11.8.16 I will love it forever.

This past weekend I did something that I never do.  I left.

It wasn’t too long ago that I sat on the couch one night and told Chad, “I need a plane ticket.  I’m going to Clemson.”

Technically…I was going to Atlanta.  But in my mind…

…same thing.

My closest Clemson friend lives in Atlanta…and we were due a visit.  So without any questions…that man bought me a ticket.  Reason number 974 why I love that guy.

Well…I was only to be gone Friday – Sunday.  That’s only 1 full day away from these babies.  But the puddin’ cup wasn’t happy.  It was all I could do to get sister to school.  This is where I found her when our carpool was on their way Friday morning.

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And when that didn’t work…she came down in this get up and confidently declared,

“I’m ready…and I’m going with you.”

She got mad props for the hat.  And at this point…if she would have fit in my suitcase…her accompaniment was a real possibility.  She got to me with that hat.

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There is nowhere on Earth like Clemson.  I know you may think that I’m exaggerating…but I’m telling you…

…there is nowhere like it.

It’s a beautiful place.  With beautiful people.

These are some of my Clemson girls.  These people are some of the most amazing women I have ever known.  They embraced me without question when I moved there and was the “new girl” and I will love them forever.

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I don’t think I could love this picture more…from the thrill on my face-to the busses that load the players for the legendary trip around the stadium before the game-to one of my best friends-to the sun streaming down on the Clemson Tiger.  It’s all so perfect.

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Our seats were unbelievable.  And our Tigers wore the purple uniforms…which hardly ever happens!

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I wanted my children so bad at this point.  I couldn’t even stand it.  I knew…that if my oldest son had been with me…it would have sealed his fate as a Clemson Tiger.  His very first football game was here…14 years ago…or just yesterday.  I can’t decide which.

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It’s hard to say what was happening here.  We had just beat Syracuse…and Death Valley was a sea of purple and orange.  I had never been on the field before.  And it’s hard to explain how all of my Clemson past was being tied into a nice bow of purple and orange curly ribbon.  This stadium was where Chad and I had our first date.  This stadium is where he proposed.  This stadium is where we became us.  It’s where we started.  And look at what has come from it?  If you would have told me that night when he proposed that we would be the parents of 6 kids…I would have told you to get off the crack.

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I maaaayyyyy or may not have kissed the paw print mid field.  The jury is still out on that one.

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Our few from the hill.  See??!!  I told you!!  A sea of purple and orange…

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…just like a beautiful sunset.

I love Clemson.  I will love it forever.

10.26.16 I’m gonna hold you a little longer…

It has occurred to me over the last week…and maybe little by little over the last 8 years that I’d better squeeze every, last, dried up drop out of the younger years.  We spend our energy focusing on celebrating every “first” that comes along.  We record their first word…like their college acceptance depends on it.  We write down the dates of their first taste of solid food…their first tooth…their first time to pull up…and their first step like our very worthiness as a mother is at stake.  And that was all before social media came into play.  Now…God bless us…we have photo evidence of it for all of the world to see.  And if the world doesn’t see it…(or 500 of our closest friends)…then we might as well assume it never happened.  But that’s not really the point here.

The point is…

I’ve been thinking a lot about those firsts.

I have another momma’s baby here.  I have her baby in my home.  In my arms.  In my nursery.  In my family.  In my world.  And I’m getting to witness a lot of his firsts.  I took him to his first basketball game.  I gave him his first scoop of ice cream.  I watched him on his first hay-ride and his first time on a swing.  I am hearing his first time to say “momma.”  And I love those firsts.  And I’m recording them for her…or for me…or for whoever else God has to be his forever mommy.  Those firsts are important…and joyous to celebrate.

But what about the lasts?

I’ve been trying to remember the LAST time I picked up my oldest son in my arms.  I’ve tried to recall the last time I pushed him in a swing….or his last little league “at bat”…or the last time he colored me a picture.  When was the last time he climbed in bed with Chad and I because he had a bad dream?  When was the last time he asked me to read to him?  When was the last time I tucked him in or sang him a lullaby?

I can’t remember.  I just can’t remember all of the lasts.

When was the last time I held my son in my arms?

Shouldn’t the lasts be just as important as the firsts???

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His first Homecoming date.

I’m fairly certain that her mom and I planned this out when they became friends in Mrs. Holloway’s Kindergarten class.  I’m pretty sure that on the first day of Kindergarten…God smiled…thinking about this image…that seemed so far into the future that we momma’s couldn’t even imagine it.

And we celebrate.  We celebrate the first date.  We make a big deal about the first exchange of Texas sized Homecoming mums.  We take pictures and record it like our very lives are on the line.

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And then we tell our babies that we haven’t held them for the last time.  Because…for the love of all humanity…that…

THAT LAST…

well…that last hasn’t happened yet.

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It doesn’t really matter to me that he can pick me up way easier than I can pick him up.  The point is…

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I haven’t help my baby for the last time.  And I’m not just paying attention to all my little’s firsts.  I’m slowing down to hold on a little longer…and to not miss their lasts.

Hold your babies, friends.  Hold them a little longer.

10.5.16 Is it too late to say sorry?

I just finished getting the youngest three to bed.  Annslee was the last one to go down.  I still have a substantial amount to accomplish before this head can hit the pillow…so I made the enormous mistake of trying to hurry that tuck in along.  It went as follows:

Annslee:  “MOMMY!  TUCK ME IN!!!!”

Me:  “I AAAAAAMMM!!!!”

Annslee:  “Nu-uhhhhhh.  All you’re doing is pulling my covers up and kissing me goodnight!”

Me:  “Well what else is there????!!!!”

Annslee:  “A bunch of other stuff!”

Lesson learned.  Never try to speed up that girl’s tuck in.  You’ll pay for it in the end.

****

Yesterday I yelled at my kids.  I yelled like a crazy person.

The baby came to us with a snotty nose and passed a cold to every kid in the house…one by one.  What was a snotty nose for the 1 year old was fever and aches for everyone else.  So…as that blasted virus made it’s way back to the baby again this week…my body finally gave in and got it too.  I can’t tell you how sick I am of wiping snotty noses.  It’s like tiny, little faucets of germs…just pouring out all over everything.  And yesterday…my throat and my head and my sinuses all felt the brunt of it.

All I wanted to do was lay on the couch.  I wasn’t asking to sleep or anything.  I just wanted to lay down.  Heaven forbid I sit a spell.  (“Sit a spell.”  Such a good sentence.)

So…I asked Aiden and Chase if they could keep an eye on the baby.  I wasn’t asking that they change any poop-filled diapers or do any kind of blue-collar work.  Just watch him play with some toys and let me lay here a minute.

You can imagine the result.  I won’t bore you with any details.  But it ended with me dragging myself off the couch because of an un-answered “Hey…y’all have the baby…right????”

I found that kid sitting in the middle of all the household cleaners and a dishwashing soap pod in his grubby, little hand.  He had made his way over to the cabinet under the sink after emptying the dog bowls full of food and water all over the kitchen floor.  The clean-up involved moving the refrigerator so that the semi-newly installed laminate flooring didn’t warp due to dog water damage.

Y’all.  I hit the ceiling.

I started on a soap box about not being allowed to be sick and the problem with technology (Chase had earbuds in his ears and was looking at his phone) that lasted a good 10 minutes.  All of this was happening while I was on my hands and knees…cleaning up mushy dog food.

The tirade was so bad that it crossed the line to unfair.

They had spent all day at school.  They had gone through 7 classes.  They are kids.  And I had shamed them.

So…after everything was cleaned up and I knew the baby had not ingested dishwashing pod powder…I knew what I had to do.

I had to apologize.

And it was hard for me.

I did not want to tell them I was sorry.

I did not want to admit that I was wrong.

But I was wrong.

No matter what…I am the mother.  No matter what…I am responsible for this baby’s safety.  No matter what…I can’t yell and shame my children.  No matter what…I have to control my tongue and my anger.

I did apologize.  I asked for them to forgive me.

But it wasn’t easy.

That got me thinking.  Why is it so hard to apologize?  Chad is the oldest member of this house…and I think he would admit to having a hard time apologizing too.  And this baby…well…I can tell you that he doesn’t like to apologize…and he’s only one!  So…I’ve witnessed a wide range over the last few weeks.  The 43 year old…dragging his feet…head down..mumbling an apology, and a baby…who can’t even pronounce the words yet…so he has to sign it.

And this is what I’ve come to.

Saying sorry is hard work.

This baby likes to bite.  So he finds himself in time out on the regular.  I have taught him how to sign “I’m sorry.”  He knows biting is wrong.  He knows I am displeased…and he doesn’t like it.  So…the other day…after biting his sister for the third time…I told him that he wasn’t getting out of time out until he said (signed) he was sorry.  I knew he knew how to do it.  He knew I knew he could do it.  And that kid…that BABY…let his pride get the best of him.  He absolutely REFUSED to say he was sorry.  He would rather sit in time out than say he was sorry.

I waited him out.  It was a battle of the wills, I tell you.

He sat there for a full half-hour.

Every few minutes I would give him a chance.

It wasn’t until he knew that apologizing was his last option for getting off of that stool that he finally gave in.

And that…

THAT…

is how serious pride is.

We are such prideful people.

It shouldn’t be so hard to say “I’m sorry.”

9.29.16 Superglue, Sisters & Fourteen

What I can tell you about superglue is that it doesn’t come off of countertops,  laminate wood floors, wooden spoons, washrags, or my hands.

What I can also tell you about superglue is that it doesn’t hold Fozzy Bear’s head on.  How it can affix itself to all of the other stuff…yet be unable to hold a plastic Christmas ornament together will always be beyond me.

So…I come to you…type type typing away with my right hand completely covered in dried superglue and the left…well…it’s not good either.

Plus…I just realized that all my music has disappeared off my phone…leaving only a white screen behind.

Also…nothing on this computer is set up…so no music here either.  Nor can my kids type and print a paper on this computer.  But whatever.

I’m going under.

I’m going under and there is nobody waiting on a boat to throw one of those cute, life saver rings like in the movies.

When Chad texted today asking if he could go to the U of H game tonight…what am I supposed to say?  Can I simply reply “No.”  Can I say…”You were just in Cuba all week last week and I’m going under and you’re supposed to be here with a life preserver…not at a football game.  AT MY ALMA MATER, no less!”  Because we’re really not allowed to be that way.  After all…I “chose” to be a stay at home mom.   And it’s great and all.  But I’m telling you.  I’m going under.  And call me stupid…but I don’t know how to set up this computer to make it functional.  And I don’t know what happened to my music.  And two of my kids are going to bed without baths tonight because…well…because I spent their bath time frantically trying everything the internet could possibly suggest on how to remove superglue from granite.  Plus…I stepped in it.  So…it’s on my feet too.  And the fingernail polish remover mixed with the lemon juice and Vaseline smell is about to do me in.  (Those were all suggested by the Google…along with some other ridiculous stuff that didn’t work.)  But I’ve noticed…when you make the choice to do something…it makes it awfully unacceptable to admit you need help.  So I don’t ask.  And tomorrow may be different.  Tomorrow I may feel like I have the world on a string.  But tonight…the world feels like it’s bouncing up and down on my shoulders.

In other news…we had to move Colt to the playroom.  Like…literally…his bedroom is in the playroom.  The baby was in our room…and keeping me up half the night and the government frowns upon putting foster kids in a closet…so to Colt’s room he went.  The only available space was the playroom.  We have big plans to add some sliding barn doors…but at the moment…that boy knows what we meant when we talked about the whole family sacrificing to do foster care.  He has three substantial holes in his bedroom.  And zero privacy.  He is sacrificing.  But he’s the one that goes to bed last and wakes up first…so it made the most sense.  Aiden did try to convince us that she needed the “big” space way more so that she could practice her tumbling in there…making me feel like I was in the middle of the Brady Bunch episode where Greg and Marcia were fighting over the attic.  Greg won.  And so did Colt…if a room in the middle of the upstairs with no doors is winning.

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Today was Elementary school pictures.  Let’s face it.  It would have to be a cold day in hell before I would spend money on school pictures.  Annslee’s were taken after lunch and recess.  You can imagine how super those turned out.  I did snap a few of my own…to commemorate the moment.  It was before the superglue incident.  So…at least there’s that.

Elsie is 4 years old and in her last year of Pre-K.  She loves playing school and family.  When she grows up…she wants to be a gymnast and a mommy.

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Annslee is 6 years old.  She is in First Grade.  Her favorite things to play are school and outside with friends.  When she grows up…she wants to be a cowgirl.

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These sisters are thick as thieves.  They can push each other’s buttons quick but can forgive each other quicker.  They are each other’s best friend.

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This guy didn’t have pictures today.  But he is turning 14 tomorrow.  Tonight…I asked him to let me take a quick picture.  This was after the superglue.  I think…everything in my life from now on will be time-slotted.  Before the superglue…or after the superglue.  It was that bad.  Anyway…

His favorite things to do are make movies, build legos, and watch youtube videos.  He wants to be a teacher when he grows up.

And what an amazing teacher he would be.

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9.21.16 A perfect day for lemonade.

I’ve never had a problem with emotions.

I also haven’t really felt myself lately.

And the two of those things have danced around each other for months.

For the first time in my life…I have felt positively non-emotional.  It was sorta nice, actually…for a while , anyway.  There were no tears the night before the first day of school.  There were no tears the following morning during the drop offs.  There were none on the river in Colorado…a place that generally tugs hard on my heartstrings.  I didn’t cry when I looked into my grandmother’s faded, blue eyes and realized that her memory had faded even more.  I didn’t cry when I loaded our cat into a pet carrier and drove him to his new home.  I’ve watched sad movies…listened to sad songs…heard sad stories.  And nothing.

Until today.

Today…I cried.

I cried hard.

Today I watched This Is Us.  This is a quote from the pilot.

“But there is not a single day that goes by that I don’t think about the child that I lost.  And I’m an old man now.  I like to think that because of the child I lost…because of the path that he sent me on…that I have saved countless other babies.  I like to think that maybe one day…you’ll be an old man like me…talking a younger man’s ear off…telling him that you took the sourest lemon life has to offer and turned it into something resembling lemonade.  If you can do that…you’ll still be taking 3 babies home from this hospital…just maybe not the way you planned.”

A doctor was having to tell a new father that one of his babies had died before birth.  And he shared his own experience on why he had become a doctor.

I tell you what.  I sobbed and sobbed.  I let out all kinds of pent up emotion that I didn’t even know I was carrying around inside.

Because a day never does go by.  And I think I’m just realizing that one never will.  And all of that is coming together with how we have allowed God to use the sourest lemon of my entire life to send us on a path that resembles lemonade.  The truth will always be that we would never have adopted our daughter…or be a foster family for this baby boy if we had brought our babies home from the hospital.   And that even though I didn’t bring my babies home from the hospital the way I planned…they are all around me.  I brought them home in my heart.  And it’s time that place is warm again.

It felt a little bit like Fall today.  Finally.

Its was a perfect day for lemonade.

9.11.16 Why We Said Yes

I can’t even tell you how many blog posts have been started and stopped and then restarted again in my mind over the last 9 months.  There are pictures and stories…hopes and losses…dreams and disappointments…beauty and ashes sprinkled all throughout the lives surrounding me.  And I’ve lived it all.  And written about it none.  And that’s ok.

I’ve missed taking pictures with my good camera.  I’ve missed telling our story.  I’ve grimaced and rolled my eyes as iPhone photos and Instagram posts have replaced this small space.  But I also haven’t done anything to make it different.  Until now.

I’d like to think that my laptop crashing was the cause of this whole silence.  But deep inside…I know it wasn’t.

Being tired was.

I have been so, so tired.

I have a Sophomore son.  He’s brilliant and talented beyond belief.  He’s kind.  And I’m tired.

I have a 13 year old son.  He’s the most creative and gracious person I’ve ever known.  I’m tired.

I have an 11 year old daughter who just started Jr. High.  She is pure happiness on fire.  But I’m tired.

I have a 6 year old pudding cup, flicka baby who is my huckleberry girl.  She looks like me.  She acts like me.  She feels like me.  I’m tired.

The adoption of our youngest daughter was final in June.  She is a spitfire…a live wire… she’s joy erupting out of the mucky mire.  She is awesome.  I am tired.

You can imagine what life is like with 5 kids.  Some of you know…because you are living it.  The car rides…the activities…the homework…the meals…the LAUNDRY!  It’s enough to make a person crazy.

 

So…people may wonder.

 

Who is the little black baby in the facebook pictures?  Surely they haven’t taken in another human!  Surely they don’t have SIX kids!!  She stays home!!  He’s in ministry!!  What about college???  What about food and clothes and weddings and cars????!!!!  How could they possibly give these kids what they need…if they take in these “extras?”

 

It’s a fair question.

 

And all I can tell you is…

 

Because God told us to.

 

That’s it.

 

That’s the answer.

 

When God tells you to do something…and in this case…when He tells your family to do something…

 

You don’t tell Him no.

 

This baby needed a home.  This baby needed a mom and a dad to take care of him.  And for now…we are that mom and dad.  Our kids have been called to be his brothers and sisters.  And this is a role…that I am so proud to say…they take seriously.  They know that it may not be forever.  But they know that it is for today.  And not a one of us doubt that it’s what God wanted us to do.

 

We sat down with our oldest son this morning and we told him how important his feelings and opinions are to this family.  We told him that we valued his thoughts about whether or not we should agree to take in this child as a long term placement.  We told him that whatever he was thinking and feeling was ok.  We told him that we understood if he thought he may feel ashamed or embarrassed if we walked into a basketball game with a baby on our hips…so obviously not traditionally born into our family.  We understood the feeling of…”Oh my gosh!  My friends are gonna think…there are the crazy people with a bazillion kids!”

 

But that kid.  That kid looked me in the eyes.  He looked at me straight into the heart and said…

 

“I would be proud to call him my brother.”

 

When God calls a family to do something for him…

 

You don’t say no.

 

So here’s the amazing thing about this whole thing.  I tuck my kids in bed at night.  I rock some of them.  I give some of them a bottle or a sippy cup of milk.  I kiss their cheeks or their foreheads.  I read to them.  I sing to them.  I pray with them.  I wink at them…or I just touch their shoulder and tell them to sleep well when they are feeling too old for anything else.

 

And I sleep.

 

I sleep…because we said Yes.

12.3.15 Fall with Sprinkles

Well…things have been good.  December is somehow here already…and October and November hold some really great memories for us as a family.

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We really didn’t share with many people that all summer long…we were wrestling with the decision of where Colton would attend high school.  We were trying to decide between the large public school that we are zoned to and a private, Christian school in our area.  And I kid you not when I say that the seemingly right decision for Colton and our family changed not only daily…but hourly.  There were so many factors playing into what the four meaningful years of High School would hold.  First and foremost…Colton wanted to be where the Lord wanted him to be.  He had passions and goals that he had set for himself many, many years ago as a little boy…one of which was to play High School basketball.  However…his very top priority was being where he could grow in his relationship with Jesus while glorifying him daily.  Being grateful for and making the most of his education…and never taking for granted what a privilege an education is was also among his thoughts.  So many things happened over the summer that would cause us to lean one way…and then the other.  And Jesus seemed to be behind it all.  It came down to the day before school was to start…and my boy was a hot mess.  He could not seem to feel a peace with either one.  And let me just tell you…to not jump in and decide for him was very hard for us.  But it was his call.  We were there to pray with him and talk with him…but ultimately…it was his call.

That day before school was to start will be burned into my memory forever, I think.  He and I walked the halls of both schools…visiting with teachers and coaches and the lovely people who represented each school.  And then we went home.  In silence.

I told him to spend a couple of hours praying about it…and that I would pray too.  He felt like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders.  He knew that his goal of playing High School basketball would become a reality for him if he went private.  And he also knew that his shot at making the 6 A public school team was a long shot…with the competition as tough as it is here.  In fact…he was even told by some that it probably wouldn’t happen if he went the public route.  And I saw him wrestle with it.  I saw him wrestle with himself.  I saw him wrestle with God.  I saw him grow up in a few hours.  I saw him tell Jesus that he wanted to follow HIS ultimate will for his life.  I saw him want to glorify God and make a difference for Him in people’s lives.  I saw him put aside his own wants and desires to follow the one who loves him most.

He walked downstairs that afternoon and said,

“I’m going to public school.  I think that’s where God wants me for next year, at least.  And if God doesn’t have basketball for me in High School…then I will accept that.  But I’m going to give it all I’ve got.”

So he did.

And a few weeks ago…he beat the odds and made the Freshman Basketball Team.

****

My prayer for my son has been that the Lord would find favor in him.  And that my son would love the Lord and love people.

Everything else…sprinkles on our cupcakes.

****

Halloween produced some of my favorite costumes, thus far.

The big sisters got to go to a Halloween Dance.

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Halloween night promised rain.  But the clouds held their tears and the street lights lit the cloudy sidewalks long enough to make it around the neighborhood once again.  Chase put together the best Marty McFly costume ever and made me appreciate his creativity even more than I already did.  And because someone’s very favorite lullaby is “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”…she was the cutest Dorothy I’ve ever seen.  Although…I could be a smidgen bias.

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We picked our oranges for the Thanksgiving salad.  And one of us had a mouthful of gum as we picked.  But I can’t remember who?

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And starting a new tradition…because old ones are great…and can sometimes make room for new ones…we went to a tree farm and cut down our own Christmas tree.  That’s up next!

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Enjoy the remainder of your Thursday, friends.  I will be attending a High School basketball game tonight.  And praying the same thing for my kids as I watch:

Father God…please find favor in us…and help us to love you and your people more.  And thank you, Jesus, for the sprinkles you add to our lives…like high school basketball…and Marty McFly…and kitty cats…and Dorothy…and white, lacy socks with red, sparkly shoes…and Wonderland…and twirly, blue dresses with white, ruffled pinafores…and ribbons in hair…and orange trees…and bubble gum…and Somewhere Over The Rainbow!   Thank you for it all.

10.28.15 A world With Octobers

A lot of Birthdays take place for us in the Fall.  And if there’s one thing I know for sure…it’s that Birthdays should be properly celebrated.  It is possible though…that my stamina for throwing elaborately themed Birthday parties is dwindling.  And that these days…I give myself permission to cut corners.  For example…I served store-bought cupcakes at Annslee’s party last weekend.  And I didn’t think twice.  Ok…maybe I thought twice.  Maybe even thirds.  But definitely not fourths.

Let me back up.  Colton started having themed Birthday parties at age 2.  Which was really ridiculous when you think about it…due to the fact that he had one friend.  We lived in Clemson and we went to a college church.  So…his “guitar” themed birthday party consisted of all of our friends and his one.  We had live music and everything.  Ok…so it was just one guy and a mandolin (Colt’s favorite instrument)…playing his favorite song (The Happy Song)…but still.

Throughout the years…we’ve tackled themes such as Star Wars, Space, Frogs, Dolls, Tinkerbell, Tea Party, Cooking, and countless others.  And since the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree…I always made the cake myself…in the shape of whatever the theme was and decorated it with dots and stars until my hands felt like they were gonna fall off…just like my mother did for us.  I’ve spent hours icing stand up dolls, 3D ducks, Superman, Spiderman, Winnie-the-Pooh, rocket ships and even once turned a Teddy Bear cake pan into frog.  So…by the time Annslee came along…I was all Birthday partied out and came up with the rule that we do family parties until Kindergarten.  And she was fine with it.  However…last February (her Birthday is in October)…she stated that “next year she would be in Kindergarten and did I know what that meant????”  What it meant was that we needed to start planning her first “real” Birthday party…8 months in advance!  She’s always been a kid who knows what she wants.  This party was no exception.

“I want a Room on the Broom party.”

She stuck with it and what I thought would be a hard party to throw ended up being one of the easiest and one of my favorites.  And I don’t even think the kids noticed the store-bought cupcakes.

Her birthday is on the 8th…but I scheduled the party for a week later so that most of the kids would hopefully have their Halloween costumes.  I remember having costume parties when I was little because my Birthday is only a week before Halloween and I loved it!  So we did a Room on the Broom costume party and hayride…complete with the story book reading, scavenger hunt for the items that the witch loses in the book, a pinata, boo mix, cupcakes, and witches brew.

In the book…the witch loses her hat; the bow from the braid down her back; her wand; and her broom snaps in two.  Throughout the story…she and her cat encounter a dog; a bird; and a frog.  If you haven’t read this book…I can’t recommend it enough.  It is our very favorite Halloween book.  And there is a darling video adaptation of it that I highly recommend as well.

Here are our scavenger hunt items minus the brooms.  I think Chad had already taken them out to hide.  We divided the kids into a purple team and an orange team.  We did boys vs. girls.  It worked great.  The items they were looking for were color coded with ribbons.  And Chad attached the clues to the items.

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Annslee has some really adorable friends!

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Sweet kitty.

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Expression has never been my problem.

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I was worried about the book holding all of their attention.  Not a problem at all!  That’s how good it is!

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Good ole’ fashioned pinata.

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My mother did the whole “dry ice witches brew” thing for one of my Birthday parties when I was about Annslee’s age and I still remember how magical it was.  So this was the perfect time to bring it back.  Magic, indeed.  Note to self…dry ice pretty much steals the show…and takes any attention that might be given to store bought cupcakes and captivates the heck out of it.

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6.  How?  Too fast.  And all that other “they’re growing up too fast” stuff.

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Little girl friendships and the pictures they color for each other with names that they worked so hard to spell with letters that they worked so hard to form are the best!

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UK always delivers for his nieces and nephews.  Plus…how cool is it that Chase put together a Marty McFly costume???

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The big kids rode up front with UK.

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This little puddin’ cup had a night to remember.  The images from her first real Birthday party are etched in my mind like a Norman Rockwell painting.  And…quite frankly…those are my favorite.

This is how I found her after her last guest had left…and the last pinata streamer and popcorn holding cauldron had been cleaned up.  Satisfied.  Celebrated.  Smiling in her sleep.

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Here are some other loves we have celebrated this Fall:

UK turns 38.

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Mom made his favorite dessert from scratch.  The Blue River Bistro Cheesecake from Breckenridge Colorado!  Ever since he ate it there when we were little…

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Chase became a teenager!

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Annslee’s family Birthday dinner on her actual birthday.

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UK doesn’t have things like Birthday sacks…but he makes due.  This made me so happy.

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Aunt Debbie gave Annslee her old music box for her jewelry.

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One of her great grandmother’s tea cups and saucers goes great in her new room.

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And her granna’s old iphone turned itouch made her a very happy girl.

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I’ll end this Fall Birthday post with one of my very favorite quotes:

“I’m so glad that I live in a world where there are Octobers.” -Anne of Green Gables

9.2.15 football games and sex talks

Tomorrow is a new day.  His graces are new in the morning.  Hit the reset button.  The sun will come out tomorrow…

Or something like that.

I have stick-it notes everywhere.  It’s highly possible and probable that if I don’t write it down the minute I’m told…it’s going to get lost in the black hole that my brain has become.  I used to call it “pregnancy brain.”  But now I call it…”I-am-in-the-middle-of-adopting-a-three-year-old brain.”  Even though this fifth child of ours has come to us through an entirely different process than the other four did…I am finding myself experiencing some of the same post-partum emotions and biological responses.  I’m feel super scattered.  My emotions jump all over the map.  And my expectations of myself are way too high.  Only the problem is…after you physically have a baby…people expect this from you.  In fact…it’s so much expected that your community gathers around you and offers to make meals, come visit, fold your laundry, bring you things to help out…(like…here…try this pacifier because it worked wonders for me.  Or…here’s a book that really helped me!  Or…these are the best burp rags…I just know you’ll love them.)  Obviously not everyone who has a baby has this kind of support…but in this community…in my community…it’s what we do.  It didn’t even cross my mind that I may need some of that stuff now.  Obviously I don’t need presents or anything…but I am finding myself needing a lot of encouragement…and wisdom from mommas who have done this before me…and rest…and grace.  I need to cry…and be afraid…and have someone to talk to when I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing.  I need time to connect with my older kids…just like I did after each new baby would come along.  I need to be told that it’s ok to take time to myself once in a while.

All that to say…I am not thinking entirely clearly all the time these days.  And it’s likely that I’m not going to get that reading log signed every night…

…but the good news is…

everyone is alive.

****

We went to the High School football game Friday night.  Colt does not go to my old High School…but he does go to one in the same district.  And there is one district stadium for all five of the 6A high schools in the district.  So this football game took place in the same stadium that I spent every “football season” Friday night in for my four years of high school.  I kept telling the girls…”That is the very same field that I got to dance!”  And “Look at the drill team dancing!  That’s what mommy did!!”  And “See those bleachers???  One time I dropped my pom pom under there and had to be let in that fence to go get it!!!”  At first they acted enthusiastic about the whole thing.  But eventually…they began rolling their eyes.  But…secretly…I know they were interested.

Since Aiden and Annslee were a part of the High School cheer camp…they got to cheer at the game.

They were both really nervous.  This was their first time to do anything in front of a big crowd…and in Texas…

Friday Night Lights is about the biggest crowd you can get!

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When I took this picture…I had one thought:

She’s worried.

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They warmed up their stunts as the crowd started trickling in…

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Before we left the house…Annslee said, “I’m not doing it.”

She kinda surprised me once she got out there and gave one of these instead of the whole “rolling-eyes-and-slouch-around-to-show-how-miserable-i-am” trick like she did during her Ballet recital last year.

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I can’t be sure here…but I think she is looking for her big brother up in the Student Section.

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They both were the top of the pyramid…which I think they call “flyers” now.  That’s where being little gets you.

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I love this one man…representing the other team.  The visitor’s side definitely filled up late!

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Aiden surprised me the most.  I’m seeing her come out of her shell and do things that she wouldn’t normally do.  I can tell already…5th grade is going to be a big year for her.  And when I think about it…it was for me too.

I have been thinking, for several months now, that it was about time to have the sex talk with her.  I finally got around to it the other night.  It came up super naturally and I think we both felt comfortable.  I knew that I would always remember that sweet conversation…because she had a cat nose and whiskers left painted on her face from theme night at cheer.  It was such a reminder that she was still such a child…and still needed so much guidance and protection under her mother’s wing.  As the conversation was naturally moving to a different topic…she said, “I don’t get why God made it so disgusting!  I mean…why couldn’t he have made it like a high 5 or something???”  I said, “Well…there sure would be a lot of babies out there if you could get pregnant from a high 5!”  She thought for a second…crinkled up her kitty cat nose…tilted her head to the side…and said, “Noggin?????”

Mothering older children still seems foreign to me sometimes.  I knew how to do babies.  I knew how to do toddlers and time-outs and Blue’s Clues videos while I cooked dinner.  I knew how to do bedtime snuggles and lullabies.  I knew how to protect them and take care of them.  And all of that spoke love.  I know how to be a mom to older boys.  I’ve learned it.  My mind and heart have shifted to accommodate for different ways to love them.  It may be taking them to the Y to play Basketball or staying up extra late to talk to them even when my mind and body are worn out from the full day.  But here we are…with another new phase upon us–being a mom to an older girl!  And do you know what????  That’s an entirely new set of rules and accommodations that I need to learn!  There really should be some sort of manual.  I mean…I got directions with the new skillet I bought yesterday!  But a whole daughter…

…nothing.

Okay then.  We will figure this thing out together.

And in attempting to do so…a few nights ago…I taught her how to shave her legs.  SHAVE HER LEGS!!!!  I might as well have been fastening her wedding veil into her hair!

She bounced out into the living room to show her brothers and her father how smooth her legs were.

I think Chase’s exact words were, “AIDEN????  YOU SHAVED YOUR LEGS??????  WHYYYYYYY?!?!?!?!?”

I looked at Colt’s face…laughed…and said, “You’re sister is growing up!”

He just lowered his head and mumbled,

“It makes my head hurt.”

So for today…the baby bird gets to take little flights.  She gets to practice freedom with a safety net.  She gets to flap her wings and be the flyer at the football game.  And then she gets to come right back under my wing and learn more.  And for this momma…

it’s a beautiful thing to watch.

8.27.15 schedules & toothfairies

In the 2 hour window that I have with all 5 children in school…I waltzed into Target this morning with my world on a string.  I made it to Walmart last night after the 5th grade parent night…and by 10:30…all school supplies had been purchased except for a folder, 2 composition notebooks, and a wireless keyboard with an attached mouse.  Which…for the record…I’m not entirely sure I got the right thing.  but at this point…I really don’t care.  Walmart was out of that stuff.  So…to my preferred place of shopping I went this morning.  They would never fail me on folders.  I just knew it.

So…the last school supply was purchased by 10:00 this morning.  And it felt great.

I’ll just do a little cleaning around the kitchen, I thought.

And that’s where I found my second born’s crinkled up Math syllabus.  With a list of  “needed materials.”

Back to the store I go.

****

Currently…my oldest child is on a school bus.  It’s the first time in the history of this family that I’ve not taken and picked up a kid.  I always kind of reasoned that I chose to be a stay-at-home mom and taking them and picking them up was part of my job…even if the lines are long.  But this has gotten completely out of control.  Case in point:

Taking:

6:30 am

7:55 am

8:30 am

10:55 am

1:45 pm

2:30 pm

3:45 pm

and then whatever activities they have…tonight being

5:10 pm

6:10 pm

7:35 pm

I have one word for this.

NUTBALLS.

So…on the mornings that Chad can’t take that 6:30 shift…he rides the bus.  And that’s the end of that.

(the above was written yesterday.)

****

It’s been a very mature couple of weeks for the puddin cup.  I mean…with the way things are going here…she could be driving by next week and married by her 6th birthday.

Way earlier than any of her big siblings (a fact that was not lost on her)…she lost her first tooth.  Earlier in the Summer when she told me it was loose…I filed it in the “dramatic announcements you hear from Annslee” department…right next to declarations such as “While I’m asleep…I’ll think about horses!”

So…I really took the whole loose tooth thing with a grain of salt.  But turns out…

she wasn’t joking.

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And when I saw just how loose that thing was…the muscles in my teeth pulling fingers started to twitch.  Because I love to pull teeth.  Literally that is.  Not to be confused with dealing with people who are defiant.  Which I happen to be doing a lot of these days.  But that’s entirely another story.

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And can you believe that she didn’t let me near that thing???  She wouldn’t even let me touch it to wiggle it!  She ran around screaming “NO!!!!!!”  She acted like I wasn’t the pulling teeth expert that I am!  I don’t get it.

So…I did the only thing I knew to do.

I taught her everything I knew.

I told her that she was getting private lessons from someone who…as a child…decided that I wanted to lose a tooth…only I didn’t have one loose.  So…all in one day…I manually loosened my tooth using a wet wash rag and pulled it by that evening.  I’m pretty sure I sensed some exasperation from my tooth fairy as I recall.  But…she had to admit…..

I had skill.

Anyhoo…

She said, “I can’t do it!”

I said, “You can!  You can do it!”

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And with all her siblings surrounding her and cheering her on…

She did.

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And just like that…

we have another master tooth puller in the family.

I knew she took after me.  wink wink.

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And then I found her praying.

“Dear Jesus.  Please tell the tooth fairy that I only need money.  She doesn’t have to bring me the chocolate bunny or the toothbrush because she might not be able to carry them.  Thank you.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.”

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After searching for the tooth in the carpet…twice…due to the fact that she kept taking it out of the pocket of the pillow to see if it was still there…

it made it safely under her pillow.

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Her tooth fairy surprised her and was able to carry a new tooth brush…and slipped her a $5.  She may have been out of ones.  Although…I can’t be certain.

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