A month ago today, we began our journey west.
We survived the trip (and really kind of enjoyed it), and the boxes are unpacked, but our journey into a new life has barely begun.
I wanted to jot down some of my observations about our transition, but before I do, it feels important to say that I mostly keep a blog because I need a place to clear my head. Blogging has become a business, a ministry, a platform, a soapbox. But this one is mostly just a journal, albeit a public one. As I'm talking about family/baby/schooling decisions, please do not read in that any attempt to persuade you to make similar decisions. More often than not, I can make a good argument for making the exact opposite decision, too. But at some point, you have to jump off the fence and DO something, right? So I have. Time will tell if I did the right something or not.
Let's start with school.
I didn't enroll the boys in school here. We're trying our hand at homeschooling instead. Which means that, in addition to moving, the boys have been adjusting to a very different schedule since we've been in Colorado.
Honestly? I kind of love it. They seem pretty happy with it, too.
My friend Jessica (whose children are the same age, but who has been homeschooling all along) gave me some great advice a few weeks ago. She said that homeschooling is just like having your first baby. You create astronomical expectations of yourself and your day, you completely stress out about doing everything just right, and at the end of the day your kids are going to be fine either way. They're little. Enjoy the freedom of that. Read every day, and work in the rest as you get to it. They're going to be fine.
That advice has helped me RELAX and enjoy having them home so much more. And I love what I'm seeing emerge in my kids. We are all more connected to each other. They are less cranky, less emotionally tired (but more physically tired, because we have more time to spend playing outside). They sleep later, are playing better on their own, and both boys are enjoying learning. Asher is a great reader but can easily give up or lose interest in it. It is so much fun to see him challenged and engaged in a story again. Silas had developed a reputation at school for being disinterested in book work, but honestly that has not been my experience at all. He has strengths and weaknesses like anyone else, but he enjoys what he is doing, and will often go on to act out his lessons with toys or snacks throughout the day.
School is great. Low key, organic, interesting. It is exactly what we need at this stage in life.
The other big change in the past month has been in Brennan. In Alabama, Brennan's schedule took a back seat to school/toddler schedules. I know I did this with Emmy as well, and Emmy's little personality seemed to handle it well. Brennan's has not. Throw in to the mix the fact that we moved when he was four months old (which is a critical age in forming routines), as well as the altitude/ curiosity challenges with nursing I've already mentioned here, and, well - Brennan just hasn't been a very happy baby recently.
If you've been reading here for very long you know that sleep training, or cry-it-out techniques, are just not my style. But for Brennan it became clear to me that what he needed most in the world was his own quiet place to go to sleep at a predictable time (and without nursing). He tends to get overstimulated, and in the middle of the day especially, peace and quiet is not readily available. One day after rocking and singing and singing and rocking (while he is wailing and Emmy is climbing on my head) I finally realized there was nothing else I could do for him, and the only way to give him any opportunity to rest was to put him down and close the door.
And it worked.
It took him a little while to settle down, but he went to sleep (I went in periodically to soothe him, though he tends to do better if I pat his back rather than pick him up). Not only that, but he woke up happy, and slept better that night. After a week of putting him down awake, he only cries for a few minutes, and has quickly fallen into a nap routine that has made our evenings so much better. Plus, he is just a happier baby. Now that he is more rested and has a better sense of what to expect during the day he is crying much less, and is happy to play and watch his siblings.
It always amazes me to see how different each child's needs are. The very thing that was so disastrous when Asher was a baby turned out to be exactly what Brennan needs. It is another reminder to me to stay open-minded, and to look at what each child specifically needs, rather than how to make them fit into my existing ideas about babies and children.
The boys are great, school is great, Brennan is great. Emmy? Is not.
Little Emmy is cutting molars. She also learned how to climb out of her crib a few weeks ago, and in general just seems to be out of sorts. So many tears, all day, every day. It is equal parts exhausting and comical. In some ways I think she has had the hardest time adjusting to the move. Maybe it was because she didn't understand what was happening ahead of time? Or maybe it has to do with toddler development? I'm not sure. Either way, my little Emmy hasn't quite found her footing in Colorado yet.
But three out of four isn't bad, right?