Sunday, July 27, 2014

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A 15 year Chapter.

Today marks the last day that Chris will put on his "blues", military issued black patent shoes and dawn his cap with the old familiar Captain's bars on it. Such an exciting day for him, for us, for our family. So even though his official retirement isn't until August 1st, it feels that today is somewhat more of an end than that date will be.
The military is all he's ever known, joining at the age of 17, heading off to boot camp a month after graduating from High School. Our paths crossed a couple of years later when he was still a lowly A1C. It is hard to believe I've been along side him for almost this entire journey through the military. We've survived countless PT tests, EPR's, promotions through each stripe as an enlisted member, OPR's, ROTC, college graduation, pinning LT bars, pinning Capt. bars, 3 moves across 3 different continents, 2 deployments, completion of graduate school, and countless exercises and training hours dedicated to the protection of our country.
To say I am proud is an understatement. This road has not been an easy one. He has encountered barrier after barrier. People who doubted him, people who didn't think he could make it, people who weren't sure he had what it took. Through all of that, he kept his family in focus, his priorities in line, and did whatever it took to succeed. He is a role model. A true hero. That is why we are here today. At this milestone, wrapping up this chapter of our lives. Saying "adios" to the military and "hello" to the civilian world--for the good of our family, for the needs of our children, for the strength of our marriage, for the long term focus that is "Us."
While the unknown is not easy, retirement brings availability. Hours spent with our children, time to cheer our girls on at the pool, time to read with them, play with them, join them for lunch at school or cook dinners at night. Time to grocery shop, take care of the laundry, and tend to the children. He will no longer miss out on the "firsts" as he has so many times before. He'll see Gavin take his first steps, he'll hear his first words, he'll see the girls' first swim races, he'll watch their first practices and accompany them on field trips. We know the massive cloud of stress that hung above him will dissipate. We know more laughs will be heard, more smiles will be seen and more love will be shared as we have more time together as a family of five. And those are the simple reasons the decision to retire was an easy one, regardless of the unknowns that lie ahead. Family was his priority then and it has remained his priority throughout his service. Not everyone is able to say that, military or otherwise. I am proud of his 15 years of service, but I am even more proud of the unwavering, unchanging focus he has shown as a Dad and husband. He has earned this time and deserves this time. Congratulations, Chris. We love you and are so very proud.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Clean Bums?

This post is sponsored by Cottonelle, but my love for their fresh care flushable cleansing cloths on-the-go soft packs is all my own!


Our life is one big adventure. We are constantly on the go! From ballet, to swimming lessons, to playgrounds to weekend trips, we do it all. With three small children in tow. This summer we are embarking on our first transatlantic adventure with three little ones as we take our first TransAtlantic vacation. That's a day of airport restrooms, airplane restrooms, and much, much togetherness for 12 LONNNNGGG hours. Thankfully, I 've become a pro of sorts at surviving these outings and it all comes down to being prepared--hand sanitizer and bum wipes. Cottonelle is joining us on this adventure with their Cottonelle Flushable Cleansing Cloths On the Go Soft Packs.

Fortunately, our kiddos are independent most of the time, BUT occasionally need the help of Mom or Dad to clean those hard to reach places :) Well, I am happy to say full independence has been achieved with the big help of one little wipe! Our friends at Cottenelle have come to our rescue with their Cottonelle Flushable Cleansing Cloths On the Go Soft Packs.  We now have fresh, clean bums all around! And during a full day of travel, freshness is big!

Bum Wipe Convenience
Cottonelle Fresh Care Flushable Cleansing Cloths On-The-Go Soft Packs:

The Cottonelle® Fresh Care Flushable Cleansing Cloths On-The-Go Soft Packs feature SafeFlush Technology, so they not only offer you a confident clean but also start to break down immediately after flushing.
Cottonelle Fresh Care Flushable Cleansing Cloths On-The-Go Soft Packs are available in discrete and modern packs that fit in your pocket or purse.

On-the-go soft packs are small enough to conveniently take with you and keep you clean and fresh when you’re away from home.

Product Details:
• Alcohol-free for a safe clean
• Sewer and septic safe, breaks up after flushing
• Pre-moistened and gentle


Cottonelle takes care of us at home too! Clean care toilet paper is incredibly soft and gentle for the littlest of bums.
Bum Wipes

Cottonelle Clean Care Toilet Paper
• Strong and effective for a confident clean
• Tuggable, huggable softness that goes a long way
• Two-ply
• Pairs well with Cottonelle Flushable Cleansing Cloths for the ultimate in clean
Huggable Softness
What do you think about the wet+dry combo of Cottonelle Flushable Cleansing Cloths On-the-Go Soft packs and Clean Care Toilet Paper? Have you seen the commercials with Cherry and wondered if these products were as good as they seem? We want to hear your story. Trust Cottonelle to provide gentle care for your little bums wherever you may need!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

My friend, Google.

So I called it. Dr. Kara. Plantar fascitis. After hobbling around for 3 months, plus much of my pregnancy, I finally broke down and went to the doctor. I had been doing stretches, rest, bought inserts for my shoes, but nothing seemed to do the trick for any length of time.

With a fantastic summer of fun ahead and the uncertainty of our health care in light of Chris' looming retirement, I knew I had to act quickly. Thankfully, I was seen that same day! The best part is that I was able to see my previous PCM (primary care manager, aka "my doctor") whom I really loved, but was promoted and had to cut her caseload in 1/2. Anyway, she heard my concerns, confirmed my diagnosis of plantar fascitis, prescribed me some Ibuprofen, told me to ice my foot and prescribed me a splint for the night. We discussed "next steps" being a trial of steriods either oral or injections with a "last resort" and one she is very much against--surgery. She likened the fascitis to a strut on a car. She said, "You wouldn't drive your car without a strut, so why would you cut (which is what happens during the surgery) the fascitis and walk without it for the remainder of life?" Good point.

Her plan of treatment aligned with what I researched online, so again, two points for my favorite doctor! The best part is that in conversation I shared that she was changed from being my PCM. She gave me a brief look of irritation and said there had been a few things done that she didn't know about and didn't approve, and that I could change it back. Yipppeee!! Now I just need to work my magic to make sure that our medical care doesn't change when Chris retires. Happy day for me!!


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Linqia

I love reading tried and true reviews. From everyday people. People in the trenches. From Mommas who know what works. That is exactly what Linqia provides. Honest reviews. Honest opinions. Thoughts on products that I use. That I need.

After reading several reviews. I liked what I saw. I signed up to be a reviewer. And now you can too! Simply click the link below and you are on your way. Sharing what you like or what you don't like. Being honest. Being real. Helping others. That's linqia!

https://app.linqia.com/r/jw6lluev

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Another Little Fish

Our kids take swimming lessons year round. It is our one nonnegotiable activity. Consequently, Claire has one more level to go before she is totally finished and yes, she isn't even 7 yet. Pretty amazing. I remember taking one session of lessons each summer, which took me until 7th grade to finish all the levels. We like our kids to be fish. We want them to feel safe around the water, to look to water as a means to exercise and maintain good health and to turn to water for all the fun there is to be had. More of that to come this summer. We cannot wait! In order for all this to happen, we expose them as early as possible. Gavin's first swim was last week at 2.5 months old. He didn't cry, just kind of chilled out. Perhaps, he is a fish in the making.




Strawberry Picking 2014

One annual adventure is our trip to the strawberry patch. This tradition began in Massachusetts, was missed during our time in Korea, but resumed when we arrived in Germany in 2012. We love it. We returned to our favorite patch in Landstuhl yesterday. It was bloody hot, somewhere in the 80s. Gavin was not a fan, so Chris and I took turns tending to him while the other picked with the girls. We did well--4 quarts are frozen for shakes and 1 container is in the fridge waiting for some cake. Claire flat out asked when I was making the angel food cake, so I guess I best get that done!

Cinque de Terre, Florence and Pisa, Italy

And we are back! It was a whirlwind trip combined with hustle, bustle, and relaxation. Quite a good mix of all.

We flew into Pisa courtesy of Ryan Air. Our tickets were only about $50 per person--quite a steal. It was our first time of not reserving a seat, but still priority qued and it worked out splendidly. We arrived early, hopped in line and found seats just one row behind our usuals. We landed in Pisa around 9:30 or so, retrieved our rental car and meandered our way to our rental apartment. It was a lovely place, but not very private even though there were doors separating bedrooms, etc. The loft was actually two of the bedrooms, which adjoined the master bedroom via a large glass panel. Needless to say, every one could hear every thing. The seven of us also shared one bathroom, which was not ideal.

Day 1: We drove to Levanto and hopped on a train to Monterroso. It was about 30 Euro for a family of 4. When we arrived in Monterroso, we immediately found the beach, let the children play in the sand, get their feet wet and bask in the warm sunshine. The temperature was about 75 degrees. It was gorgeous. I, on the other hand, attempted to be wiser than most and clean off Mya's feet in the ocean. The ocean had other ideas for me. I was greeted by a huge wave, so soggy pants, socks and shoes it was for the remainder of the day. I was not a happy camper, but I guess, I got what I deserved?
We dined seaside, then wandered through the quaint little village. We found a playground, let the kids play for a bit, then walked some more. There is a train that connects to each of the five villages, but a popular activity is the hiking trails that also connect them. A lady on the flight to Pisa shared with me that there were a few that were "easy" and would take about 30 minutes, so with that information in hand, we opted to hike from Monterroso to Vernazza.
Let me just say that it brought back some painful memories of when we hiked the Great Wall of China! The steps were plentiful, uneven and steep. It was tough. When all was said and done, we hiked 3 km. in 2 hours time and enjoyed the most amazing views. It was a highlight for us all. Claire and Mya did so well. We bribed them with gelatto, which meant NO complaining. They just kept on a going. Pretty remarkable for two little ones. Many, many passers by commented on how well the girls were doing, calling them "bellas." We are fully aware of how fortunate we are. Our girls were amazing. Claire led the pack and kept me going more times than I can count. So, cross off hiking a mountain for this pregnant momma.
When we arrived in Vernazza, we found some yummy gelatto, wandered around, and enjoyed the view some more. It was nearly dinnertime, so we decided to eat some bruchetta (each topped with a combination of either tomatoes & capers, tomatoes & pesto, tomatoes & mozzarella, or tomatoes & hmm, can't remember the 4th one). Delicious.
After dinner, we headed toward the train station, stopping at a deli for some salami and fruit. The train took us back to Levanto, which then left us with an hour drive back to the apartment. It was a long day, but a very memorable one.




Day 2: We decided to drive into Florence. The train schedule was a bit funky in that there was a large break between 5:00 and 8:00 and we weren't entirely certain of our plan for the day. We wanted some flexibility to come and go as we pleased. It worked out well, until a race of some kind in the city center interrupted our plans to park near the Palazzo Vecchio. We ended up circling the area, trying to find an alternative route, but did not. To make matters worse, we were separated from our friends, so we were totally on our own. Thankfully I had a rough idea of what I wanted to see/do from my very brief research. We ended up driving near the Duomo, parking in a parking garage and walking from there. It worked out very well. We ate lunch at a great little restaurant nearby. I enjoyed the fettucini with lamb, Mya and Chris had some type of spaghetti or penne and Claire devoured her pizza. We all LOVE Italian food. After lunch, we headed to a museum, the Duomo, walked to find the famous carousel, the David, gelatto and a horse drawn carriage ride. The carriage ride was most definitely the highlight for our children. They were in heaven. Since we had accomplished everything we had set out to do, we headed back to Pisa around 4:15. Once again, we were tired, but fulfilled.


Day 3: Our agenda consisted of seeing the Leaning Tower of Pisa. That was it. We had heard that we could see/do Pisa in about 40 minutes, so we took our time. Aaron and Erika ran to the grocery store, bought some eggs/breakfast groceries and we enjoyed a homecooked meal. It was yummy and nice to relax a bit before wrapping up our getaway. It was sprinkling off and on all morning, which was something we hadn't been missing. Those warm, sunny skies had been a welcomed relief from the cold, fall weather we left behind in Germany. Anyway, raincoats and umbrellas in tow, we were off. We saw the Tower, the Cathedral and wandered the kiosks nearby. Children under 6 are not allowed inside the tower, so climbing was not an option for us. We enjoyed lunch at a restaurant a friend recommended--Antica Trattoria de Bruno. It was a bit spendy, but very delicious. I stuck with what I knew, though with a twist--sliced steak and mushrooms with salad. Claire shared with me, and Mya shared with Chris who also had a different type of fillet. Both were very good. After lunch, we made our way back to the cars, returned to the apartment for a nap and ventured to the airport. Our flight wasn't until 10:00, which meant very tired families. We arrived home at 1:00. Getting out of bed this morning was tough for all of us, but we survived. I am guessing we'll be in bed early for the remainder of this week as we catch up or rest up from our vacation.


Monday, June 2, 2014

Weight Loss Monday

This whole weight loss thing is tough! Throw in a new baby, two other little ones, a career and plantar fascitis, and we have an uphill battle. Yeah, the plantar fascitis may be self diagnosed, but I am 99% certain I have it. I actually went for my post partum check up a couple of weeks ago where I unloaded all my aches and pains. I am sure she thinks I am a nut job, but seriously, I thought the road to losing my pregnancy pounds would bring my physical age back down from 90 to a 30 something person. I apparently was wrong. My right foot hurts so badly. In fact, there have been days were I don't even feel comfortable carrying Gavin down the stairs for fear I will drop him.

I'm on a mission to lose weight, which I hope will remove the stress on my poor feet. I am guessing the stress is there due to the shift in my weight from pregnancy to now. Who knows, but from what I've read, there is little that can be done medically. I'll give this my best shot, then go the medical route if need be.

Since I can't walk, run or really complete any  intense exercise while standing, I am focusing my efforts on riding bike. We bought a recumbant bike yesterday. The BX was having an amazing sale. We looked at them a week ago and this sweet old man gave us the inside scoop that they were going to go 1/2 price in the next few days. Chris stalked the BX last week and found them on sale through the weekend for their Fitness Sale. Woo hoo! I sold the double bike trailer (since we will only need a single now that Mya  can ride on her own--probably better than me), which paid for 1/2 of the recumbant bike. The rest is my birthday present. I am so excited! Nothing is worse than having the desire (Strange. I know, right?) to workout without being physically able. Hopefully this is the answer to my prayers.

I have lost 3 pounds since I began putting effort toward weight loss. Although that isn't much progress, I must celebrate each pound as each is SOMETHING!

So, here's what I'm doing...
1. Watching portions.
2. Focusing on healthy meal options.
3. One shake per day. I tried Shakeology, but can't stand the taste. I really love Syntha-6 (ice cream flavor), which I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to have, but I can't find information linked to breastfeeding, so I am not taking the chance. Soooo, I am making my own concoction instead--2 c. spinach, 1 individual serving of vanilla Greek yogurt, 1 c. frozen unsweetened strawberries, and 1 c. FF milk. It is delicious, filling and packed with goodness. My Ninja blender chops right through it all with no chunks remaining. Pure perfection.

This weight took 9 months to put on, so I am giving myself  good year to get it off. I can do this! Little by little, it will happen.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

2 Months

I documented most of the information on your 8 week post, so I'll only add a few things here. 

-You are beginning to enjoy baths a bit more. I found a Puji tub super cheap and it has been awesome! Wish I had had one for when Claire and Mya were babies too.
- You smile often. You have a huge smile that lights up your whole face. It truly melts my heart. 
- You are happiest right when you wake. You are all smiles regardless of the time. We start our mornings off right!
-You are better about letting us set you down. You sit in the bouncer, occasionally in the bumbo or swing. 
-You've discovered your hand and are doing your best to grab a taste whenever you can.
-For about 2 weeks, we had been giving you a bottle of formula one time per day. It was when I was grasping for anything to figure out why you were having such tummy troubles. We've since stopped and you are exclusively breast fed again. It hasn't been an easy journey in the least, but things have gotten significantly better. I changed the bottles, positions for feedings and have adjusted my diet to accommodate your tummy. We still give you reflux meds. We cut them out for a weekend as a trial and we paid dearly for it. We'll do another trial run once I am home for the summer.
-All in all, we are figuring you out. You are finding your fit in our family, which of course is smack dab in the center of it all. Claire tells me daily, "I am glad I have a baby brother. He is the best baby ever!" I think she may be on to something. 



Teacher Appreciation Gifts

Since my memory fades more and more everyday, I thought I'd post pictures of the gifts we gave teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week. We started the week off with a flower/plant with a little stick that said, "Thanks for helping me GROW." The others were copied or modified from pinterest. Super cute and pretty easy too! 



8 weeks

Gavin is 8 weeks old! Time has flown by, though many moments have crept past at a snail's pace. This little guy has the biggest smiles. Each and every one melt my heart. He offers them just when we need them most. For example, after a night filled with tossing and turning, he'll throw one at us. Suddenly that smile makes everything lovely again and gives me the energy I didn't think I'd have.

We still haven't figured out if the zantac is truly helpful. He seems to have less issues with gas, and being uncomfortable, but he continues to spit up quite a lot. I guess the guessing game will continue for awhile.

I hate to say this, but Gavin is high maintenance. I thought we had already done our time with one high maintenance child, but apparently we survived her, so God decided to throw another our way. He loves to be held. We are trying everything and anything we can to buy ourselves some moments of not needing to hold him, but the crying is ear piercing. Our poor girls don't quite understand the issue and are more than happy to hold him, but they are not always who Gavin desires. Little stinker is already controlling things ;) He enjoys the bouncer for small intervals and will lay on the floor with the shower running. That seems to calm him best and has been my go-to if I desperately need to get something done.  He also loves to be in the carrier. That too, is my go to if we need to eat or do something else.

Gavin is warming up to baths. He has great head control and is quite strong. He enjoys standing up and checking out everything. He is definitely his sisters' brother. They were just the same--taking it all in. Gavin is transitioning to 3 month clothing. Newborn sleepers and onesies are just too snug, but the pants still fit well.

He has transitioned to daycare very well. He is at a home daycare in our little village, which is perfect. Miss Natalie only cares for her 2 year old son and Gavin. She has plenty of time to spoil him rotten, sends me pictures nearly each day and completes a scrapbook each week to update us on the happenings.  At this point, my prayers for quality childcare have been answered.  She's been wonderful.

News Report Siros!

I came across this while cleaning up the mounds of paperwork the kids managed to gather. I laughed so hard. It is totally adorable! We got the girls cameras when Gavin was born, so they frequently take random pictures. Finally, they are putting them to good use. Claire is often writing scripts or creating something. This time is is a newspaper, complete with pictures. I LOVE IT! So funny! On a side note, Claire's spelling words at school as of late have been "photosynthesis," "evaporation," & "science," but quite obviously, she needs to work on "serious" and "cliff," you know, the essentials ;)



#5 & #6

Claire's been waiting patiently for these teeth to fall out. They've been loose for sometime, but seemed all too comfortable where they were. Finally, the one was pulled out last night and what remained was less than beautiful, being called, Snaggletooth. Claire wiggled, wiggled and wiggled it some more until it was finally out as well. That makes two teeth in two days. Poor tooth fairy has been busy spreading her fairy dust and leaving notes with money behind. 



Thursday, May 29, 2014

Parenting Fail?

Our neighbor across the street has an empty lot next to his house. He has graciously constructed a neighborhood garden of sorts and began growing his crop earlier this spring. The girls frequent the lot, playing soccer, spies, and attempting to climb the apple and plum trees that call the lot home.

My dear neighbor posted this on facebook, "Thanks to who ever decided to pull out my pumkin plant and break the other one. I was trying to grow some for holloween."

Spelling errors aside, I immediately asked my lovely girls if they were touching Mr. David's pumpkin plants to which Claire firmly denied. I breathed a sigh of relief, tucked them into bed and posted my response on facebook, "not your little friends here either., but it may have been me, sabotaging the contest








Monday, May 19, 2014

Holiday Park 2014

We celebrated Mya's 5th birthday with a day at Holiday Park. The girls were so excited and the weather was gorgeous! Holiday Park is a great little amusement park located about an hour from our house. It is small enough that we don't wait long for rides, but large enough that we can easily spend 4 hours or so and not double a ride. We went for the first time last year, but Mya was still a tad too short to enjoy a few of the best rides. This year a whole new world was available. She loved what I remember as the "tower of power," only on a smaller scale, the bumper cars and her first flume ride. Claire also underwent her first flume ride, but had mixed feelings about it. 
I tended to Gavin most of the day, which was nice. He slept, I watched the girls' faces light up with excitement, relaxed and even nursed in public for the first time ever! Pretty big accomplishment for this very conservative girl.

Gavin spent the day doing a little of this.

1st ride of the day and the kid is EXCITED!

Up she goes!

Chris is on the ride for the 2nd time. It's an even person world.





He did a lot of this.

Not sure who was more afraid--Chris or Claire.

Clearly it was not Mya. She is my child--loving the thrill.


Mother's Day Tea

Mya's school hosted a Mother's Day tea. Have I mentioned how much I love this school? She is learning sooo much. This little lesson focused on ettiquette, manners, and social skills. Mya could not have been more tickled to have me as her company. She was all smiles.
Mya & I ready to go! She insisted she wear a dress, made sure I wore one too and said we had to wear jewelry and make up too. Oiy. This kid loves all things messy, but obviously is a girly girl just the same.
Showing off her mad tea skills-hand on lid, using tongs for sugar cubes & cookies, napkin on lap. Adorable.


Put a cup of tea in front of a girl and suddenly she looks all grown up. 

Ahhhh. Mya & Asa--BFF's.

Singing songs with her friends.


Mya & her BFF, Asa. Sadly, only a month or so left together before he leaves for a life back in the US. 

Mya & I modeling the beautiful aprons she made.


Mya

Dearest Mya,
5 years ago our world forever changed. Your arrival put a large dash of spice in our lives! I can't believe you are already 5 years old as it seems just yesterday I was putting the cute little pink hat with the large flower on you and taking your pictures to share you with the world. Looking back, you were so tiny, so quiet, and yet, made your presence known. Today is not much different. You are such a big piece of our puzzle.

You are the person in our family that makes "us" known. I often say that you know everyone and that you've never met a stranger. You seem to know everyone and if we come across someone you hadn't met yet, you leave them as a friend. This includes adults, babies, children. It doesn't matter who you  meet, you chat with them all. You have that type of personality. I'll admit, it drives me crazy at times. I am one that prefers to mind my own business, sometimes hiding within myself, but having you as my sidekick, pushes me out of my comfort zone. You are such a little social being, thriving in any social situation. We are working on boundaries, the difference between strangers, acquaintances, and friends, which is especially challenging given our situation here. Being on a military base, everyone knows everyone or knows someone who you know. Because we are essentially in one huge family over here, people are very tolerant of each other and much more friendly than we would find in the U.S. Again, this presents a unique challenge when teaching these differences as no one is really a stranger.

You have such a love for life with a smile that lights up your entire face. You are delighted by the smallest things--helping me wash windows, doing your "challenging work," holding your brother, walking Mojo (our neighbor's dog), grocery shopping with me, greeting our neighbors, and helping me bake to name just a few. You are simply adorable. I can't believe how much you've learned this year. Your vocabulary is growing, you are constantly surprising us with tidbits of knowledge--who is on the 5 dollar bill, who is the 1st President of the US, spouting off addition facts like a 1st grader. The list is endless. We are so proud of you. This year has been a big one for learning big things--riding a 2 wheel bike, swimming like a fish in the fitness pool (moved up to Level 2 lessons--youngest kiddo in your class), jumping off the diving board and swimming to the wall all by yourself, tying your shoes, reading. I can only imagine what you will accomplish as a 5 year old!

Mya, you are still the sweetest little thing on two feet. You are so loving and caring towards friends and family. You are the first to run to Gavin when he cries, the first to offer comfort to someone crying and the first to help when needed. That being said, you are also the most stubborn, sensitive, frustrating child too! You like to do things on your own terms. You like to be in charge. You like to be in control. It is such a fine line between letting you be who you are and fostering your spirit and reigning you in with guidance and direction. Daddy and I struggle to walk this line each and everyday. You get so upset when Daddy & I raise our voices or attempt to discipline you, crying and saying things like, "I can just go away." Not sure where you learn these things, but they are always very dramatic. You have a fire like none I've seen, yet, we must teach you to be obedient and respectful. We are making progress, but Daddy and I have more gray hairs than we'd care to admit.

Your favorite thing to play is babies. You LOVE playing babies with anyone and everyone. Thankfully, Claire is pretty good at negotiating, so you play babies, then switch to spies, school  or something else that she prefers. You also love doing puzzles. You are quite the whiz at them. You love riding bike, jumping on the trampoline, visiting with friends, swimming, and finding bugs.

Mya, raising you is so much different than raising your sister. I suppose it should be like that--very different. You are such a blend of Daddy and I, which is probably why the frustration is spread equally. We love you more than any word on any page. You are such a beautiful child, inside and out. You possess every quality I would ever desire and although at times, the free spirit in you, challenges us as parents, we never want to dim that fire. It is what is going to carry  you through life and help you succeed beyond what we can imagine. Several people have said that you will either be a diplomat or a cruise ship director. While I am not sure what you will become, I have no doubt that you will change the lives of countless people. Your spirit, zest for life, intelligence, and beautiful energy are amazing gifts from God that will help his plan unfold. Your Daddy and I are simply blessed to walk with you as the story unfolds. We love you!
Starting her day off right with a big sister duty.



Cupcakes for her "Celebration of Life" at school. 

So excited! 



Friday, May 9, 2014

Now

I came across these two poems earlier today and they resonated with me. They speak clearly to our life at this moment. I have so many raw emotions right now. Thinking Gavin may be our last baby has filled my eyes with tears on many occasions. I actually messaged Chris at work yesterday, saying maybe we should  have one more child so Gavin would have a playmate as well. Ha. (That's not going to happen. It was a moment of sheer insanity.) Babyhood is not my favorite period of motherhood, but I could eat up every snuggle, smile and stare. Juggling three has been a chaotic existance. I am filled with constant worry and anxiety as thoughts of forgetting something, neglecting someone, forcing Mya and Claire to help too much and thereby grow up too quickly run rampant in my head. I've spent much time reflecting on each period of transition--bringing Claire home from the hospital, then bringing Mya into our family, and finally Gavin. Each period was filled with bits of chaos and stress. Each period was survived and enjoyed. And each one looks less chaotic now. For the time being, life is full of prioritizing, praying, savoring each happy moment while forgetting others, and trying each and everyday to be the Momma my amazing children deserve. That, my friends, is my daily battle--being and giving everything to everyone and making sure, all the balls I am juggling, stay in motion. Knowing that in a matter of weeks, summer will be upon us and schedules will be put on hold, adventures will be had and family time will be plentiful is that light at the end of this tunnel.

Sentimentalby Annie Flavin

“You’re so sentimental now.”

I respond defensively at first.
But then,
I think,
how would I otherwise
make it through?

I pour myself
a glass at 5pm,
or meet friends at a park,
to laugh off the day.

But then,
when it’s the middle of the night
and the bottle’s empty
and the friends are asleep,
but my baby is awake,
what then?

When I’m so tired
that anger is the first emotion
I feel
when the few minutes of sleep
I’ve gotten
are interrupted,
I stop myself.

I’ve dreamed of you.
I’ve wanted you.
You are everything to me.

If I don’t take a moment,
to watch them while they sleep on me,
how can I deal with them
while they’re awake?

If I don’t take a moment
to notice and remark
on their tiny hands and pudgy feet,
how can I stand
the trail of disaster
they leave in their wake?

Is a toddler whiney?
Is a teenager moody?
A mother is sentimental.

I’ve seen the mother
of older kids
glancing at me in the grocery store
as I corral my children.
She looks
wistfully
at the chaos
and says,
“Enjoy it. It goes by so quickly.”

She’s a sap, too,
like all of the mothers before her.

Just like me. Just like you.
Just like all of us
when we remember
our baby asleep
on our chest.

Each Time
by Annie Flavin

Each time
I put them down to rest,
I kiss them good-night,
I kiss all of my screw-ups good-bye,
and I vow that
when they awaken,
we will all be new.

We can begin again.
We can start fresh.
Each and every moment.

If we can ditch
our own hang-ups and hangings-on of where we’ve failed,
and give fresh love
and serious attention,
they’ll rise right to us.

In fact,
most of the time,
they’re waiting for me
in that fresh, new space.

I just have to join them.