Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Why Nighttime Is My Favorite Time of Being a Parent

Parenting is no joke. It's a full time, round the clock, lifestyle. 
The days are packed with adventures. We go on hikes, we build forts, we play with food, and leave memorable impressions on the other shoppers in the grocery store.
 I switch laundry, grade math tests, wash sippy cups, clip 40 little fingernails, read countless books, break up fights, and read Lego manuals. 
And even though it's hard, stressful, confusing, and leaves me wondering how in the world I'm responsible for four little humans, it's the most awesome adventure I'm honored to be a part of. 
But my favorite part of parenting is at nighttime, when they're fast asleep. It's when real parenting happens. 
I sneak into their dark room and listen to the rhythmic breathing of their still little bodies under the covers. 
In those still moments of tucking covers around sleeping little boys I remember to quit trying so hard to parent and one by one I pray over them. 
I pray blessings and safety and health. I give thanks until my eyes fill. I pray for their futures and their wives. I pray for God to use them in mighty ways. I ask for wisdom to be the mom each of them need. I pray until I run out of words and just stay on my knees, in God's presence in the middle of a little boys' room. 
Parenting is 24/7, but it's the night hours of praying over sleeping little men and one princess that reignites the passion of parenting. I'm a tool in God's hands in the lives of these little people He created. 
And sitting in the dark before my Heavenly Father, praying over peaceful little faces that are as still as they ever get, is one of my favorite moments in the round the clock'ness of parenting. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Day We Ran Away

We played hooky, we ran away. 
We left school books on the table and dishes in the sink. 
Daddy can't be home for most dinners or bedtimes, but he ran away with us too!
And it was perfect.
Little boys had no idea what was going on that morning when Daddy wasn't getting dressed in suit and tie and Mommy wasn't starting the school day.
We got bewildered kids dressed and loaded in the car.
We made a quick stop for some bagels and hit the road for Baltimore. 
And little guys who had no clue what was in store immediately celebrated when they realized the day that was ahead of them.
There was an aquarium to explore, jellyfish to touch, dolphins to play with, and turtles to chase. This was going to be the best day ever.
And it was. All of it, even Wils deciding to attempt a swim with the jellies. 
LilyMae fell in love with the fish, laughing and talking as they swam past her fingers. 
We stopped her short of giving kisses through the glass.
Jefferson, our quiet dreamer roamed the tanks in deep thought occasionally sharing his insights and observations. He sees everything. The sea turtle was his favorite. 
Wils ran like a wild man from tank to tank, shrieking and laughing, splashing, and getting lost. He hid from the sharks, and grabbed at the sting rays. The jellies were his favorite. 
Harrison casually took it all in with bursts of impulsiveness. 
Like attempting sign language with a scuba diver in the shark tank and then climbing the ledge of a fifth floor to look over the edge. My heart stopped. The dolphins were his favorite. 
We took our time and soaked in the day of being away as just us. 
And not many people had the same idea so we took full advantage of an almost empty at times aquarium with private dolphin shows and wide open exhibits. 
The boys could touch and roam and explore and get right up front to see an octopus eat clams and spit out the shells...
...Or see a baby jelly fish try out his floating skills, or dolphins steal a toy when they thought the trainers weren't looking. 
When we walked outside at the end of the day it was snowing. We huddled together as we hiked back to the car. But none of us were too cold, just happy, very happy. It was a perfect day to run away. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

It's All Fun and Games Until...Boys

Really, it started innocently enough; marshmallows and toothpicks. 
I had envisioned fort and space ship construction. 
And that's the way it started out; boys and imaginations and marshmallows. Everyone was happy. 
Fingers worked hard to manipulate squishy joints into boats, jets, and sky scrapers. 
Some fingers worked just as hard to consume as many marshmallows as possible when he thought Momma wasn't looking. 
Then this same sneaky one we affectionately refer to as "Banner" went into Hulk mode and decided to SMASH his house, and down went his hand on top of the toothpick hut. 
When he lifted his hand, a toothpick had impaled his palm. I didn't realized how deep until I couldn't pull it out. My stomach turned as we worked to remove the stabbing weapon.
In between his screams and my shock we got it out and got his hand wrapped. Banner reemerged as Hulk had learned never to smash around toothpicks again. 
He happily went back to eating marshmallows while I documented the big guys' creations. They were so proud of their architecture they begged to leave them on display. We'll see how long they last before getting eaten by Hulk ;)

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Nine Months Madison

Dear Baby Girl,
You've hit some pretty big milestone this month. 
For starters you decided to explore your crib and woke us up with your terrified screams in the middle of the night as you had climbed to standing and couldn't figure out how to get back down.
So at 1:30AM your Daddy was on his hands and knees lowering your crib bed. 
You've also taken off, literally. 
You can speed crawl anywhere your curiosity so desires landing you in predicaments of getting stuck or finding non edible snacks like Legos and brother's rock collections. 
You've also expanded your palette! You are quickly leaving purees behind and reaching for the foods we have on our plates. 
You clearly didn't come from the same cut as your brothers since you will fist fight to get bites of my sautéed spinach and roasted veggies in coconut oil. 
Another huge first we celebrated, your first ice cream! Little lady, you know what's up! You devoured that sweet goodness, crying with the final bite over the fact it was gone. Don't worry, in this family, there will be more ice cream just about the time you turn around. 
You are still a tiny thing even with your expanding appetite. You are in 6 month clothing and size 3 diapers. You spent about a week messing with your bows and pigtails, but gave that up when you realized they weren't going anywhere. 
You love chasing your brothers across the floor to get into their school work, fruit snacks, or imaginary play. They affectionally refer to you as the "baby monster" when including you in play as you attack their action figures. 
Bath time is a highlight of your day now that you can "swim" all over the tub. You splash down on your tummy and push yourself around through the water playing and shrieking in the water. 
You come and go along with our non stop schedule, tune out the chaos, and smile at the antics of your family. You are laid back and sweet beyond measure. We are so blessed to have you and we've been so blessed these nine months! We love you and the young lady you are growing to be! 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

And Then The Sun Shined

The snow finally stopped sometime overnight. When we woke up Sunday morning the sun was shining and snow deeper than we'd ever seen covered everything, literally! We could't find Matt's car.
So for the next two and half hours we got every finger gloved, and every head hatted, and headed outside. 
This was LilyMae's first snow, so she got to start out with an historic bang of a storm. 
We weren't too sure what she'd think of the frozen white stuff, but being the laid back child she is, she  didn't make a noise as we stuffed her in insulation and set her down on ice to take pictures. 
She watched her brothers literally fall backwards without bracing themselves whatsoever and crash into the snow. 
They all took turns jumping from Matt's arms cannonball style and landing in the massive drifts, except for the princess who was ok keeping her distance from it once she was finished with her forced photo shoot. 
The boys tried to help us shovel but we quickly realized we had no where to pile the enormous amounts and gave up to spend the day in play. 
Wils was the only one not into exploring the snow world. He's about as much of a fan of the cold as I am. Even with 8 layers and hot chocolate promises, he was having none of it. 
Much of his snow play was spent laying around like a cold blooded reptile with an expression on his face that read, "Get me out of here."
But he eventually moved some to join in our game of, "let's find Daddy's car", which the boys ended up winning after walking over top of it!
We discovered a plow gave up the day before during the middle of the blizzard and abandoned his 8ft pile of snow right in front of our cars. 
Since we weren't going anywhere for a few months ( I jest), we put the hill to use as our personal sledding hill. The snow was too powdery for the old fashioned sled, so laundry baskets became a creative backup. Note to self: You need to add baskets to your shopping list since they're all broken now.
Once we discovered the snow was higher than two of our kids in spots we decided it would be fun to go out hiking in it. Matt and I were sinking clear up to our hips as we hiked blindly over unseen boulders, streams, and thorn bushes each carrying a kid or two. 
We finally made it back feeling a little like "Little House on the Prairie." We stripped the 32 soggy layers off frozen little bodies and filled them up with hot chocolate and let them watch a movie by the fire. We survived the historic snow storm and used the time wisely drawing up the future floor plans to our beach house somewhere tropical ;)