Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My Grace Today.

Why is my list so long? Things I worry might happen to her, to them. It goes on and on with multiple possibilities. Say she dodges them all, the mean fifth grade friends, the teenage angst, all the hard stuff. She graduates from high school pretty unscathed, and with a few close friends and decent grades, gets into college. Let's say she gets that far and is fairly unharmed.

Then what?

Things seem to just get more complex. What if she marries wrong and is unhappy? What if she has a family and loses a child? It's horrible to think about. But I do. And then for instance, all our prayers are answered and she handles her life well, deals with small problems, gets the main things she's always hoped for, and her sisters do the same, will I then be able to breathe?

Will I ever stop picturing her as a warmish red infant in my arms, me so afraid to be her mother, so afraid to let my heart love a little human so strongly?

Saturday, December 26, 2009


We look tired because... we are.... always!

A Smylie Christmas is one of the most momentous events of the year. Christmas Eve included a "re-enactment of the Nativity". All parts played by the grandchildren, ages six and under (mostly under). Before and after, we ate.

Christmas day, Santa Claus (or possibly an uncle) came to visit our throng. Lillie was not impressed. She let us know immediately. The rest of the day was beautiful, as we tried to sum up another year's worth of love and admiration in the giving of gifts to each other. We can never do enough for Nana and Papa Smylie, they always blow us away. After the gift giving, we ate an italian Christmas dinner that didn't stop until well into the night.

I love Jake's family so much! We were sad to wake up this morning and realize it was all over until next year. So we went to the mall. BAD DECISION.

Hope everyone had a great one.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sunday Photo.

We've eaten lots of candy canes and talked constantly about "santy claus". My shopping is not done and the malls are packed. It's warm enough for the girls to walk around barefoot despite having perfectly shiny black shoes inside the house. Looking forward to lots of food, family and chaos this week.


Friday, December 11, 2009

What a whirlwind this month is turning out to be. So next week is next week, then it's Christmas!

I kept Gracie home from school today. She felt "warm" last night and then this morning had a stuffy nose. It's getting to the point where I sense a head cold coming across the state of Alabama, throw down my mallet, and demand that Grace stays home. And then she smiles, because she loves staying home. She and Ruby are eating cookies and watching Ice Age while their little sister sleeps. My fourth-to-be is finger painting in my tummy... or something that feels similar.

This weekend we have a few Christmas gatherings, some music stuff, I'm doing a few photos, and we're barreling toward next week at breakneck speed.

(and my computer's still broken, #^%$#^$%!)

Monday, December 07, 2009

Sunday Photo

The three most valuable things to me. Cannot be recreated, or compared, or averaged. They are three completely different types of bombs. And the reasons Jake and I carry on.

Ruby has on her radiant, squishy smile that she always does lately, wearing a hand me down shirt from Grace, shorts that are much too small, and french braids from yesterday. We do care, Ruby, we do. Lills is wearing all hand me downs as well. The stripey pants are newborn size I believe, but I cannot bring myself to stash them away. They just look so 'jailbird highwaters'. The butterfly top is a dress Ruby used to wear as a baby and called, "fuffaheyes". The bottle, stolen from our baby cousin Vann weeks ago. Grace is the leader of the flock, the calmer and the rioter. Just look at that face and that hair. Unbelievable, all of them.

I hope everyone had a good weekend, filled with candy canes and short, crooked Christmas trees.

Friday, December 04, 2009

I have a spot open for family pictures Sunday December 13th. Let me know if you'd like to snatch it!! My latest session with the Berry Family: www.smyliephoto.blogspot.com

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Nod from Heaven

(Smylie Thanksgiving Spread, 2009)

Bad news is, my computer is still broken. So I can't blog from my own house. That presents a problem. Especially for someone who likes to write several times a week (me). I don't want to send it in for repair until January, so until then... I have lost some of my voice.

But something special happened to me on the night of Thanksgiving. I sat on the couch with my legs curled under me and ate a popsicle. Suddenly, like a tiny breeze, I felt something tap on the inside of my tummy, slightly to the left, right where my pants hugged my belly. And there it was again, unmistakable. As quick as a glance, as fleeting as a nod from heaven. It was hard not to hold my breath.

I smiled so big then because I knew it would only continue, stronger and stronger. I have months of these movements yet to come. Tiny reminders that the finest people like Grace, Ruby and Lillie can come of just a tiny piece of human fruit inside my tummy.

Truly amazing.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Things I've cried over this week...

The movie, Up.
The old Christmas cartoon, Small One.
CNN Heroes presentation last night.
Numerous renditions of O Holy Night.

Watch out, I'm extremely volatile.

Also, go to Pandora.com and start a station with 'Winter Song', by Ingrid and Sara. Add Greg Laswell and Ingrid Michaelson's 'Can't help falling in love'. There is no possible way to have a bad day after kicking back to that station for awhile.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sick Days and Holidays.

Girls have been sick this week. I hate the crankiness, but love the quiet drawing at the table. And the long naps they take. And I love rainy days when Grace is out of school for the week and we have nothing planned. We are home together with their little (or big) noises being absorbed by the walls of our home, eating together, cleaning, playing and just living. 

We are feeling better just in time to spend the day tomorrow at our Nana's house for Thanksgiving. We are so lucky to be around so many people we love. My sister Rachel arrives tonight to spend the weekend with us as well. Tomorrow she turns 32 and I am only 18 months younger than her. And you know what that means... I'm never too far behind.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

We're having a...

And she's the size of an apple.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ruby's version, "Called to Serve".

"Awkward never awkward, as we glory in His name."

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Fun Meter

Despite these photos, taken at Chuck E. Cheese a little while ago, my fun meter is way down. When Ruby asks me to get up and come see a beautiful drawing of me and her together with a sunshine shining and birds all around, that she has cut out of construction paper and placed lovingly on my pillow, I actually contemplate for minutes on end the effort it would take me to fulfill her request. And I'm not even heavy yet.

Pregnancy does strange things to a woman's body. And the damage is different with each child. Volume that once lifted transfers to different areas, usually causing a general gravitational pull of skin to earth. You just start pointing collectively down. Your arm flab, your chin, your eyebrows, even your knees and what used to be your hamstrings. They point, grasping at the ground, reaching for it like it's the last drop of water on earth. And there you are the whole time with the same brain going, "what happened to me? I used to bounce and now I drag".

But that's the pay off. I guess we get to cuddle and nuzzle and get our etible rewards that come in little sacks of bones and organs called newborns. Which bundles turn into naughty 16 month old 'adults'. Seriously, when did that happen?

In other news, by Wednesday we should have an idea of what the heck is in my belly. Mutant boy or mutant girl? We shall see...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


She's small, and better than ice cream, but don't be fooled. Lillie is a hurricane and a couple of tornadoes thrown together. With lightning and thunder follow-up. The only time she quiets down is at bedtime.

I've rocked her to sleep since she was only first born and haven't gone many nights without it. Now that she's gotten older, she accepts my plop into the rocker with a full embrace. She lays there in my arms, in her little flannel blanket envelope, gazing at me. She's calm for the first time, her little pointer finger poking her own cheeks and binky and playing with my bottom lip.

I just wait. Rock and wait.

She gets heavier and slower until her eyes flutter closed and she lays in my arms like a brick. Usually I place her in her crib shortly after, but some nights I give her more inspection.

Last night I stared at her chubby face, her whispy hair just starting to thicken. I watched her suck her binky and I traced the long line of her calf, down to her ankle and her rapidly growing feet. Her toes twitched and I wondered what she was dreaming about. I hope something wonderful.

These are the times I will always remember.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Pudding and Baby

I could eat her and her pile of chubby toes for dinner. But that's off the subject. What I mean to say is I'm starting to feel better. Meaning I haven't thrown up in over a week. And I'm hungry, reallll hungry. When you're staring an impending 45-lb weight gain in the face, what do you do? Run and hide? No, no you don't. You face the music and start eating, honey. And that's what I am doing. Let me know if I have something in my teeth next time I see you, okay?

Meanwhile, Lillie is a messy eater. Apparently.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


Say, for instance, that your pants don't fit anymore. What do you have left? Really think about it. A cotton skirt and a few sweats that you wear as pajamas, that's what. Do you get groceries wearing sweats? mm, maybe, or maybe you choose to stay home because you look like you're still wearing a halloween costume. And now that you're confined to your own home, folding laundry is out of the question because the couch has a magnetic pull that it didn't have before now. So, so odd.

On a lighter note, I live with her:

Thanks for the congratulations on our new baby coming. Thank you, thank you! You are so wonderful.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Letter to my baby

September 4th, 2009 was a big day, and among other things, we found out that we were pregnant with you. I squeezed it in there, between phone calls and errands, like an afterthought. Until I read that the test results were positive. And then I squealed with excitement. I hope you know someday that even though you're going to be our fourth baby, I still felt that thud in my heart and new air entered my lungs. Another baby. What a gift.

You will enter into a family that has love and emotion pouring through the windows and running down the walls. In the morning, there will be Lills and Rube right in your face, every minute of the day. Lillie will probably force her bottle or sippy cup into your mouth, but I will usually be there to protect you from injury. For the first few weeks you'll sleep and while you do, we will go every afternoon and pick up your sister Grace from school. She is the oldest and she will take care of you almost as much as I will. She will be your protector. She is practical and wise and makes responsible decisions. She won't fight with you much. Ruby will be your lover. She'll stroke your cheeks and kiss you within an inch of your life. She'll think fondly of you and plot ways to sneak your things away in the same moment. She's hilarious and will make you laugh numerous times per day. Lillie will be your biggest threat but your greatest friend. You'll roll around together in this crazy life, not knowing where she ends and you begin. You'll steal her toys and annoy her, but one day she'll make it very clear that she cannot live without your constant presence and support. She'll be a wonderful sister to you, just give her some time to adjust.

We don't know if you're a boy or a girl. We will find out November 18th and we're both extremely curious, but want to make this clear: we want you, no matter what you are. We want a noisy, clattery, whiny little girl just as much as we want our rough and tumbly boy. We consider you the greatest blessing in our life. I am 13 weeks along and you are making me very sick, but all it means is that you're sticking. That little body of yours, so bony and wormy in the ultrasound, is healthy and strong and you have a tiny beating heart that couldn't make me happier.

When you are young, you'll hear muddy conversations that don't make sense. Mommy will be forever busy and you'll jutt out from my arm like a baby kitten, waiting to understand this world you've been introduced into. Just wait. Just be patient. You'll come into your own soon enough. You are at no disadvantage, the rest of your family has paved the way and we are more than ready to take care of your needs.

Our decision to have you come as our fourth child is not one we took lightly. Four kids is a lot. For us, I think it's just right. We think you may be our very last baby and it makes me feel proud and lucky to be carrying just one more perfect blend of me and the love of my whole life, your daddy. We will raise the four of you to bring love, peace and understanding to the world. Yourselves, the greatest gift you can give, will be yours to share with people you meet along the way. Give it freely, but also be picky. You will have so many gifts, just like your sisters, and there are so many people that will need you as you will need them. Give things, time, and sacrifice all you can, and you will be happy and blessed.

Feel important, even though you are the youngest. Feel confident, even if you came last. You're our crown, our cherry on top.

We are happy little baby, and excited, and anxious. The moment you enter into this world, into our lives, into my life, will be one of the greatest things I ever achieve.

See you around May 10th.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Woodland Fairies

Tinkerbell and the Water Fairy scatter their magic dust in the fields. Body glitter, mascara and flowing dresses make them feel like a million bucks. They look it, too.

Lucky to have these little beauties!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Jake's sister Aliza and I went to take photos of Lillie. She wanted me to "teach her a couple things" about shooting in manual mode, exposure, shutter speed, aperture, etc. It was so fun to see these photos that she got. She has the ability to precisely capture my baby and me. I was amazed. I love these, since I'm not usually in very many pictures, they're priceless to me. Also priceless because, well, I spend 30 hours a day with this little thing (or so it seems), and I like when it's recorded now and then.

Oh, and she really is the most beautiful child in the world. Ever.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

It's nights like tonight, when Lillie climbs up onto the kitchen chair next to me and throws dirty socks into my bowl of spaghetti. It's nights like this I sigh a lot. I sigh when I see the huge mountain of laundry piled on my bed (at least it's clean). Or when I survey the need for dinner, baths, homework, chores, phone calls, cleaning, kids' individual time, clipping their fingernails, and realize with a big weight that there is no way I can do everything.

There's always a bright side. That silly run that Lillie does down the hall, her legs hardly bending, drool seeping out of her gaping smile, her shoulders scrunched up toward her ears and her chest out, no part of her prepared to catch her body when she falls. There's nothing funnier than seeing her run.

I have no photos tonight, only a picture in my head of all my girls in the grocery cart, meandering down the aisles. They were all in one place, concentrated in a four foot square, sharing space and brushing up against each other like it was normal. This is their world, every waking moment spent with their lives revolving around each other, sharing a room, arguing about food, noticing unfairness in everything.

I think when they're older I will long for the ability to concentrate them into a small space again like that. Have my lanky-six-year-old feed my baby part of her free supermarket cookie. I may not even miss their ages quite as much as I'll miss our closeness, our daily battle for survival. It's hard, but I love it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Self Awareness

"Take some pictures of me looking pretty, like this, and can we upload them on the computer? Can we take some and then upload them, and I can look at them with you, me and you can look at them and I can just try this with my hands? I want to lean against the couch like this."

A hand me down tank top from who-knows-where and a french braid must have sparked her inner bouquet of beauty and it came alive all of the sudden. She started to swagger down the hallway and the photos were her idea. I love a kid that wants me to take pictures! It's a welcomed change!

My gorgeous Ruby.