Thursday, May 29, 2014

Cleaning off the camera ...

Reading: A Heart Like His by Beth Moore.  A while back all Beth Moore books were free for Kindle.  So I loaded up.  This one is about the life of David, whom I love.  I like to think of David as the original blogger, Biblical style.  Whenever I worry that I'm being too honest or sharing too much, I just think about Psalms.  I'm so thankful David was willing to share his heart so long ago in order to encourage and strengthen us thousands of years later.
Watching:  Jon was in San Diego last week so I had a chance to catch up on some saved episodes of Call the Midwife.  I actually stopped watching this when I was pregnant with Joci because it was too hard (for some reason.)  I'm back to enjoying it again, even if all those pregnant women and deliveries make me miss that time in my life!
Listening to:  Bethel Live You Make Me Brave.  Wow.  This album is rockin' my speakers, and my computer, and my iPod, and the music player in my brain.  My favorite song is "It is Well"--a twist on the old hymn, which I adore.  And if you don't know the story behind the original song you simply MUST read it here.
Can't get off my mind: The birthday surprise my husband is working on for me.  All I know is I have to wear a nice dress.  And that it's in the city.  And that I need to get this daughter of mine drinking from a cup/straw/bottle/anything if I want to enjoy an anxiety free evening!
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I think we've turned a corner, folks!  I hate to say it out loud, don't want to ruin it.  But as I type this my daughter is going on her second hour of her second nap of the day!  And she's been sleeping at night!  Not through the night, mind you, but I'd much rather get up once around 5am than multiple times throughout the evening.


 So I think I'm going to go ahead and call it-- winning.  WINNING! [Addendum: I wrote this line yesterday.  Today we are not "winning" in the nap department. :(]

Sticking out her tongue is her signature move.
Next on the list is to teach this girl how to drink from a sippy cup.  And maybe eat some real people food.  My goal is to be able to leave her for 8 straight hours 10 days from now.  And that's saying a lot for someone who is usually calling my name after 2 hours, if that.

Touching her toes is her other signature move.

I'm back to looking forward to the freedom that inevitably comes when one is neither nursing or carrying a baby.  And this feeling of hopefulness is coming after a long and deep mourning process that is otherwise known as "getting ready for a yard sale."


Note to self: When sorting through the many emotions that come with the knowledge that you'll never be pregnant or have another baby, don't go through your maternity clothes whilst watching "Call the Midwife."  Just don't.

Making chalk roads in the driveway.

She is so, SO ready to crawl.  She can scoot all over the house, but the whole knee-palm, knee-palm coordination hasn't quite come yet.
In the end, I decided to hold on to a few pieces to "de-maternitize."  It actually worked really well (just take in the side seams).  And I may have kept back a few items that I can still wear and which don't scream "something's hiding under there!"


Going back to the yard sale, it was a smashing success!  Other than the neighbors who pilfered my marketing attempts by tying a balloon to MY sign at the neighborhood entrance, and then attaching a matching balloon to THEIR mailbox, I couldn't have asked for a better day!


The kids attempted to sabotage my sales as well.  Jack actually ended up buying back, with his own money, the lone stuffed animal I tried to sell.  And when Jack noticed a woman buying Jude's most coveted Thomas the Train t-shirts, he ran inside to alert his brother, who came yelling and screaming out the front door to stop her.


This was my first time having a yard sale all on my own.  Well, with Jon's help.  He had quite a way with the older ladies.  And when I wasn't willing to go down on the price of something (seriously, who offers half price within the first 20 minutes of opening?!?), he was ready to chime in over my shoulder, "Of course she'll take less!"

Trampolining at Marmie and Poppa's!

Our favorite yard sale purchase - a picnic quilt!
In the end, we exceeded my financial goal but still had A LOT leftover.  Too much to send home with Marmie and Poppa when they stopped by the next day on their way back from Myrtle Beach.  So it was decided that the girls and I would drive up to PA the weekend of my parent's community yard sale and the boys would stay behind for "Boys' Weekend."  Or, if you asked Jude, "Boys' Weekend 2014" [insert fist pump]!


This was supposed to be a funny face picture.
I was a little unsure.  After our last trip to PA and back I was ready to hang up the road trip hat for a little while.  But I also wanted to wrap up this yard sale business.   So Lia, Joci and I set out at 7pm on a Thursday night and within 20 minutes both girls had fallen asleep and stayed that way for the entire trip.  Even in the midst of a horrendous rain storm.



It ended up being a successful jaunt to the homeland and another two days of fantastic yard selling.  Okay, so there was a bit of buying as well.  On Saturday, Uncle Micah and I hit up a few good sales in town.  We're talking $.50 skinny leg jeans and $.75 Gap dresses for Julia.  I was on a secondhand high!

While Daddy was in California I may have fed the kids dinner at 4:00, dessert by 5:00, and had them in jambes by 6:00...


And then mom took me to the HUGEST thrift store I've ever seen.  It's a good thing we only had an hour to shop because the damage was easily done in that amount of time.  Despite my little shopping sprees, I was still able to come home with more money than I'd left with.

Perhaps now would be a good time to mention how I manage all my many children's many wardrobes.  Well, the same way I manage my meal planning--with a spreadsheet, of course!  A few times a year I take inventory of my kids' drawers and closets and track it all in a spreadsheet.  This way I can easily tell what they need (and what they definitely don't need!)  And then I send a copy to my yard saling buddy, Marmie, and we both keep it in our purses so that we know what to look for whenever we're at a hot yard sale, thrift store, clearance rack, etc.

Rainy days are for sorting through kids' clothes.
It's been really helpful with hand-me-downs, too.  I can easily tell that Joci needs more summer 12 month dresses (since Julia was in winter clothes at 12 months) and that Jude is going to need more size 5 play pants (since Jack blew out the knees in every pair he wore.)  And it's especially helpful for planning a season or size ahead.  So that when I happen to perusing the clearance rack at Gap and there's the a gnarly pair of size 7 jeans on deep, deep clearance, I can look ahead to see if Jack needs them for next year.  Of course, there are times when I don't have my list on me and that is why Joci will have a swimsuit for every day of the week at the beach this year.  Oops.

It's a lot of work, and can take some time, but in the end it helps keep Marmie's secondhand shopping sprees under control.  Okay, okay, mine too.

You can easily make one on your own or, if you're really into details like me, just print off a blank copy of mine here.  And now back to our regular programming ...

Boys' Weekend (2014!!) went well, too.  While they weren't able to camp out in the yard as planned, Jon did take them to the Air and Space museum.  There was also a trip to Target where the boys easily managed to convince Daddy to buy them all the things that Mommy had been saying "no" to for the past month.

Rise Up coffee in Easton, our road trip rest stop!
In other (completely unrelated) news, we decided to drive to the beach on Memorial Day.  I was a little unsure about traffic, crowds, and such, but it ended up working out perfectly!  We hit the road by 7am and were some of the first to reach the state park.

These guys played the entire time!

And this girl loved the sand!
It was a bit breezy and chilly in the early afternoon, but the beginning and end of our time were absolutely top notch.  Uncle Jared and Aunt Kylee were there too and were a huge help in entertaining/watching/managing potty breaks for the kids.

She didn't like to get wet.

But she was really in to showing me her moves.

Thanks to this girl keeping me under the umbrella a good portion of the day, Mama didn't get a sunburn.
Kylee even convinced a skittish Lia to get in the bath house shower by calling it a "princess waterfall."  Yes, we are all-in with the "princess" theme around here because we figured out it's how to get things done!  Including potty training.   I think I forgot to mention it but Julia is fully potty trained now all because I put her in a dress, called it the "pee pee princess" dress, and bought her some princess underwear.

Now that we're enjoying the fruits of our labor, though, I'm kinda regretting the princess underwear.  She insists on pulling them ALL out of the drawer, laying them ALL out on the floor, and then hovering her finger over each and every one, multiple times, while saying "I waaaannnnt ... I waaaannnnt ... I waaaannnt--"  "Julia, hurry, pick one."  "Dis one!"   "Okay."  "Noooo, dis one!"

Oh, to have one's most difficult decision of the day be what underwear to wear!

And finally, while we're in the habit of cleaning all the old stuff off my camera and trying unsuccessfully to tie it all together with a blog post, I'll leave you with these videos of my kids playing in the yard.  Whatever that move is that Jack does where he lies face first on the ground (I think he calls it the "Stinker") he made sure to show our neighbor Tom and the poor, unsuspecting gentlemen that came to inspect the tree limbs on behalf of our power company.  He ended up spending an extra 10 minutes in our yard because my kids wouldn't let him escape until he saw all their "moves."  Oh dear.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Bubble's Day

I'm hiding. I'm holed away in the office. Fair enough from the main part of the house I can pretend I can't hear the kids yelling for me and close enough to jump into action if I hear that variation in their yell that tells me this is something serious and not just another "she touched my knee with her toooooeeee!!!" incident.



I saw something on Pinterest the other day that said its impossible to say the word "bubbles" in an angry voice. So I'm thinking of having my kids call me "Bubbles" instead of mom.


Okay, just picturing that made me snicker. That's good. I needed a laugh. Because it's been the kind of day where the oldest just wants to play with Legos, ALONE, except when he wants me to "ooo" and "agh" over his latest creation. And the first-middle wants to play with the kid that wants to be alone. And the second-middle wants to go potty every 5 minutes but especially instead of finishing her lunch, or right when I'm trying to finish mine, or approximately 3 minutes after I suited her up to play in the pool and then told her it was much too soon to be done. And the baby just wants to nurse, or be held, or try and eat Legos if I'm not willing to do the first two. 



One of those days. So real quick. Before they come for me. Let's talk about Bubbles' Day ... er, I mean Mother's Day. 


Jon's parents visited for the weekend. We owed Poppie a visit to Arlington, the Air and Space museum, and a Brazilian steak house dinner for Christmas. And Nonnie tagged along to visit with the grandkids.


Lia loves getting her hair done by Nonnie!
She watched the oldest three Saturday morning so I could attend a Mother's Brunch at church. And then we took everyone out to the farm park and all over the mall for some crazy fun.

!!
I made them wear hats to church, because it was MY day.  And everyone LOVED it!!

If she has braids in her hair, you know it's because we were hanging out with Nonnie!
On Sunday morning the kids were anxious for me to open their gifts -- treasures they had found on a walk with Marmie and Poppa the week before. Jack gave me a heart-shaped rock and neon green plastic water gun plug (I think). Jude was especially proud of his sparkly rock. And Julia could hardly contain her excitement over a small sliver of hot pink paper. Good thing Marmie told me what it was because otherwise I would have missed it!



I used to think I'd have to fake enthusiasm over such paltry tokens.  But no.  Their sweetness and joy to honor me on my special day was so touching, I couldn't help but be blessed!

After church the men made us steak on the grill and salads.  And I got to put my feet up on my new gift!


I've got big plans for sunbathing with this bad boy.  Only problem is those kids!  They barely let me sit still long enough to get a hint of a tan.  Or they want to sit on top of me and give me tan lines!  I've got a lot of work to do before our beach vacation this year ...




Later that evening our little family took yet another trip to the farm park.  I love this place.  I used to think I wanted to be a farmer.  Now I'd be happy to just grow something in my struggling garden.  But being near this place gives us a taste of the farm life without all the work.




I also love family time.  I couldn't ask for more for Mother's Day than just some simple moments with my husband and kids.  They are my greatest gifts and bring me so much joy (even though I occasionally find myself trying to hide from them in the house.)  And so while I don't always like to hear them calling my name, I do love that they call me mama... but c'mon, Bubbles is fun too!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Dream come true: family photos!

So the last time Jon and I had professional photos taken was, um, our wedding day.  Oops.  It's something I've been intending to do for quite some time, but our little family was always on the verge of changing (or I was waiting to lose a little more weight post-baby).  Looking back, I think one of my biggest regrets is not (professionally) chronicling the journey.  And I so wish I had a few nice maternity photos to look back on, now that I know I'll never revisit that stage again.

Photo Credit: Bellavie Photography.

Photo Credit: Bellavie Photography.
But there's no use in pouting.  The good news is, we finally managed to capture our family.  Or at least our family in April of 2013.  It's been three weeks since we've taken these photos and Joci already has more hair, Jude is taller, Julia is no longer wearing a diaper under her dresses, and I'm working on being a little tanner.  (Sidenote: have you ever tried to lay out in the sun with four little ones?  I barely have a chance to get my skin warm before someone needs me for something.)  I digress.
Photo Credit: Bellavie Photography.

Photo Credit: Bellavie Photography.

Photo Credit: Bellavie Photography.

Photo Credit: Bellavie Photography.
And so, on the Monday after Easter we packed up and said goodbye to the in-laws, took a nice long, country drive so the baby could get a decent morning nap, and then stopped by the house of our friend Geri Schnure, of Bellavie Photography.

Photo Credit: Bellavie Photography.
Photo Credit: Bellavie Photography.

Photo Credit: Bellavie Photography.
She also has an awesome studio at the Pajama Factory in Williamsport, but the weather was just too lovely to spend the morning indoors.  So she invited us to her beautiful homestead and allowed my brood to explore the creek, chickens, tractors and playground.


Photo Credit: Bellavie Photography.

Photo Credit: Bellavie Photography.

Photo Credit: Bellavie Photography.

Photo Credit: Bellavie Photography.

Photo Credit: Bellavie Photography.

Photo Credit: Bellavie Photography.
It's not easy to get four kids smiling and looking at the camera at the same time on a normal day.  But it's even more of a challenge when those four kids are coming off a holiday weekend of travel and long days.  But as a grandma of 16, Miss Geri knows what she's doing!  It was a fun morning and Jack can't stop talking about "Martin Rooster King," collecting eggs from the henhouse, riding on the Gator, and "fishing" in the creek.

Photo Credit: Bellavie Photography.

Photo Credit: Bellavie Photography.

Photo Credit: Bellavie Photography.

Photo Credit: Bellavie Photography.

Photo Credit: Bellavie Photography.

Photo Credit: Bellavie Photography.

Photo Credit: Bellavie Photography.

Photo Credit: Bellavie Photography.

Photo Credit: Bellavie Photography.

Photo Credit: Bellavie Photography.

Photo Credit: Bellavie Photography.
Thank you Bellavie for capturing our growing family so beautifully!  We're hoping to be back in the winter to utilize the studio.  Maybe not with tanner skin, but certainly with longer hair and arms, stronger legs, and even bigger smiles!  No two days are alike with the Fantastic Four, but I plan to be better at preserving these fleeting moments with my family!
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