Here we are– 7 months earthside.

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We are emerging from a month with a clingy, fussy baby and the longest nurse-a-thon of my entire milkmaid career. I’ve been breastfeeding (collectively) a total of 2 years– a number that I know will continue to grow, which brings a peaceful pride to my mama heart. Otto baby, as a nursling, is insistent and a bit rough. We have yet to see any teeth pop through, but my girls say otherwise. The first 10 days postpartum have always been a nursing nightmare (with every child). Even with perfect little latches, I’ve always experienced extreme cracking, bleeding, and mastitis. When Otto was 6 days old, I went to see our pediatrician for lactation support. I’ll never forget her face when she saw the war zone.

“Oh, Maggie! This is the worst I’ve ever seen. I cannot believe you’re nursing through it!”

But everytime, I survive– and babies thrive.

That being said– this is the first time I’ve experienced the “war zone” this far into infancy. I’m working on nursing boundaries: breaking his latch when he bites or pulls and affirmation with tone of voice. I’m hoping (for my girls’ sake) that we can find a peaceful ground.

We’ve introduced more solids into his diet. This baby kicks wildly and grabs at spoons that come anywhere near his face. I blanch and peel peaches and let him gnaw them to death. He’s also a fan of whole peeled apples– you’d be surprised how much he can demolish! We’ve also introduced puréed foods. I harvested squash last week and used one solely for baby food. I’ve also made a spinach and pea purée from the garden– pulse in the food processor- voilà! He eats solids once a day– usually in the morning– and despite the introduction of real food, he has yet to scale back on breast milk. If anything, his nursing frequency has increased– but I also accredit this to an insane growth spurt.

Growth spurt. The biggest to date. In a month, this kiddo teetered on the edge of mobility only to dive in completely. Crawling EVERYWHERE. Getting into EVERYTHING. Grabbing ANYTHING to pull himself to stand. He even takes steps when you hold his hands, so naturally, I don’t hold his hands anymore…

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I’m trying so badly to soak up babyhood without falling into that sentimental suck-hole, but these third babies… They grow at lightening speed. Angus was walking at 10 months– I know Otto will be even earlier. These boys, they slay me.

He continues to be the happiest of babies. He smiles constantly– even when he’s fussing, nursing, or sleeping. He thinks his siblings are hilarious. And his playful screech is enough to make me reconsider being “done.”

Also, final verdict on eye color: BROWN!

I love this little ginger boy. I cannot wait to see what next month brings– but please, no walking…

 

I’ve experienced the biggest surge of energy since we wrapped up harvest. Judd still is working through the weekends, but the hours are more reasonable. Harvest exemplifies two things: 1) I become more confident as a mother because I am doing it all by myself. I don’t have help. I don’t have that partner to tag into the ring at 6 PM every night. I rally. And although exhausting, I become acutely aware just how strong I am. 2) Regardless of this new solo mama muscle I gain, I never appreciate my husband more than after harvest. It is the best reminder that parenting is a partnership. It’s a reminder that where I fall short, he makes up. This family is built on a two-pillar foundation, and without him, we teeter.

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My garden is exploding. We have a short grow season on the plateau (the month of May still has below freezing nights), but we still make the most of it. I scaled back on size and expectation this year. Initially, I felt guilty about this– but then I allowed myself to recognize the priority-shift in recently months, and I was able to be gentler with myself about my grow operation.

Regardless, we have a bounty. Each year growing becomes more special because of the little hands digging next to me in dirt. I rattle off horticultural jargon, distinguish weed from vegetable, and curse as I pull an entire bed of root vegetables because of root maggots. They listen. I know they do. The other day, Isla walked through the garden identifying every vegetable we planted. She asked about those “damn maggots” and even told me that the orange flowers would be turning into squash soon.

We’ve been small batch preserving sporadically throughout the summer, but our big canning session arrives in early fall. I’m even more excited for canning season because of the new labels I had made.

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Have you heard of Kidecals? They have everything from canning labels to medical alert stickers. And the best part– they are permanent! I am able to wash and reuse these jars over and over again. I also ordered beer labels for Judd’s latest home brew.

I’m filling baskets of our brew, preserves, and eggs and sending them out to neighbors. This kind of gift giving makes me happy.

 

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Kidecals is offering readers of the Roost 15% off all orders through September 20th. Use the coupon code: ruralroost15 to receive your discount. Also, Kidecals offers free shipping on all US orders!

(This post was sponsored by Kidecals, but all words and images are my own.)

 

Last week, I had the kids packed into the car and was headed into town to meet friends and run errands. Halfway down our windy canyon, something caught my eye in the rearview mirror: Angus was slumped over and unresponsive when I called his name. The Dexcom read “118” with a falling trend. Oh, shit! I pulled over, grabbed the meter to test him, and headed to the back of the car– but before I could get to him, he started seizing.

No cell service. No help. It was the worst case scenario.

I launched myself to the back, where I mixed the glucagon and readied the biggest needle I’d ever seen.

“Is Bubba okay, mama?”

He’s okay, sis. He just doesn’t feel very good and mama needs to make him better.

Glucagon straight to the thigh, and then I sat with him until he was able to come out of it.

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We now have 8 months of experience under our belts, yet I’m feeling more overwhelmed by this disease than the day he was diagnosed. And that overwhelmed/anxious/sadness is transferring to my curly-haired 3 year old.

I ignorantly told myself that she was too young to understand and that kids were resilient, when in reality, she is standing in the same storm we are– unable to process the anxiety plaguing our family.

Isla is pulling out her hair.

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She has been a hair twirler since birth, but it just recently turned to pulling. In fact, the pulling started 8 months ago, as we drove away from Children’s hospital. “Here, mama.” She handed me a clump of hair from the backseat. I was horrified, but at that point I thought her finger may have been caught after twirling and she tugged a little too hard. Then I started to find hair in her bed in the mornings.

We tried gentle reminders, introducing silk-lined blankets, and we even made her wear hats to bed. Nothing worked. It’s now become obvious that this isn’t just a phase. My daughter is pulling her hair out. She is stressed and anxious and doesn’t know how to cope. So, she pulls.

Today, we cut her hair off. I felt tears well up as I watched ringlets fall to the floor.

Don’t you dare cry, Maggie! Don’t you dare show sadness. It’s just fucking hair!

What lesson am I teaching my daughter if I cry over the length of her hair? It sends the message that self-worth is found in her appearance. I will not be that mom. We are stretching the limits of gender and embracing beauty from the substance of her heart.

And those tears… They really have nothing to do with hair, but more to do with the fact that my 3 year old is suffering and I don’t know how to fix it. Those tears want to fall because it feels as though I’m failing my kids.

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The Year of Heaviness continues to test us. But, with a girl that can rock a pixie cut and a boy who’s about to get an insulin pump– this heaviness doesn’t stand a chance.

We are surviving. And hopefully, one day, we will be thriving.

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Isla suffers from trichotillomania. To learn more, click here.

 

If the frequency of blog posts are any type of reflection of the current state of our roost, then my absence on this space the past month would reflect the storm of chaos we’ve been in the eye of lately.

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As harvest inched closer, Angus’s blood sugar inched higher. I had a gut feeling he was coming down with something, but I prayed that the Health Gods wouldn’t pile that on our plate right before Judd started cutting. Last week, I came home (from a late night visit with a girlfriend) to a little boy burning up– his skin was on fire! Judd and I went into panic mode– his temperature was 103 and he started screaming out in pain that his tummy hurt. A quick urine test and we were now dealing with a very sick boy with very large ketones. This is the Danger Zone for diabetics.

For the next two days, we were in constant contact with our team at Children’s. We were doubling insulin in attempt to flush out ketones. We were chasing highs– blood sugar and stubborn temperatures. We were even threatened with being admitted. But, we survived. Judd and I are deep enough into this diagnosis that we felt solid in our knowledge of this disease– which in turn, influenced our highly reactive and effective sick-day management.

After Angus was diagnosed, we were handed a binder that read “Sick Day Management.” I was overwhelmed and intimidated that the knowledge we had developed in the past four years– of parenting through snotty noses and puke bowls– did not apply. Diabetes changed everything. I don’t think people quite understand how dangerous a virus can be for someone with Type 1. Because Type 1 is an autoimmune disease, any outside bug that attacks his immune system has the potential to turn life-threatening– just like that.

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Consequently, this little virus bumped Angus out of his honeymoon completely. Before, he was able to snack on any foods with 5 grams of carbs or less– not anymore. He is higher than a kite. The amount of insulin is not working. Things are changing and the amount of insulin he requires has almost doubled in the matter of a week.

Beef Creek Jones is feeling back to his high-energy self, just in time for harvest.

So, here we are. This is harvest: We say goodbye to daddy around 6 AM and don’t see him again until almost 9 PM. It’s a long day; a long day for everyone. Because parenting after 6 PM seems to be my Achilles heel, I am eating my fair share of humble pie right now. I’m being practical this year, and because of this, I’m gentler with myself. Screen time seems to increase, the line the I draw in the sand slowly retracts, and structure gets pushed to the back burner. But, this is how I can handle days like this without losing my shit.

Hats off to all the single mamas out there– this job is tough!

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To combat the witching hour, we’ve been meeting daddy in the fields. We exchange dinner for a ride in the combine; his buddy makes fun of my footwear choice (Keens in the stubble wasn’t the smartest choice),  and Otto baby gets snatched from my arms by a baby-loving grandpa who adorns flannel and greased-stained hands.

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These times are to be romanticized. They are worthy.

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Let’s not forget the sanctity of the 30th of every month.

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Half a year old. Already. How can that be? I’m beating a dead horse with these overly sentimental posts, but I can’t help myself.

Otto Currently:

Blowing raspberries, clicking his tongue, and whining MA MA MA MA when he gets hungry.

Nursing has become our time to flirt endlessly with each other. He reaches up for my face; I kiss-attack those fat little fingers; he rhythmically pats my collar bone. It takes him 30 minutes to do a 10 minute job, because every time we lock eyes, that tight little latch erupts into a heart-melting smile.

We introduced solids. We peel whole peaches and apples, then let him gnaw on them while we eat our meals. We tried a little mashed up avocado. No good. The green goods really clogged him up. We will try again later.

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We’ve entered the early stages of crawling. He rocks back and forth on his knees, only to drop down to his tummy and drag himself to toys.

To top it all off, he magically fit into a 9 month onesie this morning. My silent sobbing just became obnoxiously loud.

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Were you worried the middle child would be forgotten in this post? Let me put you at ease.

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Now that I’ve purged a month’s worth of mental notes– Happy harvest to all the hard working families out there!

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We celebrated our girl this weekend. Three years old in the blink of an eye.

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This year, we are approaching birthdays a little different than years past. Less party; more celebration. I’ve slowly felt myself surface from the suckhole that is the Pinterest Standard. Judging parties, vacations, announcements, etc. by the worthiness of a Pin is ludicrous. And vain. And in a way, feels like an exploitation of a sacred moment. I continue to discover that the more I loosen my grip on control/planning/organization, the happier my entire family is. Like I said, I’m surfacing. I feel myself becoming a better mother because of it.

So, instead of bunting strung throughout trees and color-coordinated décor, we let Isla decide how she wanted to spend her day. The morning was spent at Waterville Days, in bounce houses and twirling dresses to live music. Followed by a dip in the town’s outdoor pool and a BBQ with close friends and family.

We did maintain certain traditions:

Our kiddos wake up to balloon-filled rooms on their special day. Isla rightfully screamed, “The balloon fairy came! For my birthday!”

Birthday kiddo gets a breakfast date with daddy in town. Judd is swamped this time of year, so this special time away with just him holds more weight than other times of year.

Birthday mornings are a bit like Christmas. We don’t wait for a party to open presents. We dive right into wrapping paper with bed-head and morning breath.

Food is not consumed without a candle lit and the birthday song sung: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. They all warrant celebration. Why should cake have all the fun?

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I fall in love again and again with these kids as I witness them find their person. Isla Rose, in particular, exploded her way into girlhood this year. She likes pink, dresses, and accessories soaked in glitter as equally as she likes superheroes, rough housing, and roping cattle. She has an air of confidence about her that has me feeling both proud and reassured– I know she’ll be okay.

She is the funniest small human I’ve yet to meet. Her humor paired with execution is a debilitating force. She huffs and puffs and grunts and groans as she collects eggs every morning. Her sure-footed feet stomp their way past pecking hens and chicken poop. She physically removes our broody hen from atop her eggs, only to discover one.

“When the chickens be bad and don’t lay no eggs, I gonna cut them.”

She stomps back inside with a pout of the lip and asks to have chicken for dinner.

The parts of her that seem rough and crass are complimented with the most tender of hearts. An impromptu pool date, just her and I, ended with her little arms wrapped around my neck, bobbing in the deep end and smiling ear to ear.

“Today’s my favorite day, mama. We’re best friends, right?”

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Sister, you are loved. Fiercely. I can’t believe you’re mine.

Happy birthday, Cowgirl Rose.