Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Sitting Up Lark

Normally with my big ole babies, sitting up takes longer than most. It's a lot of weight to hold up. We start with a Bumbo, then we move to propping them up on their arms and they're stuck, then there's actual sitting up with heavy supervision. After what seems like a very long process, they can finally sit on their own. 


A few weeks ago we started the process with Lark. During an intense game of cars in the incredible masking tape city I made, we gave it a shot. "Let's see what Lark can do!" Well, despite being the biggest baby in all the land, he nailed it. 


There were a few tips and turns, but for the most part he sat up straight and looked more surprised than the rest of us. 


We snapped pictures. We cheered. We gathered around for a group picture. 


Regrettably, this happened on laundry day when the only thing that was clean was his hilarious camo onesie. Sometimes, though, it's good to remember the home-style (i.e., Fern's bathing suit).


Now, Lark is being propped all over the house to play and watch the madness surrounding him. His eyes dart back and forth, and his cheeks hang like Christmas ornaments from his face. Sitting has given him a new form of cute. 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Fern's First Day (And Burl's Loving Welcome)


I probably shouldn't be publishing anything I write while in this emotional state. I'm a mixture of utter gratitude and heartbroken pain, because I feel all the feelings and like to name them one by one. (To name it is to tame it, in words of the counselor.)


First, there's Burl who started second grade this year. His seven year old goofiness is right on time, and he uninhabited enthusiasm is still there, one of my favorite things about him. "I'm so excited to start school again. I'm excited about my new teacher, seeing my new classroom, making new friends, learning cursive, and my new three ring binder." He rattled off this list with the smallest inquiry, "what are you excited about?"


It should be noted that our morning hustle is less hustle and more morning. It's just me getting four children fed, dressed, groomed, and out the door. It takes an hour and I did it without yelling and hardly any reminders. We even had time to read the Bible together! 


Because kindergarten does a gentle phase in, Fern's first day was the second day of school. It was the same routine but I felt completely different. The morning was still filled with excitement that fueled responsibility and kindness. John has been painstakingly teaching them to tie their own shoes because I told them I was going on strike this year. If they can do it themselves, then I need them to do it themselves. They slid into home plate at the last minute, and confidently did it themselves:



A touch of nerves hit Fern when I asked for my required photo shoot. She couldn't give a smile, but was focused on a piece of plant that she plucked for distraction. Whatever it takes, Fern, you're allowed to do this big thing.


When we got to school, I pulled out my mom book of tricks and promised a trip to the bakery after school if they gave me a smiling picture. Deal made. 


I didn't realize how excited (excited, there's that word again) Burl was to have Fern at school with him. He told me about a plan that he's been working on for a few years. He's mentioned it occasionally, but I never picked up on it until it finally unfolded. He said that he talked to his teacher about helping Fern get her lunch on the first day. He arranged all the details, and I heard reports from a few teachers that it was the cutest scene. He took his big brother/school host responsibility serious, and ushered her through the ups and downs of the school lunch line. "Only get chocolate milk, the white milk is disgusting!" Fern also told me that she let her preferences be known, "Burl got me a peanut butter sandwich, but I put it back because I wanted pizza instead." 

They told me about a playground passing as well. When one was going in, one was coming out. When Burl saw Fern, ran to her and picked her up with a giant hug. Their bond is stronger than I realized. 


Because I feel things deeply and with my whole body, I could barely eat all day (a problem I rarely have). Ridge asked me several times where they were and eventually started answering his own question with a sad "kule" for school. We numbed ourselves with snuggles, naps, and Curious George on repeat. 

When we walked up to get them at the end of the day, Fern saw us across the lawn. Her face lit up, she jumped to her feet, and sprinted towards us like a seen from a movie. Reunion was finally home. She ran quickly to me, I knelt down for our embrace, and she ran past me straight to Ridge. They hugged for a long time, holding tight, and the teachers let out a sweet sigh with me. Then, I finally got my hug. We grabbed Burl from his line, interrupting a serious discussion about fidget spinners, and we walked to the car. Fern asked right away, "can I come back tomorrow?" That was the only sign I needed that she had a great day, and I remembered Burl's response to his first day of kindergarten. "Can I live there?"

We went to the bakery, drove home, and I heard so many stories all night! I thanked Fern for telling me about her day, because there's no live webcam for obsessive parents to watch!

I knew she would love it, but my mom-ness still had me worried. Those worries turned into prayers, and those prayers were answered and more so! The Lord proved his constant promise to be with them. (It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not be dismayed. Deuteronomy 31.8)

From here we will move into another new chapter. I will pack the lunches, say our prayers, and walk with Jesus through the tension of change. Jesus loves us, this I know.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Same-same


I get slap-happy, giddy and fairy dust comes spitting out the ends of my hair when I see my babies loving on each other. 



While their gap is nearly 7 years, Burl still feels deeply connected to Lark and treasures snuggle time. As I was grabbing the camera, I remembered when I used to do the exact same thing with Burl. Same age, same chair, same onesie, same ornamental-style cheeks:


What a powerful memory!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Take Cover Picnic


Too much rain combined with too much energy sent us on a random picnic recently. 





We found a covered pavilion on the river, wedged between the dam and a railroad track bridge thingy. We were surrounded by rain. The kids had freedom to stay under cover or run around like crazy people. Crazy people, for the win!




A runner passed us with a comprehensive statement, "you must have really been desperate to get out of the house." Pretty much, sir. Burl said that it was a lot more fun than what he thought. I love our summer freedom!


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

From Our 4th To Yours


I'm popping in with Lark to say "happy 4th from our 4th." 


Who doesn't love a baby? Our whole house adores our fourth child. He appreciates attention and gets excited when Ridge or Mama come in the room. (Some days I think he prefers Ridge over me.) 




He's a hard sell when it comes to smiling. His intense and constant observation of his surroundings coats him in a veil of seriousness. That doesn't stop us from trying. Each of us, in our own ways, work hard to make him smile, then we celebrate when he gifts us with that gummy, toothless, open mouth smile. 


Happy 4th from our 4th (child)!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Watermelon At Twilight


With its longer days and buggy sounds, summer invites us outside to stay up later and linger with the sun. We all know this, a tale as old as time. As watermelons drop in price and rise in sweetness, I will cut them up and throw them in a bowl. We all head outside for dinner's dessert. Watermelons outside just make sense-partly for the romance of it but mostly because Mama don't want that drippy mess inside! 




I don't have personal memories of this myself, nevertheless it triggers childhood nostalgia. (So does Fern in her bathing suit-I loved wearing my bathing suit as clothes when I was a little girl.)


Neighbors stop by and we share some more. My kids eat three slices to their one. We can't stop, we won't stop. While the pulp covers their faces and juice runs down their forearms, I tell myself that the mess doesn't own me. If they stand over me and eat and drip, they wake the dragon. DO NOT DRIP ON MAMA!


Then I can't help the cuteness and grab whoever walks in arm lengths of me and scoop them in for a hug. A sweaty, sticky, drippy, smiley, happy hug. Next year, we look forward to Lark joining us-eating and staying up late!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Beach, 2017

Well, we did it. We survived our first beach trip as a family of six (including 3 non-swimmers). I was openly nervous about the attentive care required for the varying needs and wants of such a young crew. Before the trip, I ran scenarios with John of who will watch who. Things were much easier than I fretted about, and John and I weren't as exhausted as I anticipated. However, John and I played tag-team so much that we didn't get to spend much time with each other and we were so exhausted at the days' ends that we collapsed. I still wonder, "how did John enjoy his trip to the beach?"


Things have drastically changed since our couples' trips to the beach before we had children. Eight days, 12 hours at the beach, dress up for dinner, stay up late and wake up early has come and gone. Now we have shorter trips to the beach, no dressing up, and we prefer lunches out over dinners (if we leave the condo at all). We're keeping it S.I.M.P.L.E. and having so much more fun!
























I could sit and watch my babies play at the beach all the live long day. Burl is aggressive about boogie boarding, Fern is enthusiastic about running from waves, Ridge is focused digging with his trucks, and the beach was actually a little too bright for Lark.


We've been able to take regular trips to the beach every summer and I hope to always be thankful for what a treat that is. I hope my children are thankful for the regular privilege they have to do this and never demand it as an expectation. It was a big deposit in the memory bank!
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