All Over the Place

Thursday, April 28, 2011 2 Comments A+ a-

Thanks to the suggestions of my cousins, Jon downloaded Angry Birds on his new tablet.  I asked him not to, and my greatest fear has been realized.  We are all addicted to the game, including the Littles.

Hudson is a pro on the tablet.  He can navigate the different screens, he can turn the volume up, find the Home screen, and knows where all of his favorite games are.  He loves playing Angry Birds (see above), a golf game, and a pinball game.  I’m in awe that at 4 years old he’s so technologically savvy.

BikeRiding12This evening I sat out front with the Littles while Jon grilled steaks in the back yard.  (Can I get an Amen on the grilling weather?!)  Devyn preferred to stay with Ashlynn and I, but Hudson and Reagan chose to ride bikes with our neighbor, Brock.  It was so funny to watch Reagan try to keep up with the boys.

At 2:00am, I’m going to wake Devyn, pop some popcorn, and curl up on the couch to watch the Royal Wedding.  While I certainly haven’t been obsessed with the media coverage, it IS a big event, and I think it’ll be a wonderful memory to share with Miss Paige.

On Sunday, Miss Ashlynn will be 5 months old.  She is a smiley baby, who adores her siblings, and loves touching faces.  While I am mourning each milestone, the look of utter pride that crosses her face with each roll-over is enough to make it worth it.

I should mention that we have a thumb/finger sucker on our hands.  She’ll take the pacifier, but if its not readily available, hands in mouth.  I love it!  I’ve always secretly wanted a thumb sucker…  Remind me of that in a couple of years when I can’t get her to stop.

Jon returns to 4- 10-hour shifts next week, his summer schedule.  While they mean longer days for me, I really love having three day weekends with him.  It means picnics up the canyon, camping trips, swimming, etc.  I can’t believe summer is almost here…

…which means that I will soon be the mother of a 1st grader.  A 1ST GRADER!  Say what?  Really.  When did this happen?  We just had a conference with Devyn’s teacher and speech therapist this week.  Devyn’s speech has progressed enough to graduate and will no longer need speech therapy.  This development deserves a whole post by itself, but you can imagine how proud we are of Devyn and her hard work.

In 3 days, I will also be able to say that I’m visiting this beautiful lady this month.  I cannot wait to get on a plane with my sister, Courtney, fly out to visit Amy and her beautiful sister, Kelsey, for a girls weekend.  I can’t wait to get my arms around her babies, stay up late talking, and generally just be in the company of someone who I consider to be a kindred spirit.

Its been a rough week.  When the days seem long, my patience wears thin, and there isn’t enough of me to go around.  But… and there’s always a but… my life is so utterly full and complete with each one of these babes.  Even now, I’m humbled into silence by the blessing that is my life.

A Look Back…

Tuesday, April 26, 2011 3 Comments A+ a-

Christine and I have had numerous conversations about adjusting to becoming a mother of two.  I’ve assured her that every emotion and feeling is completely normal, that I had those emotions too.  And instead of rewriting a post that describes that time in my life, I thought I’d simply repost what I wrote in the moment.  This was originally posted in March of 2007, as I adjusted from one to two children.  It brought back every emotion, as though it was yesterday…

Phone calls, text messages, and emails have gone unanswered for weeks now. I want so badly to reach out and return family and friends well-wishes but I know they want to gush about my newborn and/or motherhood and I’m just not there yet.

When I had baby blues after having Devyn, I would cry at the drop of a hat. Jon often recounts the infamous story of walking in the house to find me sobbing in front of the TV, where moments earlier I had been fine. I know during that time I was mourning the loss of coupledom; knowing that Jon and I were no longer a twosome, the end of an era. Combine that with the inexperience of a new mother and you have a basket case on your hands. Within two weeks, the baby blues subsided and my joy in motherhood blossomed.

Here I am, entering my fourth week as a mother of two, and the baby blues have yet to dissipate. I’m not breaking into sobs, or even tears for that matter. These blues have left me feeling completely inadequate as a mother. All my confidence in my mothering skills has flown out the window and as I told Amy earlier this week, I feel like I’ve lost my mommy “mojo”. Three weeks and one day ago, I knew exactly what I was doing; I knew every one of Devyn’s cries and what they meant; if a temper-tantrum was being thrown, I knew exactly how to handle it; if Devyn was being extra fussy, I could pinpoint the exact reason why. At this point, I keep reaching blindly for the brake or an exit door, anything to help me make sense of the chaos.

There are moments of reprieve, however, in the form of my husband, family, a special moment, or the simple feeling that I’m not alone. A conversation with my friend, Sarah, forced me to recognize that I need to offer myself grace; that as a new mommy of two, I can’t expect perfection. On Wednesday, my parents took Devyn with them during a five-hour drive through the mountains, leaving me home alone with Hudson. I took the time to memorize my son’s face; to cuddle with his small, pliant body; to connect with him. I was/am so thankful that I got that time alone with him and it turned out to be a wonderful experience for Devyn too. It had been three long weeks without seeing her spirited, independent streak and I was only too thankful to see it return.

In all honesty, the baby blues haven’t left yet but I’m wavering between good and bad moments. There are the moments when I wish I could get into my car, roll down the windows, and take off on a long, winding interstate into the unknown. But then there are other moments when I feel so incredibly blessed that I’m humbled into tears of gratitude. I know I’ll get through this, just as I got through it the first time, but for the time being, I’m just trying to keep it real.

No one said motherhood was easy and when a loss of hormones has been added to the mix, you sometimes end up with this… So, for those of you waiting to hear from me, I promise it'll be soon. I just need a little extra time to gather my bearings and try to find my mommy "mojo" again.

Easter in Pictures

Sunday, April 24, 2011 11 Comments A+ a-

At the request of out-of-state relatives, I give you… our Easter in pictures.

EasterCollage1Ashlynn’s 1st Easter basket… She was more enthralled with the ribbons than the stuffed animal.

EasterCollage2The Easter Egg Hunt.  I should’ve had a coat or sweater on the girls, but I didn’t even think about it until after the fact.

EasterCollage3None of these family pictures will make it to the printers.  Either kids aren’t smiling, or have half-closed eyes, or looking elsewhere.  Family photo fail.  But it sure is fun to have them documented.

EasterCollage4A couple of pictures with me and my girls.  As well as Cousin Michael with Ashlynn and cousins, Elliana and Sara.  Saying that Elliana adores Sara would be an understatement.

EasterCollage5Easter baskets.  Ring around the rosy.  Cookies.  Cousins.

I would love to have a more detailed post about our Easter, but the truth of the matter is, this mama is beat.  Its been a good day!  And now I can turn the computer off, pray the Littles come off their sugar high soon, and close my eyes.

I pray that you and your family had an amazing Easter Sunday!

Easter Egg Dying of 2011

Friday, April 22, 2011 3 Comments A+ a-

2 words… We survived.

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Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, April 20, 2011 4 Comments A+ a-

AshlynnTummyCollage

Bare, Open and Raw

Tuesday, April 19, 2011 5 Comments A+ a-

I alluded to the fact that God is working on me right now.  Its uncomfortable.  Squirm in my skin, uneasy, and an almost painful kind of uncomfortable.  I’ve noticed that whenever I’m living out the status quo, that’s when God comes in and works on me.  As much as I’d love to be left alone, I serve a God who is continually working in me, shaping me, and working out the kinks.  For that, as hard as it is, I am thankful.

I’ve been getting some good koshes on the head lately.  All my life I found my identity in something… daughter, sister, friend.  More titles came into play in high school, yearbook editor, girlfriend, then employee, fiance, wife, and now mother.  I suppose its human nature to identify ourselves in titles.  After all, I AM a wife and mother.  The danger comes in finding my identity in that alone.  And I find that God won’t be second to anything.

As I’ve focused my identity on these individual parts of me, I could feel pride sneaking into my soul.  If I’m going to identify myself as an employee, then I’m going to put all my focus and energy into that one area.  It would work for a while too… I had the passion, zeal, and abilities to be the best that I could be.  Then after a while, discontent, dissatisfaction would set in and I’d turn my energies to another area.  It has happened in every area of my life… Friendships, marriage, mothering, etc.

Lately I’ve been in such a funk and I couldn’t put my finger on it.  I couldn’t pinpoint what was wrong.  It wasn’t post-partum depression, though I’d certainly wondered.  And then the kosh came.  I’d been finding my identity elsewhere.

It was as though God was sitting patiently by, wondering when the light bulb was going to go on.  There is only one identity that matters and its in Him.  I am the daughter of the King.  That’s it and that’s all.  All the other titles, wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend are second to that.  Instead of waiting on affirmations from others, which lets face it can bring us up and tear us down in the same moment, I need only keep my focus on Him.  He hasn’t let me down, and never will.  I need only rest in Him and His truth.

While I am loving this stage as Wife and Mom, I need constant reminders that is not my identity.  The only identity I need focus on is being a Child of God.  When I can keep my focus on that, everything else seems to fall into place.  Its funny how that works…

He is not done with me, and I’m sure I’ll have plenty more to write about during this time.  Thankfully, I am a work in progress and such a mess without Him.

Not a Normal Monday

Monday, April 18, 2011 6 Comments A+ a-

It is not normal for Hudson to be laying on floor…KneeDeepInMunchkinLand

Reagan, lay still?!  Never…KneeDeepInMunchkinLand

This is not normal… oh, wait… never mind.  This is very normal for Ashlynn.KneeDeepInMunchkinLand

Welcome to a sick Monday in our household.  Hudson is on Day #4 of not feeling well.  We’re seeing some improvement but he’s still complaining of his tummy hurting and is still lethargic, but at least the fever’s gone.

Reagan, however, just seems to be starting on this crud.  She woke up late, refused to eat breakfast, and immediately went back down for a  2-hour nap.  Now she’s laying on the couch…  Unheard of in that energetic, busy girl’s life.  So far no other symptoms to speak of.

Ashlynn and Devyn seem to have escaped the terror of this virus, knock on wood.  And Devyn is currently bouncing off walls and jumping off furniture, as she is going as stir-crazy as her mama. 

Off to tend to the sick Littles.

The Last 48 Hours (in pictures)

Saturday, April 16, 2011 7 Comments A+ a-

AshlynnBear1“What are you doing, Mom?”

AshlynnBear2“Hmmmm, while you’re occupied, I wonder how this bear tastes…”

BearAshlynn3“Awww.  I’m cute, aren’t I?!”

SickHudsonFriday at about 3:00am, we woke to the sounds of Hudson throwing up; it continued throughout the morning and afternoon.  I almost felt bad for Jon in our “Jenn does poopy diapers, Jon does vomit” deal.  Almost.  Thankfully he hasn’t thrown up since yesterday, but he still feels horrible and has a high fever.

TabletJon was eligible for a free upgrade on his phone, and he decided to use the upgrade on this tablet (similar to an iPad) instead.  I originally thought he was crazy, but the more I play on it, the more I think he’s a genius.  We added some children’s books to it and Devyn’s already navigating it like a pro!

Personally, I’m ready for an upgrade too.  These pictures are horrible!

DevynCFAJon blessed my desire to escape the house for a couple of hours this afternoon, so Devyn, Ashlynn, and I packed up and headed out.  We started out at Chik-Fil-A and sat in the car to eat it.  Devyn’s reached a new stage of “Mom, don’t take my picture, its embarrassing!”  I took it anyway. 

EasterOutfitThen we did some shopping so I could find an appropriate Easter outfit.  I can’t begin to express the depression that set in during this trip.  My body has shifted, changed, and sagged in ways that I never thought possible; in ways that no amount of diet or exercise will ever change.  It certainly doesn’t help to have Devyn telling me, “Mama, you look like you’re going to have another baby!”  Awesome.  But I think we still managed to find something cute.

DashboardWhen I got home, I had the fun job of telling Jon that our van’s CD player was broken.  Apparently Hudson and Reagan confused it with a slot machine and inserted pennies and nickels into the CD player.  (I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.)  This was our dashboard earlier, I feared for its life.  And for my children’s live.  Lets just say that Daddy had some choice words about the situation.

I am happy to report that Jon was able to fix it and put everything back!  (Have I mentioned that his handiness is one of the sexiest things about him?!)

I would normally include a picture of all the Littles, but since Reagan has spent most of the last 48 hours in nothing but a diaper, I didn’t feel it would be appropriate to photograph and share with you all.  Trust me, the n*kedness is not the will of her mama, but of the 2-year-old.

Attachment

Thursday, April 14, 2011 6 Comments A+ a-

One of the hardest things I learned about being a working mom, is that my children will bypass the separation anxiety phase.  Don’t get me wrong, we had moments of crying and reaching for me once in a while.  But overall, they looked forward to their time with Nana and Auntie Alli.

I’ve talked about the bonds that Devyn and Hudson have with individual aunt, and I’d be lying if I said that the times my children reached for their aunt, instead of me, didn’t sting.  It stung, just a little.  But enough to enforce my dislike of having to work outside the home. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love that my children are so close to my mom and sisters.  If I had to work, then I’m forever grateful that my family was willing to step in the gap.  But there were numerous times that I wished to be first choice, to be second to none.  And it appears my wish has come true.

Ashlynn has formed a deep attachment to me, and I can’t help but be a little giddy at this new development.  Her eyes follow my moves around the room, she stares warily into new faces, she’s content to be as long as I’m in plain sight. 

The moment I leave the room, or her sight, her face starts to pout and she begins to whimper.  If I stay gone, the whimper escalates into full blown sobs, calmed only by being in my arms again.  Yesterday, I tried to leave Ashlynn with my mom while I picked Devyn up from school.  It was soon apparent that she wasn’t going to be left behind, and was fine as long as she could hear my voice.

I feel for Jon.  It’s the first time he hasn’t been able to calm or console a child of ours.  When the others were babies, it truly didn’t matter if it was Jon or I who held, comforted, or pacified them.  But the same is not true of Ashlynn, and the couple of times I’ve left her with him, it was only a matter of time before I received the call to get back home.  Now.  I can never tell who’s more relieved that Mama is home, Jon or Ashlynn.

I wonder if there will come a time that I’m completely overwhelmed or annoyed at constantly being needed.  I highly doubt it.  Its taken six years and four children to become the favored one.  And right now, I’m relishing each moment!

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I didn't know...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011 8 Comments A+ a-

...that the sight of Devyn in her Easter dress would bring a physical ache to my heart. She has grown inches in a matter of weeks and looks 10 years old, instead of 6.

...that giggles and twirls were a balm for my heart as I was assured she is still, in fact, a little girl.

...laying on the floor to color with Devyn would open the floodgates to her heart. The girl wouldn't stop talking. It made me happy.

...I'd be this excited to plan a mini-vacation to Steamboat Springs this summer. Hotel is being reserved, plans are being made, and the Little are getting excited.

...that it takes something as simple as a pool in a hotel to send the Littles into a frenzy.

...how much fun a web camera could be. Besides Skyping with Grammy, we've made numerous videos. Some of which will never be shared.

...adding Devyn's friend and my niece, Elliana, to my brood, would take that much out of me. It wasn't even the playing and preparing lunch, so much as loading them all up to take Devyn to school. That was exhausting.

...how much harder it would be to lose the baby weight after child #4. And its not even something I'm willing to tackle until after I'm done nursing. Ashlynn needs all the calories I can give her.

...a child could be as disobedient, stubborn, and entertaining (all at once) as Reagan. I often have to bite my cheek to keep from smiling or laughing at her willful disobedience. But her antics are so.stinking.cute.

...a boy could take anything, even a shovel, and turn it into a play gun. And those antics would rub off on a certain 2-year-old little sister.

...that watching 2- and 4-year-old siblings fighting bad guys together would warm my heart.

...a baby could survive as much love, affection, and attention as Ashlynn has had to endure. Nor did I know that said baby could express her displeasure at having people constantly in her space.

...God would speak to me under such unusual circumstances; that conviction would come at such an odd time.

...God is never ok with the status quo, that He keeps me in a constant state of work. I'm very uncomfortable right now as He and I work through some "stuff".

...how much I would enjoy this phase of my life. That as hard as it is, as I exhausted as I feel, as repetitive as sweeping the floor, folding laundry, making beds, and disciplining is, that I wouldn't trade this time for anything else.

4 Months Old

Sunday, April 10, 2011 5 Comments A+ a-

After seeing the collage on Sarah’s blog, I decided to take out the pictures of all my babies at 4 months old and compare.

What do you think?  Any family resemblance?4monthscollage2

How about now?4Months

Yeah, Jon and I have had moments of major déjà vu since Ashlynn was born.  With only a couple of differences, its like looking at a mini-me of Devyn… six years later.

Baby Legs

Friday, April 08, 2011 7 Comments A+ a-

After Hudson was born, I noticed these adorable little leg warmer-type items on babies.  They were called Baby Legs.  “They protect baby’s knees during crawling,” some said.  “Keeps legs warm while they wear onesies,” said others. 

I’ll be honest, I didn’t think much of them… at first.  Then I fell in love with the look.  A lot.  And yet, I didn’t buy a single pair for Reagan.

Fast forward another 2 years and I happened upon a great deal on Ebay.  Ashlynn had been hanging out in onesies the past few days, and I’d been worried about whether her legs were warm or not.  Bingo!  I pushed the “Buy Now” button, chose the patterns I wanted, and they arrived in our mailbox this week.

And once she starts crawling, they’ll serve a more functional purpose.  But for now, does she not look adorable?!  Sigh.

AshlynnBabyLeggsCollage

Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, April 06, 2011 9 Comments A+ a-

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It’ll Be Worth It

Tuesday, April 05, 2011 10 Comments A+ a-

Yesterday was a day.  The kind that made me want to scream, tear my hair out, and trade my children in for monkeys, because surely they’d be easier to handle.  Hudson and Reagan decided that they both needed to assert their independence and refused to wear anything I picked out, eat anything I made, or just plain get along. 

Then I decided to tempt fate even more and make a trip to the grocery store.  I knew it was a mistake before we even stepped foot in the store, but we were out of everything and I really had no choice.  However, not even a 1/3 through my grocery list, it was apparent that I wasn’t going to get to finish.  We left promptly after the umpteenth tantrum, the tantrum that continued through the checkout line and to the car.  Super Mom of The Year, for sure.

This parenting thing is hard word, really hard work.  Shaping these little people into Christ following, God fearing, loving, compassionate, and merciful human beings is hard work.  Its hard to see the loving and compassionate in the midst of the disobedient and strong willed.  I won’t even add the part about having four children under the age of six, because well, parenting is hard work regardless of the number of children you have.

But I’m trying to remember that this a calling and a job like none other.  It is both an honor and privilege to shepherd these little hearts.  I know plenty of women that would give anything to have hard days if it meant they got to be mothers.  It is those friends that help to remind me that I’m truly blessed. 

Some day I’m going to miss these days, the chaos of four Littles.  Of asking older siblings to leave the baby alone and demanding love for siblings in the midst of teasing.  Of wild moods and couch pillows in disarray.  Of sleepless nights and messy rooms.  Of carefree dance parties and unintelligible toddler speak.  Some day my house will be far too quiet and I’ll remember these days, wondering if I actually soaked them in as much as I could have.

When I’m tired of having another conversation with Hudson regarding his toiletry habits (Son, your bedroom floor is NOT an appropriate place to pee)… When I’m tired of hearing Reagan say “No!” for the 30th time that day…  When I want nothing more than a glass of wine to calm frayed nerves and temper…  I want to remember this…

“I’m not telling you it is going to be easy, I’m telling you its going to be worth it.” Art Williams

Surprise!

Friday, April 01, 2011 8 Comments A+ a-

I have always wanted to throw Jon a surprise birthday party.  Always.  It was just a matter of waiting for the right time.  Well, that time came last week.  He turned the big 3-0 this year (and yes, for those keeping track, I am 18 months older than my hubby) and I convinced him that we needed to do a big party.  Plan set in motion…

I sent out 2 different invitations, one that included Jon on the invite list and the 2nd to everyone else BUT Jon.  However, this is where it got sticky.  Some people received the fake invitation, some received the real invitation, some received nothing at all, and some received both but deleted one of them.  Huge fiasco.  I sent out an email trying to clarify everything but I’m not sure that got to everyone either.

The plan called for the “fake” party to take place on a Saturday, his actual birthday.  Playing cool, I asked Jon if he’d like to take me on a date the Friday night before.  He jumped at the idea, further proof we rarely have date nights.  When we took the kids to my parents house to be “babysat”, everyone would be waiting to celebrate his birthday.  I’d even had Devyn playing and having dinner with friends from school, because there is no way we’d have a party without Devyn.

** Side note.  Devyn knew about the surprise party the whole time and managed to keep it a secret!  I was thoroughly impressed.

While I was waiting for Jon to hurry up and get ready for our “date”, my stomach was in knots.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous.  We were finally ready to go and while Jon thought I was on Twitter, I sent a text to Mom and the sisters that we were on our way. 

If I was nervous at home, I was a wreck by the time we pulled into my parents driveway.  And of all nights, Jon decided to take his sweet time getting Reagan and Hudson out of the car.  I sat there impatiently, wondering how long I could drag getting Ashlynn out of the car without drawing Jon’s suspicion.  But there was no way I was walking into that house first.

I was right behind him when he opened the door to a house full of people shouting, “Surprise!”  I laughed as he turned bright red and was completely speechless.  And when he turned around in embarrassment, “Well, I guess I’d better go turn off the car” I knew I’d accomplished what I’d set out to do.  He was shocked!

We spent the evening visiting with family and friends, eating bbq pulled pork and beef sandwiches, laughing at all the ways Jon should’ve caught on to the surprise party, and ate his fishing birthday cake.  All in all, I’d say it was a huge success.  And thanks to all the family and friends who were able to come and celebrate with us. 

Happy Birthday, Babe!  I’m so glad we were able to surprise and celebrate you and the wonderful man that you are!  (Ignore the blurry 1st picture.  Courtney warned me she was horrible at taking that kind of picture.  She was right.  Love you, Court!)

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Side note:  Munchkin Land Designs has a brand-new look.  I’m also giving away an Elite Blog Design.  Go check it out!