Thursday, September 6, 2012

This week marks the first days of a new school year and I'm sending off a first and second grader this year. So far they've been eager to go in the mornings and they return with smiles in the afternoon. Hoping that continues.

I'm enjoying quieter days at home with the other three. Miss Clara is already 5 weeks old already. I was telling my sister it seems with all the sleepless nights this baby and I have shared, this past month might have crawled by, yet it feels like we were just bringing her home last week! She is a sweetheart, even if she likes to have our bonding moments at 1 a.m. And 2. And 3. And 4... Sometimes I really question why we try to sleep at all.

This summer was a blur. We camped one weekend, spent a few nights (and many Sundays) at my parents camp, swam in the pool in the backyard, and tried to make the most of the hot weather. I spent most of June (and some of July) with my feet up due to an injury. July was a constant battle of the heat for my 8 months pregnant body. It was great fun. I have never been so thankful for our little window unit air conditioner. At least the downstairs remained relatively cool in spite of the hot stretch of weather we had.

And then at the beginning of August, one day after our 9th wedding anniversary, baby number 5 made her entrance into this world. I am smitten with love once again at another of God's perfect creations. There is nothing more important happening in my life that can't wait until I'm done holding the baby. The other kids are in love with her as well. Always wanting to hold her, amazed by her little festures, her yawns, her cries... Everything about her is amazing to them.

One day when Clara was lying on her blanket on the floor and her captivated audience was surrounding her, I thought, "This is what it means when they say love multiplies with each baby." It's true. Not only does this baby have the love of her father and I, she's absolutely surrounded by love from each of her siblings. For those who think they don't have enough love for more than one or two... You do. It's all right there. Each baby is just as special, every bit as much of a perfect gift from God as the one before.

So now that summer is slipping away, and fall is upon us, I'm ready for the change. Cooler days, the rocking chair, a good book, a cup of coffee , a cuddly baby... I can see many days being spent in this simplicity.

For anyone who might possibly be reading this after my longest blogging break ever... I hope your  summer was a good one and that you too are embracing fall with some quieter moments, maybe some  fun projects, walks outside in the cooler temps, or whatever it is that you enjoy doing during this colorful season. And perhaps I'll be back around here a little more often!

Monday, March 19, 2012

What month is this???

Because it needs to be documented, on March 19, we...

  • Set up the trampoline
  • Hung loads of sheets and blankets on the line
  • Got a slight sunburn
  • Hauled out the bikes
  • Took a little walk while the kids peddled those bikes
  • Ate frozen juice pops in the shade to cool off
  • Left the windows open all day to get the drab winter air out of the house
  • Wore flip-flops, shorts, and t-shirts
  • Began turning over the ground in the garden
  • Enjoyed every single moment of this summer day in March

Even if (or when) the snow falls again, I am so thankful for this thaw we've been experiencing for the past few days. It's like a spring vacation without having to leave home! Over the weekend we spent nearly every daylight hour outside, soaking up the sun, enjoying these days for what they are. It is so refreshing to look outside and not see massive snowbanks everywhere. Every spring when the snow begins to melt it's such a good feeling to know warmer days are ahead.

Temperatures are supposed to begin to drop into a more normal range for our area toward the middle to end of the week. But, oh did we enjoy this little taste of summer in the middle of March!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The little years

As I sit here this evening, I am listening to the quiet sounds coming from my seven year old's room. She's having a sleepover as there's no school tomorrow for mid-winter break. I remember those days- having a sleepover on what would normally be a school night- so exciting.

With no alarm to set, technically we could all sleep in tomorrow morning, but I know my two year old better than that. She's real good about making sure I don't sleep past six. She seems to have made it her personal mission to see that I'm up long before I need to be seven mornings a week. She also feels the pressing need to check in with me around 2 or 3 or 4 a.m. on most nights. And as I trudge wearily to her room to find the 'pluggy' that's been lost under the covers or under the crib I try to remind myself, this too shall pass.

I read a book last week that was full of all sorts of good reminders for moms of little ones. It was called Loving the Little Years, written by Rachel Jancovic. It was not a long book, but it was packed with many insightful ways of keeping sanity while raising little kids. One of the best things I took from her book was this obvious but helpful reminder: this current little crisis will be over in twenty minutes.

And when I think of it, so much of the difficulties with little ones are short lived. Someone can't find their library books, another one is crying for juice, the other two are fighting because one looked at the other the wrong way... It goes on and on. Or the two year old who should be sleeping through the night and rid of her pluggy is still waking up for a three a.m. reassurance that it's okay to go back to sleep. So much of what mothers of little children deal with daily are relatively little problems. In and over before much time has passed at all. Still, consciously looking at the clock during those crazy moments and making that mental note that in twenty minutes time this little dilemma will pass is such a good reminder for me that this is not going to last forever.

These little years pass so quickly, and the daily problems we deal with right now are so relatively small and easily forgotten. I am reminded all the time to be thankful. Of course, very real problems can develop at any age and none of us really know what anyone else is dealing with, but I'm learning to seek that bright side as much as possible. Life does not come with a guarantee and we all must face our share of trials along the way, but seeking out the good, making a point to remember what we do have is so great.

So many people have told me, the hardest years are those when all your kids are little. Admittedly whenever I would hear those words I would cringe at first because when all of my kids were under the age of five I truly felt like some of the hardest moments would last forever. But even now, with my oldest only seven, I see a difference. The older two can be responsible for helping out with jobs around the house and with the younger ones, which makes things so much easier. I already see that change. Yes, they are still little, but already I catch glimpses of that moment when I'm not as needed anymore. Which, as parents should be our ultimate goal- to raise them into caring, honest, responsible adults that can manage their own lives. It's an interesting process to watch, one that leaves me with a whole host of differing emotions, but important all the same. And the thing is- it happens so fast. One moment you're spooning oatmeal into their baby mouths- cringing as it flies back out all over the everything in a five foot radius- and the next they're hauling their dirty dishes to the sink and asking for a sleepover. It's natural, it's life, but it all happens so fast.

As my kids have grown, it has become easier to see that babies crying in the middle of the night and milk spilled all over the table don't last forever. When I finally realized that children won't always dump everything out of the toy box just to see it crash on the floor, and that at some age painting the bathroom with toothpaste loses it's appeal, it was suddenly easier to deal with the little ones that still find these activities fascinating. Not that it makes cleaning up a box full of cheerios spilled across the kitchen floor a picnic, but it's the realization that these things are just what they are: momentary mishaps. And before long, it will be over and dealt with.

So once again tonight, as I try to do every night when the little one calls out for me at three in the morning, I'll plod down the hallway in my sleepy stupor and tell myself, this too shall pass. Before I know it, she will be the one having a sleepover on her bedroom floor and won't be crying for me in the middle of the night. And by then, my oldest will almost be a teenager. So, I am holding on to these little years with all their little difficulties- and my little kids- and knowing the most important job I can do right now is to just love them and raise them with patience.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Out with the old...

I'm on an organization quest. Overhauling my cluttered house. Looking at spaces that have been harboring the same things practically since we moved in and clearing them out. Oooh, does it feel good! Today I started with our bedroom- completely cleaned out the closet, bagged up a pile of clothes that have been taking up precious space, went through dressers, emptied the trunk full of things that haven't been worn in an embarrassing amount of years, and dusted corners that hadn't seen daylight for way too long. By the time I finished, I had removed a full bag of garbage and two bags of clothes. In fact, was able to empty an entire four shelf cabinet and happily moved it out of our room and into a much better utilized space in my craft room. More storage in there, less floor space taken up in my bedroom.

After that, I stared at my rather boring walls that just never quite got decorated very well because- after all it's just a bedroom. Who sees those walls? So I rounded up a few things I've had hanging around and started pounding nails. When it was completely finished I realized I no longer had the urge to paint the walls in there as much as I did before and the whole space looked rather calming. The way a bedroom ideally should be. It doesn't take much to make a place feel softer and more pleasing to the eye!

And, oh, did that clean, decluttered, and redecorated room inspire me to keep going! After dinner the kids and I went through their bedrooms (although not as well as I could have without their watchful eyes checking out everything I tried to sneak in the get-rid-of-bag). They were excited to have clean rooms again and I was happy I'll be able to walk across the room in the dark morning to wake them without the fear of twisting an ankle or stepping on random legos. I'll just have to do a little more tossing when they're not around and it will be good.

The point is- after nearly nine years of marriage, eight years in this house, and four kids, we have accumulated altogether too much stuff. It's ridiculous, really. We need to simplify. Let some air into our lives and give us some nice spaces to breathe. Clutter gets to me, makes my skin crawl. Really, it gets to all of us, kids included. I'm not a person that keeps a neat and tidy house (although sometimes I really wish I was), I don't mind the messes that children make when they are playing or doing projects, I love a good blanket fort spread across the chairs in the living room, and I don't even care about play-doh all over the kitchen floor if it's keeping them happy. But I do get really fed up with clutter. The piles of stuff that get transferred from this surface to that because none of it really has a place.

So, I've been pouring over pinterest, searching for creative storage ideas. For so long I've fallen back on the excuse that because we have very limited closet and cupboard space in this house, it's impossible to have much organization. But I'm finding some creative and fun ways around that. It's actually a little addicting to come up with new ways of rearranging little spaces so everything fits and flows better. I'm ready to keep right on moving tomorrow!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

As time moves on

Looking back at the time that has passed since I last posted in, um, November... I'm realizing I never actually decided to quit blogging. It just sort of fell off my radar for awhile. I am pretty certain there are no readers left out there- I think that tends to happen when you never update. However, on the rare chance that someone besides my mom is still checking this blog faithfully, here I am. Dusting off the cobwebs, trying to refresh this space. 

So what has been going on in our house during the past few months? Well...

  • We celebrated three birthdays for the three girls- L is now 7, A turned 2, and H turned 4. 
  • Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Years all came and went. Enjoyed time with family- visiting, laughing, just being together.
  • Winter hasn't really bothered me. Yet. Oh, sure there's plenty of snow on the ground but it's been so tolerable- decent temps, sun, and not a whole lot of new accumulation in the past month.
  • My husband and I escaped to the Caribbean on a cruise a month ago with some old friends and new friends, and had a fabulous time. 
  • The kids, as it turns out, probably didn't miss us nearly as much as we missed them. 
  • The three oldest have enjoyed playing outside a lot- even if the ice rink never quite came to life this winter. They build forts and snowmen and go sledding down our tiny hill a lot.
  • The 100th day of school was celebrated. The kindergartner brought in 100 cheerios and wore his pajamas to school. 
  • The littlest one of the crowd has been making an attempt at potty training. I'm hopeful. 
  • My husband started a new shift in a new department working different hours. After nearly two years of afternoon shift, we're all breathing a sigh of relief and happy to have him around more in the evenings plus an extra weekend every month!
  • The first grader is reading like crazy. I'm loving watching her as I'm a reader myself and books have always been a big part of my life. 
  • The "baby" of the house has been testing her limits... Seeing what she can get away with on a daily basis, learning the art of teasing her older siblings, and making us laugh all the time. 
  • The boy in the house has really gotten into hockey this winter. Our kitchen table is constantly pushed to the wall, the benches turned over for nets and hockey puck is flying across the floor while the fans (his little sisters) sit up on the kitchen table with their bundled up babies and cheer. 
  • Our four year old has been keeping us on our toes. Everyday she's got a million questions and observations and is ready to go somewhere... Wal-mart? Library? Grandma's? Doesn't matter where it is as long as we're going and she's along for the ride. She loves to shop- packs up her purse and spends her quarters on bubblegum. 
  •  And me? I've been doing lots of reading this winter, cozy mornings with the little girls and a cup of coffee.... Mmm, that is the good life. 
And that, in the briefest form, is our life these days. Hope this winter is treating you well and you are taking moments to do what you love!