In the trenches

As I sit here typing, Huck is loudly protesting his exersaucer and Taratabong is playing in the background, failing at its job to distract him from being in "baby jail." There are Cheerios, blocks, and princess high heels strewn about the living room floor. My hair is a mess (I haven't brushed it in three days) and I still have my pajamas on. My Keurig has been working double-duty all morning and my to-do list is somehow growing rather than shrinking, even though I've been working for four hours already today.

Luke thankfully took Marleigh to the playground to play with her cousins, seeing as it's beautiful inside and when the sun is shining, it's basically a form of torture to keep a toddler trapped indoors. It will be nap time when they get home, and I will kick into turbo-speed to get the rest of my work done and hopefully sneak in a few minutes to tidy up the house from our mini tornadoes and maybe, just maybe, get something to eat.

If you're a stay-at-home/work-at-home parent, or any parent of toddlers/babies, you know exactly what I'm talking about. I am in the trenches. Loud, chaotic, messy, emotional. Did I mention chaotic? Don't get me wrong. My gig is good and it's one I am thankful for every day. I stay at home two days a week and go into the office for my "day job" three. I always have a long weekend and I sometimes get paid to work in my pajamas. Two days a week, no one judges me if I have three cups of coffee before 11 AM and take coloring breaks with my almost-three year old.

It's fun and rewarding and I wouldn't trade it for the world. But it's difficult sometimes too. When Huck is teething and inconsolable. When Marleigh resists her afternoon nap because she's "not tired." When the dog is freshly shaved from running away (another story altogether) and he can't stay outside as long as he usually does because his skin is too sensitive. When the house is a mess and I feel like my head is slowly but surely sinking under the waves of responsibility I am up against.

As a mom, I'm constantly wishing that I had a timer for my life. A way to pause in the really good days, when Marleigh is sweet and a good listener, when Huck's smiles light up the room and laughter fills the air. The seconds at a time that Hans is laying down still and not getting into things he shouldn't be. A fast-forward button for the days and nights that are stressful. The sleeplessness, the tantrums, the toddler testing our limits. A way to quickly breeze past them, a few moments at a time, until we get back to the good.  A stop button for the crying, the whining, the high emotions that sometimes come with this job as a mom. And a play, possibly the most important button I could wish for. To take more breaks to color and read with Marleigh and dance around the living room with Huck. Time to run around in the yard with Hans so he can get some of his energy out and maybe, just maybe, not destroy so many baby toys. To go on dates with my husband and forget about the worries of finances and budgets every once in a while. To turn off Netflix and start finding new ways to entertain and teach the little minds I'm responsible for molding, even when I'm busy making ends meet professionally. 

Over the past two years of working at home, I've learned a lot of things about how I work best and the ideal conditions for the highest productivity. But every once in a while, usually right about the time when I think I finally have it all figured out, I realize that I still have a long ways to go.

Luckily, my "coworkers" are pretty understanding ... most days ;) 


September 3

September 3rd is a date that holds a lot of extreme emotions for me. 

September 3, 2011 is the day that I gained a husband. I gathered with my closest family and friends, put on a fancy white dress, and walked down the aisle to dedicate the rest of my life to my high school sweetheart. We spent the day happily in love, danced the night away, and crashed in our honeymoon suite at Salvatore’s as husband and wife. It was a beautiful, magical day and one that I will never forget.

September 3, 2012 is the day that I gained a daughter. I experienced pain and strength like never before. I leaned on the support of my husband as Marleigh Jo entered the world at 4:23 AM, all 7 lbs 11 oz of her. Our new little family of three spent the day together in a sleepy, love-struck haze in our hospital room. It was an incredible, awe-inspiring day and one that I will never forget.

September 3, 2014 is the day that I gained a hero. I got the phone call that every person dreads, that my mother was in the hospital. I drove like hell to the same hospital that brought me so much joy just two years prior. My family gathered together and everyone we knew prayed for a miracle. Thankfully, 27 days later, God answered those prayers and my mommy walked out of the hospital doors completely healed. It was an emotional, terrifying day and one that I will never forget. 

This year, September 3rd has even deeper meaning. It is a day to celebrate life. Life together as husband and wife that Luke and I started four years ago today. Life as a “big girl” as Marleigh Jo turns three years old. And a new chance at life for my mom, who we weren’t sure would still be here one year ago today. So...

Happy anniversary, Lukas. You are my best friend and I am grateful every day that I get to do life with you by my side. What we have isn’t always perfect, but you are beyond perfect for me. God sure knew what he was doing when he brought us together at the ripe age of 9 years old. I pray for a lifetime of more anniversaries to come with you by my side. You’re my everything, and I love you! 

Happy birthday, Marleigh Jo. I am so proud of you and so thankful that God chose me to be your mommy. You bring more sunshine and laughter to my life than anyone ever has. You are sweet, stubborn, silly, and sassy and I love every little thing about you. I hope you never ever doubt how deeply you are loved!

Happy "new birthday," Mommy. I thank God every single day for keeping you here on this side of Heaven. You mean more to me than you will ever know and I am so beyond proud of you and all you have accomplished these past 365 days. You are a walking miracle, the biggest inspiration, and the best mother and friend I could ever ask for. I love you!


Henry Russell - 10 months

Summer is coming to a close, and it has been a wonderful one to say the least! We have been incredibly busy with camping, family vacations, house projects, and getting ready to start another year in the classroom for Luke and a new job for myself. As per usual, I'm writing this post a couple weeks late, but I didn't want to let another month go by without our monthly Huckles update!

At 10 months, Huck is furniture cruising like nobody's business and taking 2-3 baby steps at a time on his own. Luke and I took bets last night on when we think he'll be officially walking and we both gave it about two weeks until he's mobile and getting into even more trouble than usual!

Huck is our wild child through and through. He rifles through the DVDs from our entertainment center, climbs on anything and everything he can, is constantly hitting his head on things (poor kid), and gives Marleigh and Luke a run for their money during their daily wrestling antics. He is still loud with his screeching and screaming, but he's starting to develop a couple more "words" (or syllables), mainly "Ba" (ball), "Mama" (for pretty much everything, although I like to think he's really saying my name of course), "da," and the latest – "Papa" – which my dad is clearly thrilled about! I'm hoping that when he continues to learn to talk, the screeching will cease. Time will tell! 

He is sleeping through the night consistently and lets us know he's tired by around 7:30 every night. He is still taking two naps a day, but the morning nap is getting shorter and shorter and he's skipped it a couple of times, which makes me think that it won't be long until it's phased out altogether. His afternoon nap usually lasts a solid 2-3 hours, which usually gives me just enough time to clean up the house from his destruction before he wakes up again! 

Huck still loves his big sister, who only ever calls him "Huckles," and she is really sweet to him for the most part, even when he annoys her by stealing her toys and trying to eat her Play Doh. I am excited to see how their relationship grows once he is walking and able to actually play with her a little bit more! (Side note: the other day, Marleigh wanted so desperately for her baby brother to sit on the couch and watch a movie with her. We put him next to her and he was over it within 5 seconds. Poor Mar..! Maybe someday Huck will sit still! haha)

Besides a couple of moody days here and there, our Huckledoo is such a smily, happy boy. I really have never seen a kid whose smile can melt people the way his does. I can't believe it has been 10 months since he entered our world. I'm definitely starting to feel all the feels as we near his first birthday...!

We love you, Henry! Thanks for keeping us on our toes and melting our hearts on a daily basis. We are so proud of you and even more proud to call you our son. I hope you never lose your silly demeanor, your stubborn attitude, or – most importantly – your big dimples! ;) 
Happy 10 months, bubs!


Henry Russell - 8 & 9 months

Here I go again being the worst at keeping up-to-date with this blog. As per usual, the summer has been crazy busy so far with lots of camping excursions and hardly being home! Add in me picking up a couple new freelance clients and filling in as a legal administrative assistant at work rather than just typing hearing reports all day, and my brain is pretty much 99% scrambled by the time we tuck the kids into bed at the end of the day!

Without further adieu... here is a brief recap of our Huckles. I've decided to combine the 8 & 9 month posts because, well, he's 9 months old as of 2.5 weeks ago and apparently I never got around to writing up his recap at 8 months, although I am pretty proud of myself for at least snapping a picture to document it! (9 month photo taken closer to 10 months, but who's keeping score?)

At 9 months, Huck is...

Sleeping through the night consistently, with the exception of a few rough nights thrown in just to keep us on our toes. We let him fall asleep with a bottle, just like his sissy used to like.

Sprouting teeth like it's his job! We are now up to 6 total (4 on top, 2 on bottom) but I swear you can see every single one of his top teeth waiting just behind his gums. We joke that we're just going to wake up this morning and he's going to have a "full grill!"

Eating anything and everything he can get his hands on (sand, dirt, and grass included). He hasn't had baby food in a little over a month. His favorite foods so far seem to be hotdogs, oranges, oatmeal, yogurt, and cheerios. He also devours entire containers of Puffs and Crunchies.

SO. LOUD. We can't wait for this little guy to learn how to talk because his screaming is out of control! We call him our screech owl. He screams when he's frustrated, when he wants up, when he's hungry, or when he wants something. Luke has asked me on multiple occasions if there is any blood coming from his ears after a screeching episode. I can't even exaggerate how awful of a sound it is! Definitely ready for this phase to be over with!

A loverboy. He snuggles in and gives the best hugs when he's sleepy or being bashful. He still has the best smile in the world and his dimples are just as prominent as they have been since day 1. I could be having the worst day and he could look up at me and grin and all is right with the world!

Super ticklish! Especially under his armpits and on his thighs. His chuckle is so contagious!

Stubborn. Go figure!

Big! Although he doesn't top the charts from the doctors, he's huge in our books in comparison to how Marleigh has always been. He's wearing anywhere from 9-18 month shirts depending on the brand, and at least 12 month bottoms for his chubby legs! He has two pairs of 18 month jeans that fit him with the exception of having to roll them up at the bottom because they're too long. Welcome to life with Griffith legs, Huck! haha.

On the go! He hasn't shown much (or any) interest in walking yet, but this kid can crawl at the speed of light and is constantly pulling himself up (and sometimes over) things. He keeps us busy, that's for sure! I don't think I've seen him sit still, besides when he's sleeping of course, for more than 10 seconds at a time since he's been able to crawl.

Standing up by himself. He'll stand for 10-15 seconds at a time (only if he's really interested in something to distract him) and then drops to his little butt as soon as he realizes what he's doing. It's just as scary for all of us. TWO walking/running children soon? Look out!

Our challenging child and my absolute favorite little boy!

Life with a 9 month old and an almost three year old is pretty tiring. I often find myself counting down the minutes until Huck's next nap (he still takes two a day.. hallelujah!) because he's SO BUSY all. the time. I try to remind myself to cherish the moments with him while he's still little, even if that means I don't sit down for more than 2 consecutive minutes in a day! I know by experience how fast these days pass by. Before I know it, Huck will be joining his sister in Terrible Two Land and the days of chasing him as he sea-turtle crawls as fast as he can will be a distant memory. I am trying to soak up all of his quirky baby-ness, even the loud parts, so I can look back at them some day and laugh (and probably cry because I miss it) (and embarrass him in front of all his friends with videos of his screech owl call)!

Oh, Henny – I am so glad that God chose me to be your mommy! Your laughter fills the room and your smiles and snuggles fill my heart even more. Watching you grow these past 9 months has been an absolute gift. You've come a long way from your constantly crying newborn days and I am so thankful for your silly, sweet personality! My little sunshine boy. My Huckles. I love you, bubba!