My Secret Sanity Weapon

Something magical happened over Easter weekend this year: my sister Corey came to visit…DSC_0643

And never left (well, and she found the $50 egg, which is also awesome).

DSC_9527That’s right, she moved into our house and jumped right in to life with three kids.

She has been fantastic. Seriously. The biggest blessing in my life since, well, I can’t remember. Let me explain why:DSC_0023

Cor, can you watch the kids while I run to the store?
Lu is hungry again? And Dom is screaming and Mo skinned her knee? Corey!
Cor, can you put Mo in time out?
AHHHHHHHHH! That’s a giant spider! Corey!
Hey Cor, Dom filled his pants, could you change them…
Um Cor, can you check if Lu’s poopy?
Auntie Corey! I pooped!- Mo
Would you move the laundry Cor?
Hey Cor, thanks for doing the dishes!
Cor, could you watch Dom while I take the girls to their doctor appointment?
Cor, could you watch the girls while I take Dom to his doctor appointment?
Gah! Psycho kids! Corey, can you watch them outside for a couple (30) minutes?
Wanna go for a walk?
Wanna go to the zoo?
Wanna go pick strawberries?
Wanna help me pit approximately a hundred pounds of cherries?
Are the chickens still out? Man, it’s pouring…Corey?

Corey! I’m late! Can you get the girls in the car?
Cor! Did you hear that? What was that? Oh, just the cats? Good thing you’re here when Andy’s in Tacoma, I was ready to go hide in a corner and call the police…
How many books did you read to Mo?
SO MUCH SCREAMING, Cor I’m just going to go sit outside for a minute, k?
Thanks for watching the kids during date night.
Thanks for watching the kids during my Creighton follow up.
Thanks for watching the kids during Andy’s birthday.
Thanks for the hug Cor.
Thanks for listening to me, for letting me vent, and cry, Cor…I needed that.

DSC_2760Most of these request (pleas, sometimes) interrupt her work on another comic masterpiece, and she rarely ever says “Sorry, I can’t right now”.

Cor,  

You make a tangible difference in my every day life. I know Jessie and I recorded “For Good” for your birthday several years ago, but now I have no doubt. Your presence here changes me for the better. Changes my whole family for the better. The girls are so happy to have an Auntie who plays and reads and draws and sings. Dom barely cries before you’ve picked him up and whisked him away to use Auntie magic until he falls asleep. Andy and I get to connect as a couple sans kids once a week! And you and I get to laugh and joke and debate every day. I can feel the brain atrophy abating as we discuss everything from politics overseas to the latest plants at City Farm. You cook and clean and walk and play and so many other things…it’s like having another parent in the house. But better…because you’re also my sister. I can’t help but think that this is the way humans were supposed to exist. Women especially. The social construct that separates families into tiny little units isolated from one another (often by many, many miles) just doesn’t work as well as chatting with your beautiful sibling every morning over a cup of coffee.

Who knows where you’ll be in a year…where we’ll be in five? We could easily be those siblings living thousands of miles apart. So, I relish this time. I am grateful for this time with you. And even if you’re not a daily part of my children’s lives forever, they will at least have this time to remember, and these photos be reminded of your unfailing and awesome love.DSC_9737 IMG_1136 DSC_0283 DSC_0325 DSC_0337 DSC_1065 DSC_1161 DSC_1390 DSC_1395 DSC_1474 DSC_1670 DSC_1765 DSC_2004 DSC_2455 DSC_2660 DSC_2665

You know, I’m not really kidding when I say you could live with us forever, right? You totally could. I mean, please? Will you? Stay forever? Please?!

Love you. So much.

-Your Biggest Fan and Big(gest) Sister

P.S. Please take more pictures of Lulu like this. They are seriously my favorite.DSC_9718 DSC_0328 DSC_2714

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Lulu is Two-two

And judging my the amount of half-nakedness, I would say she had a great day!

Lus BdayStarted off with popsicles for breakfast, half-dressed.

Lus Bday-2Then sweeping, half-dressed (her favorite “chore”).

Lus Bday-4DSC_2300The evening was filled with homemade lemon-blueberry cupcakes (sans pants, though you can’t tell here).

Lus Bday-3Kayla, my piping skillz are coming along nicely, wouldn’t you say? There are some gems there in the bottom left corner…Hardy har har. Maybe I need something better than a ziplock bag with the corner cut off…

DSC_2307Turns out, two year olds don’t care what the cupcakes look like. Only how they taste. Can you tell if she liked the buttercream frosting or not?

DSC_2320How about Mo?

DSC_2334 DSC_2337 DSC_2369Next came opening cards and presents, half-dressed, of course.

DSC_2375And the BIG gift: a bike!

“Where do you want to go, Lu?”

DSC_2386“Oh, the paaaarrrrk. I couldn’t tell… You should probably put some pants on…”

IMG_2427The push bike is just a tad too tall for her right now. But considering how much she’s eating lately, I’m sure she’ll grow into it shortly (pun…intended? maybe… Was that even a pun?).

DSC_2429So, she spent a lot of time helping Mo.

DSC_2434And being helped by Mo.

DSC_2413And even more time just running around with her helmet on.

Happy Birthday Lulu Bell,

There are so many things I want to remember about this time of your life. Here are a few:
-The way you speak. Just this morning you said “Hewoh Storey”: Hello Corey, and it made Cor light up in a way that only an adorable niece can.
-Your incredible spunk. “No” is also a favorite word of yours, but generally you say it with an impish grin and run to tackle-hug me before I even start to count to 3. “Saw saw Mama, saw saw”: Sorry Mom, sorry.
-Your tenderness. When Mo is in trouble, you run to the time out spot with her, saying “Saw saw Momo, saw saw!” trying to hug away her angry tears. You lay (usually) gently next to your Baby Brother, stroking his arm “Dom Dom…”
-Your concern. “Uh oh! Bubble, side! Bubble side! Bubble side!” Yes, love, we know Bubble escaped outside. “Yeah”
-The way you move. Clomp, clomp, clomp. I’ve heard it described several ways: intentional, baby-rugby-player, swagger… You move with a purpose, and often you lean slightly forward and let your shoulders lead the rest of your body. You might just end up with Auntie Jessie’s swimmer’s physique.
-The way you need me, and hold me accountable. “Mama, up. Up. UP!” as I’m distractedly perusing something worthless online. “Just a second love…” You take my hand or push my legs,”No! Mama, up! Up! Sit!” No mom, you say, pick me up now. Hold me. Sit with me and love me. I won’t be two for forever. I won’t need you to cuddle me forever. But right now I do. Right now I have my Abba (binki) and my blankie and there’s nothing else I want more in the whole world than for you to just cuddle me.

It’s hard to argue with that. And you know what?
I don’t really want to.

Love you Lulu, Today and Always
-MommyDSC_2444

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A Day in the Life…

“Mama. Open. Please,” Lulu.
“Just a second, Love. I’ll be right there, ” Me, running off to do a million other things.
Yeah, right. She’s never going to help me open this game. I’ll just have to take matters into my own hands…now if I only had a knife… -Luluday

(It’s pretend, don’t worry).

“Mama, when I have long beautiful hair like Rapunzel, can I have a castle?” -Mo.
“I don’t think so… Where would you buy a castle?”- Me
“Um, the princess store! …Oh no, but my eyes are not brown! Maybe I can get some dye. Maybe there is special brown dye that I can put in my eyes. And then I will have brown eyes like Rapunzel!”- Mo

Jess got Mo some Wonder Woman comics for her birthday. I like nothing better than to see this:day-6day-2 day-3

Dominic is 3 months old today! I’m celebrating by changing out his drawers to 9 month clothes…day-4

It’s a smart, beautiful, giant life ’round here. One day at a time.day-5

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The Bug Days of Summer

Beetle in the house? Fascinating.Bugs-14 Bugs-17 Bugs-16 Bugs-15

Releasing lady bugs at twilight? Magical.Bugs-11 Bugs-12Bugs-13 Bugs-10 Bugs-6 Bugs-9 Bugs-7 Bugs-8

An egg sac of praying mantises unknowingly hatching in the kitchen? Freaky as heck!Bugs-5 Bugs Bugs-3 Bugs-2 Bugs-4

Remember, I seriously have nightmares about this sort of thing. We thought there were at least a couple more weeks before hatch-date. Thank goodness Nikki saw that the swarming mass had emerged. Before they started eating each other. Or even worse, escaped and crawled in my bed…Ok, stopping that imagination train before it goes too far.

Knowing these girls, I’m sure we’ll have plenty more bug pictures to come! They’re one of our favorite parts of summer. Bugs-18

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Dominic’s Baptism Day!

Dom Baptism-17Welcome to the Church, Dominic Robert! Dom Baptism-3 Dom Baptism-4 Dom Baptism-11Dom Baptism-6 Dom Baptism-7 Dom Baptism-8

Thank you to all our wonderful family and friends who were able to join us. Andy and I are so blessed to have such an amazing community to help us raise our babies in the Faith.Dom Baptism-9 Dom Baptism-13 Dom Baptism-12

Thank you to St. Joe’s for giving us special permission to baptize Dom on a Saturday!Dom Baptism Dom Baptism-2
And thank you Deacon Curtis for traveling to Vancouver to perform the baptism. I’m so looking forward to your ordination at the end of the month! The girls still talk about the priest on the motorcycle…Dom Baptism-10The party afterwards was filled with Love and Joy and so many babies! Just beautiful.Dom Baptism-16

And if you need a cake made in the Vancouver area, I will gladly give you Kayla’s contact info. Isn’t this just gorgeous? Dom Baptism-14 Dom Baptism-15

 

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Two Month Well Check aka Giant Baby

2 month-2Well, the stats are in.

And it’s official.

2 month-4Andy and I make giant babies:

Height- 2′ 0.5″ (96%)
Weight- 15 lbs 10 oz (97%)
Head Circ- 16.5″ (99%)

Dom is certainly giving Lu a run for her money. It’s fun to look back and compare a little. While Dom is heavier, I’m pretty sure Lu wins for biggest head. Always. Mentally, I feel better now than I did then, but apparently I was already cloth diapering Lulu by 8 weeks. Sorry Dom. Apparently I care a little less about the environment now than 2 years ago

Not exactly sure how or why our children are so big…. I’m mostly just happy that our kiddos are healthy.

2 month-3And that Dom is sleeping through the night. As in goes to sleep at 10pm (after napping from 7-9ish) and wakes up at 6 AM (maybe one wake up at 4 AM, maybe).

*dodges all the daggers shot from jealous Mama eyes

I know, I know. I am ridiculously grateful. And I am banking every minute of sleep, because, like all things having to do with a Baby, this is a phase.

But it’s a phase I’m sure thankful for.

Dear Baby Boy,

I still call you that. Or Little Man, Little Dude, Dom, Dom-Dom, Dominic, Baby Brother, Baby Dom. So many names apart from your given one, and every single one filled with love. You’ve nestled right into our family, into our hearts, filling that space we started preparing for you almost a year ago.

You’re relaxed and calm most of the time. Absorbing everything around you. And by everything, I mean the cacophony. Having two older sisters means a lot of screaming. But it also means laughing and running and giggling and so much love. The girls never stop kissing your head, stroking your arm. I generally have to tell them “Back away, that’s too much love.” 

Some day you’ll be able to tell them yourself, and I’m sure there will be times that a sister-kiss is the last thing you want. But I really hope that eventually you will treasure that affection. Seek it out, even. Because they are beautiful souls, who want the very best for you. 

I also love to pepper you with kisses. And I’ve already heard from other Moms that that, too, fades with time. But I will try to raise you with the knowledge that I love you more than I can explain, and in a different way than anyone else. Perhaps, though,  the bond I have with you is something you can only fully understand if you’re blessed with kiddos of your own…

Because I certainly didn’t understand until now. Well, until Mo was born, and again with Lu. It’s the same with you. You aren’t just my child. You’re a little piece of my heart, walking around in the world. I can actually feel a hollow in my chest when I look at you. I’m sure there’s an explanation (constriction of chest muscles, swelling of something or the other), but I still feel it. It’s like a space with a string attached, pulling me towards you…

Closer, and closer, till my pepper-kisses are gently placed all over your face. Then that hollow fills and swells. That’s what parental love feels like. It’s a filling and stretching of a hollow place inside, making it bigger and capable of filling up with so much more. Thank goodness, because you’re only going to get bigger.

And I imagine as you get older other things will fill and stretch that space… Seeing you walk and play with your sisters. Holding your hand. Seeing you at a concert or school play. Watching you graduate or dancing at your wedding. Hugging you after you’ve been away…

I’ve already started to experience some of those moments with your sisters, but I can’t wait to feel them in different ways with you, my son. 

Love you, my giant little man,

Mommy

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A Ridiculously Cute Day

I don’t know what it was about yesterday, but my kiddos sure were photogenic:

The day started with Mo reading her favorite book to Lulu.cute day-8 cute day-9

Then Mo showed me her improved, more modest swimsuit mold.cute day cute day-2

Lulu decided the tile kitchen floor was really comfortable. All you have to do is add Blankie. I’m not convinced…cute day-3 cute day-2-2

I can just picture Mo sitting like this, at a bar somewhere in her mid-twenties. She’s chatting with friends, figuring out how to save the world, when someone familiar says her name, she looks up and smiles…cute day-4

Afternoon tea party where they were actually sharing! What?!cute day-5

And then evening run around diaper time, with everyone. Dom’s not quite sure what to make of it, but it’s better to start preparing now, Little Dude. They’ll always be smothering you with Love.cute day-7

There’s your dose of cuteness for the day!

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6 Weeks *Audible Exhale*

6 weeks-6“Hang on. Just hang on till 6 weeks. That’s when life gets easier…” is the advice Andy and I give all new parents.

From 0-6 weeks postpartum, life’s a strange mix of sprint and stop. Everything is a crisis and needs to be dealt with immediately: poopy diapers, empty tummies, projectile spit up. Then the baby sleeps. And you’re left sitting in the debris field of dirty diapers, dirty clothes, dirty dishes. Hopefully you choose to sleep too.

I certainly do.

6 weeks-5And then something magical happens around week 6. The Little One starts giving back.

You’ve been pouring your energy (bouncing that crying baby for hours), sweat (dressing a baby? It should be called baby wrangling) and lots of tears (another wake up? really kid?) into this child, and just when you think you can’t do one more midnight feed, he starts to coo.

And you automatically coo back. It’s unavoidable. It just burbles up from a part of yourself you didn’t even know existed. Suddenly you’re on the floor, face to face with your Little Guy saying things like ha-goo and ah-kooo.

Not even the men folk are immune.Sunshine

Also: sleep. Blissful sleep. Right around the 6 week mark those 2 hour stretches at night… well, stretch out.

You know you’ve arrived at parenthood when you can look at another parent and say (with a straight face) “I got 5 hours of sleep last night! In a row!” and they will look at you (genuinely happy) and say “Yay! That must have felt amazing!”.

Try this on your kid-less friends and they may just decide to remain kid-less for a little while longer.

6 weeks-7However, I think my favorite 6 week milestone is lucidity. Your baby actually sees you. The eyes focus and know you. After 6 long weeks of being largely unnoticed but extremely and immediately necessary, to know that your child knows you exist is amazing.

Then those little eyes go right back to being unfocused or staring at ceiling lights or (even better!) ceiling fans. But it’s okay. That eye contact, while fleeting, is soul-filling.

So here we are, at almost 7 weeks with Dominic on the outside, and I am reveling in all these 6-week-isms. He sees me. We coo. He sleeps…ish.

6 weeks-3It’s already so good, and it only gets better from here.6 weeks-4 DSC_9554 DSC_9627 6 weeks-2 IMG_0998 6 weeks-8

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Gotta Get Outside!

Sunshine-4These girls love the sunshine almost as much as their Mama…Sunshine-6 Sunshine-5 Sunshine-7 Sunshine-2 Sunshine-9Sunshine-2-3

And this boy is getting chubbier and happier every day. SunshineWhat a handsome guy!

Sunshine-8The garden is getting started! Peas, potatoes and onions in the ground. More to come today from City Farm, my favorite place to shop for garden starts, and conveniently owned by my pseudo-sister Nik, and also conveniently where my blood-sister Corey now works!

Gotta run, time to get back outside! More to come on the garden soon!

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A Little Tour

So, this is where I’ve been the last week:

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This is Beth demonstrating what I’ve been doing all week:20140509-115513.jpg

 

And this is what Dom’s been doing all week (Thank you God!):20140509-115531.jpg

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I’m on my way home from class tomorrow. Ready to reunite my family, but also full of hope and convicted in purpose.

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