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Monday, December 22, 2014

A Perfectly Imperfect Christmas Card

My heart overflows with happy as I look at the beautiful faces of family and friends surrounding me. No I'm not hosting a party - I'm looking at all of your Christmas cards strung across my living room and on my fridge.  If you got our card this year, it might look a little bit different from past years and maybe even from the other ones on your fridge. We look a little rumpled. There's a stray sippy cup in the shot. I am not wearing make up (hence the black and white).

Let me back up a bit and I'll tell you the story from the very beginning:

I booked a photographer in early October. I curated coordinating but obviously not matchy-matchy outfits for the family in November. I knew it would be outdoors and chilly so I bought nice coats and a freaking hat for my 4 month old. It was $12. Yes that is ridiculous. On the morning of our photo shoot I checked the weather. Clear skies - check. High today- 49 degrees. What?? Um...that sounds cold.

The sweet and talented photographer we'd booked called about two hours before we were scheduled to leave. The kids would have a hard time with the cold she warned. She would go ahead and shoot us but it wasn't possible to edit out red cheeks and runny noses. We might get 20 decent minutes before the kids fell apart. Knowing it would be hard enough to get a good shot of our clan on a perfect day, I took her advice and we re-scheduled.

Then, in a stroke of brilliance, it came to me. Our little family had planned a trip to Savannah over Thanksgiving - we got fancy and rented a beach house because, well, ain't nobody got room for this family at the inn. It would be the perfect place to get an amazing shot for a Christmas card. We'd ask Mom or Dad to take pictures of us on the beach. The beach is always gorgeous, there would be tons of natural light, we already had our perfect outfits. The plan was foul-proof.

The morning after Thanksgiving, I dressed up my little dolls kids, we roped my Dad into playing Annie Leibovitz and shuffled out to the beach. The cold blasted everyone the moment we stepped outside. It was very cold. Possibly even 49 degrees cold.  (If you're not from Georgia, don't hate. That's truly very cold to us.) And it was windy. Like, heeeeeyy you're at the beach! kind of windy.

We never made it past the boardwalk. I quickly realized we were not likely to get the perfect shot. We would be lucky to get any shots at all. Sweet B was not happy about the wind and refused to throw even a single blessed smile in the camera's direction. Blue Eyes was more interested in looking for turtles in the dunes than taking artistic direction. The Squirt was a complete sport about everything, but the Titanic was sinking and one lifeboat wasn't going to save us.

I had every intention of maintaining my sense of humor- what with our four infantile children and all- but it was blown out the window along with my perfect Christmas card by the gale force winds. At one point I might have grabbed the camera from my father and huffed, "I should have known this was a stupid idea." Yes I can get dramatic quickly when my hopes are being dashed.

After trolling through the camera later on that afternoon I admitted to myself that coordinated outfits and synchronized smiles aren't entirely reflective of this season of our lives.

Life right now is crazy, messy, chaotic. But the beauty of this season pushes at the seams of my heart til it threatens to burst sometimes too. It's a weird balance of crazy and joy.

The next morning we went for Round 2. Only this time we stayed in our PJs, grabbed some coffee (and/or milk) and snuggled in on the couch for a while. We set the camera up and hit record.  The Squirt told me everything he wanted for Christmas. Sweet B made faces at the New Kid. Blue Eyes showed off his ninja moves. There was an argument or two. Coffee was spilled. There was a timeout for a diaper change. What we ended up with was an accurate slice of life these days and we managed to grab a still shot from the video that was "Christmas card worthy".

Our outfits aren't coordinated and no one is looking at the camera, but it's currently my favorite picture of our clan.

 Merry Christmas from our perfectly imperfect family to yours. 

P.S. Yes, I've posted about family photo shoots gone wrong before. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Ready, Steady, Cook

I go in and out of phases with cooking. When I first became a mom I was constantly trying out new recipes and enjoying having the time to cook. When Sweet B came along I signed up for e-meals because it was a challenge for me to figure out our food budget and get dinner on the table. Once Blue Eyes was born and we got into a rhythm I got all granola and started baking my own bread regularly, making our own yogurt and hitting up the farmers market in the summer. Most recently, after New Kid was born, it was Eggos and frozen pizzas, pure survival mode.

About two months ago I found this gem I've been wanting to read, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, at the thrift store. (A fabulous source of books P.S.) I strongly believe eating homemade is the best way to eat more healthily and cheaply. Hence the chickens, the bread baking, etc. But I've honestly always been skeptical about organic food. We don't regularly buy anything organic. If something happens to be organic and it's a good price, woo hoo. But I don't go out of my way to make it happen.

But Mrs. Kingsolver makes a strong case for organic. And most convincingly for me, for local and seasonal. She brilliantly makes the case that our ability to refrigerate fresh foods and truck them all over the country quickly has spoiled us. We eat strawberries in December, not realizing that they pale in comparison to a just-picked June berry. We eat green salads full of romaine lettuce year-round and broccoli in June and wonder why our kids don't like veggies. If we limited our produce eating to seasonal items, we would be eating things at the peak of their flavor and we might possibly ENJOY eating our fruits and veggies!

The past few months I've been trying apples as many different dishes as I can think of. Nowadays dinner has had a lot more squash and kale in it than usual. On Tuesday I found this recipe in a search for something I could make using up a leftover baked sweet potato and kale - it was DELISH. Oh and we added bacon on top. (As people say: because, bacon.) We don't have berries in the fridge now that it's winter, instead we have oranges on the counter.

This book even has me convinced that cheese-making is something I need to start doing. Because I love cheese. I'm a bonafide turophile. Did you know you can make a fresh mozzarella in 30 minutes? Supposedly this is true. Family pizza night might be looking up.

Now I'm debating re-joining the local co-op I was briefly a member of back when money and time were more plentiful. And also looking into buying milk from a north GA farm. Ha! Anyone want to join me for an afternoon of figuring out curds and whey?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Why I'm Giving Up on Advent

"Long lay the world, in sin and error pining, 
'til He appeared and the soul felt its worth."
~O Holy Night~
It's here y'all. Angels We Have Heard on High and O Holy Night and Away in a Manger. In the words of Olaf, "all good things, all good things."

In past years I have tried to really "work" the Advent season. I read some beautiful blogs that always encourage keepers of the home to embrace the true meaning of Christmas and keep Christ at the center. I love that. In the spirit of giving us all tangible ways to do that, there is the Jesse Tree and Upside Down Christmas and Light 'Em Up and so many other things - and y'all, these things are AWESOME.

But in this season, with four kids under 6, it can feel like pressure.

Growing up, I don't ever remember my mom doing anything "Advent-y" with us. (And mom, if you did, I'm so sorry I've forgotten.) We never attended a very liturgical church, so as an adult I still can't explain the 4 purple candle tradition. Or wait, is it four pink candles?

While we didn't do anything very "Advent-y" when I was a child, I understood that Christmas was about Jesus and well, in my family we loved us some Jesus. We talked about Jesus January through November. By the time Christmas rolled around, we got it. We loved Jesus and Christmas was his birthday, so it made sense to have a big celebration.

In my mind it's a bit like my kids' birthdays. Everyone in the family loves our kids and shows them love year-round. When their birthday comes around we don't have to remind everyone how special that kid is, or why we need to have a party for them. Everyone gets it - we love this kid, therefore we tell them how special they are and we celebrate them. I think it should be kind of the same with Jesus.

This year I'm letting go of the need to "do" more with the kids. We will read the Christmas story a bit more than other Bible stories this month. We will talk about the why behind our traditions. But this year there won't be lists of ways to make it amazing or extra service projects or specific scriptures to read on specific days.

Hope, Love, Joy, Peace.

This is what the Advent candles represent. Yes, I just looked it up. To remind us that before Christ came there was darkness and when He came, He brought Hope, Love, Joy and Peace.

Instead of doing more to show my kids what Christmas and Jesus are all about, I think I am going to focus on being present with my kids. I think they'd like that a lot more actually than me stressing over some crazy craft.

I do want my kids to see that their Mom places her Hope in Christ and not herself. For me right now that looks like acknowledging my failures (i.e. when I yell at my kids, lose my cool with my kids, use a bad word around my kids....etc.) and asking for their forgiveness when I need it. Messing up is actually a great way to share the Gospel with my kids.

I do want my kids to see that their Mom can Love them because she was first Loved by Him. This looks a lot like just being kind most of the time. Remembering they are people I am raising, not tasks I am managing.

I want my kids to see that knowing Christ brings unshakeable Joy into my world. Again,  for me right now this is mainly not throwing a temper tantrum just because they do.

I want to make it obvious that my heart is not troubled by the chaos around me because I have Peace within me. I think you can probably guess my application of this one by now.

If I can live that out this month, I have a feeling my kids will catch on to the meaning of Christmas. With or without pink and purple candles.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Slow Week

I'm thrilled it's Thanksgiving break at last. The Squirt is off of school and we are taking a little family vacay which means cartoons, coffee, slow mornings and loads of family time. 

In the vein of keeping things low-key during a slow week... a little list for y'all. 

making: headway cleaning out my closet
drinking: Earl Grey tea and more tea and more tea. It's the coziest.

wanting: to develop a capsule wardrobe
watching: The Voice. I die for Anita. Also - The Walking Dead. Obviously.

listening: to the tinkle of tiny Legos being dug through
eating: these Pumpkin Muffins with Cream Cheese filling

smelling: artisan bread in the oven
wishing: I could lose the last 5 pounds without changing the way I eat

enjoyingreading The Long Winter (by Laura Ingalls Wilder) out loud with the kids
loving: celebrating 9 years this week with B Daddy
hoping: that our "vacation" to the beach and to see family is somewhat restful
needing: nothing. Life is good.
feeling: at peace with this season of life.

wearing: black yoga pants, a white v-neck and my grey Inside Out hoodie
bookmarking: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling. Y’all this book is legitimately hilarious. It would make a great post-turkey read.

Happy Thanksgiving friends! I'm grateful you read and respond to this little place on the big bad Internet. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

The End of an Era

I pulled everything out and made sure it was washed. Then I neatly folded all the sweaters, the jeans, the t-shirts, the tunics, the tank tops, the shorts and the bathing suits. There was the angora sweater Mom bought me when we found out I was expecting. I smiled when I tucked in the dress I wore to a friend's wedding while I was heavily pregnant with my first.  These were the shorts that saw me through those horribly hot days toward the end of my last pregnancy. That was the shirt I wore home from the hospital with Sweet B.

For almost a full year now a dusty box of maternity clothing has been lurking in the corner of my bedroom. As the seasons changed during this last pregnancy, items were called up for duty and then chucked back into it when I outgrew them or the season changed again.  It's been at least a month since I've worn anything in the box and today seemed like the day.

This collection of clothing was traded between my sister and I during each of our 8 pregnancies. Christmas gifts and birthday gifts from our families over the course of 6 years. Some were hand-me-downs my sister had gotten from her friends. There was a great pair of jeans in there from my good friend Leslie. A bathing suit I actually felt cute in from my dear friend Annie. These clothes covered the bellies that sustained the lives of more than 15 beautiful babies. It all came streaming back to me. The months - the YEARS - that these clothes covered my expanding and shrinking, expanding and shrinking to make room for new life.

And then I snapped the lid on and loaded it all in the back of our minivan.

I drove to a local charity that supports women in crisis during pregnancy and I set the boxes down.

As I filled out a donation form for the receptionist I had a full-on mini-freak out. I'm not really going to donate all of this am I?!! Those jeans are super cute. As cute as jeans with a giant elastic waistband can be. What if I need them again?? Wait - what if I REALLY DON'T EVER need them again?

The hubs and I have had enough unplanned pregnancies to merit our own after-school special. We're both on the same page as far as closing this chapter of life goes.  But packing up all those clothes this morning made it feel very final. I'll go so far as to say I was the tiniest bit sad.

Fortunately a strange combination of pride (how awkward would it be to NOT donate this now that it's here?) and charity (there are girls here that actually NEED these clothes) prevailed and I left empty-handed.

I read somewhere that we never outgrow our attachment to sacred things, and if I've learned anything over the past 6 years, it's that motherhood is indeed a sacred thing, from the very first purchase of elastic-waist jeans right down to the last dusty box.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Trick or Treat

Better late than never eh?

Last weekend was such a blast. Halloween is rapidly becoming one of my favorite holidays because it's pretty much no stress and all fun. Costumes and candy - it doesn't get much better from my point of view.

The Squirt has been really into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for about 6 months now and declared back in June that he wanted to be Leonardo for Halloween. (My kids think about Halloween ALL YEAR LONG...anyone else?) Since this is likely the last year I'll have 4 very compliant trick-or-treaters, I declared it the year of the Ninja Turtles and we got rolling on costumes. This year I decided to forgo all sewing in favor of duck tape and fabric glue. (A brilliant decision if I do say so myself.) The base for the boys' costumes was a plain white t-shirt and sweatpants (plain white onesie for the New Kid).

A little Rit dye and voila! TMNT green. I used fabric glue to attach the "six pack" - cut from yellow felt. The initial emblems are cardboard circles cut from an old diaper box and covered in white duck tape. Used a Sharpie to write the letters. The masks and arm/leg bands are strips of old t-shirts. These were seriously the thriftiest costumes ever.
If you are having trouble convincing your daughter to go for your "boy" costume idea, just tell her "tutu" - works like a charm. There are a hundred tutorials for this tutu dress online and the supplies only cost about $10. It took around an hour and was all done while watching Project Runway. #winning
Our neighborhood does holidays right and we had a blast eating pizza (so appropriate right?) and hanging out with our favorite neighbors before the real action got started.
Sweet B and Blue Eyes turned around after 15 or so houses, but the Squirt and his buddy made it all the way around the block this year. 
On Saturday the kids even got to reprise their costumes for my Dad's 60th birthday party. Give these kids weapons and they are happy campers. 

How was your Halloween? Did you sew something amazing? Hit up Target? Or use duck tape and glue ala Leipprandts?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

One Day at a Time

Being a stay at home mom is what I do and mostly what I write about in this space. Last week I posted about our daily routine and got a lot of feedback (almost entirely sweet).

Many of you are in the trenches with little kids and totally relate to my days. Some of you stay at home and some of you work outside the home. Lots of you are perfectly content. But I know a few of you who do one thing and wish you did the other.

And some of you do one thing and doubt that you could do the other.  

Because every now and then in conversation I'll hear a friend say, "I don't know how you do it. I could never stay at home with my kids, I don't have the patience." And she'll go on to tell me her kids are so loud! So needy! They bicker! They're messy! and that she's just not cut out for it.

And I usually tell her - me neither sister!!

I am not cut out for this. I don't have the patience for my kids. Like you, I'm not hardwired for self-sacrifice. My kids are loud! needy! messy! selfish! I like control. Calm. Quiet. I like manageable outcomes. I like to joke that the only part of being a mom that has come easily to me is the getting pregnant part - but that's actually pretty accurate. My guess is that we're actually wired pretty similarly. I like to think it's called, "being an adult."

I did not leave a corporate job because of my unique ability to function on lukewarm coffee and the remnants of a small child's PB&J. I do not stay at home because I realized one day I had the gift of patience and needed to put it to good use.

We chose for me to stay at home because we thought it was best for our family. And I've discovered it's actually best for me too. So I thought I'd share my secret - "how I do it" that is.

I do it one day at a time. One day, one incident, one child at a time. I AM LEARNING patience. I am much more patient now than I was 5 years ago. With five years of daily practice under my belt, I usually choose to respond calmly to my two year old's meltdowns. I have disciplined myself not to say what goes through my head (most of the time) when my five year old back talks. I am learning to manage the everyday chaos of this household of 6 and yes, actually find great JOY in it. My kids are like sandpaper - they rub my sharp edges smooth. They leave very little space for me to be the self-centered individual I would prefer to be most days.  I believe God is using this stay-at-home life to complete a work in me that no 9-5 ever could.

This life is developing character traits in me that I honestly would rather not.  The constant company of my children has revealed the deeply rooted selfishness of my heart. Staying at home forces me onto my knees most every day.  God is working in me daily, equipping me for this task I believe He has called me to.

Don't believe that you could never do what I do. I cannot do this either. I'm not wired any differently, I'm just choosing to do this in spite of not being cut out for it. One day at a time.

Friday, October 24, 2014

A Day in the Life

Y'all it has been over a month since we "restored rhythm" over here and it is hard for me to describe what life is like nowadays. In this season I'm a stay-at-home mom homeschooling a Kindergartener, wrangling two toddlers and nursing a newborn 'round the clock.

SIX (six!!) weeks ago I chronicled my day on the home front. And then I did nothing with those pictures or those notes because uh - all of the above. I'm constantly wondering how other mamas do all that they do in a day, so for those of you who wonder the same, here's our version of A Day in the Life right now (from 6 weeks ago that is):
5:30am My 6 week old alarm clock goes off and I get up to nurse the New Kid. We have about 15 minutes of cozy time together before he finishes and nods back off.  Update: we don't do this feeding anymore, woo hoo! Nowadays my day starts at 6am...
6am I head to the playroom to work out. I've been doing P90X3 all month long and today was a cardio + weights type workout. It is brutal. It's been 8 brilliant weeks of this workout routine and I'm loving it. I still have 8 pounds to go but my pre-pregnancy jeans fit again, woo hoo.

6:30am Still sweating, I settle into my sacred corner of the kitchen with my first cup of coffee and Jesus Calling. For 20 minutes or so I alternate between prayer/meditation, reading and wondering when my old jeans are going to fit. Now that the jeans fit I spend my time wondering when Jude is going to nap longer, when Ben will drop his nap, when Britain will grow out of her defiant stage and when Elijah is going to figure reading out. Obviously I'm still working on the quieting-my-mind part of meditation. 

7am The "big" kids are up. They invade the kitchen and I prepare breakfast for everyone along with a second cup of coffee for myself. B Daddy is off to work with kisses and hugs. Nowadays this is when the New Kid gets up too. 
8am Breakfast dishes are thrown in the sink and I start a load of laundry before we head to the playroom/schoolroom. Today is a "home" day for Kindergarten. See this post for our Kindergarten plan for the Squirt. Sweet B and Blue Eyes settle in with some toys while Squirt and I fight through a reader together. After reading comes math which he loves and some letter writing practice. 
9am New Kid wakes up for his 2nd feeding of the day, so I turn on Sesame Street for the big kids, nurse him, sneak in a shower and pay bills all before Elmo ends. 
 10am The kids wander back in to the playroom to play Legoes and paint.
We also start a batch of granola before Jude finally conks out and I put him down for his morning nap around 10:30am.

11:45am I make and serve 3 PB&Js and nurse Jude while downing a green smoothie (part and parcel of the P90X3 attempt to lose the baby weight.)
12pm Aunt Anna and her crew come over!! Chaos ensues. Between us we have 8 children, the oldest of whom is 6. There is lots of running, giggling, crying. I think the kids had fun too.
2pm In theory this is "nap" time but I really need to change that label in my mind to quiet time. Squirt (5) and Sweet B (3.5) spend this time in separate rooms playing. They are not supposed to come out - a rule that Sweet B is surprisingly good at following, Squirt not so much. Blue Eyes is the only one who still consistently naps from 2-4pm. 
New Kid is fighting the system and never seems to sleep for more than 30 minutes in his crib during this period. Hence, the lack of blogging. Today as I type this, he is SCREAMING in his room during "nap" time. I just can't do it today y'all. I cannot go in there and try to soothe him back to sleep or pick him up and strap him on me again. So he screams and I hide myself away in the kitchen and we're both pissed off. The soundtrack of my afternoon is crying crying crying and it is rough

4pm I rescue New Kid from his wailing and nurse him. Then we all come together again for a snack and some game time.
UNO with this crew is an exercise in hilarity. And - more crying. 
5pm I prepare our gourmet dinner, while soothing my fried nerves with my drug of choice and alternately folding laundry. I think the kids were watching TV while I folded. 

6:30pm Daddy's HOME!!!! You can't hear it, but there are angels singing in the heavens above us. 
6:45pm Chow time. This is also an exercise in hilarity. As well as patience and toddler-dialect interpretation as we try to do high/low with the kids while convincing them to try just one bite of the exotic dinner (also known as tacos) I have served them.
7:15pm Bath time. B Daddy gets the kids stripped and I start nursing the New Kid. I hear Squirt remind B Daddy that I promised them paint time in the tub tonight. 
Oops. Love it when I make a promise that the hubs has to keep. As nuts as this looks, it is actually really good for everyone's soul. 
7:45pm Book time. I finish nursing the New Kid and put him down, then join everyone else on our big bed for a few rounds of reading. 
8pm Lights out for the kids. Can I get an AMEN!? 
8:45pm B Daddy and I finally settle onto the couch to watch an episode of House of Cards after the dishes are done and (some of) that laundry is put away. 

10pm Lights out for the adults. 6am seems to come earlier and earlier these days.

And in case you're feeling extra voyeuristic today, here's A Day in the Life from 2 years ago. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Restoring Rhythm

Last week the babe started sleeping from his last evening feed until around 6am. After I feed him I've begun returning here, to this sacred space in the kitchen to fill up on real bread for the day. Pour the coffee, light the candle, open the Word. This routine sets the tone for all the other rhythms of my day.

This time and this space remind me WHY I am doing what I am doing.  And for the past 6 weeks this morning space has been surrendered to sleep, which means my I've gotten a little lost in the fog of sleeplessness and survival. Typing 6 weeks makes it feel like a blip on the radar, but 6 weeks is about 40 days. 40  l o n g  days. 

The new addition is 6 weeks old and I'm just now writing my 3rd post since his birth. If I've only blogged 3 times in 6 weeks, imagine how many times I've done less critical things like cleaning the toilets and bathing my children. Let's just say a few things are sliding right now.

And by sliding I mean it has felt at times like life has fallen apart. 

For starters there's the obvious  - I haven't been sleeping through the night. We could stop right there. There is a reason sleep deprivation is used as a method of torture. 

Then there's my wardrobe. Nothing fits. The things that do fit aren't cute. The things that are cute are not made to be worn in 90 degree heat and 1000% humidity. So basically I have nothing to wear. Ever. I'm overdue for a haircut and highlights as well, which means I look in the mirror and Ugh. Just. Ugh. 

The big kids take turns being completely insane on any given day.  Our 3 year old Sweet B has renewed her habit of roaming the halls of our home in the middle of the night. Blue Eyes has discovered how fun it is to be naked (this would be the 2 yr old who is still in diapers.) The Squirt started a homeschool-hybrid Kindergarten which was supposed to make life simpler but so far - nope. 

I haven't made dinner in approximately 17 years. Thank God (literally, thank you God) for our meal calendar or my people would be emaciated. I can't even recall how it was that I used to produce dinner each night. Completely baffles me. 

And all this craziness has meant I'm not exaaactly my most gracious when it comes to how I handle inter-sibling squabbles and typical-toddler selfishness. OK, Mom has been yelling and it is not pretty.

Last weekend I literally drove away from the house after telling B Daddy I just needed to get out and ended up at the mall. The mall. What the what?? I don't even know that girl. 

Today we're on Day 40. 

In the Bible a period of 40 days is used over and over again by God to make major transformations and changes.
  • It rained for 40 days and 40 nights when God wanted to cleanse the world and start over. 
  • It took the spies 40 days to search out the promised land and bring back fruit.
  • Goliath strutted in front of the Israelite army for 40 days before David approached him in battle.
  • Jonah warned the people of Ninevah they had 40 days to repent before God overthrew their city. 
  • Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness before beginning his ministry on earth. 
We're on Day 40 and life as a family of 6 is just starting to come into focus.

After 40 days I've finally stopped getting on the scale every morning and have just accepted that it is going to take time and a lot of work to get back to pre-pregnancy shape. 

40 days in I am acknowledging that my kids are off-kilter in the wake of this new addition and am working hard to find grace for them as we discover this new family landscape together. I am grateful for his infinite mercy as I figure out how to mother 4 children at once.

I am trusting that God has not forgotten his purposes for my life even when these days seem unproductive and even counter-productive. 

We have undergone a major transformation these past 40 days. There's a whole new person on our team!  I'm hugely grateful to be back here with my candle and my Bible and my coffee, undergoing the daily transformation of surrendering my agenda and my pride. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

On the Post-Partum Body

Here's a little piece of advice for y'all. Free. Of. Charge. 

If you should ever happen to find yourself 10 days post-partum and in a fitting room - PAUSE.  Then hit rewind and get the heck out of there. Do not head to the mall in the first place and by all means, do not go to a store, peruse the racks and grab a size 4 dress that, "looks like it runs big."

That size 4 dress will not go over your hips and it will certainly refuse to be pulled up over your thighs. The size 14 you try on will most likely fit, but it will not suck in, minimize or in any way hide your new pooch.

Sure you feel sexy because you can see your toes for the first time in months and because all of your maternity shirts drape graciously around your mid-section. But you are not, I repeat NOT, the size and shape you used to be.

In order to preserve your self-esteem - get a smokin' hot pedicure, enjoy the new view of your feet and note how shapely your ankles are now that the pregnant swelling is gone. Focus on the fact that your boobs fill out your bra again for the first time since the last time you were pregnant.

But please, leave all the dresses on the rack.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Back to School

I LOVE the Back to School time of year. I am a super dork and pretty much love everything about school actually. I used to eagerly anticipate the beginning of each school year. I loved the crisp folders stacked in my backpack and the process of walking through a brand new classroom to find the desk with my name on it. The smell of pencil shavings instantly takes me back to Wekiva Elementary and I could probably hold a seminar about the best materials and methods for covering a textbook. Do kids still have to do that?

In spite of my own fond memories of institutionalized education, B Daddy and I are making a different choice for our children. Squirt is officially Kindergarten age, but he didn't board the school bus this morning and I won't be picking him up from the carpool lane this afternoon. At the present moment we have all intentions of raising our kids as granola eating, chicken raising (but hopefully never denim jumper wearing) homeschoolers.  

Before kids were even a thought on the horizon, I devoured this book by John Taylor Gatto because I am a giant nerd. After the first chapter I was completely hooked and somewhat flabbergasted. Public education has only been around in its present form for 100 years?? In ancient Greek society (revered to this day for its highly educated populace and incredible accomplishments) there "were no schools?" What?!! This was all news to me.

B Daddy and I are both products of public education (I did have a brief stint of private high school while living overseas) and I never imagined I would make any other choice for my children. But after reading Mr. Gatto's opus and contemplating the benefits of a home education for over 5 years now, we've decided it's right for our family in this season of life.

Here's why: 
1. We get to maintain control of our family's priorities and schedule
2. We're able to tailor their education to each of our children's aptitudes and interests
3. I think we'll enjoy it :)

We were planning to do this homeschool thing entirely on our own until my 8th month of pregnancy - when I suddenly decided (hormones anyone?) that it would be wise to have help on the homeschool front. We found an amazing homeschool hybrid school here in our area and rushed through the process to get the Squirt enrolled for the coming year. He will be going to that school two days a week and will be at home with us the other three days of the week. He'll be introduced to new concepts in a traditional (although small) classroom setting and then we get to reinforce, practice and follow up on those concepts at home.
I'm thrilled that I didn't have to wake him up before the crack of dawn to get to school this morning and also that I don't have to re-invent the Kindergarten wheel here at the house with a newborn in my arms and two toddlers entwined around my legs.

Tomorrow will be his "first day of school" and we couldn't be more excited.

Are your kids back-to-school yet? And more importantly could you still re-cover a textbook if you had to? 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Say Hello to the New Guy

The New Guy was born last Tuesday. We're all pretty excited about him over here. I let the photography company that the hospital contracts with come and stage a little photo shoot while we were still in the hospital - hence the fanciness of the all-white backdrop and the ubiquitous but freaking adorable Daddy-holding-babe-in-hand-with-wedding-ring-cameo pic above.

They wanted $115 for the digital images they took, but this little 8x10 keepsake announcement was only $19.95. These people prey on postpartum hormones. So yes, that is a picture of a picture you are looking at. #imsofancy

Here are a few shots I took of the little man yesterday afternoon. *Warning: Newborn overexposure comin' at ya.*

Selfie practice

'Sup Mom

OMG - No. Way. 

Not impressed. 

Blue Steel/The Smolder 

We are all doing just fine over here. At his one-week check up today the pediatrician told me today that I need to be waking this guy up more at night to feed him until he gets back to his birth weight. I smiled and nodded and have absolutely no intention of obeying the doc's orders. Waking a newborn at night is against my religion. The bigs all love the New Guy too - so much so that I have actually disciplined children for bowling each other over in an attempt to be the first to grab a pacifier or a burp cloth for little baby brother. Is this a common big family problem?

B Daddy is back to work this week and the Squirt is back to school (!) next week, life goes on huh? With any luck I'll be bloggedy-blogging much more frequently now that pregnancy is over and I feel human again.

We are seriously so grateful for the way y'all have supported us through your prayers, your texts, your words of encouragement and your gifts of time/food/fellowship. THANK YOU!!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Things Pregnant Katie Says

We're getting down to the wire on this whole baby thing folks. It's 3am and I can't sleep. I woke up with a nosebleed - hello grody side effects of anemia whilst pregnant - and couldn't get back to sleep after laying in bed for another two hours.

In 48 12 hours I'll be laying in a hospital bed, hopefully enjoying some Ambien-laced dreams, waiting for the nurses to come in and start Baby #4's arrival party. I am SO READY to meet this kid!! (And also incredibly ready to have my body back, in all transparency.) B Daddy is SO EXCITED that he is almost done hearing me say things like:

"I mean, can you believe I can still stand up straight?!"

"'s all in my belly, right?"

"Holy cow being pregnant is hard."

"Can you do me a quick favor??" (tie my shoes, hand me my cell phone, rub my feet, bring me some water, grab me a tissue, change a kid's diaper, pour me a bowl of cereal, etc.) 

"Ohmygosh if you could just be pregnant for ONE day it would completely blow your mind."

"Do I look bigger to you?"

"Are you so excited for me to be done being pregnant?"

"Oooooh come feel the baby kicking RIGHT now."

"These stretch marks will fade, right?"

"I CANNOT WAIT to not be pregnant anymore."

"Do you even remember what I used to look like?" 

"It's going to be so much easier once the baby is born..."

I never require more verbal affirmation than when pregnant. If you're the praying type, please pray for us today. We've got one currently sick kid, two exhausted parents, three anxious/excited children and 4 grandparents who will be bearing a heavy load of kid-watching this week.

Stay tuned for a birth announcement. Thanks for your love and support as always.

*Update: after visiting the OB this morning, my doctor has decided to send me to the hospital tonight for an induction rather than tomorrow. There is a slight concern over something the ultrasound tech saw during my appointment. We're not worried, but there's always a little nervousness when the people in the know say anything is less than perfect. Your prayers are coveted, felt and deeply appreciated. Thanks y'all. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Kiddo Update #4

I don't know how Mrs. Duggar has managed it all these years. Whatever you may think of her and her 19+ pregnancies, I think it is simply amazing that she's carried that many babies.

I, for one, am OVER it.

I'm 37 weeks and a handful of days today and I want off this ride. I want #4 out. Out of my belly and away from my ribs and off my bladder. I don't remember feeling quite so desperate for the end with the other babes. Maybe it has to do with the summer heat. Maybe it's the recent hearing/ear issues I'm having, which has led to headaches and dizziness and the ENT and a general sense of woe-is-me, my-life-is-so-hard. Yesterday I literally spent 80% of the day in bed. B Daddy took the kids to church, to the pool and out to lunch while I lay at home on the couch and groaned and slept and wished these last few weeks of incubation away.

Speaking of the kids - the big kids are great. They are all really excited for the next little guy to join the team. It's been approximately 12 months since you had a proper update on their fabulous selves, so here's one last Kiddo Update while the count is still at 3.

The Squirt
Kid is 5 y'all. FIVE. Kindergarten age. 
Old enough to remember these days when he's an old man.  (BTW that paper says, "Spiderman can climb walls.")

Special Skills: drawing spiderwebs, riding a big-boy bike (no training wheels), showering by himself

Likes: precision, pickles, being read to, swimming in the deep end 

Dislikes: inconsistency, reading practice, not being able to do things perfectly the first time

Sweet B
Oh this daughter of ours. 
At only 3.5 years she already has so much life bottled up in her tiny being.

Special Skills: dancing "like a ballerina", telling stories (girl could keep anyone entertained)

Likes: "reading", wearing twirly dresses, giving hugs, volume 

Dislikes: dinner, authority, hair bows

Blue Eyes
Our 2 year old monster. 
This little guy is talking all the time and proving to be quite a playmate for the other two.  

Special Skills: a pretty decent Yoda impression, singing Let it Go, throwing a soccer ball

Likes: hummus, bath time, sidewalk chalk

Dislikes: apologizing, babysitters

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Pregnancy, Weight Gain, the Nursery, etc.

34 week selfie - my 6am no make up face cropped out for your viewing pleasure

This fourth pregnancy and just doing life around here has been all-consuming for me these days.

Getting up earlyish (which is the only time I steal for blogging) is still happening, but I find my mind waking up very slowly and I kind of sit in a stupor with my coffee and my Bible and wait for inspiration/encouragement to hit me. By the time I've read a few verses and mumbled out a, "God help me," the kids are generally awake and the day doesn't slow down until 8pm. One night this week B Daddy and I were both in bed by 9pm. Life feels very full right now.

I'm taking a nap absolutely every day now. Without one I am falling apart - literally FALLING APART- by 5pm. This week I've had a sweet sitter coming by almost everyday to help me, which means I've gotten some freezer meals made, my driver's license renewed, my toenails painted (yes, that's a big deal nowadays) and have been able to nap while the kids are up playing, so I can use their nap time to get things done at a very slow pace. Having this sitter has made me a better person to my kids and my hubs for sure. I highly recommend it towards the end when everything just feels like so. much. effort.

I have three outfits that alternate in my weekly rotation now. The above outfit (for the gym), a tank top + maternity cut offs (for the house) or tank top + maxi skirt (for when I'm fancy). I am so tired of it all. I can't wait to have a postpartum maternity clothing giveaway forever and ever and ever celebration. I can't wait to see my toes again.

This week was the first time I've ever felt light-headed in a class at the gym, so I've decided to stop my hour-long cardio/strength intensive work-outs and just do a Barre class and the elliptical plus lifting weights at the gym. This has been hard for me; the gym is an ingrained part of our routine, it's my social circle and is definitely a favorite part of my day. Up to this point I've gained 32 lbs, which means I'll likely come in right around a 39-40lb weight gain by the time #4 makes his appearance.

The nursery is getting there! I'm excited to post some pictures if we ever get it fully completed. (We're really good at doing things about 90% of the way.) I'm waiting on the arrival of some artwork from Etsy and I have one little DIY project I want to complete. My grandmother sent me a beautiful handworked quilt this week which looks so sweet hanging over the edge of the crib I just want to cry.

Next week we are taking our annual trip to the beach with our high schoolers, and once we're back I'd be totally happy for this little dude to make his appearance.

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