Sunday, October 31, 2010

If She Doesn't Scare You...

That Cruella De Vil. If she doesn't scare you, no evil thing will!

I tell ya, she might be scary to see, but she sure is fun to be. I had a great Halloween weekend with this award-winning costume coming together just hours before Trick or Treat last night. Shaggy... er, Shrek.. and I decided to dress along with the kids for the town's Trick or Treat, which we don't normally do. But we were planning to go out afterwards, and it just made sense. So the whole lot of us: Shaggy, Cruella, a witch, a zebra and Scooby Doo hit the street around 6:30 p.m. It was a blast!

The kids had a great time and we finished the evening, as is tradition, with a visit with cousins at the Cooper house. There were cousin witches, smiling four-year-olds and the dynamic duo of Shaggy and Scooby...

We left the kids happy at home with their mammaw and a couple of Halloween specials on TV. (Thanks, NBC!) We headed off to the American Legion for some good-natured Halloween fun with friends. We got to see lots of friends, including my best girl, Spider Woman, and my brother, the Scottish athlete. I even won third place in the costume contest!

It was another fun notch in the belt of Roberts Halloweens. Check out the belly on this Cruella! She must not be as scary as she looks...

Hope your Halloween was festive. I don't know about you, but I'm ready to kick off November in the morning. Let's keep the good times rolling!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Carving Out Memories

Well, I suppose this is a good time to admit that if I hadn't been so %$#&)^%# frustrated while letting the kids help me ice a kajillion sugar cookie ghosts last night that I might have really liked to have taken a photo of them to go with this post. Ah well. This still photo of the cookies tonight will have to do. No regrets, right?

What's that? They don't look like ghosts????? Oh well. They are ready for preschool tomorrow, and they taste so delicious!

Ironically enough, I've had a bit of a crap day, and it was one of those lovely little ghosts I just ate that gave me the energy and the desire to write this post. I think it reminded me of Christmas, which I love. And eating the cookie also reminded me of Thanksgiving overindulgence, which I also love.

I also think we're a little closer to all of the Roberts kids knowing what they are going to be for Halloween this year. Max is loving a zebra costume we borrowed for Tuesday School, but I think he'll be Captain America for tomorrow's Halloween party. Lily has decided to be a rock star, though she informed me tonight that she thinks her microphone is in the camper at Lake Tweet. Lovely. And Colby? Well, that kid's easy. He'll either be a mummy or a puppy or just the cutest curly-and-red-headed 17-month-old in the world.

Halloween is special for our family. We've never shied away from the whole dress-up thing. In fact, for the longest time, Halloween was Shrek's FAVORITE holiday. I think our laid-back and fun family has finally allowed Christmas to edge in front now, but I'm not sure.

So I've dressed up as many things over the years with my love. Most memorably, I was a flapper and he, Marquis de Sade, on Halloween 2001, at a party at which we were ENGAGED! That's right. Shrek asked me to marry him in a smoky, crowded bar while wearing a white yarn wig, tights and knickers. And I said yes!

I wish I had a scanner so I could show you a photo of the happy couple. But I don't. But I remember it all well: Shakebomb, tons of friends, my baby singing his crazy rendition of "Mr. Suit," and then a summons to the front, where he fell to one knee and proposed. I was crying by the time I got to the stage, and I couldn't see the ring for anything, but of course, I said yes. And then there was happiness, champagne, Shakebomb singing "Pretty Woman," and my baby and I dancing and laughing and loving our rock star proposal. Good times!

And that's just one small reason why I LOVE Halloween. What's that you say? What am I going to be this year? Well, I'm thinking I might just hike up my shirt to paint a pumpkin on this spectacular belly. I tell you what, at only 25 weeks, nobody seems to grow them like I do, and it might just be time to show off my amazing womb/gardening skills!

I encourage you to dress up too and to not be a fuddy duddy by looking like you do every other Saturday night of the year. Find the kid in you, and see Halloween from fresh eyes!

And now, just to prove that we dress up with the best of them, here are a couple snaps of the Roberts from Halloween of 2008, when we won Best-Dressed Family at a school-wide party at St. John's Central School in Churchtown. (I think it might have been the seven-foot-tall tin man that clinched the title....)

In the words of the wizard, "A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others."

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 25, 2010

These are My People

"Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one."
- Jane Howard

Well, I can't believe it, but I don't have a group photo of my family women this past weekend. I'll have to add one when I get one from my aunt. We had a fabulous getaway. I'll share some of the photos I do have, which prove that we ate well, laughed often and made time for each other. Make no mistake: I love these women, and they have helped to shape me in so many ways.

I am going to take the easy way out and just post some photos of the trip. My bed is calling my name, and it sounds so sweet.

Cousins are like Bras…close to the heart and there for support.
- Anonymous

If you swear at your friends; you get in a fight,
If you swear at your sibling; you get in trouble,
If you swear at your cousin; You guys laugh and get over it.
- Anonymous

Cousins are the sisters God forgot to give us.
- Anonymous

It is difficult to imagine anything more nourishing to the soul than family life.
- Sir Thomas More

Friday, October 22, 2010

Living My Real Life

For starters, I can't believe how much laundry this family makes! I've spent the better part of two days hauling, washing, drying, folding and putting away about 10 loads of laundry. Hmm, another baby into the mix? No problem!

While I fold and carry and trip over random toys, my boys have been playing together well. There are more wheeled vehicles and toys in my house than I can count. Lately, Max has taken to giving Colby what Max calls "field trips." Check it out.

Basically, Max picks a vehicle and rigs up whatever kind of trailer he can think of to pull Colby around the house. Sometimes, it's a bottomless tent and Colby actually crawls behind him, inside the tent, Flintstone-style. Boys are hilarious!

I just can't tell what Max is going to be. He loves Monster Trucks, trailers, tractors and the Power Rangers, but, also, he's a bit of a pastry chef. He adores baking. He's quite the master with the KitchenAid mixer. This morning, at his insistence, we had banana bread out of the oven by 8:30 and a double batch of sugar cookie dough whipped up and in the freezer for later by 9.

I've had a busy couple of days, and I'll soon be off to a Girls' Weekend with my mom, sis, aunts and cousins. I can't wait to relax and reconnect with these amazing women!

So, tonight, a bit of a random post. But I'm living the real life, the one where you want to lock your husband out of the house when he gets home from work in dirty clothes because you have--finally--rid your house of every single dirty piece of laundry and, just for awhile, you want to keep it that way. I'm living the life where one second I'm hearing "Mommy, you're my best friend" and, not five minutes later, from the same kid, "You ruined my life!" after I've refused bubble gum for the 50th time in one day. I'm living the life where I'm looking around the homestead, so proud of the house we've built and missing my husband who has been busy and away a lot this week, but knowing that we'll have the rest of our lives to hang out and that this weekend is for me and the women, the glue, of my family.

So long for now. I've got some living to do. But I'll be back to tell you all about it.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hitting the Brakes

I have been absolutely clobbered by how fast life seems to be going lately. My little girl, who will be seven in a couple of weeks, is less than a foot shorter than me! And I'm not short. Max is becoming a little man and teaching me the names of farm machinery we see working in fields as we hurtle down the highway in the Mommy-mobile, which always has someplace to be ten minutes ago. Colby is trying to master the English language, but so far only has "dada," "mama" and "puppy" down pat. He is working on saying "Lily," which sounds more like "Yiyi."

And every time I look at the calendar, I do a double take. October 20th already. (It's actually a very cool date: 10.20.2010.) I'm determined that life won't be what happens when I'm making other plans, as the saying goes. I'm loving fall, planning a birthday party and reveling in the anticipation of my three favorite holidays--Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas--all lined up in a row, like the gifts they are.

And I'm taking time for photos like these. I'm sharing them and bragging on how cute these little people are. And, finally, I'm starting to picture that puffy, perfect, gorgeous face of the newborn I'll welcome this winter.

In spite of it all--the long days at work, the endless sibling squabbles, the awkward carries of toddler, belly and bags from the grocery store--I am so GLAD. I mean it, truly, when I say to my children, my reasons: You are worth it all.

Peace to you and yours.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Photo Tease and Appreciation

Well, I've spent way too much time editing awesome photos of my kids from today's fall photo shoot and really haven't left time to write. (I promise to share more images this week!) It was a great weekend, and I'm feeling on the upswing.

THANK YOU to all who read, commented on and shared Friday's post on motherhood and the vulnerability it brings. I love knowing you are reading, and I have so many hopes and dreams for this blog.

Please keep visiting, sharing and reaching out! Have a great week!

Friday, October 15, 2010

About 128 Pounds of Heart

It occurred to me today that about 128 pounds of my heart live outside of my body. No wonder I have been heavy-hearted this week!

With Lily around 56 pounds, Max at 46 and Colby at nearly 26, I live my life, truly, with 128 pounds of vulnerability outside my body. As vital to me as my own beating heart, my kids are subjected to a world that doesn't always love them, protect them or care about them. I leave them in the care of others, in the uncertainty of a school day and under the expertise of medical professionals when they are sick and at their weakest. As a mother, I have to trust that all will be well, that no major catastrophe will ever strike these precious, irreplaceable little people whom I love and adore so much that it hurts.

It's tough!

It's almost too much to ask of a parent! But it's reality. So we watch them grow. We take the baby steps with them, hold their hands to the bus stop, we let them form their own friendships, opinions and views of the world. And I know it will get harder as parents of older children have told me: the problems get bigger and involve more people. You watch them miss the most important basket of the game, you see them snubbed by the popular kids, feel their hearts break with the loss of first loves. You hand them the car keys when your heart screams "No!" You watch them marry mates you wouldn't have chosen for them, see them deal with bigger problems than you ever dreamed they would have to face.

I really don't know how we mothers do it, but we do. We strive to give our children the strong base of a good beginning, moral beliefs and unconditional love. And through it, they grow their wings. We learn our boundaries and our limits, the ways in which we might influence them and the ways in which we have to accept their actions and feelings.

Motherhood is not for the faint of heart.

And so, I put one foot in front of the other. I stir the chocolate milk, soothe the crying baby, wipe the running nose. I pray and trust and dream and hope that I can make these years count in the ways they will need to count for the rest of my children's lives. I remember this isn't about me; this isn't my show, it's theirs. While I will recognize and feed the need to make time for myself and to recharge in the ways that I must, I refuse to be a product of the me, myself and I mentality that dominates so much of what I hear these days.

Because these days are precious. They are good and true and all that is right in the world. As my heart continues to grow and dream and spread into the world, I accept the reality of the lows and the highs, the hows and the whys.

This is motherhood, and it's a privilege.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Baby of the Family

I've been really busy lately. I've been organizing clothes, shoes, toys, papers and all kinds of random items in my house. It's been about a week of spurts of focused activity, and the place is looking amazing. I'm happy to be free of clutter!

I've also been really busy trying to cherish my kids, to worry less about money and more about the woman they'll remember as their mother when they are adults. And I've been trying to savor my baby, Colby Levi. The baby outside of my womb, the one who will only have had 20 months to be "the baby of the family," as opposed to the 31 months and 35 months his older siblings had.

This is a big deal. I really think it is, even though Colby is so unaware. It will be natural to him to defer to his younger brother at such an early age, to settle for dad instead of mom because she has that crying thing to take care of, to become more independent than other kids, especially those who will get to be "the baby of the family" forever. While he may be a little rushed into growing up, I believe it's going to make him a better, stronger, more sensitive human being. He'll be enviably intuitive, and he'll know he's a part of the world instead of the center of the world.

And so here he is, my Colby Levi, in photos tonight.

Hiding behind the coat rack and in the disarray as Mommy sorts.
Spinning some tunes on a record player just like Mommy used to have!
Borrowing Daddy's rad shoes.
And catching some zzz's while Baby Neptune reruns, again.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Me, In a Cape

I admit, I have a picture problem. As in, I can't seem to capture the right images to make my blogging life easier and more meaningful. For instance, today I'd like a photo of myself looking tired and very pregnant, but in a cape. Because I feel a bit like a tired, very pregnant superhero today. (But this pretty fall shot of me and some of my favorite people will have to do.)

I've been cleaning and sorting and loving on my kids. I also started a book that had me hooked in the first 20 pages, took a nap with the boys today and rested just a bit. But mostly, I grabbed the bull by the horns for the first of four days off. I think so I could crash later on in the break. Please remind me to crash. And, maybe, not to answer all my work email so quickly and efficiently. Oh, and not to constantly reach for that dirty sock, small piece of trash or wayward toy.

I feel strangely huge all the sudden, as in, say, the past four or five days. I marvel at the fact that I have about 16 more weeks of growing to do. I have to admit, though, that I like my pregnant shape. I'm an all-belly kind of girl--no mistaking this bump for anything but what it is: a healthy, strapping babe about to enter the world. If you haven't seen me, trust me when I tell you that I could easily convince you that I'm due next week, or, at the very least, next month.

I am getting a break this weekend, and I'm going to use it to relax and recharge. And to think, even more, about what I want this blog to be and what I want it to do. There are a lot of you reading out there, though I must admit, some of you are very quiet about it. Don't be afraid to follow me here on Blogger or to leave me a comment here on the actual blog. Many of you are Facebook junkies (like me) and read or comment on the blog there instead.

I ran into an old friend this week who I haven't seen for at least a year. I said, "I bet you didn't even know I was pregnant again," and she said, "Oh, yeah, I read it on your blog." She felt like we were all caught up, but not me, man. =) Shout out to you, old friend, who I now know is reading my blog.

Experiences like these are good. I don't feel a shocking reminder to watch what I say or reconsider what I share here. Instead, I feel real and true and grounded, like I'm really just keeping up with all of you, even though sometimes, most times, it's one-sided. But this is me, and I want to share with all of you. Just be sure to give me a poke every now and then, ok?

If you do that for me, I'll do something for you: I'll post more often so you can keep reading and connecting and learning what life is like from my perspective. It's nice to know the world is smaller than it feels sometimes and to know that somebody, like you, cares enough to keep reading!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My Ship is Sailing Into the Sunset

Wow. Am I ever tired. This is going to be a lame post, so here's a recent photo of my reasons to get you through it!

I have had a couple busy, productive weeks at work. A huge press conference today was the climax, and I'm pleased to say it went very, very well. Yea, me.

Now I'm gearing up for one more day and then planning to tackle the house the rest of the week. It's summer/winter switch-out time. Remember? That's a mom task. Shrek has NEVER done this.

I'm actually thinking of shipping the kids out to his mom's house for about a day and a half this weekend... Momma's crashing. Starting now....

Needing a moment, and taking it. Hope you can too.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Lifetime is Not Too Long To Live As Friends

One of the amazing things in my life has been SEARCH for Christian Maturity, a nondenominational, but Christian program for high school youth. I made SEARCH in the fall of 1993, at 15, and last attended a weekend retreat in my area as a college freshman.

Aside from all the knowledge, maturity and faith gained through the program, I made an overflowing handful or two of very good, lifelong women friends.

Now, let's get something straight about a woman and her girlfriends. Girlfriends are essential. There's an email forward I've seen several times about the things girlfriends do for each other: we outlast fads, romantic relationships, vicious rumors and petty fights. We foster one another's children early and often; we make meals when meals are needed but not sought; and we offer that twenty-minute respite from the world, in the form of a conversation, a phone call, a chat. We keep each other sane.

And sane is something all of us mothers hope to remain.

I've had a very productive, but crazy, week at work. I've had several tantrum moments from my children. I've questioned whether or not I'm truly on the path I want to be on financially and professionally and whether or not my soul is singing because of the work I've chosen to do. And, oh, you know, I'm midway through my fourth pregnancy, which can throw every thought and hormone into a tailspin. But I'm OK!

Tonight I had the great pleasure of touching base with one of those lifelong friends I made 17 years ago at SEARCH. Although we now have seven children between us and my one more on the way, we've managed to stay friends all this time. She's one of those friends with whom I have the kind of relationship where we pick right back up where we last left off, whether that be seven days, seven months or more ago.

And our chat was a reminder to me that we really are a tribe, we mother warriors. We're thick and we're plentiful throughout the nation and the world. And none of us are ever alone. Whatever your kid just did, or your husband just said, or whatever thought you just had, someone else has experienced either the same thing or something equally horrible.

I'm fine, you're fine. We're all kicking ass and taking names. For sure, you deserve that coffee cake or bowl of whip cream or whatever your tired, resilient heart desires with your next cup of coffee.

Treat yourself, and, if you can remember her number, call up your girlfriend and treat her too. Give her the gift of a woman who knows her, who loves her and who understands just what life is like in her shoes.


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