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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Mobile.

The mobile atop E's crib was taken down the other day. Considering she was using the miscellaneous animals to pull her self up from laying to sitting, I decided it was about time.

This mobile is circa 1987 and hung atop my younger sister's crib and also H's.

When I was pregnant with H, I was a little over the top decorating and perfecting his room, our baby room, to be exactly how I'd pictured.

I'd decided right away that the them would be gender neutral colors and that I'd use the alphabet.

I'd purchased what we have hanging on the wall long before I was even pregnant with H and had J paint 12x12 frames white to perfect the look.

I spent a lot of time at Pottery Barn kids picking out everything I wanted. Some from a specific line, others more basic.

The sheets, the valances, the bumper, the crib skirt.

All, at the time, necessities for a first time mom.

My mom came over and painted the walls yellow and slowly J and I put the room together.

Dresser and changing table. Complete with a wicker basket where each and every item has it's own place.

The crib with all it's important matching details.

The rocker, given to me by J, for my 24th birthday.

The musical trinkets and wall sayings on a shelf from the grandmothers-to-be.
Perfect.

A place for everything and everything in it's place.

Except.

I didn't have a mobile. And it wasn't long after H was born that we realized a mobile might be kind of nice.

I searched high and low for a mobile that I liked that also matched the color scheme and mood of the bedroom. And had no luck.

So my mom dug out the only mobile she had left stored amidst other remnants of memories in her basement. It happened to complement the yellows and the greens and the other primary colors we had displayed thoughout the room.

And that's how it ended up perched atop H's crib.

It didn't last too long for H.

He was indeed a mover and a shaker and the mobile was fun for him to grab ahold of and he was standing and scooting long before most.

But Miss E has been another story.

Each naptime since her birth and each bedtime since she moved into her crib from the bassinet, the music on the overplayed and antique mobile plays. And the circus animals go 'round and 'round. Sometimes just once, other times several times.

Some nights it will play for a short while, stop and then start again an hour later.

The other night when we decided the mobile had to go, I took it down, took it apart and placed it in it's old, rigid cardboard box.

Inside, an old credit card receipt from JCPenney. Old as in the type where they used to rub the numbers off of your card onto the paper.
The paper yellow and faded from years of sitting.

There is something about this piece of our baby room that is so special.

It didn't come to us bright and shiny and perfectly matching all the other pieces of my perfect baby room.

The plastic was yellowed and the post it hangs from bent just so.

Beyond playing the song and going around, there were no bells and whistles.

But it entertained. Again. And again.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Gentle Giant.

How many ten year old brothers do you know that are comfortable holding and loving on their baby sister at their football game?

Just a glimpse at what a good biggest brother T is.

Our gentle giant.

Except of course when he's on the football field. Then he's our touchdown scoring tackling giant.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I Think We're Alone Now.

Now that H is fully in the swing of preschool and Cubbies at church, E and I have been able to have some much needed alone time.

For almost six hours a week, it's just her and I.

While our Tuesday and Thursday afternoons are mostly naptime, we do get little bits of one on one time, rocking or reading and talking in the pick up line and it is so nice. It is so different to have only a baby to attend to. I realize that when I had only H, when T and M were in school, I really had it easy.
On Wednesdays, now that H is in the Cubbies program (AWANA), we get about an hour. And even if we're running an errand or sitting at the coffee shop, it's just her and I. She has my one on one, undivided attention.

I'm sure it's pretty typical for a babe in a family like ours to be used to the shuffle, the hustle and bustle of life and she, much like H did as a baby, just goes with the flow. Sleeping in the car. Smiling in the stroller. And eating snacks helps too.

But there is still something about being able to focus, without side conversations from the other members of the small village. To be able to listen to her coo's, her sounds, her laugh. And to just look at her and smile without any other interruptions.

I'm loving our alone time.

Evelyn 9 1/2 months
But then again, who wouldn't with a girl like this?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Perspective.

Down our street and around the corner there lives a family of six.

Their oldest daughter is 7 and the youngest is 2, with two little boys in between.

I've had roughly a dozen conversations with the mom and the dad. None of our kids are the exact same age, and while their oldest goes to the same school as M, I'm not sure how much their paths have ever crossed.

For the last year this family has been on a journey. A journey to the depths of their souls where no family ever wants to go, but many have to.

Last fall, Mike, the dad, who'd been laid off, hired back and laid off again, was diagnosed with cancer in his throat.

It was shocking and serious and right from the get-go, the community rallied around.

Meals, and offers of babysitting, a benefit and auction to raise money. Donations from family, a trip to Disney world. Memories, memories, memories.

They've struggled, not just with his health, but financially too.

And he fought, and they prayed and he fought some more.

They say that God has been good.

On Friday morning, the family posted, what was most likely one of their hardest updates to post on their CaringBridge site saying that they have decided that they will not fight anymore.

They're not giving up. They're not losing hope. But much like we encountered with my mom's own journey, there gets to be a point when the risks and consequences of treatment, chemo in this case, outweighs the benefit.

As I read the words on my screen and as I have dwelled on them since Friday, tears have rushed to my eyes.

I am sad for those children.

All four of them. Who've already gone through the ringer watching their daddy go through this. Learning more than they should know about this ugly, icky disease.

And knowing, that short of a miracle, their daddy won't be here on earth with them much longer.
I am sad for him.

This is most certainly not the life he imagined. Not the ending he had envisioned in his short, healthy life. He knows what he will miss and reading his words on his online journal bring to life his raw, true feelings.

And I am sad for his wife.

I have no idea how they are handling it. I expect, much like they've done this last year, they are rallying together, getting help for the kids and anyone else who's offering it. But I have no idea.

And knowing that there is nothing we can do but pray for this family is devastating. We are praying with them for a miracle and peace.

It is easy to look at what we don't have personally in our own lives, isn't it?

It is easy to focus on the little things, get upset with J about being late, or one of the kids for not listening or making a mess. Taking for granted the house we live in, the things we are able to do.

J is healthy and alive and has a job that keeps him busier than busy. Our family is healthy. We've got insurance and family and friends nearby.

We've got everything we need and more, don't we?

Something like this puts all my complaints in perspective.

Perspective enough to thank God for all the blessings we have in our life, most of all our health.

And each other.

I am beating the cancer. If miracle, I beat it. If death, I beat it.
It can't follow me to heaven!! Either way I win!! -Michael Talley

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Just Another Day at Our House.

There is a part of me that thinks it'd be hilarious to just post these pictures with no explanation, but I can't.

We've got a million costumes. Costumes from T and M and H. Costumes from my childhood. And now we've been given a couple hand me down baby girl costumes. So this afternoon I was going through the mess that is E's closet. (Between baby gifts, things friends have passed along and things we've picked up along the way, her closet needs a lot of help.)

There was a bunny costume and an elephant and though the size tags say 12-18 mos and 18-24 mos, H truly believed he could squeeze in. This boy loves dressing up in costume. He has on more than one occasion worn T's old Spider-Man costume out and about, still wears Lightning McQueen some days at nap and just loves being dressed up.

Who am I to try to stop him?



If only you could see that the leg ends near his knee. The two of them laughed and they laughed and they laughed.


I decided, why not go downstairs and grab some of the other fleecy, fun costumes. So shortly later H was a bumble bee.

Then it was time for E to try on H's beaver costume from three Halloween's ago.

Can a baby girl like E pull off being a beaver?
And then H really had us all laughing when he put on the flower costume.


This is my life.
And I love it.
Love, love, love them.

Just another day, indeed.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Special Book.

He has this book I made for him about his little life. From the time he was born through about 18 months, I'd covered people, some places and lots of things we think and feel about him.

I ordered the day before my mom entered the hospital for what would be her last time and she never got to see his 'special' book.

H loves this book and from time to time we'll take it off the shelf way up high where it lives and read it over and over again. He's got most all of the pages memorized.

Yesterday, as I nursed E before her nap, he asked to pull the 'special' book out and we sat side by side in rocking chairs in E's room. He offered to read it to me and when he got to page 4-5, the pages with my mom and dad and him spread across, he said;

"This is my Grandma Nan and she loves me very much. So, so much. Now she lives in heaven and God takes care of her. Someday I will get to see her in heaven."

Though you probably can't decipher the words on the page of the book from the photo I shared, the page doesn't quite say that. In fact, besides Grandma Nan loving him, it doesn't say anything like that.

But obviously it doesn't need to for him to know and understand in his own three year old way that he is loved by her.

And that someday we'll get to be together in heaven.

Grandma Nan and H and Curious George too.
September 2007.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

National Stepfamily Day.

Today is National Stepfamily Day. Probably one of the least publicized, un-commercialized holidays out there.

Who knew such a holiday existed?

In honor of that I want to point you in the direction of Wednesday Martin, Ph. D. She recently sent me a copy of her book, Stepmonster: A New Look at Why Real Stepmothers Think, Feel and Act the Way We Do. And over our vacation last month I finally had time to finish reading (and reviewing) my copy.

Her introduction to the book really captured me;

My marriage was meant to be. It was also doomed to fail. You see, I chose a man with children. Experts estimate that more than half of all adult women in the US will do the same in their lifetime and that up to 70% of those partnerships will fail. Factor in all the odds and on the day I said "I do" I might as well have picked out a divorce lawyer as well....

Whoa.

Her book was the most thought provoking, honest looks at being a stepmother I have ever read. (And I've read a lot of books about being a stepmom, believe it or not.)

There were many pages and chapters that I read that gave validation to my thoughts and feelings that I'd probably never actually verbalize. There were ideas given that made sense. Stories that made my heart hurt for the moms, the stepmoms and the kids. Stories that made me relate and understand.

And stories that made me take a closer look at me and the stepmom that I am and this blended-extended-stepfamily of our own.

One of the resonating feelings I received from her book was a sense of normalcy. We are not a traveling circus act that we sometimes feel like when strangers or aquaintences see our large blended-extended-stepfamily in public.

Stepmothers are used to being judged, she writes. And it's true.

So many times I have felt the need to defend myself, my actions, my role to perfect strangers.

And as I've written before there is this desire to be liked.

Ms. Martin's book reitterated the fact that yes, being a stepmother is hard. I believe it's hands down harder than being a parent. There are so many variables, differences, choices and people involved.

While I say that it is hard I know that I personally am very, very fortunate.
I know that my marriage comes first.
J fully supports me and my relationship with T and M.
T and M are very good kids who have never questioned my role and the authority that I have.
We are able to get along, put differences aside and co-parent the best we know how with T and M's mom.

It won't ever be perfect, there will always be ups and downs. Really.

I'm so thankful that I had the chance to read this book and really dig into some of her studies and facts and come to some important self realization along the way. I've already referenced back to her book several times in conversations and things that I've wanted to say but never had the words to formulate.

I highly recommend Ms. Martin's book to stepmothers or adults with stepmothers everywhere. And even those in stepmothers lives who would like better understanding. Better psychological, emotional and personal understanding into what it actually means to being married to a man with children.

Happy Stepfamily Day!

Are you part of a stepfamily? What are you doing to celebrate? And if you're not part of a stepfamily, what do you think of this kind of holiday?

I have to admit, I'm a little unsure of it myself.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Nine Month Details.

She's been officially nine months old for over a week now but I'm feeling the need to fill in some details, even if for no other reason than for my own memory.

She's not really crawling yet but she is getting pretty creative in the way that she moves. From sitting to her tummy to scooting and reaching. She's on her way to mobility.She had her nine month check up last week and weighed in at 16 pounds and 9 ounces and 28 1/2 inches long. She's on the average end for height but the smaller range for weight.

That's ok since we think she's perfect, of course.

(For comparison sake, H was 16 pounds and 6 ounces at 4 months. Oy!)

In other exciting news, we decided that it was time for her to bid farewell to her infant carrier and join the ranks of a regular carseat. The infant carrier gets so awkward and heavy to carry and even though she's fairly light, it was time.

I can't get over how old she looks already just from making a small change. She'll still be rear facing for a long while. She needs to be both one year old and twenty pounds. Another new trick she's enjoying is pulling out her pony tails. Especially in the car seat.


There are seven teeth in there now and they are the pearliest shade of white.

The pediatrician kept calling her a toddler in our appointment on Wednesday and I honestly was getting annoyed. (Probably also in part to the fact that E's finger prick had me holding her finger with gauze causing her to cry and H's continually loud singing. We really are a site to see in public.)


She is no toddler to me. She's still very much my babe.

She's quite attached to me. And I'm already worried about the future of this. She doesn't like me to leave her sight and this past Sunday gave the church nursery a run for their money by crying and then sobbing for 20 minutes straight. Then they had me paged and as soon as she saw me, she stopped and smiled.

We call her Evelyn. And Evie. Evelyn Nanette when we're rocking and singing. And Evie Levy when we're being silly. She looks up and responds to each.

She waves. And babbles. Mostly mamama and dadada.

She does what I can only call a yell at H when he happens to steal whatever it is she's got. She's already learned that she's got to use her voice when she's being jipped.

The days go by and turn to weeks and then months and then years and then we'll forget about all these little details.

That is why.

That's why I started doing all this four years ago and that's why I still do it.

I just don't want to forget a single part.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Breath of Hope 2009

If these little feet can do it....
...so could SIXTY ONE of us....
This past Saturday, sixty one people joined us and walked or ran in memory of my mom. (And in case you're wondering, this picture is missing about 15 of them. Oy!)

How can words even express what this means for me and my family?

There was family and neighborhood friends and high school friends and college friends and church friends and ECFE friends and former work friends and teacher friends and blog friends and friends and co-workers of my dad.

Seriously, I am in awe.
We are so very blessed by the people we have in our life. That they would give up a Saturday morning and spend it with us on a cause that means so much to us.

THANK YOU!

Please consider joining us next year because you can bet we'll be there again walking and running and laughing, crying and smiling, all in honor of the life my mom lived.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Time of His Life.

Today was his second day of preschool.

And because he was again so excited and chose his clothes to be just right I had to take his picture.
I had handed him shorts and a t-shirt this morning and he looked at me as though I was crazy.

"I have school today!"

He ran to his room, chose this polo shirt and was dressed in no time. My favorite part, the bright Lightning McQueen socks sticking out from his shoes.

Oh that's my Henry!

Several of my friends have told me how surprised they are that I haven't written about this huge milestone of going to preschool and how I feel about it.

I'm pretty surprised myself. I haven't had much time to really think about how I feel about it besides being excited along with him.

He is my ever smiling, happy go lucky, independent boy. I didn't worry that he'd waver or cry when I left that first day. I didn't wonder if he'd sit and play alone or if he'd find friends right away. I didn't question if he'd have a good time or how he'd respond to his teacher's requests.

From the moment he was born I have felt that when I look at his eyes, this is a boy that I know. I recognize. So familiar.

I know my son and I know how much he needs this right now. He needs this freedom and these hours without me. He needs to learn some hard lessons. Like, when you crumple up your cup at snack time you won't get anymore to drink. Ahem.

He needs to make new friends without me. He needs to feel big.

He feels so big, so proud, so old going to school, you know.

My heart is soaring for and with him.

Hardly a minute of the two and half hours he's gone goes by without me thinking about him.

But I'm not sad or worrying or concerned, I'm merely picturing my little boy having what he pretty much considers, the time of his life.

Celebrating the first week of school at "the ice cream store" after preschool today. We even let Miss E have a taste of his Starkist.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

First Day of School.

The first day of school is one of my favorite days!

And not because I want to ship the kids out to school. It's because I loved school as a kid and love seeing them get so excited and ready for a new year.

I love getting everything ready set. New outfits, school supplies, backpacks. Having a special supper the night before. Early morning cinnamon rolls and seeing everyone waiting at the bus stop.

Here's a glimpse of our day....

6:45am The first one off.

Our traditional first day of school pose.

7:02am On the dot.


Third grade, here she comes!
7:35am

8:10am His bus was late today. We weren't sure if he'd want us to accompany him to the bus stop but he did.
Fifth grade (and Middle School) here he comes!
12:00pm It was a really, really long wait!
12:10pm Riding in Mama's "bus".
12:30pm At last!
Watch out preschool world, here he comes!
12:31pm That was about as long as he let me stick around.
12:40pm Some one on one Mama and E time.

Can't remember the last time I got to rock and sing with her before nap without interruptions.

With three kids in three different schools, the afternoon went a little something like this:

M's bus arrived at 2:35pm. Woke E up at 2:45pm. Picked up H at 3.

And then we waited at T's bus stop at 3:30pm.
(If you think that's a lot, T and M figured out last week that in 2013 we will have four kids in four schools.)

I'm pretty sure that this little family of ours had the best first day of school around.
And so did I.

Monday, September 7, 2009

'Twas the Day Before School Starts.

We have had a great summer. I wholeheartedly mean that.

Of course, it was not without it's challenges. There were meltdowns and frustrations and time-outs. And that was just me.

But all in all we lived it up and enjoyed as much time outside, with family and friends, home and away. We watched the bigs play sports and shuttled them to and from friends houses. The littles and I went on playdates and picnics and lots and lots of parks.

But tomorrow, Tuesday, summer is over around here. It is back to the routine, the reality, the bedtimes and early morning schedule.

So today, to celebrate our last day of summer vacation we went to Chutes and Ladders park which is an awesome play park in the Twin Cities.

The kids played and ran and sweat their tails off. Of course, they didn't get too warm with the fun splash pad and sprayers the park offers too.


After a fun couple hours we came home, laid out outfits for the first day, showers/baths. Chili for dinner and apple pie for dessert. They all went to bed happily with lots of excitement about tomorrow.

Tomorrow, like every first day of school, we'll have our special breakfast, get ready and take pictures and stand eagerly at the bus stop. Not once this year, but twice. And then later in the day, we'll drop H at school too.

Life is full of lots of changes for this bunch.


Happy End of the Summer!

Ma-Ma

video

We've pretty much decided that Ma-ma has won out as her first words.

I think we're going to have another talker.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Nine Months.


P1010575


Though the picture needs no further explanation than to say she's nine months old today; I must tell you she grows more gorgeous by the day. We are in love with that face, those eyes and that pretty hair. She has an infectious laugh, a contagious smile and a determination that will serve her well later I'm sure.

She is trying to become mobile but not crawling yet. She is eating and sampling more and more "real" food. And loving it, I might add.

Still petite. Mostly wearing 3-6 month and some 6-9 month clothing. An occasional 6-12 month.

She is happy. Calm. Full of peace.

And not a day goes by that we don't count our blessings and thank the Lord for this sweet precious girl.

I love her and everything about her.

Happy Nine Months, E.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

You.

You truly are my sunshine.

My reason for pushing onward and upward somedays.

My joy. My love. My little forty month old man in a big, big world.

You are my superhero. Always ready to save the day. Especially if it means jumping, running and shouting "Ka-Bam!"

You have an enthusiasm for life, a smile and a laugh that is irreplaceable.

You are something.

You love your sister to a fault. Squeeze. Stretch. Pull. Push. All in the name of love. Please don't stop. Though having to monitor your every action with her drives me crazy, I love that you love her. Please. Please don't stop.

You are growing too quickly. Learning to fast. Sliding away. Time is just not on my side.

I sit at the park and I watch you run and play and jump and make friends and I reminisce the old days. The days that T and M would be at their mom's and it'd be you and I. And we'd walk and I'd talk (since you couldn't yet) and we'd go to the park where you could do nothing but swing and we'd laugh and smile.

The whole world was yours.

It still is.

You amaze me.

You push buttons, test limits, pull out all the stops. You are smarter than we give you credit for because you know every trick to pull. You're no angel that's for sure. But you, you are something.
You are so big, so tall, so fast. You ride your birthday bike with ease everywhere we want to go. And you love it.

Your banged up, scratched and bruised knees and ankles make me know that you are loving life. You are living. And playing. And loving.

You.
You are loved. Don't you ever forget it mister.
You are something else and you are loved beyond comprehension.