Thursday, April 17, 2014

Toursits for a Day

 This week has been spring break from school for the kids.  It's been lovely to be off of routine for a while!  Last Saturday we wanted to start break off with a fun family day.  We headed out to breakfast at a local cafe and then hit down town Seattle to play tourists.  We happened to have a visitor at our house that we wanted to bring along.  She has been napping in a manila envelope ever since she came home with us from San Diego in February.  I think she was happy to get out and breathe the fresh air of Seattle--her name is Flat Jill.  We took a picture with her at Ivar's seafood restaurant--one of Seattle's more famous eateries.  Then we took her on a ferry ride to Bainbridge Island.  A picture on the ferry with the Seattle skyline in the background is about as local as it gets! 
 Just the day before Tadd had seen a pod of Orcas while on a ferry.  We were hopeful that maybe we could see them as well.  Didn't happen, though.
 These two are practicing for when they get to be flower girl and ring bearer together later this summer.  It's a good look, right?
 After some lunch and walking around on Bainbridge, we ferried back and walked up the Harbor Steps.  We actually spent a long time playing in the fountains on the Steps.  I was glad for the chance to sit down and watch the others as Henry was napping in my arms.  He was a very good little tourist baby.


 At the top of the Steps we headed to The Market.  We thought that Flat Jill would want to see Pike Place for sure!


 The Market was very crowded, so we didn't walk around and check things out as much as we thought we might.  Instead, we headed off to find an ice cream treat.  During our search we saw Seahawk Micheal Bennett at Beecher's Handmade Cheese.  He sort of stuck out in the crowd.  He was with his wife and little girls, so we decided not to be classless and ask for an autograph or picture.  After a lot of ice cream, it was back down the steps.
 Our last stop of the day was at The Great Wheel.  Caroline has taken a ride before with Daddy--but for the other three and Mommy this was a first.  Last time we tried to ride The Wheel, Ezra and Nora were too nervous to give it a try.  Today they wanted to conquer their fear.  They did great.  But I have to admit that when I leaned against the door I suddenly got a bit freaked out.  The thought of how I would hold on to all four kids by myself if something happened was overwhelming.  Being a Mom changes your sense of adventure, I've found.



 There is Daddy, waaaaaaay down below.
 The stadium on the left is where the Seahawks and Sounders play football (American and European, respectively)  and the stadium on the right is where the Mariners play baseball.  The football stadium was being used as a motocross track for that day, however. 


 By the time the Wheel stopped turning for us, the day had gotten very long.  We packed up and headed for home.  Everyone was tired after all the walking around in the fresh air and sunshine.  We couldn't have had a nicer day, weather wise and all in all it was a ton of fun. 
Monday, the kids and I headed to Gig Harbor to enjoy a couple of days with Grandpa and Grandma.  We took Flat Jill to the beach to snap a quick shot with the Narrow's Bridge. 
 Poor Flat Jill has been re-stuffed in her envelope and dropped in a postal mail box to go back to California where she can tell the rest of her family about her adventures.  We hope she had fun and that she is kept safe on her journey!
 And now spring break is nearly at an end.  This is so sad!  This means that we have to last out the rest of the school year without any more big breaks before summer.  I hope we can all muster up the energy and enthusiasm that will be needed! 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Seven Months Already

 He's working on his eighth month of life already, folks!  Boy--I love him so much it hurts.  Look at those big round eyes. 
 
 He thought it was fun to try to eat this cracker.  Of course, right after I took these pictures he got a piece bitten off and gagged and gagged on it until I finally had to sweep it out of his throat.  Whoops.  We went and bought some soft, crumbly whole wheat crackers the next day for him to try.  He still gags a bit as he's not used to this solid food stuff.
 
 I love this picture of Daddy feeding him his very first feeding (baby oatmeal)--Tadd has the classic open mouth of a parent feeding a baby.
 He hasn't loved baby cereal.  He seems to like some pureed baby food--but not in great quantities.  His favorites so far are applesauce, pears (that's the main fave), squash and sweet potatoes.  I feel an orange nose coming on!

Henry thinks the mornings are a special treat.  The big kids have not trundled off to school yet and he just can't decide who to stare at when all three are gathered around him.  It's so fun to see him look from face to face.  You can actually see the love in his eyes.  He knows how much they care about him--and they are so active that he can't help but watch.  By the time they come home from school he's often hit cranky afternoon time.  He still loves seeing them, but he's not always captivated for as long.
 We think he'll be able to touch his nose with his tongue....just like a certain big sister of his.  He's  hit the 22 pound mark and he's very wiggly.  That means that you have to have strong arms to hold him.  He loves being outside for walks--praise the Lord!  I alternate taking him in front packs and stroller.  My back prefers the stroller.  The issue with the stroller is that, if I go alone he can't see me and thinks he's floating out in space all alone.  He's usually okay like that for a mile or so.  But then he can't handle it and I'm left with a screaming child the rest of the way.  But if one or more of the kids comes with me and walks where he can see them, or rides a bike in front of him he stays content a lot longer.  I love finally being able to get exercise and fresh air on a more regular basis.  And I love exposing him to all that spring has to offer--colorful blossoms, chirping birds, fresh scents, giggling school kids, sunshine and rain. 
He prefers sitting upright and playing with his toys.  The few times that he's fallen on his tummy he pushes himself up, but doesn't try to get into crawling or army-crawling position.  He has scooted a bit on his bottom and can turn in a full circle on his bottom.  I'll be interested to see if he is a bottom scooter like Caroline was.  It's amazing how fast they can get around in that position.  And, unlike crawling, they can carry things around that way.  I must say, though, I am quite happy with his immobility at the moment!!!!  Especially now that we are now in baseball season and we are out on the bleachers, in the gravel, and beside a big swamp for many of the games.  Oh boy--seven months feels like a long time--and so much fun yet to come!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Happy Birthday to Somone Special!!!!










 We hope you attack your cake like Henry attacked this sign!  Wish we could be celebrating with you tonight.  Miss you!!!!!
Lots of Love,
Your Kids from the Pacific Northwest

Monday, March 10, 2014

Half-a-Year-Henry!

 We've had our Henry with us for half of a year already!  It seems like he's always been a part of the family.  I'm not sure when he turned 6 months because he was born on the 30th and February doesn't have a 30th.  But I suppose he's 6 months, just the same.  He's right in the middle of the pack for six month size.  He has two teeth.  There are more on the way based on the signs:  copious amounts of drool, chewing anything he can get in his mouth as if his life depends on it, fussiness, etc. 
 Last Wednesday, in the middle of all the sickness-mania, he upped the cuteness level to off-the-charts when he started babbling.  I don't remember if I thought babbling was this cute with all of my other kids--but this is just about killing me!  He does it in his sleep, through his tears, when he's laughing, when he's playing by himself--all the time.  He uses multiple single-syllable sounds.  "da-da-da", "ba-ba-ba", "la-la-la".  We all just love it. 
 Poor little fella.  He sits up by himself very well.  He started sitting fully unassisted about two weeks before his 6 month birthday.  That's earlier than any of our others.  His pediatrician constantly talks about how strong he is.  Let's hope at least his will is moldable! 
 Last week he got his first taste of baby oatmeal cereal and also pureed carrots.  He liked them both.   He doesn't like to eat a lot at a time--but he'll get there.  The best part is that his siblings can feed him.  Right now they fight over who gets to do it.  Someday soon I'm afraid they'll fight over who has to do it.  But for now I'm living in the joy of it : ) 

 

The top picture is Henry two days ago holding a football.  The bottom picture is Ezra with a football.  Ezra was about 7 months old, so a bit older than Henry now--but I thought it was a cute comparison.  Ezra's hair had chilled out on the hunter safety orange color it started out as by this point in time.  And now Henry's hair has faded quite a bit from the dark color it started out as--so they just about meet in the middle.  Same nose, similar eyes, different mouths....I think.  But I'm never very good at comparisons with looks.  I won't even begin to compare how I look now compared to when Ezra was this age : )


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Underneath are the Everlasting Arms

I understand that I should not complain that motherhood is hard.  That I should remember that I signed up for this.  That I dreamed of it my whole life.  I know that the days are long but the years are short.  I know that someday I will miss all of this.  I understand that I should be enjoying every. single. second.  I'm trying.  But sometimes when I'm on my third week of sick kids, my fifth night of sitting upright the whole night while holding a baby who can't breathe through his nose and who needs to scream for an hour and a half every three hours, sometimes, I'm just not enjoying myself.  I've spent the long night hours reminding myself that there are barren wombs wishing to be in this position.  That there are Mamas listening to their babies cry because they haven't eaten for days.  That I am under a roof, in a warm house with plenty of blankets.  I have Internet access and can look up 24 hour Urgent Care options at 3:00 AM if I want to.  I have a husband who gets up at 5 each morning to march off through a nasty commute on an over filled bus of coughing humanity just so that he can provide that warm house, those blankets, the Internet access, food for the hungry bellies and pay the doctor bills for sick kids.  My head knows these facts.  My heart works at being thankful.  But my arms feel like limp noodles, my feet stumble as I walk miles around and around the dark kitchen.  My throat is dry from singing "Jesus Loves Me" and my heart is racing while I tell myself to be calm.  I can't honestly say that these are the moments I dreamed about.  I can't honestly say that I will miss these exact moments.  I am not enjoying myself while I'm at the Urgent Care alone with four children...for four hours.  But I am thankful for many things during these moments.  The afore mentioned warm house, blankets, etc.  For a big 8 year old boy who can hold the baby while I pin down the kicking, screaming 4 year old for the nurse.  Thankful for kind and knowledgeable nurses  Thankful for a vehicle.  For medical insurance.  And for a Saviour Who can breathe calm into me when I don't have any calm within myself.  For a Friend Who holds my hand at 0 dark thirty and Who strengthens my arms when I am terrified that I will drop the screaming, thrashing, heavy baby. 

The past few nights I've been propping pillows under my arms before I start my night time vigil and I keep thinking about two things.  First, this verse from Deuteronomy 33 "The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms."  And second, it makes me think of the story in Exodus when Moses is in the desert standing on the hill top with his helpers propping up his heavy, tired arms so that the Children of Israel could win the battle against Amalek.  Exodus 17:12 ends by saying "and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun."  Except in my case, it's until the rising of the sun.  And please, do not think that I am in any way comparing myself to that giant of  the faith, Moses. 
The Lord gifted me these children for a time.  He hurts when they hurt.  He created them for a purpose.  They are his.  It is simply my job to be an example of Him to them.  But how is that simple?  How is that simple when I want to scream and yell and use the excuse that I'm tired.  That this is hard?  It's not.   Unless I give up trying and yield fully to Him.  Maybe that's what the long nights are for.  Maybe it doesn't all have to be for naught.  Maybe my thick skull can finally open up and learn something. 
Last Sunday when I was home from  worship for my second Sunday in a row, we had a family reading from the book of Luke and we read about the Lord getting into the boat with his disciples.  He asked them to get in the boat with him.  They obeyed.  He went with them.  Life should have been peachy--right?  I mean, they obeyed.  They should have lived happily ever after.  Isn't that how I live my life?  God asks me to do something and I either fight, fight, fight and then finally yield.  OR, I obey right away and then expect a reward.  When my kids do that I laugh at them.  When they obey the first time and say "Do I get a treat, Mommy?", I laugh and say something like "for doing what you were told?  Sure, you get the treat of not being punished!".  But I somehow miss the irony that I live my life before the Lord that very same way, more often than not.  Back to the disciples on that boat.  Everything is not just peachy.  They are in the boat with the Lord and a storm comes up.  What is going on here????  Tadd poses the question to the kids and Ezra answers "The Lord is testing them."  Yes he is.  And they fail.  He has to ask them "Where is your faith?"  Just as he has to say to me every. single. day.  At least the disciples listened to him.  I'm often too busy not listening to hear His voice saying "Where is your faith?"  I forget that He is in the storm with me.
These days of motherhood might be what I dreamed of for many years.  And we did not enter into parenthood without much prayer.  But there still are trials.  And they are hard.  And I don't enjoy every single. second.  We got in the boat when He told us to--and He got in with us.  When He tests us, it is to teach us to trust Him better, to love Him more and to help us enjoy this life He has gifted us--and someday Heaven--more fully.  I was not sure how to stumble through this post about the messiness of motherhood.  And it is messy.  Broken bowl, box of cereal scattered on the floor with only 10 minutes to eat breakfast and run out the door to school messy.  Mommy wearing mismatched pajamas and slippers in the drop off line at the school messy.  Snot running down the face and eye lashes stuck shut from goop messy.  All I know is that this post has been chasing through my mind all those awake hours in the nights.  And, more importantly, He's in the boat with me.  He's holding my hand.  And underneath are the everlasting arms.  He reminds me with the chubby hand wrapped around my neck and the soft cheek resting lethargically on my shoulder.  He reminds me with the whispered word "Mommy".  He reminds me with the monkey-bar calloused hand holding mine while we walk across the playground.  He reminds me during the storm.  He reminds me what a blessed privilege it is to be the only one who can comfort this precious little scrap of humanity when he is miserable. 
I'll leave you with this gem of a quote from a very dear friend of mine who I look up.  She was admitting what she considered to be a fault in her parenting and she ended by saying  "Don't judge me! I do feed them!"  It made me laugh.  And laughter between sisters in Christ is just another reminder that underneath are the everlasting arms!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Piano Performance

  By our last full day the matching was breaking down just a bit.  Clearly, Nora doesn't even care about matching her own clothing.  These four girls love to perform.  They would spend a few minutes putting together a dance or "ice skating" (Olympics much) routine and then call us in to watch.  This evening they simply posed around the piano and sang along to Jill's playing of "Down By the Bay". 

 I had a hard time getting a still shot since they were singing and not holding still.


I'm attempting to include a video--but I'm not sure how well it's showing up--technical genius that I am. 
Back to my work....I dare now go!  For if I don't, my family will say, "We're hungry!"

Monday, February 24, 2014

Hiking

 On President's Day we decided to go the "whole group activity" direction.  It was a beautiful day for a hike. 
 Shorts and t-shirts in February--still shaking my head over the concept.  Holding Henry on the front of me the whole time helped to make me sweaty even.  IN FEBRUARY!  The way up was short and steep.  Our view from the top was in all directions.  No forest to block the view like we have at home.  No hours of switch backs full of moss while we search for the elusive sunshine.  And no mud puddles.  Just acres of dust.  It's fun to take a hike that is so different from what we do around these parts!  We found this remembrance garden while exploring up top.
 The boys didn't stay up top for long--they walked as far away from the sound of our voices as they could and then got as close to the edge of steep inclines as they could--all with the design of giving their mothers heart failure, I'm sure.  My camera zoom was able to find them.
 I'm glad the girls are still content to stay with their Mamas.  Maybe that was because one of the Mamas was carrying trail mix.
 Down in the dirt of the hills below we saw "PROM?" written in the dust.  I wonder if he/she said yes or no.  If it was the latter, that must have been an interesting hike down to the bottom.  There were about 50 different path options--so perhaps they could have gone their own lonely directions.
 Since we all loved each other--we decided to each take the same path.  Uncle Nathan showed us the path that he had taken down on a mountain bike in the past.  I was glad not to be on a mountain bike.  I'm not very brave.
 These boys ARE brave.  And full of energy.  They went on several bike rides with the dads during the course of our time there.  They always impress me with how far they can go and how much uphill (I hear) they can handle.  Weren't they just a two year old and a new born yesterday?????
 I found this lovely creature in another "garden" on our way down.

 You can't see how steep the hill is from this view...
 But with people in the picture, you get an idea.  Uncle Nathan said that had he hiked this route before he rode it,  he probably wouldn't have wanted to to ride down.  I definitely would not have.
 When the road got long and the uphill was going to begin again, the dads kindly took the harder, uphill path back to the cars and the moms took the seven (seven?????) kids on the flat path to the local high school where the dads could pick us up.  Nothing much sweeter than a bunch of little girls holding hands while they walk.  These girls carefully made sure to be matching every. single. day.  Mia and Jill loaned my girls clothes when needed since my girls were limited to what was in their suitcases.
   We saw several of these signs along the way.  I don't like snakes at all and the thought of encountering one on a hike gives me the shivers.  My big, brave, mountain biking boy happens to be terrified of them.  Just looking at the picture on the sign gives him the shivers.  Had we seen one, I think he would have hopped into my arms.  I was glad we didn't see any!



 Eventually Nora took Aunt Megan up on her offer to be carried.  I miss being a four year old. 
 We waited in the cool shade at the end of the trail, uncertain of how long it would take the Daddys to get to us. 
 We only had a minute or two before showed up to whisk us off to In n Out.  Wouldn't want to deprive ourselves of those calories we had hiked off!
 Poor Henry had gotten a bad sunburn on one arm.  Thankfully it wasn't all over.  Poor guy couldn't have any burgers or shakes.  Good thing he doesn't know what he's missing yet.

 Tadd wanted to make sure I knew that the chocolate shakes are 590 calories before I ordered one ALL FOR MYSELF--not to share with a kid.  Yes, thank you, I am aware.  They have more calories than shakes from any other fast food restaurant.  That's probably why I occasionally dream about them.  It was worth every last calorie.  Well, maybe not every last calorie--but at least 400 of them.  The burger was as good as ever too.  Eating outside after a warm hike in February was priceless.
  Before I leave you, I just want to mention a thing or two about the plane trip.  Traveling with four children via plane is interesting.  It's a blessing, that's for sure,  because I did not miss the opportunity to drive 23 hours.  So, I'm not complaining, trust me.  But when you enter an airport with four children you get stared at.  A lot.  Most people look at you as an absolute nuisance.  In many cases, I can't blame them.  I mean, if I'm a business man/woman with only a small  brief case to run through security and I get behind a family of 6 with a stroller, diaper bag, purse, 2 back packs, front pack, 3 carry on suit cases, one shoulder bag and a few blankies to put on the conveyer belt....well I would probably be annoyed as well.  Other times, I get frustrated.  For instance, you don't need to glare at me like I've already ruined your flight just because I have a baby strapped to the front of me--he hasn't started screaming...yet.  Praise the Lord--he never really did.  This was a big worry of mine.  Teething, fatigue, not being able to stand up and be walked are all very real reasons for Henry to start screaming and refuse to be calmed.  But he didn't.  He was mostly distracted by eating, playing with toys and looking around at all the strangers.  He whined now and then on the flight down, but there were several other babies around us also whining, so we didn't stand out.  And most people loved him because he was wearing his Seahawks jersey.  Even the 49ers fans sitting directly behind me called him "pretty cute...for the enemy".  They became my enemy in more ways than one when the woman threw up before the plane even took off.  If I could have held my breath for the whole 2.5 hours, I would have.  Instead I could only pray that we wouldn't all be throwing up by the next morning.  And Praise the Lord, we weren't.  That's all I'll say about the actual travel--although someday I'd like to write a short story about traveling with little ones.  I think I need to be a bit more removed from this part of my life before that can be done with success, however.
Until the next installment!