Monday, June 29, 2009

Smylie Beach Vacation 2009.

Top Ten favorite things:

10. When one person toasts a bagel, everyone toasts a bagel.
9. The sheer volume of nine grandchildren in one small space.
8. All of the near death experiences.
7. Feeling like a 15-year old girl on the ocean waverunner.
6. Donna, with her beautiful hair and skin, so generous, so attentive, so helpful.
5. My irish father-in-law and his irish sister, pleasing us with their accents and jokes.
4. Simone's bum.
3. Gracie's frequent full body deep cleans. She doesn't like to be sandy.
2. Jessie's twice daily diet cokes from the market across the street.

1. This family. This massive group of people who are truly in love with each other.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Special One.


When I'm an old woman there will be something that I remember about you being a baby. It's the drunk walk you do with your teeth hanging out in the breeze. Your hair grows just long enough now that it dips up and down as you saunter down the hall.

It is your birthday today. We were out in the hall at church together, you ducked in and out of the gym with your pretty white dress on. You don't know anything, not where you came from, or where you're going. You don't know how this life gives and takes. But you know that my freckly cheek will always be your home, that place you go when your crib is scary and you win your way out of it.

Tonight when all your cousins left, dust settled and after warm jammies and a bottle of milk, you were toasted. You asked me loudly to rock you, to be with you, my one-year-old baby. 365 days of loving you. Not one night slept without you under the same roof.

All the small things have flown by, nursing, teething, napping, rolling, crawling, walking, drooling, crying, bathing. What remains is a gentle smile on my face as I think of you. Sleeping in your bedroom in the corner of our little house, in our little town. How important you are to me. Of all the babies in all the world, I saturate myself with thoughts of you. There's hardly a moment when I don't.

I love you baby.

Happy Birthday.

Friday, June 19, 2009


We are leaving for our annual Smylie beach vacation. Have I mentioned how much I love all of these people? Have I mentioned how lucky I am to be part of this group? Have I told you how much I love my parents in law? We are headed to the beach for an entire week! Last year, I was in my 40th week of pregnancy with Lillie and was on the edge of my seat to see her beautifulness! She arrived the day we got home. Rather forcefully, I might add.

I am so excited. SOOOOOOOO excited. We cook for one another and when we're not cooking or playing games, we're on the beach, sitting, walking, relaxing, eating piles of junk food, laughing over the babies and taking photos. Sand gets tracked in the house constantly and there's always at least one naked kid running around. And the evenings are so nice! After dinner, we put on loose cotton and migrate slowly out onto the shore. We sing songs and play. And none of us ever want to leave.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

If only.

Today was a blast. A blast of fun, arguments between sisters, peanut butter and jelly, and swimming x 2. Jake stayed late at work again tonight which is becoming quite normal, so when six p.m. comes, it hits hard. Right in the gut. Because there are all these girls with quivering lips who have eaten dinner but are not ready for bed yet. And they all need me, or so I think, until I pick them up and they're still whining and wallowing in the misery it is to be four! years! old!, or almost! one!

It's a delicate time of day.

Injuries start to multiply and part of me wants to just let them kill each other but at the last second I decide I like having them around. Besides, if Jake came home to limp bodies lying all over the floor he may start to question my judgement. And I'll say, "if only you would have come home on time"...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Sunburn

Nothing like a toasty, cherubic face. Ahhhhhhh.... Florida Summer. The only thing to do here is swim.

Swim, watch cartoons naked, eat cereal, repeat.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Nothing, really.

I'm still recovering from my two hour nap. Did you read that right? TWO HOURS. I'm pretty high energy so I don't normally nap. Sometimes I will try. I'll lay there. For a good ten minutes, and then I just give up. But today Jake watched (napped on the couch with) the girls and I snoozed. When I woke up I felt drunk and fainty. It was LOVELY.

Yesterday I spent four hours on the beach with some friends. I didn't have my girls with me. Strangely, I missed them. I think it's what happens to us as mothers and parents. I can't look at a pier stretching it's long neck into the ocean and not slightly turn my head in an effort to tell Gracie something about it, the way it's built, the birds that are fishing straight from the ocean, the shells I found, realizing she's not there and wishing she was. It feels good to want them. To want to share my life with them.

I woke up this morning and promptly demanded that we be on time for church. I told Jake it's what I wanted for my birthday. So we were. And after, sitting at our table for a lunch he cooked for me, I gave his scruffy cheek a little kiss. It is so normal to do that, no spark, no giggles, just that roughness of his face against my lips. I really love him.

And you know what? My eyes just stung with tears. And that doesn't happen very often. I just really am so lucky.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The end, the beginning.

Big sigh. Big huge sigh.

I turn 30 on Sunday. And I've got leftovers for abs.

I guess looking older means you just look more tired. Because that's what I see in the mirror as time passes, that I just look worn out. But it's not only looks. It's what it feels like to be 30. Like I should start drinking herbal tea and buy a cat. And I should walk slower and start hunching. And I should get my nails done.

Thirty. It falls off the tongue quickly and leaves a bit of an after taste. It means I drive a mini van and not even as a joke.

I have a couple talents. Like singing. I've always been able to sing. But when I hear someone that's really really good at it, I feel really bad at it. And I think, if I don't have singing, what do I have? It was always the thing I could fall back on if everything failed. As in, I don't have good table manners or skinny fingers, but at least I can sing, right? And when you can't fall back on it, it's just depressing.

That's how I feel about 30. If I was going crazy out of my mind with the kids, if I didn't have a career of any sort, if I hadn't finished college, if I didn't have an organized house, if I didn't prepare my food storage, if I didn't write in the kid's journals, it was OKAY. It was okay because I was still in my 20's.

But now. Sigh.

There are no excuses.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Anyone else's kids driving them completely insane? All the questions, the whining, the way they say, "hey Moooooom??" drawn out like a prison sentence?

Well. I figured it out. Their needyness grips onto me in such a way that I feel like I'm going out of my mind sometimes. I wonder why such little people can take away my choices and make me feel like a slave.

I have discovered it's because I love them so much. I don't want to hug my six year old for the 50th time because she's "scared that daddy isn't home and can't go to sleep without him". But I do because I love her. She walks toward me and my first urge is to reach out sternly and turn her shoulders back around and march her back into her bed. But at the last moment, my arms turn to jelly, and I hug her. With a grudge, but it is a hug. I pick up the baby who is wallowing in misery at my feet, even though my shoulders ache. I can't help myself.

I hate how much I love them sometimes! The love that has crippled me and caused me to misplace my backbone. Have you seen it anywhere? It's got to be around here somewhere... It would be so easy if we didn't love them. As long as we knew they were physically safe we could shut the door to their rooms at bedtime and not worry when they whine our name over and over. We could say no every time they asked for a popsicle because we wouldn't care about their feelings. It would be so easy.

But I let them eat popsicles. And sneak out of their beds. Because I love them, so much it makes my insides itch.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009


Summer vacation is here and we're happy. A few signs: three children full of angst who are eating like they've been starved for the past eight months, heightened teasing of the baby (resulting in constant screaming), and toys strewn throughout the house.

I'll live. I always do.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

A Request.

Photography by Ruby

Dear Thrill,

I've always been taught that if you want something, you don't use blunt force or high-pitched wailing right away. You ease into it, soften people up, hope they will give in before you have to break out the scare tactics. But that's just me and I've noticed that patience is not something that comes naturally to you. A few months ago when you turned nine months old, something in your brain seized up. I believe it was the area that tells you how to ask nicely. It was gone forever.

Recently, if you so much as hear a sliver of sound from a wrapper of any sort, from any corner of the house, your demanding screams will echo into my tender eardrum and without warning, my terror alert will register "high" for the day. Sometimes all before 8 a.m. If your nostrils so much as sniff a speck of salt from a tortilla chip, you scream in painful hunger. If things progress badly and you are not able to eat what I am eating, you launch into one of your dangerous ballads of 23-pound, back-bending tantrums. Really, Lill, really. You're not even a year old.

I am tired and don't like loud noises, so I ask you for some gentility. I know it sounds downright impossible, but try to blend in for a few days and just take what you're given. Just imagine. It will be a grand practice of self-control and if anything, will slow down my aging process.

Thanks again.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Ready, Set, Writhe.

Day of Rest.

I mean, I really feel so sad for the kids when they're sick, I do. But part of me loves it. Gracie lies in our bed, covers up to the neck and a cold cloth on her head, and talks softly to me. She asks politely for drinks of cold water and moves only slightly when I caress her head for hours on end. I just don't really mind that part, I'll be honest. We did miss the Kindergarten Academy Awards today, though, and I missed a meeting. But I get to stay home all day and nurse my girl back to health.

And just a tidbit. I've been washing my hands all day to avoid spreading germs. Girl 1 sets down her cup of juice. Baby girl 3 picks it up moments later and starts guzzling. I think we're in for the long haul.

Monday, June 01, 2009


Alphabet parade, May 29.

She doesn't like peanut butter and jelly. Just bread. Last night I put some bread in a ziplock bag and nestled it down by the juice box and yogurt. I did this with a skip and a hum. I filled her water bottle with a smirk and noticed the magic in the air, because, it's Grace's last week of school. No more painful ponytails at 7:25 a.m. She can let her hair down, eat crackers on the couch 'til 10, and forget the influence of all those other kids for the entire summer.

We are all so excited.

This year began with some very hard feelings. If you remember, I had just had Lillie and was having a hard time letting my oldest go to school all day. My feelings were fierce, and only with time have they subsided. In their replacement are feelings of confidence, in myself and her. More confidence in our relationship. It's a different one now, mixed with the outside world. We took her and I, what we used to be, added some kindergarten experience, mixed us up, and became what we are on this first day of June, 2009. A mixed up jumble of feelings that add up to progress and steps forward. We get about 90 days until first grade. I hope heaven will prepare me.