Archive for the ‘Sarah’ Category

  • Five.

    Date: 2016.04.11 | Category: Birthday, Sarah | Response: 0

    Today, my bright, beautiful oldest girl turn five years old.

    Every time I became a mother to another of our children, it was special. But there is something so unique, so terrifying about becoming a mother for the very first time. When I think back to those last few days before I gave birth to her, before my life was changed, I laugh a little and feel so emotional. I remember being so ready to not be pregnant anymore and simultaneously terrified of giving birth. I read every book, every article, imagined it over and over and over in my head.

    And when the day came, a week past her due date, stubborn from the start, it was unlike anything I could have imagined.

    That day Sarah came into the world, big at over 8 pounds, eyes wide open with deep, sweet dimples. I gazed at her, amazed that I was her mother, responsible for her life, largely in charge of her future, and oh, how I loved her.

    It is so very hard for me to believe that was five years ago. It feels both so close and so far away. In the five years since then, Sarah has formed herself into my dazzling little pixie with an expansive imagination and a love for art and fashion. I have to laugh at myself now, remembering how I didn’t want my little girl to be covered in all things pink, when that has always been the color she chooses as her very favorite.

    This past year has made my Sarah girl really grow up. She became the big sister to twins two days after her fourth birthday and she has embraced her role mightily. She loves her babies with a joyful devotion. If I’m not watching, she will scoop one up, scurry off to her room, then close the door so they can’t escape. There she reads to them, dresses them up and plays games with them. When I come looking for them and open the door, Sarah always lets out a protest, “But Mama, I want to play with them! Please close the door!”

    At first I dreaded her picking them up, but after a time I decided just to teach her the correct way to do it and it’s become so helpful. If one baby is crawling off to where they aren’t supposed to be, Sarah will rush to their rescue and carry them back to safety.

    She dotes on them constantly, naming Vera “little cutie,” and Luke “little buddy.”

    At 5, Sarah absolutely floors me with her art. She loves to draw and makes up beautiful scenes of unicorns and flowers and butterflies. She inserts specific details and gets extremely upset if things aren’t exactly perfect. So many times I hear loud tears and when I ask her what’s the matter she crumples up her paper and tells me that it’s not perfect, she messed up. It breaks my heart to see her struggle with perfectionism, but I also know that it serves her in improving herself.

    One of my very favorite of her creative outlets is fashion design. I feel like I’m watching my very own episodes of Project Runway as she colors and cuts out pieces of paper, creating her own patterns to assemble outfits on her My Little Pony. Or, with great skill, turns ordinary items into crowns, scraps of ribbon and cloth into capes for her dolls. Even Vera is often adorned in custom made Sarah clothes.

    Sarah is my sensitive heart. She feels so deeply for other people and animals and does not like scary things. She continues to love books and has even begun to sound out letters and words and it makes me so happy.

    Ever my flower child, one of her very favorite things to do is pick wild flowers and create bundles of them for me and our kitchen table.

    As I look back over this past year, I have to selfishly say that I could not have made it through without my Sarah girl. She has become such a good helper around the house, always willing to bring me things when the babies are nursing, or help direct Norah out of trouble.

    I am so grateful, so blessed, so proud of my firstborn girl. I can’t believe she’s 5: the age of kindergarten and the very heart of little girlhood. Her long, skinny frame, skinned elbows, wide grin and wild, short hair are just so very right on her, and her kind spirit and vivid imagination make me so happy.

    Happy Birthday my Sarah girl. I love you.

  • Singing for Joy

    Date: 2016.03.14 | Category: Family, Life, Love, Norah, Sarah, School | Response: 0

    Around the time the twins were born, Sarah started asking me to let her take dance classes. She seemed to have an aptitude for it and I was excited about letting her try. Then the reality of life with two new babies set in. It was tough just to get out of the house, never mind the juggling to get everyone to school and back each day. Throwing another place to be, especially in the evenings, on our plates was starting to look grim. I know we can’t give our children everything they want, but I knew she wanted this badly and I wished I could do it for her.

    The deadline for registration was approaching when we got a note from school saying that K4 could sign up for Angel Choir if they so desired. It would require staying after school one day a week and several performances over the course of the school year. Ever the performer, I wondered if she might be interested. We sat down and talked about dance and what it would involve and we talked about choir and what it was. I let her make the choice. She could choose one. And to my utter surprise and relief, she chose choir.

    Angel Choir has been one of her greatest joys these past few months. On Thursdays, Sarah will wake up and say, “Mama! What day is it?” When I say, “Thursday,” she cheers and says “Yay! I have Angel Choir today!” and then tells me all about her teacher’s beautiful voice. She skips through our house singing songs and constantly asks me about her next performance.

    One of the most fun parts of Angel Choir is that performances are not just for parents. They regularly sing at church, for special lunches and, my favorite, for nursing home residents.

    Yesterday was performance day at a local nursing home. The kids, ages K4-2nd grade, put on their best green “Irish” clothes and prepared for their St. Patrick’s Day themed singing. We all crowded into the common room and took our seat next to the residents. The choir was fantastic. There were hand motions, scarf waving, show tunes and even Irish dancing.

    The kids had a blast, performing with enthusiasm.  I was impressed with how many songs they had learned and even a little teary as they belted out songs from The Sound of Music. And while I loved watching my daughter truly enjoy her performance, my gaze kept wandering to the elderly guests in attendance. Together they leaned forward, hands clapping, smiling brightly and singing along with familiar tunes. They cheered with gusto after the kids finished a song and even offered up a few of their own takes on some of the songs. Mom and Norah came with us, and Norah enjoyed dancing right along with the choir to the delight of the many guests there. I can honestly say that watching the glowing faces of the old people there was one of the purest forms of joy I’ve ever seen.

    When the children finished performing, one resident stood up, cheered and said, “Oh please do come back!” Another ran off (and I do mean ran – she was quite spry) to grab a basket of St. Patrick’s day goodies they had made for the children and they invited them to stay for juice and cookies (some of the gooeyest and softest I’ve ever had).

    My girls didn’t want to leave! When one old lady asked for a hug, Norah joyfully ran into her embrace. The same lady insisted on high fives and had stuffed her pockets full of quarters to hand out to the kids. If ever there was a more appreciative and captive audience, I don’t know one.

    And while I hope that Sarah can still do dance one day if she wants to, I am so grateful that Angel Choir has turned out to be such a joy and blessing for Sarah, for the audience and for myself.

  • Why It’s an Ordeal

    Date: 2016.02.26 | Category: Baby, Family, Home, Life, Love, Luke, Mark, Me, Norah, Sarah, Toddler Time, Twins, Vera | Response: 0

    Our lives are super crazy. Of course they are – you can’t manage four children four and under without some chaos. And in the 10+months Mark and I have been juggling it all, things have gotten better and, in some ways, easier.

    I have very sweet people tell me all the time that I “make it look easy,” but most of the time it’s really not.

    I also have so many very sweet and well meaning friends and family who want me to occasionally “do things” outside the house – to get away or be present for some event. And while the intention is always good, I find myself clenching internally at the prospect. How do I explain to them why this is a big deal without sounding whiny?

    Most kids have a “witching hour,” that time in the evening where they sort or lose their minds in some form or fashion and it makes everything a little more difficult. That time usually falls around dinner/bath/bed, at least in our home. Everyone starts to get hungry and reacts in different ways. At our house, the babies start getting fussy. They scream, crawl to wherever I am, pull up on my legs and scream some more. Norah makes trouble. She steals toys, dumps out bags of pretzels on the floor, dumps dog food into the water bowl, colors all over herself with markers, etc. Sarah, for the most part is pretty good. But when she’s really tired and hungry, she will start crying over things like, “I don’t ever want to move out of this house,” or “Mama, you said four days ago that I could wear my pink jacket and you didn’t let me.”

    And then there are the physical mechanics of getting everyone to use the bathroom, changing diapers, washing hands, cooking dinner, cutting it up, serving it up, getting drinks, bibs, spoons, baby food and everyone into their seats and eating. It’s tough with one kid, but with four it’s a juggling act. At least the babies can’t crawl out of their high chairs yet, right?

    Anyway, then there is the feeding of babies while we try to scarf down our food between screaming and ordering the big girls not to leave their seats or that they need at least TRY what they’ve been served. Then, when it’s all over, there’s the dishes and putting up of things and getting pajamas out and towels, wash cloths, diapers, etc. while four very mobile children continue to be very tired and run amok. There is bathing (we’ve finally figured out to get them on alternating schedules so only two are bathed any given night), the dressing, the teeth brushing, the nursing, the book reading, and the “DO NOT GET OUT OF THAT BED AGAIN” routine that starts.

    When all that is finally over sometime around 8:15, we move onto finishing the dishes, prepping bottles, stuffing diapers, signing folders and trying to get extra work done before we crash into bed and end up staying up until 11pm to cram in some much needed self and couple time.

    What I’m saying is, that evenings at our house are very much a two-person job. Mark and I have a pact not to leave the other alone during that time of the day without recruiting an extra set of helping hands.  Now I know some parents have to do this alone all the time and they have my UTMOST respect, but there is a reason we have a pact on this, and it’s mostly so that if one of us crumbles under the pressure, the other person can pick up the pieces and keep everyone moving. Or, someone can tame the babies while they scream and the other gets bed things out. Or, someone can clean up whatever mess Norah has made while the other keeps everyone “out of it, get out!”

    And so one of us just leaving the house between 5-8 is not possible without help. It’s just not. I know that we have to take care of ourselves (no lecture needed there), but that usually happens between 9pm and 11pm. I would love to throw my hands up some nights and say, “Sorry! Not tonight! Mommy is taking her wine to the back porch,” but Mark would cut me with the daggers he threw from his eyes, and honestly I would do the same to him if he tried such a move.

    All this to say, I’m sorry, really I am, that I can’t hang out in the evenings right now (or really do anything until after 8:30p.m., including talk on the phone). And unless I can bring at least two kids with me, even daytime breakaways are tough. Eventually things will get better as everyone grows up and becomes more self-reliant, but right now we all need each other most of the time, especially in the evenings. The babies are still nursing and Norah and Sarah need that extra little bit of mom and dad time after they go to bed. I love my family and I’ve learned to embrace the chaos in a way my mostly-introverted self never thought possible. I’m so grateful for their sweet faces and nighttime hugs and kisses, but there is always a whirlwind of chaos and Mark and I are in together. So really, it’s not you, it’s me. It’s us. And I’m ok with that.

  • But Wait, I’m Not Ready…

    Date: 2016.01.13 | Category: Family, Home, Life, Me, Norah, Sarah, Toddler Time | Response: 0

    With our oldest child, some things came easy, but many things were a struggle. Any time we got ready to make a big change for her, things always seemed to go disastrously wrong. Maybe we forced her into things too soon, or maybe we didn’t enforce things hard enough, but for whatever reason, so many of these things were hard. The transition to a big bed from a crib? So much screaming and running out of it. Potty training? I don’t even want to walk down that dark road of memory (though it did involve peeing on the chocolate chips I attempted to bribe her with). I mean even getting the kid dressed was an ordeal. She wore nothing but dresses for YEARS because I just got tired of fighting the pants battle. And trying new foods is STILL an issue.

    In comes child number two. Our child I often refer to as “our challenge.” She is strong willed, determined, stubborn and quick to anger. And we have two other little ones that take up so much of my time. I decided, then, not to stress too much about pushing Norah into any big changes. After all, I barely have enough energy most days to just make it through; fighting a two-year-old onto the potty was at the very bottom of my priority list.

    But Norah, ever the child of her own ideas and schedule, has always had other plans. We had a c-section scheduled for her on September 23, so of course she decided to arrive 9 days early on September 20 of her own accord. Food? Will it fit in her mouth? She wants to bite it. It won’t fit in her mouth? She’ll tear it apart with her hands and teeth until it will fit in her mouth. Broccoli? Sure, why not?

    We are in a small house, and when the twins arrived, we had them sleeping in the living room because I could not deal with moving Norah out of her normal sleeping environment: her crib in her room. So, of course, she figured out how to climb out of the crib and began hurling herself to the ground. With her track record, we couldn’t allow this, so she got moved into the big girl bed in a shared room with her sister on her own timeline. The transition was a little shaky, but she got it down pretty quickly.

    And now potty training. Oh how I have DREADED potty training her. My past record with Sarah was so utterly miserable, that I had decided to wait until she was 2-and-a-half and past the sick season to even begin trying.

    So, of course, two days after her surgery, Norah told me she wanted to sit on the potty. “Not the little potty,” she said. “I want to sit on the big potty.” Well… ok then. I took her. And what, do you know, she went. And since that day, she’s barely looked back. It’s been less than two weeks and she may have one accident a day, and has an almost perfect track record at school.

    I am absolutely astounded. I had prepared myself for such a miserable battle, one that involved long periods of sitting and waiting and screaming. So when none of that happened, I felt like I was being pranked. Yes, we still have some issues when she’s playing and doesn’t want to stop to go to the bathroom, but for the most part, she’s totally got this. She, it seems, is much better prepared to tackle the next stage of life than I am.

    So many times with Norah, I have thought, “But wait, I’m not ready for this. I’m not ready for this next stage in her life.”  And every time I feel like she’s thinking, “Oh let’s just get on with it mother,” and takes the lead. I have a feeling she’s always going to throw a kink in my plans, but that’s ok. For all the strong willed battles we have, I’m so glad that she can turn that determined mind to do good and great things as well. As she so aptly loves to tell me, “I’m Wonder Woman, Mama!” Yes you are, baby girl, yes you are.

  • “How Do You Do It?”

    Date: 2015.11.09 | Category: Family, Home, Life, Luke, Mark, Me, Norah, Sarah, Toddler Time, Twins, Vera | Response: 0

    Next to, “You have your hands full!” And “Are they twins?”, “How do you do it?” is probably the most common thing people say to me. And my most common response is, “I don’t know!”

    And I feel like that often, especially on mornings like today when we’ve been battling back-to-back illnesses with the kids, repeated 4a.m. wake ups, coughs, kid nightmares and my own lingering congestion I can’t quite kick because I can never get enough rest.

    But, the truth is that we do manage to “do it” most days, thanks in large part to the following:

    1. Coffee. I mean a lot of coffee. One morning I made coffee and Mark actually said to me without joking, “Why did you only make six cups?!” The struggle is real.
    2. Consistent early bed times. I have finally learned that Norah needs to go to bed early so she has enough time to settle and go to sleep before Sarah joins her in the room for bed. That means bed time routine starts at 7p.m. And I’m strict about it. We can hedge a little on the weekends, but if we get off by too much, everyone has a melt down at the same time, including me.
    3. Preparation. After everyone goes to bed at night, I set about getting ready for the next day. Bottles are made, folders are signed, snacks and pump bottles are loaded into the car, diapers are stuffed and folded. I learned the hard way that trying to do this while all the little people are awake takes roughly three times as long and adds an hour to our morning routine.
    4. Learn to let some things go. My house is a disaster. I felt terrible about this for a really long time and I still try to fight it from time to time. Here’s what we manage to accomplish most days: dishes, trash, some laundry and picking up one area of the house. Here’s what we fail at: keeping the bedrooms picked up, SOCKS, wiping down things, organized closets, cluttered vehicles and dog hair in general. This past weekend I spent time cleaning our hallways, laundry room and living room. Norah and Sarah destroyed most of my work in under 10 minutes.

    5. The village. People ask me all the time, “Who helps you?” Mark and I do a lot ourselves – we have perfected the two person juggling act it takes to keep things rolling along. But, we also have our families in town who help with watching the kids, and an amazing nanny who helps on afternoons and Fridays while Mark and I work, and a long list of  amazing mom friends I text and call on a regular basis for moral support.
    6. Patience and understanding from other people. I work for an amazing place – a place that has been flexible with my schedule with my children and has always allowed me to be where I need to be for them. I know this isn’t always easy, but I am thankful for it every single day. I don’t sleep much and forget things all the time. When I dropped the kids off at school this morning, I had forgotten a number of things and the teachers quickly reassured me not to worry, they would make it work. Bless you people!
    7. The grace of God. I pray for patience and strength and to be a good mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, co-worker and person every day. I fail a lot, but I keep on trying.
    8. A strong marriage. Mark and I have been handed a lot. Our children are amazing blessings, but they demand a lot from us. It’s so easy to lash out at one another – and it happens, especially when we’re exhausted and frustrated. But being able to realize that it is just the frustration and exhaustion talking helps us overcome these things quickly, and we remind one another that “united we stand, divided we fall.” I really could not do this without him.

    Despite all these things, we still have a lot of pitfalls. Just this morning we couldn’t find anyone’s shoes; Sarah’s uniform sweatshirt disappeared into some dark corner of our house and has yet to resurface; Norah put up a great and mighty protest against wearing pants and hurled a plastic shoe at my head that found its mark; I forgot the diapers and had to turn around once we left the house; I discovered that several ounces of my preciously pumped milk had spilled when we got to school; I realized that I forgot wet bags for the diapers when we got to school; we forgot to get juice when it was our turn to bring snacks for school; oh, and I’ve been awake since 4am with a little boy who is adjusting to his new crib and room and a 4 year old who accidentally saw part of daddy’s zombie show last night and had nightmares and panicked the rest of the morning until we talked about snow angels and unicorns.

    Life is crazy. I feel like every day I must look like someone dragged me behind their car. But, despite all of this, I am really and truly happy. I love my kids. I love my husband and we all manage to make it work.

    This past Friday the director of our kids’ school said another parent came up to her and asked who that mom is who pushes the twins in the stroller and carries a toddler on her back every day (ha!) She told her who I was and the mom said that my kids are always happy and I always have a smile on my face and I inspire her every day. Wow! Talk about humbling. That was exactly what I needed to hear. We ARE happy and, really, that’s the crux of how we’re “making it.”

  • Nighttime Parties and a Giveaway!

    Date: 2015.10.28 | Category: Family, Halloween, Health, Home, Life, Me, Norah, OMG YAY!, Sarah, Toddler Time | Response: 0

    Over the past six months since the twins have come into our lives, I’ve struggled with ways to dedicate time to my older girls. Mark and I constantly “divide and conquer” though, and at night while he bathes and dresses the babies, the big girls and I move to the back of the house to begin their bed time routine – which is always a challenge as I constantly find myself physically wrestling an overtired two-year-old into the bath tub while her older sister screams, “SHE IS SPLASHING SOAP IN MY EYES AND HITTING ME!”

    One night Sarah asked me if we could have a “Halloween Party.” I was hesitant at first, because one more thing, but she looked at me pleadingly and melted my over-tired heart.  Her imagination is boundless and I knew that anything and everything could easily be transformed into a Halloween Party. I agreed and she cheered!

    I began to think of the things I could do to turn bath time into Halloween party time. What does any good party have? Music of course! So I turned on the Pandora “Halloween Party” station. Then I dimmed the lights, but that was a little too spooky, so I got a fall-scented candle and lit it in the bathroom. Perfect. Now as “Monster Mash” and tunes from The Nightmare Before Christmas flood our bathroom, we dance and laugh. Sometimes we add extra fun things like bath foam to make “costumes” or bath bombs to fizz and turn the water different colors (yellow, blue, red!).

    Now, when 7:00 rolls around, there are no more battles to get into the bathtub. Norah enthusiastically yells, “Tub time!” while Sarah says, “It’s time to party!”  and wiggles her hips. We rush to the bathroom, set up our party, shut the door to close out the babies, dance and play and they get mama’s full attention.

    It’s not elaborate, but it is fun and it’s the joyful time we all need together. Now I look forward to getting everyone ready for bed, and the only protesting that happens is when it’s time to get out of the tub (but even that is minor because we keep the music going while they dry off and get dressed).

    One of my favorite parts of all this are the things we use to create our party. The only thing I love more than shopping local is buying things that I know are safe and healthy for my family. My friend Kate owns Zombee Candle and Coven Co., and sells both products at her new store in Shreveport, The Sleepy Hollow: Books & Gifts. For our tub time parties, I’ve been lighting up seasonally appropriate fall scents – L’Automne and Bitches Brew (though the girls call it Witches Brew). Bitches Brew is purple and smells like apple cider, so it usually gets Sarah’s vote for party time. The candles are made with soy and don’t release any kind of nasty toxins into the air.

    Coven Co., is a line of natural and organic beauty products, including bath bombs and body butter (and the body butter even comes in the falltastic Hocus Pocus scent). The girls love waiting to see what color their bath bomb is going to release when we toss them in the tub.

    I am so excited to have the opportunity to share a little bit of our Halloween party joy with my readers! I’m teaming up with Kate during the week of Halloween to giveaway some of these locally made products from The Sleepy Hollow: Books & Gifts.

    You can win this awesome little bundle of healthy, Halloween goodness which includes:

    • 3 x small Coven Co. Aura Bombe bath bombs in Grove [lemon & sage] or Mandarin Royale [vanilla & orange]
    • 1 x 14oz Midi Zombee in your choice of Bitches Brew [mulled apple cider], L’Automne [orange, clove, black tea], Hocus Pocus [vanilla & pumpkin], or Hallowed Ground [tobacco, patchouli, cedarwood].

    Here’s what you have to do to enter. Make sure you complete all the steps – we’ll check!

    1. LIKE The Sleepy Hollow: Books & Gifts on Facebook.
    2. SHARE this post with your friends.
    3. TAG a friend in the comments.
    4. PROMISE to have your own personal Halloween Party, even if it’s just lighting up a spooky scent and relaxing in the tub with your very own bath bomb.

    The last day to enter is this Saturday, HALLOWEEN! We will announce a winner on Saturday. Good luck!

  • Doubt

    Date: 2015.08.19 | Category: Baby, Family, Home, Life, Luke, Mark, Me, Norah, Sarah, Twins, Vera | Response: 1

    No one ever said being a parent was easy, and I know that. It requires strength, sacrifice, patience and a force of will I never knew I had. And as we’ve added more children to our family, I’ve found that all of those characteristics need to be amplified: patience, discipline and even a listening ear for four children, instead of just one, is much harder.

    I feel like so many days we are just surviving and it is so hard to actively do things for my kids. We react to what’s presented instead of proactively planning things and doing them. Most of the time, I’ve learned to relax and go with it, but then here lately, I feel like that’s not enough.

    I doubt myself all the time. At the twins’ four month check up, we went through the list of milestones they should be performing. When the nurse asked if they reach for toys placed in front of them, I paused and with great embarrassment said, “I don’t know, because we don’t really do that.” I felt guilty and immediately felt compelled to start explaining myself. “It’s not that we leave them unattended all day, but they are usually sitting in chairs and kicking at things attached to them, or laying on blankets while Sarah dances in front of them or being held and nursed.”

    I don’t consciously think, like I did with my first two, “Oh, I need to be presenting them with things so they can practice reaching and grabbing.” Most of the time, when I’m home, I’m trying to do dishes, pick up, fold laundry and attend to my two very active older girls who demand my attention, and so the babies just kind of hang out for the ride.

    Vera was also not rolling over yet and is having some head and neck problems that I didn’t even realize were going on. Yes, we take them to the doctor regularly, so she caught it, but I did not even realize it was going on. I felt like I was failing her. (On a positive side note, she did roll over the very next day after the appointment, despite her loud and screaming protests to tummy time).

    My doubts creep in with Sarah and Norah too. Norah watches Mark and I intently, and as soon as our attention deviates away from her, she makes a break for any and all forms of mischief: throwing things in toilets, grabbing and throwing cat litter, grabbing bags of food and emptying their contents onto the floor.  All these things make me feel like I only say negative words to her. “Norah!!! Why?!” I find myself saying all the time. And I know why. She’s an attention-starved almost-two-year-old who wants her mama’s attention.

    She has also put up the great and mighty protest against easily going to sleep in her new big girl bed. We can’t let Sarah in the room that they share while we let her go to sleep or Norah will scale our well-placed barricades for the bunk bed stairs and jump on her sister repeatedly, playing a game instead of sleeping. As such, Sarah is kept out of the room until her sister falls asleep, often keeping her up well past when she should be sleeping and making her exhausted for the school the following day. Another failure for Sarah.

    Between the four kids tag-teaming me throughout the course of the night, I have had exactly two decent night’s sleep in the past six months or so, and it’s taking it’s toll on my patience with my children and my husband. Instead of answering their questions with love, I feel like I bark out quick responses. I feel like I’m failing my family all the time and that they must only see me as a mean, grumpy monster.

    But then things will sneak through to make me realize that they don’t feel that way, at least not all the time. This morning, after being up most of the night with Luke, Sarah and Norah, my tiniest little Vera woke up well-rested and all smiles and coos and giggles. While the rest of the house finally slept, we had about 20 minutes together, just the two of us to laugh and smile and just be.

    Before I left for work, Norah yelled, “Mama! Mama!” “Yes, Bean,” I said exhaustedly. She looked at me and said, “Hug you,” and wrapped her little arms tightly around my neck.

    In the midst of the morning breakfast and getting ready chaos, Mark and I shared a look of exhaustion and I walked over to him and we wrapped our arms around each other in comfort and shared understanding.

    On the way to school this morning Sarah chirped up, “Mama, I have something to tell you.” “Yes?” I inquired. “You’re so beautiful and I love you,” she said, before telling me all about her nightmare that woke up half the house at 4:30 this morning (it involved  unicorns, a prince and a pink potion that turned everyone into frogs).

    To be honest, I still don’t feel like I’m doing it all right. I forget things all the time and fly by the seat of my pants. But it is so nice in the midst of being so full of doubt that my family shows me and tells me how much they love me. I may not be doing it right all the time, but we do manage to laugh and smile and love one another, so we must be doing something right.

  • Back to Work

    Date: 2015.07.21 | Category: Baby, Family, Home, Life, Luke, Me, Norah, Sarah, Twins, Vera, Work | Response: 1

    For the third time, I returned to work last week after being on maternity leave.

    Of course there was that inevitable sadness that comes with separation from your baby (or babies in this case), but this time, it was MUCH better.

    I am so thankful that I work in a place that is very supportive of families and has been very willing to be flexible with my schedule so I could enjoy three months home with my babies (three months, I might add, that were crucial to us being able to establish breastfeeding and allowing me to recover fully from my c-section.. *trying hard not to step on post partum recovery soapbox*).

    In the past, when it was time for me to return to work, I took the older girls to a daycare. It was a very good daycare, but it was still a place that wasn’t my home full of people I did not know well. And that absolutely crushed me to have to leave my baby with strangers in a strange place all day long. With Sarah, that sense of “awayness” was the worst. In addition to her being my first child, I had post partum depression and severe separation anxiety from my baby. I would go to work and sob every time I broke out the breast pump as I thought about strangers, albeit very capable and nurturing strangers, taking all my time I should have with her. It was a horrible, dark well of emptiness inside me that made me question if I was doing the right thing constantly. But, eventually, I got to know everyone at the daycare, recovered from PPD and saw how much fun she was having when we took her there and felt better that she was in capable hands and making friends, even though she got sick nonstop for nearly two years while she was there.

    With Norah, it was better. When I took her to daycare, I already knew everyone who worked there and, after watching them with Sarah over the years, had no worries about her being in good hands. But it was still hard. Again I felt like I was abandoning my baby to a strange place away from me where she couldn’t nurse and take comfort from her mother. I bounced back more quickly that time though and again got use to it as I watched my baby flourish and interact with her little friends.

    This time though, things were different.

    Putting four children in full time daycare was financially impossible for us, but so was me quitting my job. So we started on a quest to figure out something that would work. I lost so many nights of sleep and shed many a tear over what I was going to do with my babies when I had to return to work. I prayed over this issue repeatedly, and my prayers were answered. We managed to find someone we know and trust very well to come into our home to keep our children part time, at least until September. Then the youngest three will go to an amazing part-time place where my mom works and their caregiver will be at home with them the other part of the time. All of these puzzle pieces falling into place has been the biggest blessing. Mark and I are still having to juggle our work schedules to accommodate this scenario for now, but it’s working, and for that, I am so thankful.

    So when I had to go back to work again this time, I was able to leave my babies at home with someone I trusted, away from the sickness that permeates day cares, and in a place I knew they were comfortable in. I am so especially thankful for this scenario this time with my teeny tiny little Vera and my son who had oxygen problems initially. It’s such a gift to be able to keep them away from other small kiddos for a little while, at least until they chunk up and get a little older, a little bigger and a little healthier.

    And now I’m going to confess something else: I LOVE being back at work. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I was back in my office, doing a job that I love. I think my coworkers must worry that I’ve gone off the deep end because I tend to hole up, put my earbuds in and work. True, I have a LOT to catch up on, but I am also blissfully enjoying a little quiet and the time to focus on my work and stretch my creative arms again. It helps that we just won two pretty big awards for our magazine, and it also helps that it is undergoing a major design change and expansion (which thrills me!) Plus I’m getting a new Mac next week at work. Add that all together and I’m practically tap dancing into work every day.

    Do I miss my kids during the day? So much! I love those sweet little smiles and hugs and coos and snuggles. But I also love coming home every day and being inundated with hugs and shouts for “Mama!” My patience with everyone is infinitely better, and I think their patience with me is better too. And, when I tell them their nanny is coming in the morning, they cheer her name and shout, “Yay!”

    Going back to work this time has been better than I could have ever imagined. I am so thankful for answered prayers, both for my kiddos and for myself.

    And now I’m extra grateful for afternoon and night time snuggles.

  • The Micro Cleaner

    Date: 2015.06.25 | Category: Family, Home, Life, Me, Sarah | Response: 2

    There’s no getting around it, I’m a messy person. I try, bless my heart (can I bless my own heart?) but with four kids and two dogs, things rapidly spin out of control and I often lack the time and energy to set it to rights again. And when I do, the Sarah-Norah tornado isn’t far behind to wreck havoc all over again. We manage to keep the dishes clean and we have clean clothes – though I don’t think the girls have a single pair of socks that match. I admit that when I finally get both twins asleep, the last thing I want to do is pick up the mop or tackle a bathroom.

    Sarah is also very messy, often dumping barely worn clothes all over the floor and leaving trails of dress up shoes strung across the house for unwitting victims to step on and skate across the floor. I’ll admit she probably gets that messiness from me, but she also does this weird micro cleaning thing. For example, the bathroom counter is covered in all her bows and the band aids she has dumped everywhere, but she will get a baby wipe and meticulously clean the sink knobs, drawer handles and edge of the bath tub until it’s to her liking.

    When I tell her to clean, she insists she likes the mess, but then will have q-tips out detailing the rims of her Barbie carriage. Or when we go in the backyard, she will jack up her Cozy Coupe and “work under the hood,” dipping paper towels in water and giving it a scrub down.

    I often catch her doing her weird cleaning and feel ashamed. For instance a couple of days ago she had wipes out and was cleaning the toothpaste out of my sink. I felt guilty and set about cleaning my whole bathroom as a result.

    But then there are times I don’t see her cleaning and later find the disaster she inadvertently leaves behind. Twice now the girls’ bathroom sink stopped draining. After several attempts to clean it out from the top without success, Mark had to get out the wrench and take the sink apart. The first time he pulled out tons of dirty q-tips shoved down the drain. The second time, it was a bunch of wadded up toilet paper. The sink’s drain, it seems, is the appropriate place to dispose of your cleaning materials once you are done wiping down the sink spout or the cabinets.

    I’m not sure what it is about these little details that draw her to clean, and I’m not complaining, I just need to figure out how to get her to transfer that micro cleaning to macro cleaning. Maybe I should start with myself first. Yesterday, when I did decide to take on the whole bathroom, Sarah immediately jumped in with her paper towels and set about wiping down the cabinets while I Windexed mirrors and took down soap scum. Now that I think about it, she is probably motivating me to clean more than the other way around.

    I am constantly in awe of people who manage to keep a clean house constantly, especially if they have small children. And maybe one day we will get there, but in a year’s time I will have two toddlers and things aren’t looking great. Any tips for cleaning house with lots of little ones afoot? And is it even worth it?

  • Third Time’s the Charm

    Date: 2015.06.11 | Category: Baby, Family, Home, Life, Love, Luke, Mark, Me, Norah, Sarah, Toddler Time, Vera | Response: 4

    I remember being pregnant with Sarah, my first baby, and anxiously anticipating maternity leave: an imagined heavenly time off where I would snuggle with my baby and have plenty of time to do things like paint my house, clean, cook and lounge around. You can imagine my shock after I delivered her when, after hours upon end of nursing, changing diapers, burping and soothing, all I wanted to do was spend any spare moment I had in bed and asleep. And then there was the terrible post partum anxiety that made it nearly impossible to leave my own house or get much of that sleep I so desperately wanted. Before I knew it the 12 weeks had slipped by and I was sobbing as I dropped my first born off at daycare and headed back into work.

    With my second baby, I knew better. I was prepared to rest and heal, nurse constantly and attempt to parent two small children. I thought that I knew what to expect after Sarah. Wrong again. Hello that evil word that we longer speak in our house lest, like Voldemort, it decides to resurface from the dead and drive us to a mental institution.  (hint: it begins with a “c” and ends with “olic”). Night after night our second baby screamed from 9pm to 3am, keeping Mark and I awake with her constant fussing. We would finally get her to sleep, only to lay her down and have her wake up screaming again… over and over and over. Fortunately we were able to continue to send Sarah to daycare so I could get a couple hours of sleep during the day. Despite that I still hobbled along on a total of 3-4 hours of sleep per night/day while I continued to work while I was on “leave” from the house. The colic finally finally went away one week prior to me going back to work full time and by that time I was so sleep deprived I’m kind of amazed I was able to accomplish anything.

    This time, I was again steeling myself. I know better than to expect anything, especially with twins, but I did pray every day that lightning wouldn’t strike twice and we could at least avoid that evil c-word. Twins are hard, of course they are. One infant is tough, two infants… well let’s just say I’m constantly juggling their needs, the needs of my two other children, and time with my husband, all while trying to keep my head on straight. My days pass by so quickly in a haze of nursing two babies, patting, burping, easing the cries and trying to entertain my 4-year-old who is out of school for the summer.

    And while we had a scare with night time screams, it turned out to be something we could manage with gripe water and I heaved a huge sigh of relief. However, getting up with two babies at night means I’m up twice as long during a nursing session, and when both babies won’t go back to sleep it’s enough to make me run and hide my head under the pillow, or shake my husband awake so we can spend hours together patting fussy babies while we watch re-runs of yard crashers while saying, “Want to switch babies?” It’s no wonder the days and weeks are absolutely flying by.

    People often ask me how we’re doing these days, and without hesitation, I say, “Exhausted, but it’s getting better.” The big girls are struggling to get our attention in all different ways, both good and bad. Norah has taken to attacking the babies if we aren’t paying attention to her, and when she gets in trouble she immediately tries to kiss them or us to make up for bad behavior. Sarah, while usually fantastic with them, is constantly in their faces, waking them up and decorating them with costumes.

    Mark and I have become expert jugglers. We often laugh about the two of us bathing Sarah together back when she was an only child. Now we ask, “which two do you want to bathe tonight?” We are experts at loading all four of them into the van and getting back out again. And the twins, even though they are little, just have to go along for the ride wherever we go. They have already been to two of Sarah’s school performances and a bunch of birthday parties. They don’t seem to mind too much though.

    Our lives are all about efficiency and balance and love. Each night we do take time, individually, with Sarah and with Norah to read books and snuggle and let them know how very special they are to us and how much we love them.

    I’m not going to lie, our rough days are really rough. My sister came over to help one night and I think we scared her away from ever wanting children of her own. But our good moments are really good too. Just today when both babies were screaming, Sarah asked to hold Vera and rocked her to sleep while I managed Luke. And, I have to say, it was one of the sweetest moments of my life.

    So yes, we’re surviving, we’re exhausted, but we’re doing ok at this family of six thing.