Its This Girl

Thursday, December 29, 2011 5 Comments A+ a-

ReaganIts this girl… 

The one who when I begged for five minutes to grab her socks and shoes from the McD*nald’s Play Place shoe corral, looked at me, smiled, darted out of my reach, and came out of the slide with a smug look on her face.

When I asked for the fifth time, she coyly walked up to her shoes, looked at me out of the corner of her eye and grabbed just one of her boots.  “One, Mommy?” she asked.  The look in her eyes belied her innocent expression, she knew I meant both.

When I said as much, she walked back and switched out the boots; leaving the 1st and bringing me the second.  I burst out laughing.

Its this girl…

The one who has been grabbing any doll in sight, bringing them to me, and pointing at their chest. “Food for baby.”  She smiles proudly every time I agree with her.

Imagine the humiliation when we were in public and she pointed at my chest, “Food for baby!”  To complete strangers.

Its this girl…

The one who has had the ability to be potty trained for months, but not the incentive.  And with this girl, incentive is everything.

We finally discovered her incentive the nights she cried to go to Cubbies with Hudson.  We explained that only big girls who went in the big girl potty got to go Cubbies.

Two weeks ago, she put on underwear and hasn’t looked back.  Two accidents and a three-day weekend is all she needed. 

Did I mention she gave up her pacifier the same weekend?  Cold turkey.  This girl and her will astounds me.

Reagan2Its this girl…

The one whose feisty spirit makes us both laugh and beat our heads against the wall at the same time.  The one who loves building with blocks and playing princesses with Devyn.  The one who repeats everything her older siblings say and do.  The one who grabs her baby sister’s hand and pulls Ashlynn into her room to play.  The one who proudly declares at least six times a day, “Mommy!  I’m a big girl now!”

Its this girl that turned three years old today. 

We love you, Reagan Jacqueline.  You are such a gift to our family; you make us laugh and giggle.  You are such a delight and we are honored to be your parents.  We hope you had a special day, my Love!  And PS, yes, you are such a big girl now.

Wordless Wednesday, Christmas Edition

Wednesday, December 28, 2011 3 Comments A+ a-


I think she's ignoring me.

Friday, December 23, 2011 5 Comments A+ a-

I've explained that its not time to open presents yet.

So she's either ignoring me.  Or displaying willful disobedience.

I'm not sure which option is worse.

Regardless, I'm pretty sure it won't be the last time she thinks she's in charge.

From Our Family to Yours

Thursday, December 22, 2011 5 Comments A+ a-


“Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” Habakkuk 3:18

Life Lessons*

Tuesday, December 13, 2011 14 Comments A+ a-

It’s the kind of day where you want to beat your head against a brick wall, where even the deepest sigh can’t express the discouragement you feel. 

I knew this parenting stuff would be hard, but up until this year, its mostly taken a physical toll.  Newborn feedings, sick children, nights of steam showers, night terrors, energetic toddlers, dancing and running, and on and on.  Pure exhaustion resulting from lack of sleep and then trying to keep up with the Littles throughout the day.  These early years have been physically hard.

And now we’ve entered the emotionally and psychologically hard years.  I’d mentioned in Devyn’s birthday post that I’d never really envisioned her past kindergarten.  I’d never really given much thought to shaping and molding a person with character, faith, values, and integrity.  You mean to tell me that these kinds of people don’t just appear?!  That helping create this kind of person takes work?!

Well, we’re learning.  And we’re learning fast. 

Jon and I’ve always agreed that building character and integrity is far more important to us than academic, athletic, or any other kind of success.  That we would rather have a child who’s recognized for their character than any other award.  I don’t care if my child brings home a “C” as long as we knew their best effort was put forth.  I WILL care if my child brings home a B+ and is capable of an A but didn’t try.

Character.  Integrity.  Strong words, deep meaning.  Hard work.

Devyn is one of our easiest, there is little we have to get on her about, but she’s not perfect.  And lately, Devyn has been struggling with lying.  Its usually to avoid getting out of trouble (isn’t that the root of most lies) and we’ve tried everything in our bag of magic tricks to help her learn this valuable lesson in life.  We’ve done spankings** and groundings.  We’ve taken away privileges and toys.  We’ve discussed and reasoned until we’re blue in the face.  Nothing has worked.

And then today.  The dreaded email from school. 

Long story short.  Devyn signed my initials to her reading log and when the teacher confronted her on it, she pretended to forget who had signed the initials.  While I grew flustered at the email, embarrassed that my child had been caught red-handed, I was more concerned with the character issue that was at the root of this problem. 

A quick call to Jon alerted him to the issue that was brewing at home.  And then I turned to Twitter.  Because I needed a new idea, some new arsenal for our bag of tricks.  And boy did Twitter deliver.  (Thank you, thank you, thank you!)  Idea after idea rolled in, and within the hour I had a good idea of a sufficient punishment.  And after discussing it with Jon, agreeing that this was worth the try, we called Devyn into our room.

The moment I asked to see her reading log, she knew.  I could hear the whimper in her voice, the dread in her steps.  And when she returned to our room, her eyes flooded with tears.  We asked her if she knew what this was about, and she immediately started crying and apologizing simultaneously.  And let me tell you, its hard to remain removed from the situation.  That’s my baby who’s blubbering and apologizing over there.  My baby girl who is obviously sorry, and scared, and embarrassed.  One side begged to comfort and cuddle her, assuring her that it was all ok.  But I managed to remain stoic, determined that she learn this lesson now.  When the consequences aren’t so dire.

So we sat there.  Her dad, Devyn, and I.  We discussed the situation, we explained the consequences (both physical and emotional, ie, the lack of trust), and though she cried through most of it, we were resolute in our determination to see this through.  She knew that she’d be required to read double the time that is usually required from her homework.  She understood that she and I would be going to her teacher in the morning, before school started, so she could apologize to her in front of me.  And once again, we discussed why this was such an important issue to God, Jon, and myself.  I’m hoping it sticks this time.

And then we moved to the kitchen for the final part of her punishment.

As I poured a spoonful of T*basco sauce, I explained she didn’t need to swallow this.  But she would be required to keep it in her mouth until we said she was done.  “Devyn,” I explained.  “I want you to remember this the next time you want to tell a lie.  I want you to remember how this burned and how it tasted horrible.  My hope is that telling lies will soon burn your mouth, your lips, like this sauce does.  That this will make you think twice before the lie ever leaves your lips.”

I shot a look a Jon, twin expressions of dread filled both our eyes.  Neither of us wanted to do this, neither of us wanted to be in this position.  It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  But unfortunately, it had become necessary.

After a few seconds, I held a cup so she could spit it out.  It hurt.  It burned her mouth, her tongue, her lips.  And as I sat with her on her bed while she cried, I told her that it was my hope that soon lies would taste just like this.  She nodded and placed her head in my lap; spent from the long evening of discussions, tears, and discipline.  And unfortunately, she’s even more embarrassed to have to talk to her teacher tomorrow morning.

I don’t know if it’ll work.  I hope it does.  I don’t want to do this again.  But heaven knows I have three more children to go and a number of life lessons to teach.  I’m continuing to pray for guidance, wisdom, and yes, other unconventional methods of discipline***.  Anything that will teach these character issues to my Littles.  Its exhausting work.

*  I’m taking advantage of this last moments of talking about Devyn.  She’s soon reaching an age where she’ll get a choice of what is shared on the blog, and I’ll have to respect that.

**  Yes, we are spankers.  And I’m more than willing to discuss that with anyone who can maintain a respectful conversation via private email.  We also do timeouts, groundings, loss of privileges, and anything else that will teach a lesson.  Each child has responded to different methods.

***  For instance, when a tantrum is thrown and stomping is involved, our Littles will stomp up and down our stairs for a set amount of time.  We tell them to get their stomping out now.  Its usually by the third or fourth time stomping upstairs that they’re saying they’re sorry.

Mish-Mash, Photo Edition

Sunday, December 11, 2011 7 Comments A+ a-

I decided on a fun bird theme for Ashlynn’s invitation, sent it to Katie at Kuhl Cakes, told her to take creative license, and this is what she came up with.  It was perfect!!

BirthdayCakeI especially loved the individual smash cake.  So precious!  I still can’t believe our baby turned one!

SAMSUNG            Devyn has been sitting right next to me as I attempt to finish up Ashlynn’s stocking, showing avid interest in it, and asking to help.  So with her birthday money in hand, we went to Michael’s and came home with this sewing kit.  She has been a busy girl, even sewing a skirt for Ashlynn.

Lightbox_1323458588999There is nothing, NOTHING, more tender and heartwarming than seeing your baby girls grasp hands and dance to Christmas music together.  They’ve recently become best friends with Reagan leading Ashlynn by the hand, shutting themselves in Reagan’s room, and playing together for long periods of time. It does this mother’s heart good.

Lightbox_1323624415780Devyn was in the church musical this morning and it was a shock to the system to see our eldest up on stage, looking far older than we remember letting her be.  In fact, as we shopped for the required apparel for the concert, Jon was visually upset that we’re now shopping in the older girl section of the store.  He’s not ok with her growing up.

Its been fascinating to watch Hudson’s relationship with each sister develop.  He very much idolizes Devyn, wanting to be big like her, do everything she does, and their relationship is developing into best friends.  With Reagan, there’s very much a competitive element to their relationship.  I’m sure it has something to do with being just 22 months apart.  With these two, they’re either best friends or worst enemies.  There’s little middle ground or gray area.  In fact, I have no doubt that when Hudson forbids Reagan from dating any of his friends, she’ll arch an eyebrow, throw him a saucy look, and say, “Watch me.”

Lightbox_1323618308716And with Ashlynn, the adoration is mutual.  There is nothing that the other cannot do, or do wrong.  Her face lights up the moment he steps into view, and she is the first person he asks for when I pick him up from school.  It is precious indeed.

Keeping It Real, Grinch Style

Tuesday, December 06, 2011 7 Comments A+ a-

I have pictures and a post to write about our baby's first birthday party.  Someday I'll get it up. Hopefully before December is over.

It was the most laidback, casual 1st birthday party we've ever had.  It was just family, some snacks, and a gorgeous cake!  It was perfect!  Pictures soon, I promise.

I just finished working on the invitations for Reagan and Elliana's joint 3rd birthday party.  The theme is ladybugs.  I can't believe our girls are going to be 3 years old!

Let me recap.  Four parties in 4 weeks, two of those parties within six days of each other.  I'm going to admit, I can't help but wonder if God is playing a cruel joke on me. 3 birthdays within 6 weeks of each other, DURING the holiday season.  Really?!

Now I'm trying to address 150 Christmas cards, finish Ashlynn's Christmas stocking, start shopping for Christmas gifts, do some holiday baking, and maintain my designing schedule.  I think, no, I know, I bit off more than I can chew.

So somewhere between the twinkling lights and the birthday parties, I'm in desperate need of the holiday spirit.

This Year Has Been a Gift

Thursday, December 01, 2011 6 Comments A+ a-

I never knew if I'd get to have this year again.  I'd just been given the green light to quit my job and become a stay-at-home mom.  With the loss of income, I resigned myself to the idea that we were done.  I'd weighed the pros and cons, the idea of have having a 4th child versus staying home with the ones that we already had.  The latter won out.

I spent a lot of time that week cuddling 15-month-old Reagan, wondering if I'd really savored and relished the last pregnancy, the last of our baby days.  It was an extremely bittersweet time.  Mourning, yet celebrating a dream come true at the same time.

Little did I know that God had already given me a gift.  And two days after I'd put my notice in at work, two pink lines appeared.  I'd been so caught up in our decision for me to be home, I was completely oblivious to the miracle taking place in my own body.  And while I wish we could say we were nothing but happy, but I'd be lying.  We'd lost income and gained another mouth to feed in a matter of days.  The stress levels were high.

But as time passed, and we grew into the idea of becoming a family of six, I was able to see this baby for what it was. 

A precious gift.

It was the first time I didn't work through a pregnancy.  There was no stress trying to schedule doctor appointments in-between lunch breaks and meetings.  There was no need to find a temporary substitute to train and fill my shoes during maternity leave.  It was a gift of stopping, savoring, and committing to memory the moments that make a pregnancy. Even the last days of feeling swollen, huge, exhausted, and done.  It was an experience unlike any pregnancy I'd had before. 

It was a treasured gift.

During those first months of my babies' lives, my time off was always marred by the knowledge that I only had 12 short weeks.  And then it was back to reality.  Three babies.  Three times I cried the week before it was time to go back to work.

But not this time.  There was no sense that I was running a race against the clock.  There was no dread as she turned another week older.  It seemed as though with each milky smile, it eased the heartache of months of sitting and pumping in the bathroom.  With each smile, coo, and nap, I forgot about the times I missed first steps, first words, so many firsts. 

It was a redeeming gift.

This year hasn't been easy.  I feel like I'm still figuring out the best stride for me as a stay-at-home mom.  But this girl, this precious babe has smoothed some of the harder, sharper points of this year.  She has brought so much delight and love into this family.  She has fit in seamlessly, filling a piece of the puzzle we didn't even know was missing.  Her silly and sweet ways help balance the strong-wills and have brought laughter in moments when we needed it the most.

She is the gift that we don't deserve, and now we can't imagine living without. 

Happy birthday, our dear Ashlynn Rose.  You are more precious to us than I could possibly put into words.  Thank you for the light you bring with your smile, the affection you demonstrate with your head butts, and the giggles you instigate with your lopsided walk, the head shaking, and your dance moves.  You are a treasure and joy, my love!