Friday, June 8, 2018

Be Kind--Rewind

Do ya'll remember when we used to rent movies (VHS, of course) at an actual movie store?  I'm not sure the high school students I work with even know what at VHS is.  Remember that the movie stores used to ask us to "be kind and rewind" the video tapes before returning them?  Yep, me too.  I think it's official--we're getting old.  (Insert groan here.  Oh and the herniated disc in my back.  Just delightful). 

Be kind.  That's the topic for today.  Someone once told me that kindness is different than being nice.  Nice doesn't come from a center of love and compassion.  It's more surface than that.

Kindness.  Kindness comes from a place of joy and of love.  As we've seen this week with the suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, struggle isn't limited to those of us who have a weekly grocery budget.

Struggle is everywhere, especially internally.  We all fight the silent struggle.  Are we good enough at our work?  Are we smart enough?  Thin enough? Successful enough?  A good enough parent?  A good enough friend?  A good enough daughter/son?  Do we love enough?  Do we sleep enough? Do we read enough to our children?   It's like the calculus classes I took all those years ago.  We discussed limits.  Sometimes, the limit does not exist.  In the same vein, enough does not exist.  It never will.

So, dear friends, I want us to be kind to ourselves.  Yes, be kind to others, but please be kind to yourself.  I see a Christian counselor every week.  She's such a source of support (and sanity!) for me.  When we first welcomed the kiddos into our home, I remember describing the chaos to her.

Megan, there are five mouths that need to eat at the same time.  So, I hold one bottle with my foot and two others with each hand.  Then, I'll prop one bottle on a pillow and hope the other one sleeps peacefully until I can get one of the others to a burping spot.  And there are spit-stained burp clothes EVERYWHERE.  I feel like a failure if I can't feed my baby (ies) a full bottle.  I want them to finish strong!  And I'm supposed to cook dinner?  And work out?  And be a normal adult outside the home?  I haven't weeded my flowerbeds in weeks..I haven't organized my sock drawer in months..I haven't updated my five year plan all year...how can I be normal?

Yes, that was the old me.  God bless my sweet counselor.  She dealt with the ambitious, competitive, perfectionist me for many years. I began to shed that version of myself with each changing of a dirty diaper.  As we enter parenthood, we lose more and more control of the life we thought we had.  That shook me to my core for quite some time (still does!), but I've come to realize that I must be kind to myself.  

On the to-do list for today:  be kind to self.

Easier said that done, right?  As my counselor and I have navigated these last 18 months, we've come up with a new mantra for me.  One that has gotten me through so many rough nights, dirty kitchens, spills, wrinkled laundry, and screaming babies.  One that has taught me that perfection doesn't exist.  

My new mantra is "good enough."  The kids ate boxed mac and cheese two days in a row?  Oh well, they're fed.  That's good enough.  Luke tinkled on the wall when I changed his diaper.  Oh well. I wiped it up with Izzy's dirty pajama top.  That's good enough.  We're eating chicken casserole for a third time this week.  Oh well.  Good enough.  Hardly any of my clothes fit the way they used to, so I'm going to invest in a solid Old Navy wardrobe of washable, wearable clothes.  Yep, you guessed it.  Good enough.

So, today, let's all choose to see that we are good enough.  Be kind to yourself.  Rewind all of the beauty and joy God has given you.  With as much sadness and darkness in this world, we have to learn how to rewind the joy and hold onto it.  Let's do it together.

Some silly photos/videos to make you smile:

Mama and Millie

Luke and Isabelle

Millie and Luke

Dad and Luke

Long day of play outside

Clara and Millie

Ava

Mom and Luke
 
Watching Swedish cartoons with Pop Pop




Friday, May 11, 2018

You Don't Have to Be So Strong

Good Morning,

Whew.  I feel beaten up and beaten down.  Maybe sideways, too?  Any way you can put it.  Since it's been a little while, let me just catch you up first.

The kiddos are now 17 months old. They are all walking and talking.  The girls definitely have more words than their brother, especially Ava, who will go to the bottom of the stairs and say "night night" when she's ready for bed.  Millie's favorite word is "woof woof" when she sees any sort of dog, especially Ellie.  Isabelle is working on saying her name (and mine).  See video below.  Luke's favorite word is E-I-E-I-OOOO from the classic Old McDonald had a farm.  Clara's favorite word is "HI," whenever she walks into a room.
Ava

Clara w/ Uncle Thomas

Millie

The climber of the family, Luke

Isabelle

Operation:  Hold Them over Dinner  (minus Ava who was running around being crazy). 
 


This week has been one of the hardest on our family.  

Last week, I had a bit of a cancer scare.  My thyroid is "lumpy" apparently and after some major tears, ultrasound, blood tests, and LOTS of anxiety/fighting the urge to Google everything, I got the all clear from the doctor.  We'll continue to follow my dear 'ole lumpy thyroid, but everything looks fine as of now.  

Then, ALL of the kids got ear infections.  I mean every. single. one.  First Millie.  So, off to the doctor, find someone to watch my other four kids, get meds, come home.  Then two days later, Clara started with the whining, pulling ears, etc.  So Clara goes off to the doctor, find someone to watch four kids, get meds, come home.  Then, two days later, Ava started acting cranky.  So, change my plans, take her to the doctor, find someone to watch four kids, get meds, come home.  Then, a day later, both Izzy and Luke spike fevers.  So, given that it's a Saturday, my husband packs up those two and takes them to urgent care while I stay with the other three.

Yep, those two have ear infections, too.  Except Luke threw up on the way home.  We chalked it up to him getting so worked up at the doctor.  But, once he got home from urgent care, Luke started acting odd.  Losing focus, hand twitches, strange head tilts.  Scary stuff.  Michael and I agreed he needed help--and fast.   Granted, it's now 8:00 on a Saturday night.  I called a good friend who lives nearby.  She changed out of her pjs into her work clothes and came rolling into our home so Michael and I could take Luke to the hospital.

Luke was continuing to vomit, lose control of his bowels--all, of course, while clinging to his mama.  At this point, I start to panic.  What is going on?!  Someone needs to fix my baby--and NOW.

We get to UVA Hospital and realize it's some sort of seizure--potentially caused by his high fever (and maybe ear infection).  They give him some medicine to stop the seizure, which is effective, and then Luke falls asleep.

And then, we sit.  Michael and I wonder:  will he wake up?  What kind of brain damage (if any) will he have?  Will he be able to walk?  Talk?  Use the muscles in his face?  Of course, Dr. Google is NOT your friend in these settings, believe me.

I crawl into the ER bed with my son and just wash him with my tears.  Covered in macaroni and cheese vomit along with baby tinkle, I couldn't care less.  I wanted my son to be ok.  I wanted my son to be his sweet little boy self.  I wanted this to be a bad dream.

We were moved to a room to stay overnight for observation.  I sent Michael home to get some rest and take care of the girls (I wasn't going to sleep anyways).  The kind nurses found some scrub pants for me and I found a sweater in my car to wear until I could get home.

So, I waited.  I waited and hoped my little boy would open his eyes and smile at the sight of my face.  I waited for him to snuggle his warm, soft cheek next to mine.  I waited.  I sang.  I told stories.  And I waited.

Around 3:30 am, he woke up.  He was understandably disoriented, but he was himself.  We snuggled and laughed.  He was bored, so I  took him on a walking tour of UVA Grounds at 4 am.  By the way, when you have 25-pound baby, you should really use a stroller.  My biceps are STILL sore today.

Unfortunately, when I first I got up to pick him up, I immediately felt dizzy.  Then I remembered, "Oh shoot, I didn't eat today."  I missed breakfast because I was getting the kids dressed for Touch A Truck.  I missed lunch because I was running late to work and I missed dinner because I was taking care of Luke. 

Luckily, Luke's nurse came in and noticed I looked dizzy.  I remember she said, "Ok..no problem.  You're in the right place.  Tell me what's up."  I did and she said, "Ok...squat down.. Don't move and don't touch the baby."  She brought me an Uncrustable peanut butter sandwich and some apple juice.  I was good as new.  God bless those nurses.  We celebrate them today and every day.

The next morning, doctors did a final EEG to make sure Luke didn't have any remnant seizure activity--he didn't.  We were free to take him home.  Relief doesn't begin to describe the feelings I felt (well, except maybe exhaustion.  I felt that, too).  So, we went home to our four ear-infected girls and prayed for a better night ahead.

It was about that time that my body started to ache.  I chalked it up to exhaustion and kept on truckin.  I woke up Monday morning (after not much sleep again, of course), and I knew I was sick.  Body aches, chills, ear aches, etc.

I had to give a speech for work in Virginia Beach later in the day on Monday, so I thought I'd stop by urgent care in Richmond and get some medicine and be on my way.

Well, after two hours of waiting in urgent care, I still hadn't been seen.  When I asked the front desk attendant what was going on, he simply told me, "You should never come to urgent care when you have another commitment later in the day."  Oh ok, great customer service slogan.  You should see if you can sell that baby.  Great message.

So, I left in tears, armed with crusty old purse cough drops and Advil.  I powered through and then went to urgent care in VA Beach.  Yep, double each infection and a sinus infection with a fever of 102.  Awesomesauce.  

I go to my hotel, which I had hoped would be a little vacation for me.  Instead, I crawled in the bed with my work clothes on.  I was shivering so much I pulled the covers over my head and blew warm air into them, hoping to warm myself enough to stop shivering.

I ordered soup as takeout and prayed for daylight.  It came and I felt a bit better, but by no means my old self.  I still went to work on Tuesday (yes, I'm stubborn) but stayed in bed most of the day Wednesday.  I'm feeling much more like myself now, but as I said in the beginning, I feel beaten down--and beaten up.

It was on Wednesday as I was in my room resting that I heard God say something to me.  And this is something I think everyone needs to hear.  

You don't have to be so strong.

That's what He said.  You don't have to be so strong.  Let others help you.  Let others care for you.  Let people bring a meal.  Let people take a day off of work to help you.  Let your husband see you cry.  Let your family know that you're scared.  Just let people in.
I don't have to be so strong.  God can hold me up and so can my community.  So, thank you to our community.  This has been one of the hardest weeks and so many of you have held me up.  God bless you and may I be able to hold you up when you have a tough week.





 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Besties with Brene

For those of you who have been with me for a while, you know that I love Brene Brown's work.  Her first TedTalk truly changed the way I thought about both my emotions and my relationships.  Her self deprecating humor makes me feel less alone and her honesty cuts to my core.  If you haven't watched her Ted Talk(s)--she has two--you must.  Go ahead, do that now.

Ok, you're with me, right?  She's brilliant, wise, and hilarious.  I want to be Brene's friend.  I know we would be besties.  Besties with Brene.  That's me.

I'm traveling for work this week (Praise the Lord--quiet hotel rooms!), and as I'm driving, I'm listening to Brene's teachings on The Power of Vulnerability.  This is on Audible--I can't recommend it enough.  

One of the ideas that Brene presents is the idea of "foreboding joy."  That often times, many of us, even during the happiest of times, are waiting for the other shoe to drop.  She uses the example of watching your child sleep.  Many of us will watch our child sleep peacefully and think to ourselves, "my gosh..I can't love you any more.  You are the most magnificent creature."  And in the same breath, we imagine something terrible happening to that child.  It's almost like our brains are preparing for something terrible to happen.  It's almost as if we are trying to head off trauma and disappointment at the pass. If we prepare ourselves enough, maybe the bad stuff won't hurt so much.

This resonated with me.  My two miscarriages, especially the second, was traumatic.  Very traumatic.  We thought everything was wonderful.  We shared the good news with our families and celebrated with close friends.  We bought baby clothes and started a Pinterest board.  And then, the worst happened. The baby died, and I began to bleed uncontrollably.  

No amount of "foreboding joy" could have prepared me for that moment.  Nothing could've saved me from the depths of despair, grief, humiliation, shame, and sadness.

So, what Brene says (and I agree with), is stop with the foreboding joy.  You can't prepare yourself for the off chance that something horrific happens. It may happen--or it may not.  Instead, as Brene says, "soften" into joy.  Accept that some moments are just that--joyful.  Use those moments as fuel and a reason to stay grounded.  Moreover, use those moments to shine a light on your gratitude.  We have so much to be thankful for.  Let's use more of our emotional energy to find the gratitude of what we have--not the fear of what may be coming.  It isn't worth it.  

We are worth so much more.


This little girl (Isabelle) saying Mama is a moment I'll always treasure.


Sunday, March 18, 2018

Little Gym and Big Miracles

I am delighted to tell you that the Bundle of Baudinets has a new relationship with one of the coolest spots in Charlottesville...The Little Gym!

I've known of The Little Gym since my days as President of the Junior League of Charlottesville.  TLG used to join us at the Junior League's Kids in the Kitchen event, in which they would teach healthy exercise and lifestyles to kids of all ages.  Their mission is truly inspiring.

I realized that my kiddos need some sort of physical engagement beyond what Michael, the au pairs, volunteers, and I were giving them.  They need to meet new kids, experience new environments and just, well, grow as little humans.

I knew Little Gym had a tremendous program, but I was sure that we as a family wouldn't be able to afford it.  Luckily, the owner has been so responsive and flexible to our needs.  We were thrilled to attend our first class earlier this month.

For those of you who don't know (or all of the out of towners who read this), TLG of Charlottesville has been around for over 20 years.  In 2013, ownership switched hands to Sarah Oliva, a long standing instructor at the location.  In 2015, they relocated to The Shops at Stonefield and have been happily tumbling and growing the TLG family since then. We are so happy to join this family--take a look at our first class.  Can't wait to show you more of the fun we have at this very special place.







Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Birthday Breakdown

Well, I was due for a good breakdown, right?  The quints had been floating right along (with a few hiccups, of course), but I was starting to feel like things were smoothing out.  Sheesh, why do I bother to EVER think that?  I shouldn't..ever, ever again.  Remind me. 

Last week was my birthday.  In my family, we LOVE birthdays.  I mean, we love them.  We count down days.  We sing.  As children, my older sister and I did birthday treasure hunts with rhyming clues (yes, my mom is the bees knees!).  She even wrapped all of our gifts in matching paper with the most beautiful, bountiful bows you've ever seen.  I love a birthday with my mama--she always makes my heart feel full.  You know that feeling. 

In my mind, birthdays include cake, friends, laughter, and a day of love.   This year, I'd planned to get out of the house for the afternoon.  See a good friend, get some work done, and take myself on a little shopping trip.  I realize it's rare when your work makes you as happy as mine does for me.  It's truly a gift.  

And yet, I digress.  

My birthday was Tuesday.  On the Saturday prior, our sweet Millie starting to feel icky.  She had some nasal drainage and struggled to sleep comfortably.  By Monday (day before d-day, I mean b'day), I couldn't put Millie down because she was so uncomfortable.

Michael was traveling on Sunday/Monday and as I was trying to feed all the babies Monday morning, Millie would.not.let.me.go.  She clung to me like a hungry monkey and screamed at any sudden movement.

AND, she wouldn't sleep, ya'll.  Every time I tried to get her to sleep, she screamed.  A blood-curdling, "this is NOT OK" sort of scream.  On Monday after breakfast, I put her down to put the other babies down for their nap.  She screamed.  And screamed.  And screamed. 

I picked her back up.  She continued to scream.  She screamed for 4 hours straight.  I tried her blanket.  Pacifier.  Stuffed penguin.  Singing.  Cartoons.  Juice.  Cheerios.  A walk outside.  A walk inside.  Toys.  Snuggles.  Everything.

By the time a sweet friend and volunteer arrived, I was at my wits end.  My friend Anne put Millie in the stroller and walked her up and down the driveway until she calmed and fell asleep.  This gave me time to feed the other kids lunch (oh right, forgot about that!) and call the doctor.

The doctor and I agreed it seemed like an ear infection, so I needed to bring Millie in for a visit.  Thank goodness our au pair Jess agreed to come on duty early and watch the others while I took Millie to the doc.  

Millie indeed had a double ear infection and thus began antibiotics.  Monday night she continued to struggle to sleep unless she slept on my chest.  I let her sleep on me until 2 am, but as most of you know, mamas don't sleep well with babies on their chests.  At least this one doesn't.  Still, I kept thinking to myself... "Tomorrow is my birthday. I will get out of the house and feel the love (and have peace and quiet)." 

It was after dinner that night that the lady that helps out on Tuesdays texted me.  She said she had the stomach flu and couldn't come to work the next day.  I would have to stay home.  No birthday outing.  No friends.  No cake.  No nothing.

I was wrecked.  I was unbelievably sad.  The next morning I cried into Michael's chest, muttering, "I just wanted ONE day to be about me."  

I felt selfish and guilty (a mom's hobby, I'm learning).  I should WANT to stay home with my babies, no matter how sick they are or how much I want birthday cake, right?  But, I was so tired--mentally and physically.  By this point, all of the kids had a cold and I had little help and even less sleep.  

I tell myself that I should be as kind and gracious to myself that I try to be to my friends.  Somehow, that's easier said than done (right, mamas?).  I feel guilty--so often.  I feel sad.  I wonder how I'll survive (much less thrive in) this beautiful chaos.  I worry I miss out on so much joy because the exhaustion clouds my view.  Some days this beautiful blessing feels like so much to carry.

My dad's mom (the original Clara before my Clara) always said, "sometimes you can't around a challenge.  You can't go around.  You can't go over it.  You can't go over it.  You just wade through it."

So that's what I'm doing during this tough time.  I'm wading through it.  I'm wading through and lifting up my eyes as I thank God for the little joys that He's given me on the daily basis.

Isabelle learns to jump as Millie cheers her on.   Millie's favorite word is 'YAY!!"


 

Monday, February 26, 2018

Seasons

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.



This Bible verse has been on my heart lately.  As Merle departed and we started a "new au pair year," I'm realizing how much of life, especially now with toddlers, is seasonal.  I am literally watching new seasons of life unfold before my very eyes--rolling over, crawling, babbling, full words, cruising, walking, etc.  This, in comparison to my BK (before kids, not Burger King) life when I observed seasons by the color of the leaves on the trees, the crispness of the Virginia air, and the time of the pink and purple sunsets each evening.

On the tough days, I remind myself that this is but a season in life.  There will be days that I long for my kiddos to grab onto my legs while I'm washing dishes (or vacuuming, or folding clothes or going to the bathroom!).  There will be days that I long for an early morning snuggle with a squishy, chuckling baby.  There will be days that their cribs collect dust instead of pacifiers.  And there will come a day that the house is a lonely, hollow sound of silence (and by golly, then I will take a nap!).  

Several weeks ago, a friend was supposed to come out to the house to help me prepare some of of our baby stuff for a local consignment sale.  This was a Friday.  The night before, our sweet, chuckling, chortling Millie decided to go on sleep strike.  I held her for several hours that night before getting up at 5 am to do the "morning shift," as we call it.  I was one of those versions of tired when you think you may laugh or cry at any moment, but you choose not to because it may soak up too much energy.  YUP.  That was me.  

Anyway, my friend Karen on her way to my house, and I text her:  "Can I be honest?  I just can't do this today.  I'm so exhausted and overwhelmed."  Keep in mind, this woman had driven at least 30 minutes out to my house and was about to have to turn around and go home.  Her response?  "Of course!  I'm going to come in, drop off spaghetti, hug you and leave.  Please don't worry!"

You guys, the grace this woman showed me.  The kindness.  The love.  I felt seen in all of my vulnerability and loved anyway.  I so appreciated her at this moment.

I told you ALL of that to tell you that after she dropped of spaghetti, played with my kids, and chatted with me (adult convos!  A rare species), she prayed for me.

She prayed for me.  

She told God she understood we aren't supposed to ask for tough times to go quickly, but she asked that He would give me the endurance and patience to see this season for what it was.

Wow.  

This blew me away.  So, I want to pay this forward.  If you're in a tough season.  A season of scarcity--financial or social.  A season of loneliness.  A season of sadness.  A season of fear.  A season of self dislike.  A season of exhaustion (um yes, party of one--right here).  

Let us all remember.  To everything there is a season.  Let us see the season we're in for what it's worth (both highs and lows).  Let us sit in the emotions we feel right now and know that this season will soon fade and fall away like the bright fall leaves every November.  

So, eat spaghetti.  Drink wine.  Watch DVR.  Go for a run.  Take a nap.  Just do what you need to do to get through today.  Tomorrow may be the start of a new season.


Today may be the start of a new season.  Sending love and light to every one!

Monday, February 19, 2018

A Farewell--Lebewohl

This is a week I've been dreading.  This week, we say farewell to our German au pair, Merle.  Merle is returning to Germany for a few weeks before pursuing the au pair program in China.

I knew when the au pairs arrived last February that there would come a day when we would have to say goodbye.  I've known that all along, but I cannot even put my level of connection and attachment to Merle into words.

Merle is our comic.  Her wit cuts through some of the most stressful situations.  Her laugh brightens the darkest of room and her love of family warms my heart.

Her laundry folding skills are TOP notch--you should see the stuff she does!  She loves Harry Potter just as much as I do, even though she's a Slytherin...yeesh.

I can't imagine not spending Monday nights with Merle, watching the Bachelor or Dancing with the Stars.  I can't imagine each Cheesecake Factory cheesecake without her.  I can't imagine taking the kids to stroll at UVA and not having Merle walking alongside me. 

Merle has played such a critical role in this first year with our quints.  She's taught them how to feed themselves.  How to sleep more soundly (sometimes!) in the night.  How to open a book and turn pages.  How to roll a ball back and forth.  How to make silly faces (especially for selfies) and how to walk.  She's left an indelible impression on Michael, Ava, Clara, Millie, Luke, Isabelle, and especially me.

We wish Merle all the love and light this world can offer.  And we expect her to come visit soon and often.

We love you Merle!!!