Wednesday, June 30, 2010

New and Important


Lillie's like a bubbly soda that swirls around me constantly as I care for my littlest Matilda.

I can see a progression. Matilda turns in to that (2) who turns into that (5) and then she turns into that (7). Milestones anticipated, reached, and then forgotten, suddenly in the past.

Like today, Lillie started something new. It's called possession. And imaginative play. Actually it happened last night in the car on the way home from Cafe Rio. She had a little frog and and a little dog in her hand and she did a nonsense voice for the frog followed by a nonsense voice for the dog.

And bam. She's older, and a little smarter. Today she carried a collection of toys with her, certain ones that mean something to her. She moved the group with her wherever she went. This is new and important just now.

Matilda moved from a newborn, to a newborn with acne, and past acne and onto those little heat-sensitive red dots on her skin. She doesn't go cross-eyed anymore. She doesn't slump over like a noodle anymore. She hears things in her sleep and they actually wake her up now. Little things, moving her toward some other kind of baby. The type that eventually rolls over and sits up.

And the older girls are... amazing us every step. They cause various degrees of frustration, complication, joy, elation and stress. But most of all, it's things like the conversation they had with my brother Jared over the weekend that leaves my mouth agape.

It was 7:40. I told them they had exactly 20 minutes of (non-fighting) play time up on Grace's bed and when that time was up, it was time to sleep. No complaints. I left the room. Jared went in there a few minutes later, the star uncle that he is, and made some light conversation with them. Were they having a good summer? Were they excited about school?

Finally Grace said, "Jared, you're WASTING our playing time! We can't talk anymore." He laughed. He  walked out and before the girls continued playing he heard her say, "Now that THAT'S over...".

Just hilarious. And kind of mean. And grown up. And unbelievable. Not very polite. But really really funny.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Happy Birthday Little Darling




Those last two photos... push up the lump in my throat. Until it spreads through my face and makes my eyes sting.

You have no idea how awesome you are.

Like my mom said this evening, "Deep in my heart, I mean to say something different, something breathtaking, something unspeakable."

My girl. Turning two. With that neck and that hair and those lips and those hands and those chunky feet and that back and that brain and your pretty little spine.

You and I climbed to the top of a little hill with beautiful grass and sun all around. We were alone up there.

I would have snatched you if I could, sprinted toward the nearest peak and gone running in the air, flying with you in my arms, past farms and buildings and lakes. Laughing in the clouds for a bit. You'd like that, to be an only child for a few hours, seeing things only you are strong enough to see. It would be nice to be in that place with just me and you, no interruptions.

You are so old in that mind and heart. Your body only has to catch up.

xoxoxoxo a million times over.

Mama.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday Photos


A photo on the front porch on Saturday and a visit up to Great Nan's on Sunday.

Jake's Grandmother, she's one of Jake's greatest loves. She has taught me so much, including how to hold Grace tighter when she was just a newborn. She knows all the tricks and she has so much insight to share from her life. We love her so much and are happy to be near her. I wish I could go back in time and watch her take care of her little ones. She did a fantastic job.

...Our little screamer turns TWO tomorrow!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Big Deal

Today, one of my favorite photographers wrote this post about Pertussis (Whooping Cough). It's short, read it!

She lost her 7-week-old baby to this disease. Can you imagine giving birth to a perfectly healthy, sturdy, blonde baby boy, and only weeks later, wind up in the hospital, thinking it's the sniffles, then diagnosed with RSV?? Then, only just after that, diagnosed with Pertussis. A communicable disease that is preventable. Her baby passed away. With all the medical help available to him, he still passed away.

Matilda gets her first round of immunizations (including Pertussis, Tetanus, and ones that help prevent Pneumonia and Meningitis) in a week or so.

Jake and I got the adult vaccine for Pertussis (Tdap) at our local health department a few weeks ago. My pediatrician advised anyone coming in contact with an infant under 12 months of age get this shot. It was $49. Totally worth it. The vaccine you got when you were younger was only good for 10 years.

Just one human life is so very valuable.



From babycenter.com:


Pertussis
Pertussis, better known as whooping cough, is a very contagious bacterial infection and one of the most common vaccine-preventable childhood diseases. Whooping cough causes coughing spells so severe that it's hard for children to eat, drink, or breathe. It can lead to pneumonia, seizures, brain damage, and death.

Before the vaccine was introduced in the 1940s, about 147,000 U.S. children came down with whooping cough every year. The number of cases in the United States dropped to a historic low of 1,010 in 1976 but then rose again, with more than 25,000 reported in 2005 as adolescents who had been vaccinated as babies lost their immunity and more babies went unvaccinated. 
To counter this trend, an additional shot called the Tdap is now recommended at age 11 or 12. And one Tdap shot is also recommended, now, for adults who didn't have one during adolescence. Getting yourself vaccinated helps to protect your infant and other infants you're around.
Whooping cough remains a serious health problem among children in other parts of the world.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Holding your place.


That little face that is only mine.

You're getting older, you're getting better with Matilda. You're getting better with me, if only slightly. You're holding your place steady.

There have been times when I wasn't sure what you wanted and I had to leave you erupting on the floor by yourself. There have been times that I turned right around and hurried down the hall toward you, scooped you into me and sat on the floor and rocked. You liked that part.

You're tanky and tough and you remember so much for your age. You remember to tell Daddy when he gets home from work that "Mommy, mimmies (swimming), me, no no", which refers to much earlier in the day when I dropped Grace off at the pool with a friend and you couldn't go. I mean seriously, eight hours later?

You have a nonsense word, "Dahguy!" that you use for most scenarios. It works for everything. In place of "yucky, that one, watering the garden, (and any other word)". Dad and I say it to each other all the time. He calls and says he's going to be home late and I reply, "DAHGUY!". I ask him if he wants a sandwich and he says... well, you know the rest. It's right up there with "meemink (binky)" in your frequently used words pool.

So we take it a day at a time. I try to understand you and witness you changing before my eyes, a little bit each day. I love to talk to you about bugs. That's a subject that gets you going. Or birdies, bottles, babies and bees.

My fierce little thing. Your mother sits back and bites her fingernails in heavy anticipation of what you will someday become.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Better than...


A pan of caramel brownies.
Fresh baked bread.
The ocean.
A handmade quilt.
A tan.
Ice cold watermelon.
A fresh salad.
Being skinny.
A good conversation.

She is better, so much better.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Gifts.


Jake's Father's day was nice and relaxing. We decided not to give each other gifts for Father's and Mother's day anymore. Special treatment and zero responsibilities that day as well as homemade cards from the kids and home cooked meals. That's what the day will now consist of. It all started with a realization that I don't want to get stuck home the day before Mother's day, babysitting the kids, while he's out shopping for something that I don't necessarily need. It's just so commercialized. Besides, it gives me a little more "wiggle room" when out shopping for myself another day. But shhhhhhhh!

It does make for the most relaxing day. No pressure of gift-giving, and me making sure he can really take a break (which is actually way more work than just handing him a present!!).

Also, there are about a thousand photos of Jake sleeping with the kids. I need to learn something from this...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Soon she'll resist...


But for now, it's make-out time.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Everything.

Doing the dishes...

Today as I rubbed baby lotion on Matilda's legs, the breeze gusted through our back door and I could hear Grace and Ruby outside where they laid on a blanket together in the grass. Lill peacefully slept in her sunny room in the back of the house. The afternoon was quiet and time was still. I swaddled my warm little thing and carried her with me to the window sill and gazed out. Grace and Rube were laughing and laughing and laughing. Sunlight glistened on their hair and their lanky arms were tossed loosely around their knees as they threw their heads back in the same rhythm. The rhythm of God and nature and sacrifice and richness.

I had absolutely everything I ever wanted in that moment. Everything. And I want to remember that.

Life as they know it.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sunday Photo


There is a constant nag of self-doubt. There is. In almost every day of my life. It's an unrest. Am I too mean, too nice, inconsistent, not really present enough? Do I need to have more of a plan? Less junk food, less outside influence? More music, more tolerance? Or less tolerance and more stability?

Why do I constantly flip flop back and forth between feeling like a good mom and bad mom? At the end of the each day, when the girls are tucked in and I'm cleaning and folding laundry or reading or watching tv, I roll back the day on a film strip in my head. I think about my responses to each of their heartfelt questions. I think about the way I reacted when I was angry. I try to put myself in their place.

When I was a little girl I would lay in bed at night and think about the world from a child's point of view. I remember how I felt then and it makes me want to be much gentler on them. It makes me want to slough off some of my adult-ness that causes me to steel myself. Truly, I am only a little girl myself. Trying my best to be a mother. But I have no idea what I'm doing. I take each day as a single event and hope my mistakes will wash down the gutter. Maybe someday when they have grown into beautiful people, I'll feel so glad we made it through the ups and downs. Like they turned out okay in spite of me.

I sometimes think to myself, as long as I'm me and I'm happy being me, they'll be happy being them. And that's what I want, happy confident little women. But it's so hard to be me sometimes when there's soggy cereal being poured on the carpet, screaming, lots of dirty diapers, complaints about what I'm cooking for dinner, no time for myself, hardly any peace. I feel like I'm stifled. And when I lose my patience and control I feel like a different person. The wrong person.

But other times I magically have time to spend with each of them. Some nights I don't get mad, keep my voice so very steady, blink gently when they don't listen to anything I say and ask them politely to return and finish their tasks. It's then that I feel like my spirit is oh so strong. Like I'm myself. Those nights I feel like I was chosen to be the mother of these four girls. Hand-picked like a puzzle piece. I feel so good.

And this, I suppose, is motherhood. A long series of ups and downs and in the end, you finally find yourself.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Marvel.



The baby that Lillie calls, "Matata".

She is tucked into that space just below my collar bone. She's breathing faintly against the freckles that spill across my chest. I marvel over her, and pray that the softness of her cheeks, the way her skin is still thin and loose and warm will last a bit longer.

Just give me a few more weeks of "newborn".

I laid on a blanket in the backyard late this afternoon. We were buying time until Daddy got home. Tild was sleeping in the house, Grace and Rube were involved in giggles and fighting and imaginative play at the kitchen table, the back door wide open and a breeze drafting in and out. Lillie sauntered over in her tanky two year old style. She plopped down. We laid on our backs and stared up at a bird's nest. The mama bird took flight and landed on our rooftop. Lillie sucked in a gasp and pointed, "burpee!"

The trees moved with the wind and the mountains and sky sighed. So did I. I am so, so lucky.

They're free.


- Had such a great weekend.
- My childhood friend Laurel came down for a couple of days. Left her own family in Idaho to come see us. I loved my time with her!
- My fourth baby got a memo in heaven-- "be extra good for your mama". She is so content. Beyond good. Best baby I've ever had or ever seen. Never, ever complains.
- Grace wanted to get her ears pierced. We went to the mall. She chickened out. I couldn't get her to calm down, it was one of the most traumatic things her and I have ever been through. I don't know what I could have done differently. I still can barely talk about it. We'll wait awhile before we try that again.
- My husband can fix things. He gets his little drill and tools out and just fixes things. I will never, ever take that for granted.
- Lillie is back in a crib. After almost two months (or maybe more) in a big girl bed, she is back in a crib. And it is the best thing that ever happened to me. My nights are free again. Starting at 8pm instead of 10. My LIFE has changed. You may think I'm exaggerating but I assure you, I am not! I am a new person.

:::::::News of all news:::::: Grace is out of school for the summer! Bring on the icee pops and the toe jam!  I love my girls. I love them the most when they're free. As they get older, I do realize that a little structure is a must. In the form of a few morning chores, personal cleanliness and some individual summer goals.

Girls can spend much of the day playing outside together or making horrid messes with toys and art supplies. They can always join me in my tasks, which mainly consist of a)staring at the baby and b)staring at the baby.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Lillie, in writing.


Lill,

You have expanded. The two days we were in the hospital with Matilda, you became someone entirely different. Your intensity has increased 200%. You are way more angry, vocal, wound up, exasperated, excited, hyper... all stemming from this huge shift in your life. You were pushed up one notch to become an older sister. You accept your role mostly with frustration.

You demand three helpings of juice or milk before 8:30 in the morning. You defy any food I set before you. It has to be your idea or you won't eat it. If I attempt to lie down in bed for a rest, you run in, rip the quilt from my shoulders and cry, "no, no, mommy!". You scream. All the time. For joy, for pain, and mostly for things you don't agree with. You throw Matilda's rolled up dirty diapers across the room. You clear all the items off my nightstand with one sweep of your toddler arm. You draw on the walls, pour milk on the carpet, take your diaper off and go potty on the front porch. You cry most of the day.

I wish more than anything your communication would pick up mighty speed and skip to the part where you can say exactly what you want and you don't get frustrated. It's a hard time right now, we can't understand you and it throws you into orbit.

Sometimes I wish that someone could take you for a few hours a day. So I can hear what peace sounds like. And then that thought fires up something inside of me that makes me want to protect you, to keep you to myself. All 30 fighting pounds of you. I'm your mother, I can handle you, I want to handle you.

Your hitting, screaming tantrums are hard.

But.

I laid in bed with you last night, you had a hard time going to sleep. You couldn't stop crying every time I walked you back into your bed. So we laid there and sang a few songs. After we discussed bugs for a good ten minutes you nodded off. I watched you breathe. Felt your strong spirit that had been fighting so hard all day settle down into your milky white skin, resting for once. Your little soul thriving, your eyes closed tight.

My throat swelled up in that one spot. That spot that swelled whenever I used to remember your birth, so shocking and traumatic, but one that bonded me so strongly to you that I clutched your infant head to my chest every chance I got. That feeling... of being kicked and hit and rolled over by a truck, and that one little person that's been responsible, the one that is so intense that it makes all the colors of my world more vibrant...  is one I would absolutely give my life for.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

A few simple things.


My mama visited this weekend. Held Matilda, read to the girls, helped me organize. She also planted my garden for me along with my sisters, Hannah, Miriam and Naomi. Nothing could be better or more significant than a pod of women working with the earth, dirtying their hands, growing something together. And not 3 weeks after the birth of our newest girl: growing, sprouting, 11 pounds already.

Their absence leaves me full, and partly empty. Taking care of my own daughters, teaching them how to be a good sister and daughter, and hoping I can be a better mother as time passes. Trying to understand space and time, how my mother's own children were born and we became people, adults. That inevitable is looming in front of me--- aging, memories fading, the girls' giggles echoing off different walls in a different house. They will be older then. Tall and dark haired, like their sisters. Molded into something almost unrecognizable.

Mothers cling onto memories and joy and people they love. We never really change from the girls we used to be. My mother finds complete satisfaction in seeing us happy and healthy. I realize that's all I really want for my girls, just a few simple things. And that they may always share that joy with me.