Saturday, January 28, 2012

From the Couch

Our baby turned one yesterday. He hit a major milestone just two days before his birthday with his first wobbly, adorable steps! It is a very fun time to be mom of this little, ornery, happy boy. His personality is shining bright, and he fits right in with this group of monkeys!

We've had so much sickness going on in our house this week that I'm not surprised that it finally knocked Mommy down too. I got a toned-down version after the party last night and throughout the night and day with body aches and a sensitive, but resilient, stomach. I spent most of the day on the couch, devouring Heaven is For Real, and being climbed about like a jungle gym. It was actually a pretty good day.

I can tell you with certainty that I am blessed. I am tired and feeling quiet, but I wanted to touch base. I am looking forward to a February full of love, a little bit of snow and more craziness with this busy baby and his energetic band of siblings. Life is good.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Not the Only Ship on the Ocean

Momma and Friday's birthday boy on a better day than today!
Photo courtesy of the lovely Jennifer Duskey

I have been writing this post in my head all day, but words escape me now. I do know I've had one of those days where I've wanted to step outside of myself. I've wanted to get away from myself, my troubles. I've wanted to be somebody else.

I've never loved you, January. Never.

In the past five days, this house has seen a burst ear drum with four-day long dripping, three sore throats, a urinary tract infection and the stomach virus. On top of the endless laundry and dishes, there's a funky smell in the kitchen. I haven't found it yet. But I do admit to cleaning the fridge like a mad woman today on a crazy, sudden whim. Oh, and then I pulled the stove out all by myself to sweep up the dust bunnies in search of the offender. I've bleached the trashcan and the counter, twice. If I had it my way, I'd have enough time and energy this very second to be dissecting the mess under the sink, examining the contents of the freezer and prepping the whole kitchen for that beautiful shade of robin's-egg blue paint. But first, I must find that smell.

Alas, I'm sitting here, struggling to write. Because something has taken my mojo and left a funk instead. I'm feeling it at work, on the volleyball court, on this laptop. I've somehow allowed myself to be backed into this corner, where things seem a little more hopeless and out of my control.

But I'm turning a corner. I'm not going to take this lying down. I'm changing my mind right here and right now.

And I'm going to give a shout out to Zac Brown, who crooned to me earlier as I did the dishes for the third time today. He told me, yes me, that I'm not "the only ship out on the ocean." Furthermore, "Save your strength for things that you can change / Forgive the ones you can't / You gotta let 'em go."

I see you, January 24. And I bid you farewell!

Friday, January 20, 2012


Photo by Jennifer Duskey Photography

Oh, my reasons. You are so beautiful. You make me laugh. You make me tired. I've had a wonderful week with all of you. We've killed several boxes of tissues; we've snuggled five across; we've welcomed Daddy home from work in party fashion.

Some of you have been sick. Not telling who, but the initials are Maxwell David. Mommy hopes that yellow goo coming from your left ear will abate soon. I know it hurts, baby. You have been so strong.

My journal is so behind. My diet is on the back burner. My job is changing. And I'm holding on.

I'm holding on to Daddy and to you and to dreams. All is well on this icy January eve. All I ever have to be is what He made me.

And, right now, I'm a very tired mommy aching for her bed.

Good night, loves.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Virtual Reality

All thanks go to Jennifer Duskey of Jennifer Duskey Photography for this sweet sneak peek of our frigid outdoor photo shoot on Saturday morn. I can't wait to see more, and I promise to share! 

Life seems so real tonight. I am feeling a heaviness in my heart for others and contentment with my lot in life.

I have had some trying moments with my kids during this long weekend. They have been delirious, physical, tearful and helpful, in turns. You'd think they were getting as little sleep as I have.

I can't explain, exactly, why I think I need to blog at nearly 11 p.m. on a work night when I still have some other things to accomplish before bed tonight. I can tell you that I've been thinking, a lot, about the time I put in online.  My weakness trinity includes Facebook, Blogger and Pinterest. I saw a "pin" yesterday that said "Thank you, Pinterest, for making me feel creative when I've really just been sitting on my couch on the computer for three hours." Isn't that sad? Sad, but true!

As a blogger, every time you turn around (online, a virtual turnaround), there's something else to do. It's all, "Be a part of my circle; join this giveaway and get extra entries for tweeting, reposting, commenting on this post; check out this blog." There's so much to do.

And I'm not saying it's meaningless. But some of it is. And yet, I want to do more. I want to be that connected. I like these people. I do feel creative. But, at the same time, I'm not doing the fitness part of my diet (at all!) I'm not talking face-to-face as much as I could be. I'm not writing in my journal, which, for me, is where it all began: this need to connect, chronicle and confer.

So, tonight, I'm pledging a little less time on Pinterest and a little more time making the sweet banner I have in mind for Luke's first birthday party in a couple weeks, which will also be my niece Brooklyn's third birthday party. I'm going to look less at my friends' Facebook profiles and more at my friends actual faces. And I'm going to keep blogging, when I can, and not feel guilty when I can't.

I need my own experiences, my own creativity, my friendships and my family every bit as much as I think I need up to three hours online everyday. In fact, I need them more.

So, there you have it. I'm leaving you for the sweet smell of my hubby's deodorant after his shower; the softness of Luke's hair, which is growing in like crazy; the preparation of a work morning, which is rushing to greet me.

See ya later.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

"Mink" Farewell

Where have all the binkies gone? Please don't tell Colby, but they're hiding in a bowl on the kitchen counter.

It's amazing how many we have accumulated over the years. Because Luke is not a fan, this is goodbye--one of our first true finales of the baby days. I'm not sad at all that Colby will now advance in his speech and that he won't wake up looking for his binky and not go to sleep until someone retrieves it from under his crib. I am sad that he is both sad and mad about the loss of his precious "mink." It's been five days, and he is still asking for it, but not nearly as much as he was. I think we're going to make it!

I had no intention of not blogging for nearly a week. There were several nights I wanted to write, but it's always too late. Usually 11 p.m. Mornings come way too soon. This week was typical in that I had many trying moments, others that melted my heart and not enough time to truly finish any one thing.

On Monday, Lily woke me up in time for me to make her lunch and push her out to the bus. She only packs her lunch once a week, and she always gets a note. I like to imagine her happy little face as she finds it each time.

Colby had a particularly hard time without the binky that morning. There were tears. I didn't discover it until I parked an hour away at work, but I forgot one of the five bags that needed to get to the van at home on the kitchen counter. Luckily, I did hit my marks in getting four of four children where they needed to be.

That forgotten bag included a very healthy, perishable lunch and--oh yes, again--pump parts, bottles in particular. So I was inventive. And it worked.

There were a lot of spills this week. Today, coffee with hazelnut creamer was my perfume. I inadvertently treated the kitchen floor to Luke's hot, steamy oatmeal with honey. Yesterday, Colby may or may not have dumped fresh iced tea on the counter (in, around and under the Keurig, Mr. Coffee Iced Tea Maker and canisters).

I tell ya. This life.

But I've made it to this golden moment: Thursday eve with the work week over and my sights firmly set on the weekend. The snow has arrived, and I am ready to hunker down in my house and read a book. Oh, the kids, you say? What will I do with them? Hmm. They can build forts out of the cushions all day. When they hurt each other every two minutes, I'll soothe the boo-boo and yell at the offender. That should buy me two more paragraphs or so.

So blessings abound. They tuck themselves right in there with the conflicts, the cleaning sessions and the timeouts. They manifest in the golden moments when Lily and Max are happily playing school; in Colby's true helpfulness with laundry load transfers; and Luke's sweet open-mouthed, wet kisses.

And so it is.

Friday, January 6, 2012

This One

This picture-this one right here-is my reward of the day. I had seven kids in my care. Seven delightful, adorable, worthwhile, amazing kids in my care.

I did not worry about money. I did not worry my sweet little head about my career. I tried not to yell too much. I didn't wish to be somewhere else or with other people.

I woke to a call from my harried sister. I changed about ten diapers. I made meals for many. I snuggled, I mothered. I pushed swings. I reveled in the near 60-degree sunny day that was January 6th. I soothed. I got mud on my jeans. I gave three babies a bath at the same time. I thought about my childhood and thanked God for helping to shape these. I made cookies.

I kissed my husband and visited long and hard with my sister. I tucked four little ones into their beds and shared prayers. ("Please make Ava super super super better so she can play.")

It was a good day.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Winter Cozy

I am pleased to report that, five days into January, I have read two books. Amazing! I am an avid reader, but I try to forget that about myself most of the time. Reading is an addictive hobby. I am sucked into whole other worlds, and it becomes hard to manage my own reality.

As is usual, the baby has not been sleeping well, and I was up too many times last night. During my brief stretches of sleep, I dreamed of the circus world in the book I just finished. And so, when Max came to me around 2-something with some need or another, I dreamed he came to me with a vivid mustard scarf, apparently a prop in his circus act. Torn between all the conflicting images flashing about my mind and the urge to keep Max quiet as to not wake the sleeping baby, I simply could not focus on the poor kid and what he was saying. Shrek finally woke up to Max's frustration and, thank God, helped him out, which allowed me that rare opportunity to roll over and find sleep again.

So I have spent several nights this week snug on the couch, reading, with a string of hot drinks at the ready. Coffee, hot tea, hot cocoa... I love you all.

I am so thankful to have this warm house, these reading eyes, the furnace billowing in the belly of this drafty, old house. I'm turning ideas in my head, as I quietly drink up cozy winter activities.

I'm going to try to refrain from starting another book for a couple of days. Sometimes our realities need our full attention, and I'm going to continue to hash out the ways in which I can and will better my own.

I am, like most every year at this time, amazed at the free time I'm starting to see in the sunlight-filtered cracks of my life. What? The baby doesn't need to nurse every two hours? I don't need to squeeze in Christmas prep? I'm not completely slammed at work? Oh.

And so, January, I see you. Believe me, change is on my mind, but I am sensible and calm in its execution. Reminded by the photo above, would it be too much to ask to get a little snow?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Feed That Fire

I don't know about all of you, but this New Year's has me feeling a little anxious. I'm not sure how best to explain it.

It started last night with the promise of my first day back to work in twelve days. I checked Facebook just long enough to get an eyeful of ambitious resolutions from friends near and far. As I tackled a mountain of dirty dishes (by hand, mind you.. always, by hand), I felt the tension rising within me. I worried about rejoining my normally crazy life, my weight, my fitness, my finances. I felt a keen sense of self responsibility. "If I can't make more money, I'm going to be standing here in this very kitchen washing my dishes by hand for the rest of my life."

And today? Well, today, I feel I should be so lucky...

The anxiety has turned tides. I still feel something out there I can't quite explain. But I feel more grounded. I feel inspired somehow by women who have attained great success at their trades. I am listening to Adele and reading Sara Gruen right now. They both have me spellbound. My favorite show, Parenthood, starts back up tonight, and this time next week, I'll have played my first winter league volleyball game.

I had this idea that I'd be published in my early thirties. I'm 33 now. I'm not sure I knew I'd have four kids and a job keeping me busy, but I know now. And it's all good. I toe that line of being my own worst critic a lot of the time. And I'm going to stop.

I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing: raising fairly well-behaved, balanced, happy children; loving my very own wonderful husband; keeping my house homey and safe; working a job that keeps me current and engaged; writing, scrapbooking, blogging; gaining knowledge in all ways; and aging well. I still believe I am a child of God, and I believe, as Max Ehrmann waxed so many years ago, "the universe is unfolding as it should."

I'm feeding that fire in so many ways. I'm happy and healthy and blessed. And that is enough for today.


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