Monday, May 28, 2018

Reflecting

There are some days I really love being a super mom.  We live in an age where it is with in the realm of possibility for a stay at home mom to do everything needed for her family all by herself.  I don't have to take our food all the way from a seed to the table, I can add groceries to a cart from my bed on my phone and then pick them up the next day without getting anyone unbuckled.  I don't have to cloth my children with fabric I made myself into clothes sewn just for them.  Heck, Josette has so many hand-me-downs I could toss each item after she gets it messy and she would never go naked. (okay not quite, but still.) 



That being said, every so often I wish that all the moms gathered at some stream near our homes to wash clothes together, or I wonder what it would be like to live with extended family all in the same house so there was always someone to hold the baby while I showered or engage my little boy in project after project after project when I'm just too tired.  Sometimes I take our food from seed to table just of the experience of it. 


I'm finding ways to build my new village at our new house, but sometimes I feel like a mom-in-a-box.  Just me inside the walls of my home running the show.  I'm on a quest to surround myself and my children with authenticity, support, and connection.  It's a challenge because I can "connect" with people over my phone without actually building my village.  Others are also stuck in a place where it's often easier to present the parts of our life that are most photogenic and receive feedback and interaction without actual authentic connection.


Don't despair, we will find our people. Our ward at church is fantastic, the Seedlings Co-op we joined for preschool is a heaven-sent, not to mention all the glorious time we have spent with extended family.  I'm so grateful for family.  We have been in an almost constant state of hosting since moving to our new place and it feels so good.  It's been a dream of ours to have a home where anyone can come and stay at a moments notice.  With a guest bedroom and bathroom on the ground floor we now have a space that stays relatively clean and ready. Don't mind the pile of clean laundry on the guest bed currently, ;) but it's much better than the days when the "guest bedroom" quadrupled as the craft room, sewing room, and nursery.


It's time to start talking about my kids, the things they like, their talents and the way I'm growing because of them, but I keep stopping and hesitating as waves of feelings wash over me.  My kids are incredible.

We are entering a stage where the boys are starting to choose to be vulnerable with me because they trust me, instead of vulnerable because they are babies and can't help it. It makes blogging about them a little bit tricky.  Sending their struggles and triumphs out into the internet seems like a betrayal of that trust.  It might be time to take the blog private or keep a picture journal somewhere.  


But how's this for a tip of the ice burg view of my children.


Starting middle out this time.  Isaac.


The best way to get through to this strong minded boy is by speaking in a slow British accent.  I blame "Sarah and Duck."  He will use phrases from the show, like, "go on give it a try." "cum on mama, have a sit." "nothing really" and "I don't much like the rain" It cracks me up every time. 


He is fiercely independent and values his alone time.  We will often come over to join him only to discover he has scampered off somewhere else because he wasn't finished being by himself. When Josette is drawn to him (as she often is) he will slowly and silently push her over and away, until I intervene.


That being said, he is quick to engage in a wrestle with James or daddy and gets pretty uneasy and upset when someone is sad.  He has a heart of gold.  When he is craving closeness he will snuggle his face up to mine, find his way into my lap, or if I'm not readily available, latch on to my ankles.


 He is clever and curious. Wide eyed and observant.  Few things are more exciting to him than a spontaneous dance party, any activity that involves water, the occasional bike ride, or ice cream in a cone.


I wish there was a way to describe his adorable little voice. He is so precise in his word choice or song singing.  Each sound is perfectly enunciated.  If he makes a mistake he will start the entire sentence over again to get it right. 

You might not guess it, but he is also our little performer.  He loves a good applause and is pretty quick to respond with a song or dance when asked. Hats, masks, glasses, and other dress up style things are right up his alley. 


So sorry neighbors for the unsanctioned flower picking. Though I'm guessing you didn't mind the dandelion losses.



He is still a tad accident prone, but becoming less so every day.


Nothing fixes an owie like a bandaid, "I need a bandaid mommy. Let's get one" They stay on less than 20 minutes and then he is begging for "another bandaid" 




He and James carry on legitimate conversations these days and it is so rewarding watching them become best of friends. 



 Speaking of James. We have entered a phase where we are seeing the fruits of setting boundaries, teaching him to "be soft," while still giving him freedom to be his gloriously intense, energetic, action oriented self.  It is so fun to listen to his deep questions, watch him take charge and move us into action, and use his "good energy" to be helpful.  All I have to say to get him excited is, "James we have a problem." or "I bet you can't..." or "let me set a timer." He love a good challenge and fixes everything.


 He is a insatiable learner.  We have decided to homeschool for the time being (more on that in another post) and I couldn't be more optimistic about keeping him engaged with meaningful learning.  He already schools himself!


He is quick to the rescue, always excited to have friends to play with, and easy to motivate. 


James has a giant heart. He doesn't like crying, but sometimes his feelings are really big and he can't keep them in. His expressions of love are overwhelmingly tender and a reminder that while most of the time he is big, loud, and physical, he has a gentle heart full of loyalty to his family. 






Each night he begs me to "have a little counsel." or "talk about the plan for tomorrow." Sometimes I'll suggest something for the following day and he will respond with, "Oh, nope, sorry mom, I have a lot of work to do tomorrow." He is most happy when he is anxiously engaged in something meaningful.


We are so lucky to have him.




Josette is FEISTY!  She is fearless, sturdy, and beautiful.  She is always on the move stopping only occasionally for short, loving, snuggles.  She is happy.  It doesn't take much to get a smile on her face and it sticks around as long as it's still getting a reaction.  She loves mommy, but greets daddy every day after work with a happy dance and a big hug. 


She is using her 6 teeth to make short work of solid foods these days (cheese and watermelon are the current favs.) She likes to be where the action is. Even if that means playing in the freezing pool water or sitting on a brother's face.  She is independent, persistent, adorable.  The world is a better place because she is in it.  I'm so grateful to have a daughter.


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Reflecting: Motherhood

I have so many blog drafts since December when I wrote an entire post that somehow deleted itself.  I was a little discouraged since I had scrapped together precious time to record those motherhood feelings, and they disappeared before my eyes.  So, I'm leaving the drafts behind, and the discouragement with it, to say, Guess what!? We moved! To a lovely home on the other side of town, with sidewalks for bike rides, space to swing, roast, swim, and run; a place for guests, toys, and food.  We are filling it with all the love we have.

Josette is a joy.  She is feisty and adventurous.  Those brothers of her's can hardly keep up.  People are her favorite.  EVERYTHING goes in her mouth. Most of the time she is trying to snuggle while simultaneously trying to get at the world. She wears us out in the best way possible.  She is independent, but always checks in with a big smile that seems to say, "I'm happy, are you happy?" I smile back and she goes on her merry way.  She knows exactly where she shouldn't be and makes it a priority to get to each of those places at least once each day.  A bee line for the open baby gate, the bathroom trash can, Isaac's hair, and the baby monitor plug.  The best part of the day is when daddy comes home and she wiggles her entire body with excitement until I get her into his arms.  She looks intently at his face, gives him a deliberate hug, back and his face, big hug, repeat and then reaches back to me.

Isaac is growing up.  It's so fun to listen to his precisely spoken sentences and watching him play with the same toys over and over until he has mastered them.  He's not a big eater which makes me crazy sometimes, but he has always held himself as the best authority and food is no exception.  He loves a good teddy bear pancake (dutch babies) cucumbers, apple sauce, toast with jam, and sparkling water (go figure) so we've got the basic food groups covered. ;) He is tender.  Doesn't like loud noises and appreciates a little time to move from one thing to the next.  This can be a challenge since James is all about bounding to the next thing, but I do my best to give him space to be still and think without being rushed. If I let him, Isaac would live his entire life sitting in the little yellow swing in the backyard.  "come on mama, let's swing higher!" His favorite book is The Very Hungry Caterpillar and he can recite it word for word. I never want to forget the way he says,  "oh mama, I feel much better." He still adores his little white bear and will occasionally bring him to breakfast where bear puts in a breakfast order.  Isaac gives the sweetest bedtime prayers, "I so grateful a mommy, I so grateful a daddy, I so grateful a James, a name a Jesus Christ amen.  Josette hasn't made the cut yet, but I'm giving it time. ;) She is a little bit of a pest so I can hardly blame him. :)

James is a wonder.  He challenges me to be my best self.  In fact, he doesn't accept anything less.  I'm so grateful he is our first born. When the day is over and every one of my buttons has been pushed and I want to wring my hands in despair that I'll ever give him enough challenges to meet his insatiable need to accomplish goals, he takes my face in his hands and tells me he loves me more than the whole world and 40 times a million and begs to give me a "princess kiss" on the hand before I leave his room at the end of the night.

I'm overcome with my blessings. I feel so needed, challenged, inspired, humbled, and filled. Sometimes those feelings are heavy, but then I remember what Elder David A Bednar said,

"Our individual load is comprised of demands and opportunities, obligations ad privileges, afflictions and blessings, and options and constraints. Two guiding questions can be helpful as we periodically and prayerfully assess our load: 'Is the load I am carrying producing the spiritual traction that will enable me to press forward with faith in Christ on the strait and narrow path and avoid getting stuck? Is the load I am carrying creating sufficient spiritual traction so I ultimately can return home to Heavenly Father?'

Sometimes we mistakenly may believe that happiness is the absence of a load. But bearing a load is a necessary and essential part of the plan of happiness. Because our individual load needs to generate spiritual traction, we should be careful to not haul around in our lives so many nice but unnecessary things that we are distracted and diverted from the things that truly matter most."

























Thursday, March 22, 2018

Sorrow is Good

I've been pondering the concept of sorrow lately.  It became apparent after reading scripture the other night that sorrow is in fact and Godly feeling.  Something we were intended to feel for our ultimate good and something God in his perfection still feels.

When I try to avoid feeling sorrow I often get unsettled and snappy.  I avoid it because I hurts.  I don't want to be sad, who does?  Yet, somehow, when I carve out time for it, I understand it's value.

Tonight Austin suggested I blog while he cleaned the house.  (I know, I scored)  He could tell I was processing grief in the background of everyday life and would benefit from some time to sort through it all and feel.  My grandpa passed away on Sunday morning.  He is my dad's dad, so naturally his passing brings all the tenderness of the feelings I had four years ago, and every day since, when my dad died.

Death is like birth, every day people are dying and being born, it's so commonplace we joke about it, acknowledge it, and move on. Yet, when it's my baby or my family, the world stands still.  Everything gets hazy and crystal clear at the same time and I experience feelings so powerful they could split me in two.

I keep trying to fumble together some kind of start to a tribute for my grandpa but I just come up short.  So I'll use his own words, so humble and eloquent.

Life Lines

by Robert Lynn Brown

This map of wrinkles that I see
when I look in the mirror; ... who is he?
I wonder if the patterns graven 
on this physiognomy
may have something more to tell
than simply mark my family tree.

if you could read these furrows
and the footnotes in between,
would you know the roads I've traveled 
and the wonders I have seen?

Could you weigh the loads I've carried 
and the cares I've known;
see my failures and my triumphs;
taste the fruit from seeds I've sown?

Can you hear the fading echoes 
of the songs that I have sung;
or overtones of joy in me 
from chords my progeny have rung?
Might you sense my good intentions;
half-achieved or not begun?
Is there any credit posted 
for the deeds I would have done?

Could there also be encoded 
in the picture that I see,
outlines of unwritten chapters;
forecast of harvests yet to be?
Though no one else my notice,
I hope that Christ, perchance,
may see something of His Image 
in this weathered countenance.
And if naught else be encrypted 
in the fleshly facial file,
I pray you'll see my love for Him
who walks with me the while.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Reflecting


 Oh my cute, crazy little bunch!  I'm so happy.  No one should be able to feel this much love all at the same time and still breathe. Sometimes I can't breathe. If I feel it all at the same time so I have to hold my breath while I adore these precious babies of mine and then consciously stop thinking about them so I have space to exhale.  Sound exaggerated? Have you seen my family?!? They are amazing! 

They are closing their eyes on purpose...little stinkers!
I really love this picture (below) I'm not sure why.  It's not particularly flattering.  You can see the mountain of laundry that includes a comforter that Isaac stained in the stinkiest way possible and the splatters on the mirror give a small indication of how badly our master bathroom needs a scrub down, I'm wearing what I woke up in and the only reason Josette is in day clothes is because I forgot to change her into jammies.  So the picture is very accurate, but when I look at that tired mommy in a yellow t-shirt and that goofy baby I remember how I felt that morning.  We had just snuggled for an hour before the boys woke up.  She was smiling with her whole face and grabbing my hair to pull me in as close as possible.  She smelled so good.  I knew I'd pay dearly for not getting a head start on the day, but in that perfect moment nothing else mattered except her soft baby skin and wet kisses.  


Isaac's favorite things:

-Quiet time

He will often sneak away into his bedroom or an unoccupied room of the house and play quietly with his trains or lie lost in thought on the bottom bunk.  If things get too intense in an episode of Little Einstein's or Josette is crying, etc he will quietly cover his ears.  

-Milk, milk, and more milk.

-Giggling to himself about who knows what.  

-Snuggling with mama, or daddy, "bear" and blanket.

"come on mama!  Let's do this thing!" 
"3, 2, 1, blast off!"
"I need some loves."

He is destructive in an age appropriate kind of way.  It's kind of methodical destruction.  Rather than smashing or throwing things he will take them down, play with them, sit on them, pull them apart with his feet, until they are as destroyed as they would have been if launched across the room.  

I shoot for 12 hugs a day for this little buddy.  He is pretty easy going and doesn't demand much so I try to make sure he isn't getting middle childed.  It's inevitable sometimes, but he makes his voice heard when he needs to and he is so darn cute it's hard to forget about him for too long.  :) 

One of the nursery leaders was completely blown away when he politely said, "scuse me" when he needed to squeeze by her. 

For the most part he is happiest when left to his own devices.  He is tender hearted with a little bit of spice for good measure.  





James is fierce!  We talk often about all his "good energy!" He is learning how to direct it in productive ways.  He is so good at challenging the system to make something better, persistently moving toward his goals, negotiating terms, working hard, and making plans.  He is my awesome helper and strong lover.  He is the one I'm most likely to need a break from at the end of the day, but when I'm in a good place we do really well together.  He knows he is loved, and has pushed the boundaries enough to be confident they hold.  I predict our challenges will change as he grows, but I am so grateful he is my first born.  He will be an example and leader like no other to our younger children and keep me on my toes.  I love this picture of him in my aunt and uncles backyard.  He is in his element, outside where the world is big enough to challenge him.


Josettey baby! You have stolen our hearts.  Even Isaac has warmed up.  This is the best baby phase of all.  She can't get into anything, but has enough head control and finger grasping to keep her entertained.  She is all smiles and slowly learning to fall asleep more quickly.  There for a while I felt like I spent half my day teaching her how to fall asleep.  She can't stand baths or car rides.  Rocking chairs are only moderately successful.  Her happy place is upright, face into my chest, paci in, bum supported, bouncing.  Bouncing until my knees start making weird popping sounds.  She has started to show a fondness for her little lamb, so she may end up with a lovey animal like Isaac, but who knows.  I think she could probably go either way on finger/thumb sucking or pacifier and I think I'm leaning toward the pacifier with the hope we can wean early this time. 


 I don't brag much about Austin and our marriage because it doesn't seem fair, but I have it so good.  He is the perfect compliment to my personality.  We are killing this whole married with kids thing.  That's not even bragging it's just true. 

The rest is just pictures.  Simple times.  Simple life.  So much love.



In preparation for another Washington winter I bought the boys rain suits (pictured above and below.) Last year they would go outside in spite of the cold and rain and come in soaked only to beg to go back outside once they were warmed up and dry. No more.  This year they are all suited up and ready for mud.






He has been looking forward to trying a bite of honey comb ever since I bought it, but the curious George episode on honey bees must have built it up too much because it turns out honey comb tastes like too much honey and wax.  Not exactly delicious.  :D



He thought photobombing Josette's photoshoot was down right hilarious

Helping make pizza!





commiseration while sick





 

James' first sewing project.  It's a "bag"