Friday, December 22, 2017

Christmas Cheers

JOHN IS HOME FOR 11 DAYS. I am thrilled for help with diaper duty, adult conversation, lingering kisses, a few kid-free outings, and (the best part) John's blazing waterfall of Christmas cheer!

This afternoon we found ourselves in the kitchen together. He was making his mother's peanut butter fudge and a new molasses cookie recipe. I was sipping my new favorite punch with rosemary garnish and smiling at the resident leg grabber. 

Our next door neighbor has her grandson in town who has 100 of the best ride on toys and we could see and hear the three big kids playing in her yard and climbing her magnolia tree. 

Jesus is the reason for the season, and these kids play a close second. 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Boy Pile On

It happened one day last week that I found myself arms full of my three boys. They love to lay on me-as much of their body on my body and I love the weight of them. When this happens, someone usually notices and says, "oh Mama, you've got your three boys!" This time Fern noticed and grabbed my phone to take a picture-these pictures were taken on the same day, morning and night. 

I wouldn't call myself ready to raise boys, thank you Jesus for all grace and power, but I can say that nothing surprises me, thank you brothers for that hard knock education. Their rowdiness and their cravings for all things outside and physical is totally appreciated by me. I respect that they need to wrestle, roam, fight, explore, and get into mild trouble.

A quick google search to find a quote about raising boys turned up lame. The quotes were stupid and a little bossy. I don't have a conclusive thought on the subject, because it just is. It's fun, it's great, and it makes me happy. However, I saw a shirt that says "support wildlife, raise boys," that made me laugh. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Christmas Mall Rats

I know it's not cool to like the mall anymore, but we spent a night at the mall/mall area and had a Christmas blast. What started out as Fern and me running a couple errands, turned into whole family Polar Express edition. 

We did some out of the mall stuff then had dinner at Carrabba's. We haven't been eating out much (aside from $5 Hot-n-Ready pizzas), so the kids were heart eyes for the experience. Man, they were so nice to us! 

Side story: Burl asked to speak to "the person in charge of that place" because he was so impressed. We told Ken, the manager, about how Burl wants to be a chef. Ken invited Burl back for a tour of the kitchen and to make his own pizza. Five days later, my dad (the actual professional chef in the family) took him back. They let him try every part of it-even the fire oven! To top it off, they gave him his own chef's coat. Support Carrabba's-they are good people! Burl wrote the kindest thank you letter.

After our Carrabba's dinner, we headed to the mall. Of course we had to talk to Santa! We don't "do" the whole Santa thing, but my kids always appreciate a brush with magic, believed or now. 

As the pictures show, it's obvious that the line went quickly and everyone waited patiently. Lark was there for it all too, but he was way past his bedtime. John had him moving in the stroller. 

Usually they're timid sheep when it comes to talking to Santa, but collectively they are wild things being silly through it all. Those mischievous smiles tell the story of what a good night we had together. 

(That's not the first time those overalls have met Santa. Remember this?)

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Christmas Tucks

Whoop. I'm ready to put some Christmas on this blog! I've got Christmas spirit times two, because last year was a bust. I was 8 months pregnant with the biggest baby ever, sick (ended up getting the flu ON Christmas day), and had no energy but for the tree. My memory of last year was pain and exhaustion. 

Not this year! It's my first Christmas with four children, and they are so into it. They're guessing presents, rearranging nativity scenes and pretending to shoot the fake mistletoe that hangs in the doorway. We're also following an advent guide for the first time. 

After Thanksgiving, we got out the tubs, the music, and a new cookie recipe. We were jolly. I have a small handful of breakable ornaments that I put on the tree in unreachable heights, but other than those, I let the kids decide placement. Fern decided that all the white angles need to be together, so dang it they are together! No spacing here-that makes no sense to her!

Last year, I was at a friend's house for a mom-brunch and her house felt so festive and cozy. She was a tucker (like I am) putting yard trimmings here and color there. Nothing over the top. This year, I tucked too:

My free decoration that's not really free-buy some good colored Christmas card stock, punch oversized holes, and sew together for easy garland. Ridge "helped" with this and was amazed by the production. 

Sometimes the kids help tuck too-Fern got a discarded branch and put in in the vase and added it to this vignette. Like mother, like daughter. 

And Christmas cards-filling our dining room window with color. 

This is the dresser in our bedroom. What you might see is plain and boring, but what I see is PEACE AND QUIET. Mama's haven. 

My next door neighbor has given me an open invitation to grab branches from her front yard. It's a goldmine of evergreens. She has three types and I have some scissors. 

I stuff them everywhere-seriously nearly every room. 

It's like playing Where' Waldo? in each room-where did she put some greenery now?

My biannual watering of my houseplants even looks festive in the sink. I love real plants in the house, but John always jokes about my lack of care for them. They get one watering once they arrive then they're on their own. I'm nurturing a bit more now (and finding more resilient plants). 

Eucalyptus is my favorite! I love the smell and here you'll notice that the muted leaves' colors really bring out the ambiance of the sound machine. 

The living room sees a lot more living this time of year. Aren't twinkling Christmas lights romantic? I've had a standing date with the tree at the beginning and end of every day. John is allowed to come too. 

And now I continue to fill the space under the tree with presents. The more I add, the more the kids' excitement builds. Jesus is the reason for the season, but these sweet children add to it as well. 

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Unbuckled Thanksgiving

We unbuckled our seat belt of rules and rode the Thanksgiving roller coaster as wild as we could. 

First off, the kids and I went all out with our place settings, a little tradition that I especially enjoy. In years past, we have come up with some fun ornate excessive little craft for each person's place. The kids are in charge of choosing the seating arrangement, a task that they take seriously. I love overhearing their reasoning of each person's place, even though they are about the same every year. 

But let's admire the little faux campfires for a moment. They even gave out faux heat. In our hearts. Precious.

This year I did something that I never knew I could do-I ran the 8k Turkey Trot with John and my brothers. It put me in the best mood for the rest of the day, because I was bursting with pride and energy. 

After the race, we headed back to our house. I put out a meat and cheese plate, and the kids filled up there. They couldn't imagine that they could walk by the plate, grab whatever they wanted and eat it while they walked around. Not buckling the seat belt can be fun. Ridge never got an official nap, until after the big meal, we found him asleep. That belly says it all. 

The next day we joined John's family for a buffet lunch. It's very unusual for us to go out to eat, but it was a treat for everyone. A break for the cooks in the family and a brush with fancy for the children, we all enjoyed ourselves. 

Our fun time with our extended family set such a good tone. As soon as Saturday hit, we started with the Christmas decorating and music. More of our current holiday explosion later! 

Friday, December 1, 2017

7 Years (And Counting) Of Siesta

Recipe for my daily rest time: 
Book (currently reading this)
Good candle (my all time favorite or my new favorite)
Space heater
Closed blinds
Time to myself

For over seven and a half years, I have had a napping baby/toddler/child. Which means, for the same time, I've had an afternoon siesta. I spend the first little bit doing a few minor chores or dinner prep, but mostly I take that time to myself. Napping, watching, reading, writing, staring, snacking-the options are overwhelmingly endless. It's my cross that I have to carry. But it never, ever gets old. Goodnight/day. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The No Texting Update

It's been three weeks and this No Texting/No Social Media thing and it keeps getting better and better. Everyday I enjoy it in different ways. Like a waterfall rushing over the edge, the (major and subtle) lifestyle changes of this new/old way of life are flooding me. 

I'm serious. We are talking about major shifts in the undercurrents of my life. 

Here is the scorecard of the first two weeks. I have: 

1. Written letters.
2. Received notes.
3. Drained two pens of their ink.
4. Journaled semi-regular
5. Finished two books, halfway through my third.
6. Taken daily catnaps. 
7. Had several good meet-ups with friends. 
8. Invited even more friends over.

Things in my life feel so much better than before. Part of me wants to stop and thoroughly take inventory of all the changes, big and small, that I've experienced. The loudest part of me doesn't want to worry about figuring out the changes. This is a novel feeling for me, but I believe it: I don't have to know all the ways it is better to know that it is better. Meaning, I don't have to list out all the pros and cons and see the large list of pros to validate that this has been a good decision for me. Everything feels better. Everything. 

There is a disclaimer: I have mixed reviews from my family. One person is understanding and supportive, two people are outright critical, the rest are indifferent. If I'm being honest, I miss sharing pictures and moments with my family. That has been the biggest sacrifice. It's hard on everyone. 

Nonetheless, I love it and I'm not sure that I will ever go back!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Ridge and Lark Museum Day

It's back to the baby boys again! In many ways, Ridge and Lark are like Burl and Fern 2.0. The age differences and my parenting flavor are the same. With Burl and Fern, I looked at each week and decided 2-4 outings that we would do. With Ridge and Lark, the structure of school and all the naps we have to take has limited our ability to go out and do. While we are limited to one outing a week, we traded them for a buffet of floor time play and inviting friends over (when we are well enough). It's a different speed, but it's still good and rich. 

Last week, we got to go on an outing. I was thrilled! I woke up in the middle of the night with anticipation! I knew that we would spend most of our time playing in the water exhibit of our children's museum, and that's what we did. 

These babies loved playing in the water! I sat there and slightly supervised, but they didn't need me much because they are busy on their own. 

The time passed quickly and we had to head home for naps (always), but I look forward to when we can go back. Until then, we can be found on the floor at home, at the grocery store, or napping. 

Moms of littles, what's your mom speed? Go and do or homebody? 

Friday, November 24, 2017

Remote Control Tickles

Guess who fixed the remote control for her camera? 
This girl did. (One of my favorite gifts ever!)

I am definitely a Tickle Mom. I know just where to go for the laughter that temporarily stops breathing-I love those little laughs. 

{Growing up, my mom was the Armpit Birdie and my dad was the Tickle Monster. I have some ancient memories of them putting us to bed taking turns tickling Joseph and me.}  

Once I fixed the remote, I set it up o the tripod and got to work tickling my two little buddies. While we miss Burl and Fern when they're at school, we do our best to have a good time playing, usually on the floor and always together.  

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Fern is 6!

Before we had children, John and I would play this fun game called, "Where would the baby be?" We would ask that question at different times and day dream where the baby would be in any given situation. During one fun round of that game, I said, "I want a red headed girl named Fern," and a few years later, I got one. I got a great one. 

We overdid it again with the celebrations, but we can't not celebrate. EVERYTHING turns into a party. Here's what we did:

1. Grandparents over for doughnuts
2. Friends over for rainbow party
3. Cookies to school on her ACTUAL birthday
4. John, Ridge, Lark and I took Wendy's to eat with her at school
5. My personal favorite: take the birthday child out for dinner alone with Mom and Dad

The friend party was sweet because she is in a really good season of having fun friends from school, church, and life. She LOVES friends. Her rainbow party was really a playdate with decorations and good snacks. There were no games or tasks. Play-eat-play. 

It should be remembered that her precious teacher asked me if she could come to Fern's birthday party, which she did. She was the star of the party. Fern loved her card and flowers, "I'm going to treasure this card forever."

For her fancy dinner out with John and me, she chose Jimmy John's (and we threw in Clumpies for fun). The nights with the one child is as much for us as it is for them. We VALUE this time with them. We've found that the kids don't stop talking and everything is noteworthy. Throughout the night, John and I exchange knowing glances at each other. 

We both know that this time with Fern, this meal, this day, this season, this life, is our treasure. We love and adore her and she feels that.