Saturday, July 27

Holding On, Letting Go

             I left the morning dishes in the sink, knowing they would still be there later, and sat down to play "Memory". Aubrey had just fallen asleep and I knew I had at least 1/2 an hour, maybe more, to do a few "chores" and something "fun" with Ella. I decided we should do the fun thing first on the slim chance that Aubrey woke up earlier than expected...Ella has been VERY patient lately, as far as four year olds go anyways, and I wanted to be able to do something special with her for a few minutes.

     As we sat on the floor in all of our "morningness" (messy hair, princess nightgown, old sweatshirt covered in spit-up, coffee at my side) and started to play, I found myself laughing hysterically at Ella who was making up her very own rules ("You can have an extra turn", "No, you take this match," "Now I get an extra turn") and then giggling and throwing herself on the floor in laughter as she made up names for the characters on the cards (We were playing "Jake and the Neverland Pirates Memory" and she had her own, very silly names, for each of the characters). 

     I stared at her in that pink, hand-me-down nightgown and realized how lucky I was to have this moment, full of laughter, with her. 

      Don't get any bigger, I thought.

     I recall my mother-in-law telling me how she used to look at Scott's sister as a baby (because she was the youngest and last) and would say the same thing over and over again... Don't get any bigger. Don't get any bigger... like a chant that we hope holds special power to preserve this moment in time for us.

      I thought it was sweet when she first told me that, but don't think I really connected with what she was know, on a mommy personal connection level...until I found the need to do it myself.  

      Be in the moment Lisa. Hold onto it. Imprint it on your mind...This moment. Ella's laughter. The nightgown. The simplistic glory of it all. 

       Earlier that morning I had nursed Aubrey and then held her as she fell asleep in my arms, clinging to the fabric of my shirt with her little, pudgy, baby hand.

        Hold onto this moment. Imprint it in your know how fast this goes. 

     I find myself lately, especially with a new baby around simultaneously needing to hold on and let go on a regular basis.

     I'm trying to hold on to all of these sweet moments like snapshots in the memory files of my brain.  These days where the girls are still young. 

       Where Ella and I wave good-bye to Ava on the school bus and then walk hand in hand back to the house and play Memory and color pictures.

      Where Ava wants to cuddle next to me on the couch to watch a cartoon and still lets me pick out her clothes.

     Where Aubrey stares intently at me and coos...I know she is trying to talk, to say, "Mama, I like it here. What a great place, crazy sisters and all."

      But to be in those moments I find myself increasingly needing to let go too...

      Of the clutter that seems to be growing exponentially on every surface of my house.

      Of the fact that meals aren't so much planned these days, as they are sort of thrown on the table in a haphazard fashion (What? You want left over cake for dinner?! Sure, as long as you throw down some carrots with it!)

      Of the idea that I might find time to read books and write consistent blog posts and get to the gym as frequently as I once did.

     Of the fact that our front and back yard looks pretty trashy on many days...the lawn gets overgrown and the plastic toys litter the ground everywhere.  The garage is erupting with kid toys from every corner and crevice-- so much so that I find myself closing the garage door to hide the clutter. 

        Of the weeds in the minimally planted garden (don't get any ideas's a few seeds and tomato plants thrown in the ground this year!)...bah...oh well.

     Of the chipped paint on the kitchen cabinets, the holes in walls that need to be patched and painted, the floors that need to be washed...ESPECIALLY in the summer. 

      I'm learning to not be as anxious when these things don't get realize there's not much I can do about it and to be ok with that. I must simultaneously hold my hands in an open posture to let go of and accept all that comes my way in the sometimes crazy, always different,  day-to-day life of parenting. 

      And, as much as I  build this cadence that says-- "Hold on. Hold on. Hold on."-- I must do the same with letting go. I confess, I'm not very good at it. I get embarrassed to have guests over and cranky about the mss. "Let go. Let go. Let go." I must say it over and over and over again. 

     Becoming a mom to three is teaching me lessons I thought I had learned with the first two and didn't expect to need to re-learn, to a greater degree, a third time around. Lessons about what is most important in life...and what is not. Lessons in grace and humility. Patience and endurance. 

      Hold On. Let Go. Hold On. Let Go. Hold On. Let Go.

     So, if you see me around or come to my house and I'm stressing about the details I give you permission to remind me of my own words...

                                  Hold on Lisa, stop fretting to and fro, 
                                  there's always going to be a lot to get done
                                                                        ...for now just let it go!  

(the above image was borrowed from Google Images)

Tuesday, July 16

Stopping to Catch My Breath

I'm sitting in the old corduroy chair, coffee cup next to me, computer on my lap, clicking away at this blog post while the littlest babe sleeps in our bedroom above me.

It's like old times...the days when Ava was first born and I would find a bit of respite during nap time throughout the day. The funny thing was, because she was my first, life felt crazy even with those bits of down time. Little did I know how much crazier it could get (:

The older girls are with Nanner (their grandmother) in Ohio for a few days this week. We drove out to Sandusky, OH on Friday, car top carrier packed on top, wiggly girls in the far back seat and me next to the baby in the middle while dad drove most of the way. In theory it should be about a four hour drive. With kids it is five. A looonnnggg  and noisy five.

Scott's aunt and uncle graciously welcomed our brood of 5, plus Nanner into their house for the weekend. I can't tell you how much I appreciate that they were so gracious and hospitable. We are a LOT of energy to host for three nights and we come with a LOT of stuff: Barbies, crayons, coloring books, breast milk in bags and bottles in the fridge, suitcases, pillows and lots and lots of extra pairs of shoes. Oh, the fun. 

We attempted to take the older girls to Cedar Point on Saturday...boy was that a trip! Because I am nursing the baby and because Scott's aunt and uncle only live 10 minutes from the park we thought we'd do it in two shifts...a morning shift, come back to nap, eat some dinner and nurse the baby and then a later shift.

Only one shift was to be had that day...

The park was packed, apparently one of the busiest days all year. It was also very, very hot. In six hours Ava rode two big roller coasters (go Ava!), one with me and one with Scott and Ella rode a handful of little kid rides.  We experienced only a tiny fraction of what the park had to offer before heading back for our "intermission", with full intentions of riding more rides after dinner. 

Unfortunately, by the time Ava fell asleep (Ella never did) and then woke up in a funk (she cried for half and hour about how she really wanted to go back but she was SOOO tired) we realized that heading back to Cedar Point for the evening was not in the cards. I was also out of pumped breastmilk and ideally needed to feed the baby again, and Ella was more interested in watching cartoons in an air conditioned house than trekking around a park with 40,000 other people. 

And so we spent big bucks on four tickets to Cedar Point to ride two roller coasters and a handful of kiddie rides that looked like this...

I sent a text to Scott, along with the above picture while he and Ava were waiting in line for an hour and fifteen minutes to ride one of the tallest roller coasters in the Northeast (it's shocking that my little kindergartener is big enough to ride such a roller coaster, but alas, she did not get my genes and is a whopping 48 1/2 inches this year!), the text said...

"This is about my speed today."

"Haha," he replied. There was so much truth in that picture and statement. 

Ella and I were in a similar car, right behind this one, my legs crunched up and Ella giggling besides me. 

While the day didn't turn out quite the way we expected it to, we did cross another parenting milestone off of our list...The one that says: 
"Said parents will take small children to a large theme park and realize it's a tad more complicated than expected. Said parents and children will pay big bucks to ride small rides, but memories will be created nonetheless." 
And memories were certainly created. 

Ava is quite proud of her roller coaster riding prowess and Ella had fun in the small stock cars with mom by her side. We had bright red Icees and salty french fries. 

It wasn't what we had planned, but it was good nonetheless. 

Instead of returning to the park that night Scott and Nanner took the girls out for ice cream at Tofts (apparently Ohio's oldest dairy producer). I must say besides being Nanner's favorite ice cream joint the place that makes the biggest ice cream cone a girl has ever seen, which makes for very happy children on a hot summer night.  

While they were out for ice cream the baby went to sleep for the night and I sat on a quiet deck reading a magazine until Aunt Gloria came back and offered me a nice chilled glass of wine...I got to read a magazine, have some girl talk and sip some summer blush wine while the ice cream lovers got their cold treat as well.  Now that I think about it it was a little bit of paradise for all. 

So here I sit, baby just waking up, finding irony in the fact that one baby felt like a big handful when I only had one, but now feels like a break because we have three. I am trying to not have too many expectations for these few days while the girls are gone except to give Aubrey some undivided attention and catch my breath while she naps (which, fortunately for me, is still quite a bit!). 

Here are a few more photos from the weekend....

Summer lovin' while swimming in Scott's Aunt's neighborhood pool

Ella and I on one of many kiddie rides!

This kid cracks me up!!! 

"I'll smile at you, but I refuse to open my eyes while I do it!" 

"HI everyone! I'm 10 weeks old and just went on my first road trip!" 

Saturday, July 6

Beautiful- A 5 Minute Friday Post

(This post is part of 5-Minute Fridays...a space where Lisa-Jo Baker offers a prompt and hundreds of lovely ladies write for 5 minutes about that word(s). Here goes!)


I stare into the deep blue eyes  of my oldest daughter and smile as I watch her ponytail bounce...Beautiful.

The long eyelashes that frame serious blue eyes on my four year old...Beautiful.

The new baby, blue eyes too, soft, sweet chubby hands grabbing my shirt, holding close...Beautiful.

I am surrounded by beauty. Blessed by it. I stare at these girls and find myself amazed at how much bigger and more beautiful they become to me each and every day.

And while I am deeply moved by their beauty, I know there will come a time when they will start listening to the cultural voices that tell them their beauty should be something different-- that they should be something other than the beautiful girls they already are.

Voices that tell them that beauty means wearing a small bikini, or short shorts. Voices that tell them that beauty means their body should be thinner or taller or tanner or smaller...Voices that makes them believe the lie that they are inadequate instead of  the truth that they are beautiful and fully loved.

I anticipate those days with trepidation and begin to consider now the many ways I can remind them they are "beautifully and wonderfully made" just the way they are. I tell them as often as I can and remind them that their friends and classmates are beautiful as well...

That we're all like snowflakes...unique

Every. Last. One.

Thursday, July 4

June...A Month in Photos

     As I considered what to fill this space with today I felt a bit at a loss...not because there is nothing going on in our lives, but because there is so much going on in our lives. So much day-to-day stuff, so many celebrations, so many milestones and moments and events...It's all wonderful, but do you ever get so caught up in the whirlwind of family life that you realize it's just blazing by and you wonder if you're really able to enjoy the moments the way you'd like to? To really take it all in. 

     I met a woman in the grocery store the other day who stopped to smile and admire the baby..."She's so sweet...Mine are 21 and 25 now...You forget that they were that small once." 

     "I'm sure it's gone by in the blink of an eye, hasn't it?"

     "Oh quickly. Enjoy it." 

      "I'm trying." Believe me, I am trying. 

      I would bet that many of you have had very similar conversations with strangers more times than you can count. It's a universal feeling. It's why I continue to blog even though I feel like I should be unloading the dishwasher or picking up the ruckus that is my house right now. It's one tool I have for capturing life as it blazes and whirls and twirls its way around me. 

     I once had the delightful opportunity to briefly interview Ann Voskamp at a blogging conference for an article I was working on. She told me that for her "blogging is a net that captures all of the moments of her life." 

      She went on to explain life happens so quickly, and it is so full, and there is a family to provide for and needs to meet and daily tasks beckoning our attention, but if you don't stop to catch what you can, it just floats right on by...she attempts to capture some of her life in that net on her very well followed and beautiful blog...

    And ever since she said that to me I feel compelled to do the same thing here...Not very consistently at times, but as often and as well as I can...For the few of you who are reading this and for for me to print out and read someday when time has passed and I want to reminisce  Also for my girls to read when they become mothers and are pondering whether I felt as crazed and joyful, as disorganized and grateful, as overwhelmed by the mess and the wonder, as they are feeling. 

       Yes, my dears, yes I did! Beautiful and crazy. 

      And so today the old saying "a picture is worth a thousand words" comes to mind. I don't have time to write a thousand words, but I am glad that we keep taking pictures. Snapping away...nothing fancy, no great camera angles or lighting or prize worthy shots (I'd like to learn how to do all of that with my camera...but alas...the time...)...just life captured mostly on my I-phone and shared here. 

      Blogs and I-phones...the nets that are capturing life. 

      And so, in lieu of words, I offer a bit of a photo journey of life at home this past June (:

An actual shot of our whole family! (Thanks Alison Fancher (:)

Ava turned 6

Scott and I turned 34 and 35...Yes, I'm older! 

Ava finished kindergarten...

All of her stuff coming home got me all choked up!  I expected to cry at the beginning, but not at the end (:

Ella's first dance recital

These next few photos were taken one day when I thought I was about to be swallowed by stuff...kind of like Jonah being swallowed by the whale...our house feels like the whale sometimes!! There were the groceries...

And the kitchen table...

The baby stuff scattered about...

Nightgowns and papers and remotes...

Our fridge covered in art!

The types of random piles that seem to appear everywhere lately! 

Haha...the playroom....This is actually when I was in the process of cleaning it one day, so it doesn't look too bad...

What I did when I was completely overwhelmed and didn't know where to begin...I sorted crayons! 

Little sweet pea...

Ella with Miss Aubrey and the hula hoop she placed around her...

The girls with Aunt KK making cotton candy at a local strawberry festival. 

Ella's dinner consisted of Cheetos, a hot dog and cotton candy that day...We only live once, right?! 

Lots and lots of smiles!!

Ava on my Birthday... I needed a super hero that day!! 

Freshly picked strawberries. 

My painting from a girls night out at a local art studio where they teach you to paint!

Scott playing Wii...which was Ava's, ahem, Scott's birthday present! 

A weed growing taller than anything else in our front yard...representative of the fact that life is nutty and there is a newborn in the house! 

Ella placed all of Aubrey's socks in the television cabinet...I was looking for them for hours...I found them when I stopped to feed Aubrey and was forced to stare at the cabinet for 10 minutes! 

My first attempt to take them all shopping! Fortunately I dropped the older girls off in the store's kids room shortly after this! 

Happy 4th of July!!!

Here's to a new month of summer moments and memories!