single words, but open her (level one, super easy reading) book and she is NOT excited about reading. This is the opposite of what I have read and hear a lot, but I’m wondering if she does not enjoy it very much because she hasn’t become proficient yet, and loses interest because of how long it takes to read a sentence, or . . . Dread! . . . a page. I’ve thought of a possible remedy for her dread, and hope to encourage her that reading really is enjoyable: while I read to them aloud, I’ll stop at words for which she’s learned the rules and allow her to sound them out. That way, we’re making good progress on the page, and she’s getting practice reading while also maintaining comprehension of a more-interesting storyline.

Claire is doing better and better with self-control and in her attitudes and Casey and I are getting to know the delightful, creative, hard-working girl that was often overshadowed by . . . other adjectives (that, or she just didn’t have the time to be these adjectives while fulfilling the other ones . . . or maybe these adjectives were just manifesting in a negative way. . . whichever way, the change is a welcome one). Claire does a great deal of quiet busy-work. She’ll play with blocks alone in her room, or sit on my bed and look at books, or organize the kid’s cup cupboard. She loves to help me almost as much as Ruby, and sometimes even more. I can always count on at least one helper when I ask for one.

Haley also loves to help. Her specialty is taking clothes out of the washer and putting them in the drier. She still continues to display the obvious postponement of obedience-training, but recently we’ve been more able to turn our attention to it, and we’ve known all along—and even decided it would be so—that she is not as well trained in obedience as the other girls were at her age. Adding a third child was our apparent threshold: something had to give, and by necessity, we really narrowed down our battles. So far, a fourth child has not had the same effect. We are in such a better place than we were two years ago, or even last summer. Possibly because not just one, but two of our children are now older than Ruby was when we added a third, there are so many things we are able to do now that we could not do before, and it has been such a relief to find that adding children does not necessarily mean being more and more burdened. (We were pretty convinced of this notion until a couple months ago, honestly.) Even so, We certainly have our work cut out for us. Yesterday at a play place, I told Haley to come to me, to which she replied, “No, you come here!” (Our days are fairly full of such talk. There is sure to be at least one, "No, YOU. . . " from her mouth each day.) On the way home later, I explained to her that I could not give her something because I was not able to trust her with it. She began repeating, “I can’t trust you.” over and over. At least the inflection wasn’t argumentative that time.

As much as “2” is a challenge, it is one of my favorite ages. Kids say what they think, they don’t care what others think, and they are equally as expressive of the excitement they feel as they are of any displeasure. I find the flip-side of the “terrible two” traits quite fun.

Ian is 8 weeks now, and I am going be presumptuous and say that he is The. Best. Baby. I sometimes feel like all he asks of me is to be fed every couple hours. There is a little more work in it than just that, of course, but he is so far from high-need, it seems too good to be true. Makes me feel pretty silly for wondering how we were going to deal with a fourth. I had in my mind that God was really pouring it on thick (sanctification, that is) and it was just going to get harder and harder. Casey and I have been floored (and pleasantly-so) that Ian’s arrival has actually marked the easing of our struggles in many ways. In our heads, we knew God would give us the grace to have and raise a fourth, but little did we know that how God would do it was by drastically changing several things that by that time, we’d come to think of as “the way things are.”

For months, I had toyed with the idea of naming Ian something having to do with sanctification, since by then, we equated the words, “child-raising” to “highly-sanctifying,” and were sure we were in for the most difficult time of our lives (admittedly, I was figuratively flinching) but the day after he was born, Casey and I decided on a name that called our attention to God’s graciousness, not knowing that that is what God would be impressing upon us in these first couple months (at least:) of Ian’s life. Ian’s birth was only one of many ways in which God showed Himself faithfully gracious in giving us a fourth child.

It has been a joy to eat crow. Humble pie never tasted so good. It feels like we’re in a different season, though to an outsider it may look like not much has changed. God’s benevolence has been amazing for us to experience and observe.

Ian weighed 14 lb even at yesterday’s appointment. He’s definitely still a chunker, but he seems much slimmer than when he was born. He’s out of most of his 0-3 mo. clothes now, so I think he may have grown a lot longer (we haven’t measured him since birth day). He smiles and coos, and though he still sleeps a great deal (NOT complaining:), he is very active with his arms, legs and face during his awake times. (It kinda makes me tired just to watch infants—they make breathing look like hard work.) Last night, he had an 8-hour stretch between feedings, and I had the most wonderful 5 1/2 hours of uninterrupted sleep. He gave me a long stretch about a month ago, too: going 6 hours between night feedings. And at that point, the 3 1/2 hours I got was the longest stretch of uninterrupted sleep I’d had in many months. It was so beautiful, I almost cried.

Casey started a new job about a month ago (within the same company, but a new position) and from what he’s said, it sounds like he will be busy and challenged, which should keep him fresh for a good while. This new position will likely have him traveling a little more (looks like once a month, instead of the 2 or so times a year) and, while that would have overwhelmed me only a few months ago, I see it as very doable now. He’s headed back to ‘Frisco for a conference in a couple days and is looking forward to the cool weather and great beauty of that old city (American-ly speaking, that is, Karin :). His mom is here now, so he’s not exactly leaving me to fend for myself.

My sister Deb was here last week, and we had good times trying to squeeze in deep conversation while caring for 7 children (4 of which were 2 and under). As one might guess, that usually meant staying up to ungodly hours. A small sacrifice. I was so rejuvenated by the week full of help, fellowship and stimulating adult conversation, we had a couple fun and productive days following her departure.

Have I put you to sleep yet? I almost have myself. Buenos Noches.