I swear I tear up on the last day of every school year. It's ridiculous. I wish I could say I was tearing up out of summer fear, but nope, it's out of gratitude for the people--especially the teachers--who helped my kids all year.

Teachers do not get paid enough. They're like moms--overworked and underpaid. ;) But for real! I feel so grateful for my girls' teachers this year. Mya and Genevieve attended 3 different elementary schools as we shuffled from state to state, and it made things tricky for a bit. There were lots of emotions for a long time, but when we finally felt settled in Indiana, I was so grateful for the teachers who helped them pick up the pieces to their fragile and somewhat broken hearts and put them back together again.

If I could nominate a teacher of the year award, I'd nominate Genevieve's teachers, Mrs. Coffey and Mrs. Trowbridge. I had the privilege to watch them interact and teach the kids, and they blew me away. Genevieve has grown so much this year. And Mrs. Coffey was V's teacher in Texas and is still emailing her and writing her handwritten notes. She's amazing!

Mya's teacher here in Indiana has left a lasting impression on her. Mrs. O'Connell is very interested in math and science--Mya's weaker subjects--and she filled Mya's mind with so much wonder about life, earth and science that Mya now wants to be a teacher to be just like her. And Mya likes science now!

I am so grateful for all the hours teachers put in just so my kids can succeed. As a mom, it means the world to me. I don't see my kids for roughly 8 hours each day, which is crazy, and it is so important to me that they are surrounded by people who not only love them, but people who respect them and demand respect in return. School has helped Mya curb some--not all--of her crazy emotional rollercoasters, and it has helped V find a voice on different levels.

I can't believe this year is already over. I just can't believe it. Onto 3rd and 1st grades!

motherhood currently

currently, motherhood is...
-waking up early to make turkey/cheese or pb&j sandwiches for school lunches
-skipping a shower so the girls make it to school on time
-applying two shades of lipstick on Elle--lighter shade on the top lip and darker shade on the bottom lip--before dropping her off at preschool
-grocery shopping with two tiny humans who drop my precious apples or smash my bread with their feet in the cart
-changing hundreds of stinky diapers
-reading book after book on the couch with Birdie while cuddling under a warm blanket
-sitting on the deck watching Timmy discover leaves, pinecones, and spiders
-laughing at Birdie as she gets really into a conversation, but I have no idea what she's saying
-smiling at Timmy's attempts to walk a step or two
-washing at least 10 loads of laundry a week
-scrubbing at least 4 toilets a week
-nursing Timmy 3-4 times a day
-playing horse with Birdie and Timmy on my back
-helping Elle learn new sight words every afternoon before quiet time
-tucking my tiny babies in bed before nap time and listening to them suck on their blankets for comfort
-sitting in a ridiculously long line of cars to pick the girls up each afternoon
-pushing 3 swings at the same time at the park to the chanting of "higher, higher mama!"
-slicing apples for an afternoon snack
-whipping up dinner with two babies tugging at my pants
-setting the table and always forgetting the forks
-cleaning the dinner dishes in silence
-reading stories before bed
-snuggling with each kid before kissing them goodnight
-working late into the night to provide the necessities for said kids

Motherhood is by far the busiest job on the planet. I know some pretty good multi-taskers in the workforce, but I dare say my ability to multi task can beat any of my friends. Not only do I do so much every single day, I do so much at the same time. I have really come to appreciate the design of the human body as a mother. I use my hips, teeth, elbows, knees, toes, etc. in ways I never imagined as a single lady. But motherhood has stretched me past limits I never dreamed of, but am so grateful for.

I love my kids. Like I love them a ridiculous amount. That said--you should know that I was totally happy they went to bed tonight. I couldn't stand the sight of them for one more second tonight. They were all so whiny and fussy; I needed to be done with them before the sun went down. But even still--even in my irritation--I love them so much.

he's 1.

The day I've dreaded for 364 days has arrived. Somehow I knew that the moment he turned 1 would be the moment that forced me to face the fact that no matter what we do, kids always grow up. 

I told Tim today that I needed to be alone soon for just a little while so I could have a healthy cry. A cry about everything I've gained over the last year. A cry over my growing boy. A cry of losing babyhood. A cry about the scary future of no more babies staring at me in the face. It will be a bittersweet cry, and I am sort of looking forward to it. 

Timmy is--as I have said before--an absolute light in my life. His smile and bright eyes turn away any dark from my days. Sometimes when I am feeling blue, I can't wait for him to wake up from a nap because I know that feeling will fade away within minutes of being with him. I am forever grateful that God allowed me to have a son. 

What can I say about Timmy at 1? Well, he reminds me of the main character in Harold and the Purple Crayon. I love his round face and wispy hair. He eats everything but green vegetables. He spits them out the moment they touch his tongue. He adores his sisters and is always searching the house for them when they're gone. He crawls like a maniac and is pretty resilient to all the tumbles he endures. He loves to play with the strings on my sweatshirts, and he grabs at my nose when he nurses. He loves when I blow raspberries in his neck and on his thighs. He has the most delicious hands. I would freeze time just to freeze the growth of those dimpled things. He's probably been my easiest baby when it comes to going to other people; he at least allows other people to hold him. My girls were a bit crazy when it came to anyone helping me. He is everything I could've asked for, and I am so happy that I have slowed down this year to enjoy every bit of him. He has made motherhood so enjoyable, and I hope it continues. 

Happy birthday baby boy. You are my love. Thank you for being my son. 

a bit of reality

I know I must make the idea of motherhood seem dreamy, and it is--it really is, especially lately. My kids often seem to be full of pure goodness and joy, but there are days, like today, when I am jarred back to reality with cranky babies and boogie noses.

Oh man--today was a doozy. 

Timmy cried 80% of the time he was awake. At one point I just laid him in his crib just to get away from him because I couldn't hold him a second longer, but I also couldn't listen to him scream like crazy. He eventually fell asleep. 

Birdie is in the particularly frustrating 2-year-old phase where she wants me to do everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, with her. "Read 2 more books mama. Up mama. Make tookie with you mama. Nack mama. Pweas mama. Tassle (castle) mama." And so on and so on. And as I explained to Tim, nearly out of breath from frustration, it's not that I don't love to play with the kids because I do--I really do, but I also have to get things done.

My house is a constant mess. The Texas me would be going crazy every waking minute of the day. I had a great routine in Texas. But things are different here. The house is bigger. School hours are different. The kids are playing outside more (read: I am outside more), and it's just different. Plus, all 5 of my kids are mobile but still need me for one thing or another so I'm not actually detached at all. It's wonderful, and it's unnerving all at the same time. 

So there's a bit of reality right now. I want to remember the lovely moments and my personal pep talks when I'm older, but I also want to remember that I too went bonkers a lot. I struggled with the daily juggle of kids, chores, meals, school pickups, etc. It can be a lot. And I don't see it ending any time soon, but at least summer is coming, which gives me a little more flexibility in my schedule. 

a little bit of honesty

Gosh it's good to be writing a little more frequently. I've made it a priority again, and it feels so good to have my own space. So little of what is mine is actually mine, but this space is mine, and I cherish it, regardless of what any one else thinks. Even though I very much appreciate all your thoughtful comments. I really do. 

Just a few things. I'm reading The Scarlet Letter. Nathaniel Hawthorne is a literary genius. His wit and humor bleed onto every page. Unlike every other 16 year old in America, I missed my opportunity at reading this incredible classic because my gray-haired, overweight, bell-bottom wearing, Cadillac-driving American Lit teacher decided to literally "bark" at all the classroom norms and never asked us to read the classics. Instead, he gave us a list of texts we could choose from to read and write papers on every 4 weeks. So what did we all do? We chose the shortest, easiest novels on the planet and avoided anything with real depth and meaning. Let's just say that I got an A in that class, and I did it without thinking. So thanks for nothing Mr. Worley. I'm discovering all the great American classics on my own and in my thirties. I'm the coolest. 

Timmy turns a year in less than 2 weeks. I'm pretty sure I've noted this in several of my recent posts. Obviously I'm traumatized by it. But his birthday has me thinking about my postpartum. I'm still nursing and plan to do so until he quits, unless he's older than 2 because I have my limits. But I assume he'll quit sooner because the boy eats like a king, and I'm more of a midnight snack, really. Anyway, I've been taking zoloft for postpartum depression since October. I feel that it has greatly improved my quality of life, so much so that I truly feel happier as a mother and a person. And I've been worried about Timmy turning 1 because I keep thinking, well crap, does that mean that my postpartum depression disappears after he's 1? I'm pretty sure I heard somewhere (and I know cannot actually be true but I got it in my brain so I can't get it out) that postpartum generally subsides around the child's 1st birthday. Is this true? I'm not sure. 

As I said, I really feel happier. I don't get so wound up as I used to. I don't yell nearly as much as I used to; in fact, I don't really yell at all unless it's after 8pm and the kids refuse to go to bed (you have to give me that one). I feel calm when Mya yells at me each morning, even though I know a part of me wants to yell back that no Mya, I don't know where your damn pants are. I clean them every other day, and I am not in charge of them after you wear them. But I don't yell. In fact, I don't even get agitated. I just take it in, and I sternly reply that I refuse to be spoken to in such a tone and she can find her own pants because I will only help kind people. And so on and so on. 

I'm not going to lie to you and tell you that I am a perfect mom now. I'm not. I still get frustrated and grumpy. I'm still human. I'm still a woman with raging hormones. But I feel different. And so I am left wondering, is it all the medication? Is any of it actually me growing up? Or growing as a mother? Or is it happening because I know there are no more babies in my future so I don't have to stress about pregnancy or infancy or sleepless nights? There are a million unknowns. And all those unknowns freak me out. 

I don't really want to go back to the old me that yelled a lot. I hated seeing the girls wince when I raised my tone. My house is so calm and quiet 70% of the day because the 3 kids I have at home with me really don't push my buttons too much (except for Birdie at the moment...oh man...I could've killed her today when she refused her nap...but I digress) and so I don't want to mess with our current dynamic. 

So what do I do? Who am I anyway? These are real thoughts. They are hard questions with few answers. But for now I still have 2 weeks so I am just going to mull over these things and try and schedule a doctor's appointment so I can talk to a medical professional who most likely won't have the answers either but will manage to assuage my fears with some fancy medical jargon, and all will be right again. 

Well, it's late, and Hawthorne is waiting for me. Goodnight.

playing favorites

Is it possible to not play favorites? Especially when it comes to your final child? And that child is the only boy? And that boy has the goofiest gap-tooth smile? And that gap-tooth smile immediately appears on his face every single time you walk in a room?

My immediate answer is no. No, it is not possible to not play favorites. Obviously if my girls were reading this they would squeal in that obnoxious high-pitched voice, "Mmmmmoooooooommmmmm! How can you say that? I thought I was your favorite. You always say that I am." And the whining would continue for hours (because that's just how girls are you know.)

And I would smily coyly and say, "Oh sweeties, you know you are all my favorites." But inside my little mama heart would be screaming, "But that boy over there has just captured my heart in ways I can't explain."

I am the worst mom ever. EVER! I can't believe I am admitting this out loud. Hopefully by the time any of the girls read this blog of mine, none of it will matter because they will all realize how much they mean to me, and I don't actually play favorites.

But for now, I am going to play a bit of favorites with this son of mine. Oh my goodness he is just the best--even when he's the worst--he's the best. Just now he was screaming like crazy, begging to go to bed in that way only babies can beg, and as I nursed him before bed he just looked up at me with those big, baby blue eyes and smiled out of the corner of his mouth while making sure the rest of his mouth never left his food source. ;)

He can be absolutely ridiculous with his tantrums. Sometimes when he throws tantrums I just giggle because I think, oh honey, you're going to have to do a lot better than that. I've seen it all. And that is just scratching the surface. Sometimes he even does the backwards worm crawl in disgust, and it's reminiscent of Mya, but I don't get annoyed in the slightest because I know it's just a phase--a frustrating one--but one that will end. Thank you Mya for teaching me that.

But aside from his behavior close to bedtime, he is an absolute delight in my life. Quite literally, he fills my life with sunshine and love, and I am forever grateful that he is mine. I love how he rests his head on my shoulder without coaxing; he just does it, and every time he does, it forces me to slow down and breath him in. He almost always smells of damp clothing because he is always drooling. I love how he bangs his dimpled hands on his high chair tray, demanding more food, even though he has already out eaten his sisters. I love how he crawls. His hands and feet are calloused from moving so quickly over the carpet. He's always trying to get away from me, knowing that I'll chase him. And when I catch him, he throws his head back in laughter just like his daddy.

Timmy is simply the best. He is the current favorite in the house, but not just by me--by everyone. Everyone is enamored by his sweet face and silly grin.

Please allow me to be not cool for a moment

I realize it's not really cool to be a believer anymore. I get it. I really do.

Perhaps it's the fact that there are a million religions preaching about love, kindness, tolerance, understanding, etc. that confuse non-believers. Perhaps it's because even though millions of people preach great things, we, as a collective society, often fail to put them in daily practice. Perhaps it's science--with all its hypotheses, theories and facts, which I actually agree with most of the time that trip up the non-believers. Or perhaps it's the general feeling of apathy plaguing the world when it comes to doing anything.

I can't really pinpoint the reason people are choosing not to believe, but so many people I know and continue to meet tell me their reasons for leaving faith behind them, and while I understand it and respect their different paths, let me admit something that is evidently not cool at the moment--I am a believer.

I believe in a higher power. I believe very much that that higher power is a loving Father in heaven. I believe He knows me. I believe He listens to my daily running ramblings and quiet afternoon pleadings. I believe He loves me. No...I know He loves me.

This week I taught the girls from the Bible. We studied the final week of Christ's life, reading from different sections of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Today we discussed the final hours of Christ's life leading up to his resurrection, and a verse we read has stood out to me all afternoon: "He is not here, he is risen."

I think the older I get and the more experiences I gain, the more I realize how great an act it was for our Father in heaven to send His son to earth for us. It is an act of pure love. I felt very close to Heavenly Father today. I felt very connected to Him through Jesus Christ. You cannot know how much I want to improve who I am just to become a little more like Him. It is on my mind every single day.

I know it's not cool, but I don't really care about "cool" things. I care about real things. Real people. Real stories. Real improvements. Real change. I care about how much light I feel in my life as I learn about Jesus Christ. I have said it before, and I believe I will continue to say it my whole life, everything we do should be because of Him.

So many of my friends are struggling with organized religion, and I totally get it. I've been there. Sometimes I'm still there. But the thought that gets me through those confusing days is that He is more than religion. He is truth. He is the way. He is the vine. Everything else we learn is an appendage to that. I choose daily to follow Him and be like Him.

And I am grateful for a beautiful warm day like today that reminded me that no matter how dark and cold and confusing the winter may feel, spring will always come.