It's 3:37 am and I am awake feeding Henry and my heart is bursting with gratitude for all my blessings big or little.
This last week was a hard week, but we got through it. I'm so happy I have good kids and a loving husband who works so hard to take care of me and our kids.
I'm grateful for the hard moments in life that push you to grow and love and learn more than you have before. The sleepless nights with children. The pain and inconvenience of surgery. The heartache from seeing your children struggle or suffer. The demands of everyday life life when you are not at your best. All these things force you to dig down deep and find strength to do hard things.
When I was in college, I had a particular experience that gave me an epiphany. "Hard things"--or trials--aren't bad. At least they don't have to be. With faith and gratitude "hard things" can be blessings. They can make life rich. They can make life beautiful.
Raising a family is difficult and exhausting. There are so many hard things to go through--to learn. But in between and around and sometimes during those hard things, there is pure and sacred joy.
I felt that sacred joy while Justin spoon fed me yogurt because I couldn't do it myself. I felt it again as I watched my six year old try to bravely eat some solid food so she could get over her illness. I felt it when I could see my baby boy breathing fine after a coughing fit.
I feel that joy everyday when I hear Amelia say as only she can, "okay, mama."
I feel it when Gracie selflessly shares all that she has so no one goes without.
I feel it when Katie quietly hands me a picture she drew me and tells me it's to cheer me up.
Family life is beautifully full of sacred joy, and in the very wee hours of this morning, I am so very grateful to experience all of it.
funny how you don't truly appreciate something very much until it's gone or missing or not like how it usually is. Today, I am grateful for normally healthy children, sleeping baby, and being able to chew foods... (i got my wisdom teeth out this week). As my mom says, "we're all breathing and out of the hospital and no one is in jail" so I guess I have everything to be grateful for. (but i will really be grateful for next week to come, please oh please be normal.)
This little girl fills our lives with fun and wonder. She eats nearly anything we give her, but won't go to sleep at night, She is never to be left out or left behind. Loves to dress herself and pick out her own clothes. Loves her candy, but surprisingly doesn't over do it...at least not yet. no volume control. what so ever. She jumps everywhere and all the time. i swear she is part frog or kangaroo.
I was so happy she decided to be Little Red Riding Hood after all...she changed her mind probably five times, but this idea won out for the church party. And I have to say, I am pretty proud that I made that costume for less than $3. The material for the skirt, the basket, shoes, and shirt we had on hand. The red material for the cloak and vest, I picked up for $1 at a yard sale, and the ribbon was less than $2. Woot. woot.
Amelia's costume was also put together mostly from things I had on hand.i did have to pick up some felt and a little tulle. Grace and Amelia have really been into peacocks lately, and Amelia really enjoyed dressing u as one.
Word Girl. Katie has been planning on being Word Girl since November 1st of last year. I was happy that it was a simple costume to put together.
Grace wanted to be her second choice for trick or treating: Super Grace. I made her a super hero cape awhile ago because she kept tying blankets around her neck and pretending to be super grace.
The back of Mia's costume...upside down.
The girls helped me cut out a witch, bats, and a cauldron to put in the window for Halloween. It looked awesome from outside the house at night. I was really pleased with how it turned out. I loved the bats Katie and grace made. Bats drawn and cut out by a 4 yr old and a 6 yr old are just about the cutest thing.
Minion Cake designed and decorated by herself and with the help of sisters
Big hugs for picking out the best present ever: Hello Kitty Clock
...and just because I love this picture...
Loving on Henry
Playing with Friends
Hello Kitty. Minions. Martha Speaks. Word Girl.
Mystery Solver. Play House. Yoga.
Still in love with Pink
Something I adore about Katie that has really surfaced in the last year is her desire to be unique. While the rest of world of girls 2-10 are obsessing over Frozen, Katie is so sick and tired of it. Haha. She likes to be different, and she likes what she likes even if no one else likes it. I love that she was Word Girl for Halloween even though a lot of people didn't even know who Word Girl is. And I love that she wants to keep bangs simply because she likes them (even though, I am not a personal fan of the high maintenance of bangs...). When she realized that she was one of the only girls in her class with bangs, and one of her best friends teased her about her bangs (grrrrr), she contemplated growing them out. But after a little encouragement to be who she is and be happy with it, she has never looked back. She loves her bangs and fully enjoys styling them each day.
I sure do love this Katie girl. She has grown up so much in the last year. Getting so mature. It makes me rejoice that we have conquered certain aspects of development, but it breaks my heart a little to see her so grown up. OH the bitter and the sweet of growing children.
Amelia lovingly calls Henry "Little Friend." Justin and I have no idea where she came up with that nickname, but it's pretty heart melting to hear her say, "oh Little Friend woke up!" Or "Little Friend, I coming! I coming!"
I have been richly blessed. Sometimes I am in awe that all my dreams have come true. I have everything I ever wanted. And I am content. Truly content. I love where I am at in life right now.
Years ago, I didn't know that this kind of happiness would ever happen to me. I hoped it would, and I worked my tail off to be deserving of it. And now I am enjoying the family I always wanted and security I never had.
I am so blessed.
Katie started Kindergarten at the beginning of the month. She thinks it is the best thing that ever happened to her. No tears. No anxiety. No apprehensions. Just so ready. I miss her when she is gone, but I am happy she loves it so much.
Grace was determined to go to preschool. I had no desire whatsoever to send her to preschool so we compromised, and she does a little music program once a week called Music Makers. She liked it at first, but now she is feeling it is too baby-ish. I don't blame her. Most of the kids in the class are 2 or 3, and Gracie is 4. Oh well, if she doesn't like it that much, we will just stop going.
Amelia is spouting off whole sentences and acting so grown-up. Never to be left behind or left out. She has such a fun personality, and keeps us laughing.
Justin and I have been trying to be more active and fit. Justin took up cycling last year and loves it. He set a goal to complete a century ride this summer and trained through the spring and all summer to do so. A century ride is at least 100 miles, and it's the equivalent of running a marathon. He completed a 50 mile ride in May, a 70 mile ride in June, and the century ride which was 104 miles in August. He decided to fit in one more century ride before the weather turned bad, and he did one last century ride last weekend. I am so proud of all his hard work.
I have been trying to stay fit through this pregnancy, and this summer, I set a goal to walk 100 miles. The girls, especially Katie, enjoyed watching me mark off my chart each day. Katie made her own chart, "Summer of 100 miles" just like mine, except she wanted to ride her bike 100 miles. Her definition of a mile changed each day. Some days she rode 60 miles, and other days she rode 1. So funny. Now I am doing 50 miles of Fall. My body is slowing down, and I didn't think I could do 100 miles before baby comes, so I settled to 50. It's been a great way to keep me motivated to keep moving even though I am huge these days.
Remember the calendar I made for myself? Well, this month is make some magic. And whiel I had big plans to make magic this summer (some we have done aka lemonade stand), I am discovering that most of our magical moments are unplanned. Today I was trying to get a dresser painted while I kept an eye on the girls playing outside.
Amelia came and grabbed my hand, "COme see. COme see." I followed her to the little table in the shade she was playing tea party at. It felt so good in the shade, and I was really enjoying watching Mia pretending to set the table in great solemnity that a toddler adopts when they are trying so very hard to imitate real life. Then I glanced around to check on Katie and Grace. Up in a tree. They are really into climbing trees these days.
My blood sugar was telling me it was time for a snack so i called to the girls to come join Amelia and me in the shade, and we could have snack time outside. they got really excited, and Katie insisted on preparing the snack. She brought out a plate of cut up bananas, carrots, celery, wheat thins, and almonds. She was very proud of herself for hosting.
Grace used her best company manners and Amelia continued with her serious pretending.
And that's all there was to the magic. we hadn't scheduled anything. i hadn't prepared a creative snack that resembled an owl face. we didn't have any friends over. And you know it was the best kind of magic.
I am finding out that making magic for our kids is as simple as saying yes when they ask you to come play in the fort or snatching them up in a hug when they are passing by. It's whispering a joke in their ear when they least expect it or putting a band aid on an owie that doesn't really need it. It's letting them have unstructured playtime. It's letting them snuggle in your bed in the morning. It's smiling at them for no reason except you love them.
Forgive the super blurry picture. I was trying to take a picture on my phone while two children were climbing around me. This is the outfit Katie came out wearing after I told her to go get dressed for her first day of soccer. Not only is that a skirt, but she had flip flops on too. (We're new to this sports thing.) But after I did a little explaining, she found some suitable shorts, t-shirt, and tennis shoes. And a rain jacket. It was pouring, but Oregonians continue on in the rain, I have learned. She LOVED it. She honestly enjoyed every single minute. I am so glad we decided to branch out from dance for a little while.
Nothing says summer like eating fudgesicles on the back step.
Oh, these two. They make quite the dynamic duo. I always find them off giggling together. They squeezed into this contraption at the park today, and were having a blast rockin' it like crazy.
I had a yard sale last week, and I promised the girls they could have a lemonade stand....a lifelong dream of Katie's. They also sold cookies and brownies. I think they made just as much money as I did on the yard sale.
Katie lost her second tooth tonight. You can see the permanent one already has come in behind it. We've been working on that stubborn tooth for weeks.
I didn't get a picture of Gracie, but she started princess dance yesterday. She was so happy to be in the big girls dance class. Last fall she did the 2-3 yr old session, and loved it, but she was the oldest one in there. She was a little intimidated by her teacher yesterday, but she did great, and has been studying her little positions diagram faithfully.
I don't like having to be busy with lessons, so we don't do them year round. This summer they each got to pick one activity, and then we'll be done with lessons until next spring or summer. I have found we are much happier as a family when we keep our schedule open.
Amelia is talking like crazy. I don't think she is ever quiet. She repeats everything we say and picks up songs so quickly. She goes around belting out "Let It GO" and "Happy Birthday" and "I am a CHild of God." On our way to church, we sing songs to warm up our voices ( a tactic I employ to limit the number of arguments in the van on the way to church), and I let each girl pick a song. Grace almost always picks "Away in a Manger," and this time while we were singing, Amelia joined in. I was so surprised she had learned it and was singing along, and it was so gosh darn cute, I almost had to pull over. Hearing a 19 month old sing is the cutest thing in the world.
Amelia started nursery in May, and LOVES it. Well, she loves snack time and singing time, but then she's ready to go take a nap. Who cares about toys? She'd rather go snuggle down and go "night, night."
We are pretty excited (and still a little surprised) to announce that our sweet bundle will be a BOY. I am not sure we will know what to do with him after being in a girl groove, but I guess we'll figure it out as we go along. Katie is beyond excited. She was literally praying for a brother. Every day she asks me how big the baby is now.