Monday, September 15, 2014

what it's like to have four children

i've been meaning to write this post for about a year. yeah, as long as sarah's been around. the problem is i only want to write when i am feeling so good about having four kids that i can't remember a time when it was hard or difficult, or i am feeling so overwhelmed by having four kids that i can't see a way out of this hellhole that is my life now.

in the spirit of honesty i must admit that right now i'm swinging more on the hellhole side of things. but i'm going to try to be fair and remember a few good things.

like how seth wanted to practice soccer (because not only do i have four children, not only are three of those children requiring three different pick up times from their schools, not only does one of those children really need two naps everyday to make her reasonable at the end of each day, but i am also legitimately a soccer mom now, with a soccer playing six-year-old who wears shin guards daily) and i was the one who got out there in the backyard to do it with him instead of ryan who is so majorly the prefered parent in this family i actually do have a hard time not taking it personally. and we had a lot of fun. we laughed a lot. and we were goofy. and NOT touching your opponent is really hard. i kept wanting to pick seth up where he stood and simply moving him aside a foot.

but then mornings like sundays happen, too, where sarah wakes up early and hollers at kate until she's awake, too, then we all get up and they crawl all over me and whine and fuss and everyone else sleeps soundly and when i peek in at ryan a couple hours later ava's on my side of the bed and the two of them are curled up and sleeping sweetly and i kind of sort of want to do that als ice bucket challenge to them without telling them about it first.

i was burnt out this afternoon and kate grabbed her blankee and spread it over me, then snuggled up, rubbing my back and saying softly, "i love you, mommy. you are such a good mommy to me." and she's mostly right. this afternoon for lunch i made kate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with the crusts cut off and the sandwich cut into the shape of a penguin. she loved it. i've been reading to her daily since school started and the other day we spent a good amount of time at the dining room rable with workbooks and markers.

ava literally took four hours to do homework that should only take an hour. she flopped in a very me-like manner a few times which made us all giggle (good for breaking up the tension), but i have to admit that for about four hours i didn't know whether to throw my arms around her or to throw her out the window.

jim gaffigan said that having four children is like being in the ocean drowning...and then someone hands you a baby.

i totally get that.

and on top of the four children, i've got that photography thing. i want to do it well, i'm just really fried with all the other stuff. i have church stuff, friend stuff, family stuff. i have school stuff for the kids (volunteering in the classroom, being the secretary for the pta, room mom for seth's class...). and finally, i have my me stuff. mostly that involves bringing a book everywhere i go in the hopes that i'll get a chance to read it, or having a podcast synched up to be played as soon as everyone is quiet and i can listen, but it also means yoga class. i love yoga class. i've been able to manage as many as four in one week.

sometimes i feel like i'm drowning. and sometimes i feel like i'm sitting on the shore, watching the sunset...with four small children. and despite the chaos, there is peace. contentment. and if ive really got my crap together, cinnamon rolls.

Friday, September 12, 2014

joy school, day one

 being third in line can stink. kate is always watching ava and seth go first, always being left behind. always waiting for her turn. and i see this. it breaks my heart. imake constant exceptions for her, put myself out for her, try to work things out for her, because i know how much it means to her. when i found out about a group of moms from church putting together a co-op preschool, i figured we could try it out. and do you see the joy on this little one's face as she finally gets to stand and hold the chalkboard, finally wear a backpack, finally carry her lunch in a lunchbox? she's over the moon! worth it.


 dear sarah,

well, this is it. your last month without being a year. after this when people coo and ask how old you are i will have to say, "she just turned one." and darn it, sarah! i don't want to do that! it seems a little unfair how quickly we have raced to this eleventh month.

so, you started to walk this month. how crazy is that? i didn't even know you could walk, but the girls at the ymca gave you a baby doll stroller to push around and you did it, sarah. you held on to those little handles and pushed that stroller all around the room while the ymca girls cheered you on. when we got home you did it again, but this time you said, "whoa, whoa, whoa," as you pushed because really, you are so impressive you even impress yourself. then, one day, the stroller was too much and our friend gina was standing right there, so you let go and walked to gina. we cheered so loudly we scared you a little and you sat down and were very hesitant to do it again. it took a little practice but with some coaxing you began to take a few hesitant steps towards us. then one day you were holding your bunnies and i could tell you wanted two things: to be with me and to have your bunnies. i could see you holding them and looking at me and thinking, "can i walk over there all by myself?" after another moment of thought, you took the plunge. you did it! and now you're mostly walking around, falling easily, but trying your best. i, of course, think this is completely endearing and very wonderful.

most of the time, sarah, you haven't much fear of strangers. you like people. the other day we were at a park and i started talking to one of the dads who was there with his little girl and you stretched your arms out and leaned over for him to hold you...which was a little awkward. he held you for a moment before eagerly handing you back with an awkward,"i think she wants her mom again!" sarah, you didn't. you were totally okay with that dude.

you recognize people easily. today grandpa carlisle came over for lunch and you greeted him excitedly. you love your siblings (i think kate scares you, too, but she's so young and enthusiastic i can see where your fear comes from), you love the dogs (they love you only when you have food in your hands), you love grandma kristine and your grandpas and your uncles. and they love you. the other day at seth's soccer game grandpa chris held you for a long time in the shade of the snack bar and you happily played with his sunglasses.

most of the time i hold you like a sack of potatoes. the only reason i do it is because you are trying to get down and you won't stay upright. i think we must look a little ridiculous, but it's your fault. i want to hold you upright, like a human.

you enjoy splashing with water, emptying cupboards, finding impossibly small objects and sticking them in your mouth, watermelon, stuffed animals (especially those two bunnies), sippy cups, climbing the box that we keep the duplo legos in and waving at everyone and feeding the dogs (they enjoy it, too). you have been known to climb into showers fully clothed, to shut the door behind you and panic because you are suddenly cut off from everyone else, climb into the dishwasher and smash any and all keys you can find on any laptop at your level. you also love a good smart phone with a screen you can touch.

you hate church. hopefully this is something we'll all be laughing at later in life because right now it's not very funny.

happy eleven months, baby.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014


it would have been 46 years today.

mostly it was a very ordinary day. i went to yoga. i cleaned the kitchen. i threw a load of laundry in the washer. but a couple times i caught myself wondering. 

at the stoplight on my way to pick seth i wondered where she was. was she happy? did she see me, sitting there, fielding odd questions from kate ("what is a cough drop?" "who made it?" "why would they make it?" "what were cough drops before they were made into cough drops?") and scrambling to grab sarah's bunny off the floor of the van because she can't seem to stop herself from pitching it over the side of her car seat.

in yoga class during shavasana i wondered about her. i tried to remember her. i tried to remember what i felt in her presence, i tried to remember the last time she touched me. 

and then before dinner we all made some cupcakes with some of the best frosting i have ever made. we frosted those cupcakes and then we lit a candle, blew it out and enjoyed the cupcakes with the last light of the day. kate licked the frosting bowl. it was a beautiful moment. 

i miss her. i wish she was still here. and also, i wish she hadn't had that second stroke. or the first one. and that her kidneys were healthy. and her feet. and her stomach. and...and it is an impossible wish. i wish it wasn't.

happy birthday, mom.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

birthday parties

ava and seth have birthdays two weeks apart so we usually have a family birthday party somewhere in between the two for both. it's basically the one party i manage to throw annually. this year it was at grandma kristine's house. we had a fire, roasted hot dogs, had cake and ice cream and lit sparklers (not a hit). i took photos. we sat around and chatted. the weather was perfect. maybe we won't wait a year to do that again.

talking grandpa's ear off 
 my new favorite photo of all of us, taken by my brother aaron
birthday sparklers with grandpa 
running races in the backyard 
my brother aaron with seth 

sarah managed to hijack someone's fork 
...then she managed to hijack grandpa's ice cream 

party animals 
seth and his ice cream 

birthday sparklers 
everyone went wild for pokemon this summer and ava and seth both received pokeballs with pokemon in them for their birthdays. in a moment of sympathy for kate, i got her a little pokemon/pokeball,too. she loved it. she has talked our ears off about "chah-man-duh" for weeks now. 
chopping firewood to roast hot dogs 
crying baby 
my brother david, 17-years-old 
baby sarah, 10-months-old 
my baby brother james, 15-years-old 
ava, 8-years-old 

aaron, 20-years-old