Monday, February 13, 2012

happy heart day

It's not even Valentine's day yet, and already I am feeling the love. 

Last night we had our traditional Valentine's dinner a few days early, and it was swell.  I can't say that about every day (especially about a Sunday since those afternoons are sometimes anything but swell), but yesterday afternoon was a good one.  We finished up a great round of church meetings, came home and watched some inspirational videos with the kiddos piled on my lap, and then cuddled up with my favorite guy to take a nap.  Turns out, my little man woke up sooner than expected, but I was just as happy to cuddle him while my big man got a much deserved rest.  Even better, Claire took a long nap!  Ryenne too!  The other two gals got along splendidly.  All in all, it was quite peaceful around here.

Once everyone was up and kicking, we started in on chinese dumplings.  Courtney had suggested them for our dinner, making me a deal.  "You buy the stuff, I'll make 'em".  Sold!  (He's turning into quite the homemaker these days.)  This doesn't happen very often, but the night was even better than I'd hoped.  Everyone huddled into the kitchen while we all chopped, stirred, chatted, and stuffed dumplings.  It was a little bit like magic.

I was thinking today that when we have a night that's a little bit like magic, I better write it down.  Not that we're that un-fun all the rest pf the time, it's just hard to find a day when all seven of us are feeling sparkly at the same time.  When that happens?  Magic. 

(In an ongoing effort to be real here, I'll just say that Saturday wasn't quite so magical.  The girls weren't feeling the magic.  At all.  Suffice it to say that Ryenne and Kate ended up spending the whole day in their bedroom.  Together.  Really, all day.  Like ten-hours-lunch-delivered-to-your-room-kind-of-all-day.   If you can't be friends on you're own, well then I'll just stuff you into a 12 x 12 space 'til you figure it out, that's what I say.  And judging by the silly videos I've seen that they made while in purgatory, I'm pretty sure they figured it out.)

Anyway.  Seeing how the big day of love was only two days away, I got up the energy to hang a few hearts (I'm loving the festivity I can create with a 99 cent package of heart shaped doilies).  It took me all of ten minutes and I kind of asked myself why I didn't do it two weeks ago, but really. . .what's the rush?  We donned the table with pink and red paper plates, scattered a few fake rose petals, turned down the lights and Wah-lah!  A party!

Claire was most enthusiastic, shouting, "Yay!  We're having a party!  Happy birthday everyone!"  We all talked and laughed and remembered how a year ago on V-day we made the big announcement that we were going to have a baby.  Now he's here!  And I'm here!  We're all here together and we're oh-so-happy about it.  We don't take being together for granted so much anymore. 

I love this little family of mine.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

i'd do it all again

Mr. Samuel,

It's hard to believe you're almost six months old.  Six months!  It seems like a time warp to me.  Sometimes I feels like it was just yesterday that we were driving to Logan on yours and Daddy's birthday.  That was a pretty big day, you know!  We were so glad to finally meet you- we'd waited a long time. 

It's been a little crazy since you were born.  Lucky for us, you are the sweetest little guy.  Easy going like your dad, you've rolled with the punches and faced the drama with a smile on your face.  The other day the girls were helping me go through a box of Porter's clothes that Aunt Haylee sent us.  They were so excited to see all the new duds you will get to wear over the next few months.  They all started laughing when they found a shirt that read, "CURRENT FAMILY FAVORITE".  We all agreed that you hold that spot quite handily.  I must admit I'm a little jealous, as I'm pretty sure I'll never get a unanimous vote for that position.  The thing is, you're a better politician than me.  No matter who is in your immediate presence, they are greeted with a great big grin.  You're handsome, you're smooth, and you have a way with girls (in this house, that holds a lot of water).  You're a sure winner. 

I've been thinking about something for a while.  Sometimes when we're out and about, people ask me how I'm feeling.  We live in a very good place, and everyone is very kind.  But often, some of the comments I hear make me want to cover your ears.  I frequently am told things like, "I hope it was worth it to get that boy" or "This boy sure has been hard on you!"  I know they don't mean anything unkind by it.  Even Daddy once teased you, "You're gonna have to thank Mommy every day of your life for what she's had to go through to get you here".  It's just that I don't feel that way at all.

So, my little Sam-The-Man.  When you hear those things, I want to know that you understand my side of the story.  Let's just get a few things straight here:

1.  I never had baby number five just so I could have a boy.  I had another baby because I knew there was a spirit in heaven who was waiting to come into our family.  We were ecstatic when we found out you were on your way.  When we found out you were going to be a boy, that was just frosting.  There are many pages in my journal devoted to the wrestle I had in understanding your coming into our family.  Believe me when I say this, YOU were meant to come to our family.  

2.  When I speak of those journal pages, much of what I wrote contains some of the most sacred experiences of my life.  Experiences I will someday share with you.  There are lessons I learned before you even got here that I could have only learned through you.  Lessons I will forever be thankful for. 

3.  Likewise, the lessons I am learning (and, I must add- the lessons that our family is learning) since you have joined our family are just as precious.  Sometimes I get discouraged at myself, but I know one thing.  Me getting sick was not an accident.  Just as I am a sure that you were supposed to come to our family, I know just as surely that the chapter after your arrival was part of the plan too.  A while ago, I wrote of my "new normal" along with a favorite quote that advised, "relax, smile, and pretend this is part of the plan".  Afterwards I realized that I don't have to pretend.  This is part of the plan.  Our job is to be thankful Heavenly Father is trusting us with this opportunity to grow.  Most importantly, we need to allow it to change us so we can become closer to what He sees in us.

Sometimes, I look at you and each of your sisters and I see in your faces the important place each of have in our family.  Each of you is a sacred part of our family.  Each of you holds a piece of our story.  Sometimes I hold one of you and feel a little bit sad that I will never have another baby.  For me, there is nothing quite like having a baby.  A while ago I read something a mom had written about the day her baby was born.  She said that she looked at the world going on around her and knew that what was happening to her family was the most important thing happening that day.  That is just how I always feel the day I have a baby.  That's why it is a little bit hard to think those new baby days are over, but at the same time I type this, I know that it's okay.  You see, our family is complete.  And I'd do it all again in a heartbeat.

Courtney + Kelly + girl + girl + girl + girl + boy = TRUE LOVE. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

christmas 2011. . .looking back

We had a wonderful Christmas this year.  Looking back, I am so thankful that I didn't get sick until that night.  I would have been so sad to have been in the hospital and to have missed being with my kiddos on Christmas day.  Just one more little tender mercy! 

The girls loved their Christmas pj's.  It was so fun finding little bulldozer jammies for Samuel, too!  With 9:00 church, we gave the girls a choice between opening presents before (and maybe being a little rushed) or waiting until after church.  They chose to wait.  However that morning they slept until nearly 7:00, then waited a while for Grandma and Grandpa to arrive, read the Christmas story, opened presents, ate breakfast, and still had time to get ready and arrive early for church.  A Christmas miracle!

The highlight of this Christmas was the train that was set up under the tree.  Each year, the girls get a snow globe to add to their collection.  Instead of a snow globe, a train set arrived for Samuel.  I don't know how much our little man got into the train this year, but his sisters LOVED it!  Actually, I'm not sure who was more excited, the girls or daddy!  Complete with a whistle, chugging sounds, and real live smoke coming from the stack, it was a hit.  The girls and their daddy spent hours over the holidays watching it, controlling the speed, and loading/unloading cargo from the flat car.  I'm pretty sure a wonderful new Christmas tradition was born this year. 

Of course, everyone was thrilled to receive their very own New England Patriot shirts.  (And it's a good year to wear them too, eh?  Go Patriots!)  We get a good laugh over our little Patriot fans.  Their daddy has trained them well.  We frequently hear about conversations that they have with the boys in their classes and on the bus, with our girls vehemently defending their beloved team.  The other day Ryenne was putting a stack of Sports Illustrated into her backpack.  When I asked her why, she said it was so she could find trivia questions for the boys on the bus ride home.  Seems they have a lot of football talk.  I had to laugh when the Patriots qualified for the Superbowl and Ryenne said, "This reminds me of the Superbowl in 2009, when the Pats played the Giants then, too.  I remember Dad was so sad after they lost he would hardly even talk!"  I didn't even remember that they'd played each other, let alone the year.  She makes her dad proud!

Ryenne was beyond ecstatic when she found none other than an ipod in her stocking.  Holy Cow!  We have a pretty funny video of the discovery.  She thought it would never happen, and I admit, neither did I.  Being the technology geek that I am, I swore our kids wouldn't have one for quite some time, but that Santa!  I'll tell you what. . . .

Actually, my fears of ipod infatuation have been fairly unfounded.  Dad has put lots of parental controls on it (no Internet, no texting- we're mean parents like that!) and she has been really responsible about how much she uses it, mostly at bedtime to listen to music and as an alarm in the mornings.  The best feature has been the Facetime feature her dad set up for her so that when he's out of town, the girls and he can talk and see each other at the same time!  They are loving that and it has helped them feel more connected with him while he's away.  The first night they used it, Claire was a little confused.  She asked him, "Where are you?"  He told her he was laying on his bed (meaning in the hotel), and she ran to our bedroom, came back and said, "No you're not, I just checked!" 

Emmy couldn't be happier with her new chalkboard/whiteboard set up that she now uses to teach school.  This gal of ours spends about 99% of her free time being a "teacher".  She loves having an official white board, along with clips to hang papers for her students. 

Kate was thrilled with craft supplies, a Scrabble game, and a lime green ripstick (the only thing she'd asked for this year)!  The big girls received a ripstick and the little gals a scooter.  Lucky for them, we haven't had any snow and so they've gotten lots of practice.  Many evenings find them out on the patio in the dark, wearing their headlamps, and working on their skills.   

Christmas afternoon we made the trek to see all the Grandparents, and everyone had a marvelous time playing with cousins.  Like normal, we celebrated into the night and didn't get home until late.  After we got home, we had a good laugh when we found Kate asleep on the floor by our bedroom.  A sure sign of a Christmas well celebrated! 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

a gazillion and one blessings

Last night I laid in bed and pondered on all of my blessings.  There are many.  For one, I'm incredibly happy to be here.  That's stating the obvious, I guess, but it's so true.  I get going along, doing all the "normal" things and sometimes I forget how close I came to leaving.  But then I have a day like yesterday when I have time to think through the events of that night in September when everything changed.  It's good for me, at least every so often.  It helps me remember.

This is a time to be happy.

When I relive what might have been, it helps me get everything into focus.  There is a lot going on in all of our lives, but only a small portion of it really matters.  The hugs, a listening ear, and the words I say.  That matters.  The condition of my heart as I interact with the people around me.  My prayers.  My smile.  My attitude.  Those are the big things.

I'm walking.  I'm talking.  I'm laughing with my children.  I can rock-a-bye my babies, drinking them in- their smells, voices, and sweet little lips.  I can notice the softness of little feet.  I can remember funny things they say, and listen with all of me.  I can say thank you.  I can express love.  I can feel more gratitude.  I can hold my children's hands.  I can attend parent-teacher conferences and applause the good things my girls are doing.  I can tuck them in at night with an extra tight squeeze and whisper that I am proud of them, that they can do hard things. I can remind them that they are the best parts of me.

I can remember that this day, this moment is part of a plan.  A plan that is bigger and better than I.  Full of promise that I don't yet realize.

In those tricky moments when my body reminds me that I'm not what I used to be, I can remember the lessons I'm learning.  The people who help me (and oh! there are so many).  I'll try to understand what I might do to be stronger- physically, but spiritually and emotionally most of all.  I'll know that I'm thankful to have this opportunity to slow down and learn.  This time is good.  It is full of blessings.  A time of my life that I will remember always.  In the story of my life, this chapter is sacred.  It is what I make of it.

This is a time to be happy.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

claire keeps me in line

Just wanted to remember a few funny things Claire said yesterday. . .

Lately she's been quite a fan of the Lord of the Rings movies.  I know, I know.  Pretty good watching for a three year old, eh?  What can I say, she and her Grandpa  Monty are quite the buddies right now.  I never even liked those movies that much.  Okay, I'll be honest.  I suffered through the first few (Courtney's family are huge fans), and when we went to the last one I sat and counted ceiling tiles and wondered how long a movie could possibly last.  Right at the very end when they are climbing some big mountain and tussling over the ring I asked Courtney, "So, what's the big deal about the ring?"  He tells me now that it was at that point that he knew that I loved him very much.  After all I sat through a twenty hour movie and had no clue what the whole thing was about.  I remember the girl next to me was crying as the movie finished because she was so sad it was over, whilst I was crying tears of joy because Hooray! it was over!

So.  I just had to explain all that so you know that it's not I who is showing my three year old such movies. 

We first became aware of her and Grandpa's pastime when Courtney got up early one morning and was walking past Claire's bedroom when he heard her growl, "Who goes there?"  She is obviously much smarter than I because she definitely know what is going on.  She can explain the history behind the "big deal about the ring" with finesse.  For a while now, our days of playing princesses have been replaced by acting out battles between "Legonus" and the "mud Orks" and other three-year-old worthy pretend play. 

It's not that I haven't tried to put a stop to it.  After all, I have a few qualms about the girls watching severed heads flying about.  My concerns were met by arguments from the big sisters.  "But MOM!  We're not even scared!  It's SO awesome!"  These are the same girls who told me that the movie Lassie was "good, but a little bit scary".  Go figure.  And you know how those grandpa's are.  Especially the best kind whose grandkids have them wrapped around their little fingers.  There's nothing better for my kids than spending a day with Grandma and Grandpa.  It's unlimited Oreos and Lord of the Rings galore.

Anyway, that was a long introduction to yesterday's story:  Claire was looking at the cover for the movie Babe (which was Ryenne's favorite movie at this age, by the way.  Amazing what changes between the first child and the fourth.)  She was wondering why the dog looked so mad.  I explained that the dog is old and a little bit grouchy.  Immediately, she declared, "He better stop being so grouchy or I'm going to kick him to Mount Doom!"  I laughed out loud, and then she started giggling too, explaining, "Mom!  That's Lord of the Rings!" 

One more story:  I was pumping yesterday and Claire asked me why I was "showing my specials".  She told me in no uncertain terms that we aren't supposed to show our specials.  I agreed and tried to explain that I wasn't really showing them to anyone.  I must not have been very convincing because she looked up toward the heavens and said, "Jesus, Mom is showing her specials" and then looked at me sternly and said, "Jesus is very angry." 

So there you have it.  I'm getting reprimanded by my three year old Lord of the Rings addict.  I guess I better mind my P's and Q's.  If I get too out of line, she may decide to kick me to Mount Doom.