Merry Christmas, Friends!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

 And in case this never gets to your mailbox, here is our Christmas card this year.... ♥

Korea Girl

Monday, December 16, 2013

My mother and father-in-law live in Seoul, South Korea. He works for the U.S. government in the Army hospitals, and they've lived there for over six years now. It's quite the adventure, and we never tire of hearing how life is worlds different there for them than it is over here. And they never tire of coming home and being reminded how much they've begun to get used to the differences-- at least until they're here in the States and everything is suddenly so.... American. 

Their time in Korea has enriched ALL of our lives--- even though, at the end of the day, we all would love to live closer and see each other more often.  I believe the day will come soon when they can come back and work stateside. We'll rejoice at their proximity. 

But til then, we support and celebrate their adventures... and try our best to keep them in our daily rounds... even if it's just a quick email or Skype session. Or a quick little photo session with Lucy wearing one of their Korean gifts and holding another. Her favorite, the fans....

{Sweet girl.... Growing like a weed.....}

We love you, Grandma and Grandpa! The kids love you and we love every speck of time we get, whether it be in person or via the internet. Thank you for your example to us. And for your marvelous Korean trinkets, gifts, and treasures. 

Love you!

Quinn: Nine and Ten Months

Monday, December 9, 2013

He was nine months and then he was ten and now he's nearly 11 months old..... It goes too fast, and my computer is full of images of my kids and my little everyday world and especially my third baby, and nothing gets done to finish them and prepare them and bring them into the light of day. Such regret for that.... And intentions for doing better... And the dailiness of life continues, so we'll see if I ever catch up. And til then, if it ever happens, I will forgive myself. And post what I can when I can. 

And nine-month Quinn, side-by-side with ten-month Quinn, is pretty cute. So it's fun that they get to be presented together for this post. :)

Nine month Quinn was October 18, and 10-month Quinn was November 18.... Noah's birthday. Which, by the way, I should probably blog about. Gaaaa! 

And Quinn's milestones? I don't even know. Lots of HUGE things. He got his first two teeth right around his 9-month mark. And soon thereafter, he got himself to sitting, and somehow between October and now he is crawling, scooting like Noah used to, pulling to standing, cruising, getting up and down the one-step section of our house, and cutting his top teeth. He's basically changing daily before our eyes. 

He's cut out nursing, started sleeping through the night, and become a full-time binkie user. 

He's happy 95% of the time and passionately in love with table foods, and quick to laugh and smile. 

He makes this whole family better with him in it, and we love him so very much. Even if his photos don't come in as timely a manner as his older two siblings. Ha. 

I'll leave you with one more killer cute photo of my little man:

And then I'll try to remember to shoot and post his 11-month photos in 10 more days. 

In a perfect world. 



Quinn at 8 months. 7 months. 6 months
Quinn at 4 months. (5 months didn't happen.)
 at 3 months
at 2 and 1 months.  

That One October Evening They Ran Wild.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

In the middle of the best part of fall, when my husband was out of town on business and I needed to get out of the house and feel free, I packed the kids up into the double stroller, invited Noah's neighborhood friend to tag along, and we walked the half mile to Target to get milk and diapers and PopTarts. And we stopped at the wild field near our house and laid out a quilt and the kids explored and the baby and I sat and enjoyed them exploring... and Lucy stayed near to me one moment, then  marched off with the boys the next moment.... 

And it was an utterly perfect fall evening. 

I just wanted to remember that day. 

That's all.

{iPhone only}

Happy 6th.

Monday, November 18, 2013

This boy. This sweetest boy. Oh, he has my heart. 

His swift and constantly working mind.
His passion. 
His energy.
His trickster tendencies. 
His tender spots. 
His tickle spots. 
His brown brown eyes. 
His eagerness and excitement and hesitations all wrapped up together. 
The way he devours books, already. 
The fact that Old Mai is still utterly his best friend. 
The tenderness with which he treats his Quinn. 
And the comradeship with which he treats his Lulu. 
His hugs. 
His intense emotions. 
His stubbornness. 
His unflagging sense of right and order and rules.
His innate leadership abilities. 
The robots and the science and the creativity he has brought into our home. 
His relationship with his sweetest daddy. 
His aching and full heart when he copes with loss. 
The universe of possibility I see in him every single day. 
His reasoning and perception and problem-solving and critical thinking-- even when it makes him argue with me to no end. 
His deep well of emotion, even when it tears him up and he cannot see a bright side. 
His tentativeness when he feels he might not be good at something. 
His pure joy and pride when he is good at something. 
His bedtime prayers. 
His warm and strong and still-small hands. 
His big, not-as-stinky-as-I-tease-him feet.
The hair on his forehead I compulsively brush to the side whenever he's near me. 
His silliness.
His musicality. 
His beautiful, remarkable, as-yet-untested, pure, innocent, deep, wise, inspiring soul. 

Happy 6th, my boy. You are still mine, and not the world's, and I don't know how much longer I get to say that, and I will take every minute I can and hold it, and you, tightly. I love you so very much. 


(Possibly my uttermost favorite photo of 2013, right there. Biased, I supposed, because there's only one kiddo in it... but my dearest Katie caught both of us so genuinely, when both of us are usually putting on our "camera face", that the truth of this shot takes my breath away. And that's my boy right there. My sweet Noah.)

ETA: Just put this together for Facebook. I love seeing years at one glance. Don't you?

Lucy Moment...

Sunday, November 17, 2013

So I'll admit it. Though it's taken years of being humbled to get to this point: 

I might be a bit of a snorer. 

There, I said it. Harumph. Don't be a hater. 

Well, ANYway. This afternoon I got home from a mini-session back in the city, after a full-packed morning and lunchtime outing with the family, after an early wake-up this morning. And I was BEAT. The kids all piled on my bed while I tried to rest a bit, and we hung out as a gaggle of 5 for a while... but then I started closing my eyes, even amidst the chaos... and Noah, then Joe and Quinn, slowly migrated away from my dozey self and to another room. But Lucy stayed. She contentedly played with one of those wire/bead toys, tucked into bed right next to me, and I sunk down and dozed off entirely.

And every so often, Lucy would stop her quiet play and say, "Mommy! Mommy!" and I would rouse a bit, smile at her, see her smile back at me, and then I'd fall back asleep. She'd do it again a few minutes later. It finally started to process through my foggy brain that she was doing this BECAUSE I'D STARTED SNORING. Oh geez. I'd sink so deep that the logs would start to "get sawed", and she'd sweetly wake me to get me to stop. Multiple times. I think (and I may have just dreamed this part) she even imitated me one time. 


And also deadly cute. 

Sweet girl.... with her brutish snoring exhausted old mama. Contentedly keeping me company. But also keeping me in line.

What Shifted...

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A few posts ago, I waxed bloggy and talked about the corner I've turned recently. How for the first time since Quinn was born, I am feeling some peace and balance. I never managed to come back and sit long enough to explain my perception of why things have shifted. And that's okay. Part of the acceptance of my life as it is. Some things take ages to get done. Other things come up and get accomplished with surprising immediacy. It's just an ebb and flow, and I'm riding the wave. 

But tonight. Tonight I have a little time. And I'd love to talk just a bit more about where I am at these days. 

It began the day Noah went off to kindergarten. 

Prior to his first day, we'd been in a whirlwind summer. There was the packing up of Kate's house. A LOT of packing, in between the parenting and daily life. Then a whirlwind week-long roadtrip, sans Joe, to Arizona. With all three kids and my parents. And Quinn cried a fair amount of the drive. And I felt like a crazy woman for attempting it. (But also strangely empowered every day I managed to survive it.) And as soon as we returned from that madness, we were suddenly in the new place. First night back from AZ was our first night in the new home. So then there was the unpacking. The sorting and the sweating and the settling in. And not a week after that first day home, I was driving Noah to a summer camp at his beloved preschool. Thirty minutes one-way back into the city so he could get one last hurrah at that lovely lovely school. Packing up the kids and messing with Quinn's morning naps and begging friends to host the babies and I during Noah's camp sessions so we weren't driving 30 mins-30mins-30mins-30-mins every day for two weeks. 

So July was insane. 

And somewhere in my brain, I'd kind of figured that getting though July, we'd have all of August to slow down and experience a bit of lazy summer with our new big yard and nowhere to be.... And I yearned for it. 

But then I looked up Noah's new school district, and right there, on the calendar: AUGUST 13. First day of school. Not even two weeks of "lazy summer" before school would be upon us. And those two weeks were full of photography sessions for me, playdates for the kids, a couple of birthday parties... and in between all of that, Joe and I trying to squeeze in a little summer for our kids somewhere. So much for "lazy". 

Which brings me to Noah's first day of school. 

For so many mamas, there is a sadness about sending their little one to kindergarten. A reluctance. I confess I did not feel that. Not leading up to it, and not that day. Nor did I feel EAGER-- I wasn't necessarily excited to get him on the bus and out of my daily rounds. But I was prepared, and ready. 

For as many years as I can remember, it hasn't felt like Noah turned his next age on his actual birthday---like how today he is 13 days away from becoming six. It's seemed every year that he turns his new age sometime at the end of summer. He just ACTS older as autumn approaches. So when the actual age change happens, I've already felt it for months. I've had time to get used to it. This year, Noah has "been six" for months already. And because of this, it's felt like he's been ready for kindergarten for ages. I love it. And I was thoroughly excited for him to get started. The only tears I shed that first day were ones of nostalgia and excitement--- as I walked him through actual elementary school hallways, I felt butterflies on his behalf that he was getting to begin this epic and life-changing era of life. The school years. I could not wait for him to love it as I did. 

And so on that first day, I did take him myself, Lucy and Quinn in tow. We walked him in and lingered a bit longer than we needed to, then slowly walked back to our car less one kid... Feeling a little imbalanced, I guess. But excited for him. 

And I let him ride his bus home. 

Between dropping him off and him coming home, I took Lucy and Quinn to the park. I figured we were already dressed for the day. Why not? And then I brought my babies back to the house and we puttered about. I put Quinn down for his morning nap. Lucy and I played a bit. I tidied a bit. Noah was due home at 11:30am and Quinn's naps typically went til 10:30 or 11, so we were homebound. And we waited eagerly for Noah's bus, to see how his first day had gone. 

That day, the bus came and Lucy sat with me to wait. Noah came off of that bus and ran to us with the biggest smile on his face. And we smiled, and we went inside to hear his tales and keep each other company while I made lunch for us all. 

Lunch, then a bit of play, then the sacred stretch of quiet time for all, and by the time quiet time ended, it was time for Joe to be home and the evening was upon us. 

So on that first day, the shift occurred. Perhaps you missed it as you read along. I did, too. It wasn't til the SECOND day of school that it started to become apparent to me. On the second day, I didn't take Noah to school. He rode the bus. Then rode it home. He was gone from 7:40am-11:30am. In that time, there wasn't really time for the littler kids and I to run errands or go play or visit a friend. Quinn had a morning nap to take, and Noah's day ended too soon to run out after Quinn's nap. Essentially, we were forced to stay home. 

And there it was. 

Forced to stay at home, the rhythm of our day immediately and palpably slowed down. I fed Lucy and Quinn breakfast after Noah was gone. Then we played a bit. Then I put Quinn down. Then Lucy and I puttered around the back yard and I got some long-overdue yardwork done. She explored. I took iPhone photos of her exploring. We drifted back indoors. I put on some Pandora music. We waited for Quinn to wake and/or Noah's bus to come home. Whichever came first. Lucy asked for a snack. We shared crackers and cheese. 

And when Quinn woke, we sat on the front stoop to watch for the bus. The rest of the day played out like the day before. I was starting to see: our new life was going to be home-bound like it hadn't been in a very long time. Maybe ever. 

The next day, the typical me rose up to rebel, and I bundled Lucy and Quinn into the car to run some errands as soon as Noah headed to school. I had one hour before Quinn's nap, and I could get a lot done. Post office, grocery store, bank. Check check check. Bustle bustle bustle. 

It ended up being a frazzled day. The tone was set. 

A ha. 

So the next day, I went back to the slowness of being home-bound. Perhaps first-thing-in-the-morning errands weren't worth the tradeoff in sanity. And yes-- there it was again.... peace. Staying home, slowing down= peace. Time with just Lucy while Quinn napped. Time to putter and tidy the house and greet the day a bit at a time... Time to gather my energy to welcome Noah's vibrant chattiness home at 11:30. Time to care for the baby and care for myself and just BE. 

And so. Since that first week of school, I've nudged the boundaries of this new discovery. And it seems, without fail, when I try to GO GO GO too SOON SOON SOON or too much, Crazy Emily comes back. For now, this slowness in the morning is healing me. And when I try to ignore that need, or life forces me to hustle and rush on a rare day here and there, I can tangibly see the difference in all of our moods. So as soon as I can, I try to come back to slowness. To rein in my natural tendency to "stay busy" and FILL the days, with good, with mundane, with THINGS. Katrina Kenison, in Mitten Strings For God, confesses about her own accidental addiction to busy-ness, "If I pause enough to listen to my own inner voice, rather than heeding some external call to go, see, and do, I make better choices for us all." She talks about what Thoreau calls "a broad margin", and I've been pondering that a lot in light of my own revelation that slowness in the morning helps set the tone for my whole day. (For my life, actually.) I have been given, through the grace of Noah's school and the fact that he gets a school bus ride instead of needing me to take him, a broad margin to my morning. And it has made all the difference. It helps me realize that if I can be mindful of ALL the margins--- the one before a meal, and then after.... the one before bedtime... the margin of time before we have to go to church, the margin of time between activities.... If I can be mindful of these margins, and possibly widen them a bit, there will be less frenzy. Less frazzle. More peace. More mindful attentiveness. 

I don't pretend I will get to maintain this pace for always. I'm already naturally inclined to being busy and getting out and DOING. Someday soon Quinn will drop his morning nap and I'll be presented with the temptation of a new window of time I can fill outside my home. And Lucy will begin preschool someday and I'll be back to chauffeuring kids multiple times a week. And there will be more obligations to my schedule. This season will end. 

But until then, I've been given this accidental gift--- this SHIFT in my life rhythm--- and I am reveling in it. I love it. I love my days here at home, slow, steady, repetitive.... And I like to think these days are helping me grow strong in the art of minding my margins. So that when life's demands begin crowding back in, I will be better at handling them. Better at carving out margins even in the midst of the frenzy. I might get better at not adding to the frenzy with my own ideas of what should be getting done.

Until then. Until then, I will cherish the homey pleasures of kids playing and creating around me, of gently caring for my new home... of puttering and making bread and exploring our yard and being present with each other and feeling the peace that only being home can provide. I will relish these wide margins and be grateful that I've reached this place and been allowed to linger for a time.

{Photos: The first image of this post captured one of my utter favorite moments ever. A Wednesday evening, usually a stressful time because Joe works late. Instead, I put on music, the two littles played contentedly near me as I made dinner, and Noah kept me company and made his own "stew" as I cooked. A room full of peace as the sun set into the room. Heaven.
The collage of iPhone images at the end represent homebound happiness moments from August until now... Heaven.}

My Halloween Kiddos 2013

Thursday, October 31, 2013

We've got a:

Black-suited Spiderman. Who is NOT Venom. Apparently. But who has some killer moves. Amiright?

Little Red Riding Hood:

Who miraculously hammed it up for my camera AND smiled AND made eye contact AND had fun.....

... Until suddenly she didn't. 

(Turns out she was hating the cape. As soon as it came off, she slowly re-morphed into a happy girl.)

(Ah well. Capeless but still in vintage dress and pantaloons: ADORABLE anyway.)

And then we had a grouch:

An Oscar the Grouch, to be exact. Who wasn't super grouchy, oddly enough...

But who was super cute. 

Happy Halloween, everyone! Stay dry! Eat candy! Get spooked!
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