Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Our First Day

Friday was our last official day of summer break. Saturday we had, "meet the teacher" and Sunday, we went to church, set out our clothes, pack our backpacks and had blessings.

I didn't make any plans for our last hurrah but when the kids were in their swim suits and out back playing by 9 am, I decided to join them. I love jumping on the trampoline. I do. But after having 5 babies and aging almost 2 decades, since my prime trampoline jumping years-well,  it's just not the same.

But I really didn't care.

The kids love to put the sprinkler under the trampoline and my 3 big kids have all sorts of games they play like this. It was great to finally join them (and beat) them. I was sore like something else the next day but even Ella keeps saying,

"Mom, bemember that day that you played in the water with us? I bemember that."

Yes, absolutely, I will always bemember that.

And as much as I would have loved to have pictures of our last day under the sun, I just couldn't bear to leave the water and grass and slip inside to get my camera. I wish I had pictures of everything and everyday but sometimes I simply can not be the photographer and the Mom.

Although yesterday I was. I woke up early, I made sure to give myself enough time to get dressed, to pray and to pack lunches. I had made the cinnamon rolls the day before (a first day tradition) so I just started the bacon, made the eggs and cut up the fruit before heading back down stairs to rub sleeping heads and pull back covers and turn on lights.

I gathered my 3 big kids, all bleary eyed and warm around me on the couch for scriptures. And before long they were all shined and cleaned and combed and brushed and tied and we hit the porch for pictures.

They all looked simply delicious.

We made the drive and with hardly a glance back my way, they were out of the car and darting off with friends.

And that was that.

There is no better time than the first day of another school, as you see your kids fade away into the crowd of new backpacks and new shoes, to re promise yourself to be thankful for every hair on their heads and every warm summer day that you have together and every inch of their growing.

Because they are growing.

No better time to "bemember" how lucky you are.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Summers End

I am suffering with my "back to school" stomach ache. There are not too many things to me as sad as, "back to school". And this time it feels worse than ever. Maybe because this summer has been so very good to me. But Monday morning is fast approaching and no amount of pouting will turn back the calender.

Back to school means that my kids are another year older. It means that they will now be spending more time in a day with a teacher than with me. It means that I have to start guessing and asking who they ate lunch with instead of knowing. It means early mornings and early nights. It means, "good-bye" to facilitating long empty days of playing in the hose and fixing snacks and popping pop-corn and applying their sun block.

Everyday, Every-single-day. I see the little boy scribble of my youngest brothers name, markered across his childhood toy box, here in the basement. The "J" is adorably backwards and it makes me wonder what else he did on that long ago day. Did he eat PB and J with my Mom at the counter, did he climb a tree or play in the hose or nap the afternoon away?  His life now, is a far cry from an innocent, little boy summer and I wonder just what my Mom would give- to get that one day back. What fortune she would offer in exchange for a few hours with that little boy and his delicious, adorable...backward J's.

But it cant be helped.

And that is why I savor summer and the feel of their hands still finding their way into mine. I feel so acutely aware of the brevity of my time with them and their time as carefree kids. 

Couldn't it just bring you to tears?

Summer is such a gift and I am so thankful for this one and all the others that are filed away in my heart for safe keeping. And mostly I am so thankful for the gift of a loving, Savior that gave everything to make these 5 mine forever..even when summer is over.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Award Winning

And the nominees for "Meanest parents in the world Award" are...

Me and Scott

Spence and Em

Stacey and Brian
Or Sheri and Michael

And the award goes to.....

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Summer Fade

Summer is fading away and it is undoubtedly making me sad. Sure, quieter days and fewer messes does have some allure but I don't really care about all that. I like having my kids around, where I can see them, hear them, talk to them, be with them.

A few weeks ago my parents taught Bransons primary class. My Mom was telling me how great the lesson my Dad gave was and how she was overcome with emotion when she thought of the world that those little guys will face in the coming years.

My only response was.."that's why I love summer."

Summer makes them all mine. Summer lets my soul rest from worrying about what else may be influencing them and who else may be teaching them. I get to run up the score for a few weeks and I love it.

4th of July
Crapes, swimming and backyard fireworks.

There were days not too long ago when I made sure I had red, white and blue for all my kids on the 4th, matching bows for the girls and coordinating shirts for me and Scott. This year, my kids just went from pj's to swimsuits back to pj's. It was so awesome, so laid back and so perfect for a girl who prefers simple to extravagant, any day of the week.
Dad at the grill


Watermellon eating contest

frizbee contest

ring-a-round with Melly

The audience

New House
Scott and I snuck away from the 4th of July pool party for a few minutes to visit our dirt. We couldn't be more excited about this new home.

Free food
Kaden was out on his second scout camp of the summer last week. He had another amazing time but it will have to wait for the pictures. While he was gone the kids and I dressed up like cows so we could get free food at chick-a-fillet. Branson was so embarrassed and ripped off all his spots and his ears the very second the free food was in hand. Me on the other hand...I'll dress up like anything for 30 bucks of free food and a lunch mess that I don't have to clean up.

Swim meet
I have missed every single swim meet this summer. It is beyond hard to take a 4 year old and an 18 month old to a crowed swimming pool, in the blazing heat, for 4 hours. It is equally as hard to find baby-sitters. Jenny agreed to keep Ella for me so I strapped Cali in her stroller and headed to the divisionals swim meet on Thursday. It was not easy keeping Cali -safe, cool and happy but I loved being there. When we came back to my Mom's their was a crowd of cousins, aunts and uncles sitting in the family room. My Mom shouted across the way,

"Brylee, how did you do?"

Brylee dropped her towel and pulled 3 blue ribbons from behind her back. Everyone exploded into cheers. It was awesome and Brylee felt as good as gold. Championships are this week but win or lose Brylee has had a great season. I'm so proud of all her hard work.

Jenny the little stinker, went and took these three back to Georgia.

It was such a heart wrentching farwell, as it will be a long good-bye. Gavin and Sid really love the twins and they have spent the summer joined at the hip. I swear, I can still hear sweet little Gavins sobs. It was horrible.

Proof in the Sky
Last night the kids and their cousins were jumping on the trampoline in the sprinklers. An activity that they have done countless times this summer. Branson and Brylee came running to the back door like they had the news of the century to share. They were wide eyed and shouting at me to come quick and bring my camera.

My first thought was,

"Branson, I do not need to take another picture of you guys jumping on the tramp."

But they were persistent so I got my camera and came out side. Both the twins pointed to the sky and Brylee said,

"Mom, look what Heavenly Father did."

and Branson added a, "can you believe it?! Look at that!"

The whole sky was filled with huge beams of sunlight shooting out from the clouds. It really was a sight to behold and I couldn't help but hug the twins and tell them both how perfect it is that they notice the beauty around them and how I love their faith. Life is good when two 10 year olds can look at the sky and know that God is real. Simple and sure.

I have less than two weeks left of this stuff.

Sniff, sniff.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Movie Date

The other night, I did something that I most definitely never do. I watched a movie. Me plus movies don't mix well. I sit down thinking, "OK I can do this, I can!" And before I know it, I simply can not stick it out. I'm telling you- me and movies have our troubles. But Branson asked me on a date of sorts and before I could resist, I found myself all snuggled up on the couch with the boy, watching Spiderman of all things. (Bleeehhk!) Scott would be so very jealous as he is often trying to persuade me to do such things with him.

And so I decided that I can find good use for useless things like movies, if it means that I get to run my hand over the tan skin on Bransons back and hear him warn me in that classic-caregiver style of his to, "cover your eyes Mom!", at the scary parts.

Just the sound of his raspy voice explaining all the unexplainables in that show was priceless payback, for the pain and suffering I endured. Delicious I tell you.

Man, I love that boy. And Spiderman, may I never have to let your ridiculousness seep into my consciousness again.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Eyes to See

My heart was pounding hard as we pulled out of the drive way. My frustrations were just under the surface and I knew if we didn't do something, I was going to lose it. It has been a long week. (Back from vacation never sits well with us) The house is FULL of cousins, which is so fun for the kids but it can just get down right overwhelming, day in and day out, for the grown-ups.

I had gathered my 5 and sent them to the car, we were getting out so help me! Just then one of my boys snatched something clean out of the hand of a sibling, sending a shrill of screams into my ear. I grabbed his wrist and snapped a quick reprimand, forcing him to return the item-all with out the slightest bit of patience or teaching or love. Nope, none.

He turned forward and sulked in the seat next to me. I was seething. Exhausted from nights full of ear infections and fevers. Worn out from a constant flow of feeding, cleaning, soothing and refereeing.

I could tell I had broken his heart. I could see a warm puddle of tears starting to build in his eyes.

I wanted to cry right along with him, and explain myself.

"Don't you know that even when I am less than good, I still love you more than life? Cant you see that...feel that, in everything I do? Cant you take my imperfections, mistakes and weaknesses and just forgive me? Don't I deserve that? I wash all your clothes, cook all your food, help you with your homework, take you on vacation, pray for you day and night? Cant you see?"

But I know, as far as kids go, explanations rarely mean much, its what you DO that they believe. So I reached over and squeezed his hand, said I was sorry and asked him if we could work on this together.

"I need to do better and you need to do better, can we work on this together?"

All was forgiven even though the car ride remained full of teasing and noise and frustration. And even though I still felt on the brink of dropping a few of them off at the nearest CPS office. Instead I took deep breaths and promised myself that I would live through the next few hours of parenting.

I am a HUGE believer in the magic of ordinary. I know that being blessed with 5 little people to love, is DIVINE. I know that there is MAJESTY in changing diapers, fixing meals, cleaning up messes and folding the laundry. I know that calming the days 15th tantrum, or coaxing chores out of pre-teens, or staying up nights with fevers is a GIFT. I know that rocking babies, wiping noses, and driving kids around town is a PRIVILEGE. I know that this is my life's work and I will embrace it and defend it with every thing I have.

But sometimes I just stink at it.

My human limitations and shortcomings stall me and I make mistakes. Then I feel awful and convince myself that I am ruining my kids.

 When we pulled in at Grandma's house I could tell that no one was home. An empty house, that we can crash at for a few hours is like manna these days. We unloaded and me and the little girls went straight for the play room. I collapsed on the floor, closed my eyes and used a stuffed animal for a pillow. Almost instantly Ella was lost in play and Cali was using me as a jungle gym. I could feel the smooth skin on her legs rub against my arm as she climbed up my side. Every few minutes she would put her face up close to mine and giggle. The big kids scattered and for the first time all week I felt a release. I dripped tears into the thick carpet.

There is a trick to overcoming the "hard" of Motherhood. I know it well and practice it often but this last week it slipped away from me and got lost under the fits and the messes and demands. I was like the "rebellious house" in Ezekiel,

"which have eyes to see, and see not; and have ears to hear, and hear not."

I missed the things that usually fuel me, blind to the golden pieces of ordinary life that usually add up to happiness for me.

The little things like the sound of happy kids playing in the hose, or the way that Cali's long eyelashes lay on her cheeks when she sleeps, or how Ella likes to tell me her dreams every morning starting with, "I had good dreams", or "I had mean dreams." The way Kaden kisses me, randomly throughout the day, the feel of Brylee hanging onto my waist before she goes to bed at night and how Branson's eyes squeeze shut when he laughs.

It is so easy to slip into missing these things and then... motherhood turns into exactly what the world says it is. Mundane, pointless, thankless and forgotten.

The world is wrong.

So tonight when Cali toddled in and out of the plastic car, landing on her head, navigating the window feet first, getting twisted up and starting again, I sat and watched her, laughed at her perseverance and let the warmth of an ordinary, simple, perfect moment...give me eyes to see, and ears to hear.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Ella's Love Hate

It is no secret that Scott and Ella have a little something special going. They have secrets and stories that they share and Scott loves to give in to Ella's every whim. He loves to let her sleep in the crest of his shoulder and he loves to get her talking about her day.


He also enjoys causing a good shrilling scream -teasing the ever loving life out of her, seems to be a temptation that is beyond his ability to resist.

Yesterday Ella and I were driving in the car when she said out of the blue,

"Mom, I am never going in the ocean with Daddy again."

I had to hold in my laugh as to not provoke certain hysteria from my easily offended little girl. But her statement was funny because I had witnessed the very moment she was referring to....

watching daddy swim

snatched and resisting

resisting is futile

forcing Ella to have fun

one more attempt

Letting Dad have it

Making up

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Rethinking my Stance

Yesterday Jenny and I were out back while an entire litter of our children plus a few extra were roaming the back yard-burning off the last of the days sunlight. On these sweltering summer evenings clothes are optional for those 2 and under, right? Right.

I was holding my sisters baby who strongly resembles a Kewpie doll...

See what I mean? Anyway, I even had my feet kicked up, when one of the 6 year olds said rather casually to my sister, "Mom will you clean up the poop in the castle." The castle being the plastic castle play house. I shot out of my chair like a rocket, made my way to the afore mentioned castle and squeamishly peered down at it.

Oh the horror! Poop smeared up it's gray plastic steps, poop streaked down the yellow slide, poop up and down the sides- and then to find the culprit. My eyes darted around to the handful of naked bums looking for any evidence. When my eyes fell to my own innocent little Cali, I nearly passed out. I tossed my Kewpie to her mother like a football and tried to find a poop free spot on my baby for holding. When none could be found I commanded Branson to bring out some soap and I scrubbed the girl down right there in the grass, with the hose.

Then Jenny and I soaped and hosed and scrubbed the poop riddled castle. I hustled Cali to the bath, only pausing on my way in, so my dad could laugh at us and shoot me a sarcastic, smirky,

"whatcha doin' Julianne?"

The magic of a summer evening had been spoiled, soiled, ruined and I was disgusted. I wrapped Cali in a towel and hauled her downstairs. I dressed her and set her on the sink to comb out her hair.

It was then and only then that I noticed a most horrifying detail...a dingleberry of poop was clinging defiantly to a strand of her golden brown wisps, right by her dreamy blue eyes.

Oh the shame!

I am offically rethinking my fondness for naked babies in the yard on hot summer nights. It just might be over rated.

(Dear Grandma Joyce, Happy Birthday, I am sorry that I  had to tell this story about your name sake on your birthday. But I bet you had a good laugh. How I miss you!)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

By the Sea

Last night as Scott and I were dragging our children and bag, after bag, after bag into the house my Dad was standing off to the side laughing.

At us.

He shook his head and made a comment about how much work it takes two parents to pull off a vacation. We must of looked pretty sorry and road weary. I kinda of wanted to go into an epic speech about how worth it, it all was but I know he already knows- so I didnt.

Early on our first morning at the condo I woke up, wandered to the balcony over looking the ocean and saw my little Branse, small next to the gray waves, alone on the sand flying his birthday kite.

It was going to be a good week.

You would have thought different if you had passed us on the highway the day we drove out. We shredded a tire at 70mph, somewhere between here and Yuma.

There is nothing but heat, and dry desert grass on that stretch of road and the heat rising from the black ashfault was as searing as the heat beating down from the sky. We skidded to a stop at an angle so the little jack we had wasngt tall enough to lift the car. I was so thankful that we we hadnt crashed that I couldnt be grouchy. In fact none of the kids were. We sat and ate ice chips from the ice chest and watched a movie while we waited 2 hours for a road side assistance truck. Come what may and love it, right?

Almost everyday I can feel the pull the world has on my kids. I get a lumpy throat and teary eyes when I think of how little time they have to be little...how little time I have them to myself.

But nothing can be done, they grow and they grow and the world tells them to grow faster. All week long, cousins and aunts and grandparents commented to me about my grown up boy. His deeper voice, his bigger muscles, his more mature nature. "I know, I know",  I would say, I cant believe it either, even though it is happening before my very eyes.

But, spending a week near the ocean where they have no greater care in the world than to lay in the toasty sand or swim in the icy waves- seems to force time to stop dead in its tracks. And then I want to cackle like a sorsoror and say, "take that growing up..take that!" It seems to keep the world and it's worries, temptaions, grief and trials at bay.  I can sit in a chair in the shade and rub my feet against the grainy sand and see all of them happy and content, filled up with carefree childhood. Summmer at it's very best.

Here there are no schedules. No homeowrk, no peer presusre- except the call from cousins for a game of smash ball or one more swim before the sun goes into the sea. Sunblock is the only rule.

And what about reality? It's there, it is...that is exactly what my Dad was laughing about. The packing and lugging and loading and lifting and arranging and paying and driving and soothing and finding. We do all that too but what ever effort it takes, whatever work I have to do is sweet...a gift really. In fact on Thursday at Knotts Berry Farm, I ran from one corner of that place to the other all day long with Cali slung under my arm and Ella's nearly 5 year old self in the stroller. I was a sweaty, exhausted, sticky mess by days end but the kids had a time! And I was glad that I was there to faslilitate that. Even if I was the line holding, baby tending, picture taker, stuff lugging mule.

For our last two days we left the cousins and set of on our own. I love isolating my family and taking off for adventure. We had no plans and no reservations but we found plenty of bliss and cool ocean breezes and full ice-cream cones, to join us.

I felt a little sad when we drove back into town and passed our usual exit. But when we passed by the steeple of the new temple, a burst of joy hit me as Scott and I shard a comfotable smile, (over the long car ride enduced, crying and fighting).  A secret smile, created by the fact that we signed papers on a new house last week end. We will be going "home" in a matter of months.

Thankful is an understatement.

Life with all of it's flat tires and hard stuff always has plenty of good too and today...I feel drenched in it.