It's been a few since we attempted the family photo. Truth be told - it's been since Curly was 3. That's 5 years. I know right? Being the uptight perfectionist I am, the picture tends to give me great anxiety. The color scheme, the clothes matching but not matchy matchy, then ironed, then on with no goobers before the actual shot is snapped? Despite the moniker, Hollywood needs a bit of smile therapy. Multiply that times six people all happily smiling at the same time? Not a fart's chance in a hurricane of that happenin' people. But one great photographer and one Photoshop program make one family look great! I really wanted Photoshop to make me magically lose another 20 pounds. But I decided to ask Santa for it instead.
Me: "Oh I am so ticked I cannot find the hot chocolate!" Hollywood:"Mom, you can just say pissed." Me: "Um excuse me? No you cannot say that" Hollywood:"Why? You and dad do all the time"
Curly: "Mom? How old are you?" Me: "Well I am 34 but I will be 35 in a few days" Curly: "Wow mom that's old! You don't look that old, you look lots younger because that's really old!"
Me: "Bye Sweetheart. I love you! Have a great day at school." (Said while dropping the wee one off at pre-school) Wee One: "Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever"
I am not sure where all this sass comes from. Clearly it is not genetics! Although somewhere I hear my mother giggling to herself that the ultimate parenting revenge has come true. I finally have one (or a few) exactly like me.
Guess who made Honor Roll? Yep, my favorite third grader and my favorite sixth grader. One was sweatin' it that the 89% in writing would bounce them from National Honor Society. And the other was over joyed to hear that Honor Roll meant time with the Reading Specialist would be short lived. All in all a great quarter for two great kids.
A man called Ali is in need of money and asks his boss to help him out. His boss sets him a challenge: if he can spend all night on the top of a mountain, he will receive a great reward; if he fails, he will have to work for free. The story continues:
When he left the shop, Ali noticed that an icy wind was blowing. He felt afraid and decided to ask his best friend, Aydi, if he thought he was mad to accept the wager. After considering the matter for a moment, Aydi answered: ‘Don’t worry, I’ll help you. Tomorrow night, when you’re sitting on top of the mountain, look straight ahead. ‘I’ll be on the top of the mountain opposite, where I’ll keep a fire burning all night for you.
‘Look at the fire and think of our friendship; and that will keep you warm. ‘You’ll make it through the night, and afterwards, I’ll ask you for something in return.’
Ali won the wager, got the money, and went to his friend’s house. ‘You said you wanted some sort of payment in return.’
Aydi said, ‘Yes, but it isn’t money. Promise that if ever a cold wind blows through my life, you will light the fire of friendship for me.’
This passage comes from Paulo's new book Aleph. The man is a genius, and one of my favorites. The Alchemist is one of 4 books I would take to a deserted island and read over and over.
I haven't always felt like there was someone lighting a fire on the next mountain top for me. But that doesn't mean they are not there. I realize I have missed many kindling fires being kept while I looked for a bonfire on the mountain behind me. More than once I secretly hope in times of great frustration or despair there will be a fire for me on the mountain top, but have never sought to ask.
It's a gift, the asking and the climb and the discovery that awaits. Everyone needs to see a fire burning for them somewhere on their cold mountain tops and dark valleys. As someone once told me, "kindness will cost you nothing."
Are you sufficiently Hebe-gibed out just from looking at it? Yeah me too. Especially when in the last month we have found 10. In the house. On floors, walls, and closet doors. I'm freaking sick of it. With Arizona having the hottest August on record in the history of the state, these nasty little creatures have been finding reprieve from the heat and making babies in everybody's houses. Well no more. Finding one on the wall above this little girl's dresser was the last straw.
I smashed it so hard, the shoe print still remains. It's my own personal mark of victory. The crib is pulled away from the wall. The crib skirt is gone exposing the ugly underbelly of the crib (so sad). The legs are in glass jars since it's the only material scorpions can't climb. Did you know a scorpion can go 4 to 5 months without freaking water. Water. They can go even longer without food. Ewe. I asked Nathan if we could just build a house made of glass to solve the problem. He said that might be a little extreme. So instead, the guy with the killing spray stick comes tomorrow. Because everyone knows - I. must.win. So long little nasty creatures of stinging pain. But before you go, I need to know - why is it exactly you were even invented?
It's hard to believe my little girl is 8. Making eternal promises, loving school, developing talents, and making friends. She is everything I had hoped for when I held her for the first time, and brings more joy than I could ever imagine. Just look at that smile - it exudes joy. I just hope I can do right by her.
This is the video we showed at her baptism that chronicles those smiles. Interjected throughout is her testimony she shared with us.
Isn't she lovely? She radiates beauty from the inside out.
And I suspect she will always melt her daddy's heart
I find it difficult to imagine losing her one day to this great big world, but I hope she embraces it with her whole heart, and remembers everything she felt this day surrounded by those who love her the most.
Perhaps the longest running joke around here is that I always said I never wanted kids and now, I have four. I could say priorities changes, the things you value most come into focus, and a new - better vision presents itself to you if you are willing, but really when it comes right down to it, I would say, I had no idea.
When Logan came along, I was so glad we were having a boy first. I had always wanted an older brother to serve as a make shift protector to shelter me. And while my younger brother certainly towers over me now, and would throw down with anyone who crosses me, back in the day is was me threatening to throw down on the playground with anyone who taunted him. I have always known the value of having a brother. What I under estimated was the power of sisters.
I didn't grow up with sisters. There was no one to fight over clothes with, or yell at for hanging out with my friends, and no bond that was forged in sisterhood. Not that I am complaining, we can't understand that which we do not know. So when I started having kids, I wanted boys. All boys. They seemed less complicated, less weepy, and easier to raise.
When I was pregnant with Eden, the week following the ultrasound was rough. Unequivocally, I was selfish and ungrateful. I was disappointed that Logan would never have a brother, never know what that was like, and I would not have the opportunity to again enjoy all the things boys do. There were so many wrongs with Logan that I wanted to right. Things I hadn't known then.
What I negated was the pure unfiltered joy of having girls in the house. Nothing compares to watching Reagan and Caitlyn painting at the easel together, or listening to them giggle in their beds before going to sleep, or watching Eden light up with glee when one of her sisters comes around. I love watching them serve one another. Even among the fights over clothes, sharing friends during play dates, and the general screams of annoyance, there is this unspoken bond forged daily in the refining fires of life.
I often watch in awe as these moments unfold, I treasure them, and I realize that I posses the greatest blessings ever known, even though I never knew I wanted them.
All The man asked for this year for Father's Day was to go camping as a family. Those of you that know me may have just blown your drink of milk out of your nose at the thought of me planning a camping trip. Now, I know how to roll with the punches with only minimal meltdowns, so a camping trip I planned. I had only two rules. A toilet that flushed and a one night maximum. I lost on both accounts and began to obsess that one of the kids would fall in the vault toilets. Thank you National Forest Service providers.
Our adventure took us to Mormon Lake. However, due to an earthquake in 1988 which caused a crack in the bottom of the lake and subsequently drained it, Mormon Lake is now more like Mormon Meadows. No matter because with 78 degree weather and giant beautiful pines tress abounding, it was hard not to fall in love with the area. The kids had a blast sword fighting with sticks and making fallen logs into tables and stools to serve pine cone dinners at. The dogs rolled in the dirt and rivaled in hunting down the trail of scents all over the forest floor. And The Man got his chance to commune with nature. Me? I started and finished a book and committed only to a second night if I didn't have to cook another dinner on a two burner camp stove without any utensils. You know because who packs kitchen utensils for camping? That would be people who don't want to burn their fingers off trying to turn hamburgers with a chef's knife. The one thing from the kitchen I remembered to bring.
So a tradition was born. Six humans and two dogs in a tent for one giant adventure every Father's Day. Next year? I'll remember to put kitchen utensils on the list.
a.k.a the Chunk, Chunky Monkey, Yurtle the Turtle, Lilly Lizard
10 weeks old 12.7 lbs 23 1/2 inches Facinated by her hands and feet although, I am not sure she realizes they are attached to her Loves to "talk" with us Can usually be seen sticking her tounge out and is a wee bit stingy with the big gums filled smiles
Look at me all bloggin' twice in a week. Frankly I debated quite a bit on this post. I consumed a half of a bag of Sun Chips just writing the first two lines. Bob Greene taught me that on Oprah. You know, the whole eating so you don't have to feel or deal with your emotions. The bag of chips were delicious and I am ready to continue on. Eh, maybe a Twix bar first. Wait, those are gone, gummie bears it is. Being shareful is so hard.
After each of the kids, I have temporarily lost myself. I didn't know until after Caitlyn, and things spiraled out of control to the point that my marriage nearly fell apart, that I suffered from postpartum depression. I was prescribed a not so insignificant amount of medication and attended counseling for several months to put the pieces back together. It worked, and life went on. After Reagan, I thought I had the necessary tools to handle things and believed I could do it without medication. Then I threw the rice crispy treat at Nathan's head fully intending to knock it off of his shoulders. The next day I called the OB for the medication.
Normally the volcanic rage doesn't begin to boil until after I have the baby. But this go round, I began to feel it at about 28 weeks. I had a conversation with the doctor about it. Nathan cleared his schedule to be at the appointment to be sure all the facts were shared. But it was the holiday season and the doctor said that my desire to ram people with my cart in Target could just be the stress of the holidays. He wanted me to start walking every day to raise my serotonin levels and we decided to revisit the issue at my next appointment. We decided that for us the right decision was to wait until after the baby was born to start medication. However, the decision came with a few known consequences. Nathan took a few pot shots, I recused myself from interaction at great length with most people, and did my best to bite my tongue. Then exactly one hour and twenty four minutes after the baby was born I began the medication.
Some people believe postpartum depression is all in your head, and technically it is. It is an imbalance of the hormones and nero-transmitters in your brain that stabilize your emotions and ability to cope. For me, it is a lack of serotonin. The happy making brain chemical. For some, the opposite of happy would be sad, but I feel rage. Not anger. Rage. I get very irritable at the most minor of issues. Things like the dog licking his lips after he eats, or there being no toilet paper in the bathroom EVERY time I go in there. Yes these things are normally annoying, but during postpartum, they send me over the edge into the screaming rage. I can intellectualize that it is not normal to scream at people about these things, but I can't help it.
I also have a very difficult time making decisions and tend to withdraw from life. A few days after having the baby, before the medication had fully taken effect, I stood in front of the refrigerator sobbing because I couldn't decide what to have for lunch. Nathan decided to take the week off and pulled out the chicken leftovers. There are also several accounts of me staring off into space for extended periods of time, and other things that Nathan hasn't yet talked to me about because I still have difficulty processing things. Even now I will not make any decisions I don't have to regardless of their significance in my life, and no major life decisions will be made in the coming months. You probably won't find me in many large groups of people either since it tends to bring me great anxiety, and I find it extremely overwhelming. But there is good news, I now have the pizza place on speed dial so that I don't have to decide what's for dinner, and I do make a conscious effort to go out and be with my constituency.
So there you have it, the wizard behind the curtain. Normally I'm not this "sharey" with people. Hence the bag of Sun chips. But the theory is that if I talk about it, then the shame of it disapates and I am not left bound in its grip. And instead of feeling powerless, I can bask in the joys of the pretty great life I have.
So it's been a while. I know. I could go back and tell you all about the last seven months, but that would require a portion of my brain that is not quite fully functional yet due to sleep deprivation combined with age! Did you know it's WAY harder to have a baby at 34 than it is at 29? I didn't but I do now. So the best I can offer is a brief run down of events, a few pictures, and the promise to do better from this point on.
Reagan turned 4, and with that grew a pair of sassy horns! The problem with these horns is that everything she says is actually quite funny,so you often find yourself biting your lip while explaining why she shouldn't be putting make-up on the dog, or running across a bridge to catch up with her friend that gets to run and "that's not fair." She is adjusting to her new role in the family. Her volume has increased exponentially, which most believed impossible, and only occasionally sits on her sister's head. Mostly it's love and kisses for her real live baby doll!
Caitlyn is still 7, but not for long! I must say that she is by far my most obedient child. If she didn't cry 47 times a day, I would deem her perfect. She has had a rather tumultuous 2nd grade year, but finished the year strong with all A's and is now reading above benchmark! She is still my little artist and has found a special place in the heart of her art teacher at school! But she is my little shopping buddy. If it has a heart or peace sign on it, or is the color blue, she must have it. I really enjoy the moments we have together, just her and I. They are too few and far between.
Logan turned 11 in March, and reminds me every day since school let out that he is not in elementary school anymore. I find it remarkable, especially since I am still 25. He has been extremely helpful since the baby was born. Most say he could run the house if necessary, and I must agree. When asked, he will moan and groan about having 3 sisters, but he is the best brother ever and takes excellent care of them - except when he is on a recon mission with a Nerf gun and "accidentally" shoots his sister in the eye with it. He was inducted into National Honor Society last week which requires a GPA of 3.9 or better to be a part of.
And the baby. Eden is now seven weeks old, but is often mistaken for a 3 month old. She is in the 75% for height and weight, with a nice round basketball head. But we love our little chunky monkey! She is a perfect baby. You need one of those when it's number four and you have scouts, piano, soccer, football, and work. The only time Eden makes any noise is to coo when she is happy and cry when she is hungry. Which is every three hours. Around the clock. And enjoys her momma bonding time at 3am. For at least an hour.
That makes for one tired me. And a daddy that had to get kids off to school every morning so I could sleep an extra hour. We are learning how to adjust to the new normal of a family of six. We are learning to build an extra 20 minutes into any schedule, and yet we are still late everywhere we go. Surely we will get the hang of it by Eden's first birthday. But then it will be time for another one! How many hearts did I just stop? Oh we tease because if there is anything I have been sure of in these last seven months, it's that this womb is officially closed for business!!
Did you ever think, dear Mother, As the seeds of me you sowed, As you breathed new life inside of me And slowly watched me grow, In all your dreams about me When you planned me out so well, When you couldn't wait to have me there Inside your heart to dwell,
Did you ever think that maybe, I was planning for you, too, And choosing for my very own A mother just like you? A mother who smelled sweet and who had hands so creamy white, A tender, loving creature Who would soothe me in the night?
Did you ever think in all those days While you were coming due, That as you planned a life for me I sought a life with you? And now as I lay in your arms, I wonder if you knew While you were busy making me, I was choosing you!