Let Them Eat Cake

Saturday, November 29, 2014

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One of our friend’s turned six today. Happy birthday sweet friend! The girls were delighted to celebrate with her at Chuck E. Cheese – our very first trip.

Near the end of our time, Penny ran off into a crowd of children and quickly vanished from sight. After not finding her for a few minutes, I approached the party hostess at our table. Surely there is a protocol requiring use of her fancy headset for such things, right??? As I began to describe the situation and our 2 year old, I felt a familiar tug on my pants and out from under the table came Penny. “Mommy, I eat cake under there.”

What a good girl. Helping to clean up after everyone by eating the bounty under the table.

No More, Please

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

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Today we are gearing up for a couple of busy weeks with lots of back to back visitors.

We are sitting on the cusp of one of our huge summer highlights – a long staycation weekend with most of my family, followed (16 hours later) with a rare treat of Bob’s family visiting. We’ve been looking forward to this for months, but for our family with a multitude of littles, its an intense schedule with no time to recover our normal routine in between visits. A few weeks ago I said to Bob, I can handle these two weeks, but really, nothing more can be added to them.

Then, of course, something “more” was added to the schedule. All good things, but still “more”. I breathed and said, “Ok, but nothing more. I can fit nothing more into this these two weeks, and stay sane.”

Wouldn’t you know, last night Penny climbed out of her crib. This morning I found her OUT of her crib again, trying to get her bedroom door open. I’m actually surprised it took this little climbing monkey this long to figure it out, but clearly she can do it, and do it well. But, this week. It had to be this week. This is more, a whole lot more.

Here we go. Launching ourselves into a day of preparations – there’s grocery shopping to be done, swimsuits to be purchased (due to untimely elastic failure), a doctor’s visit to be had, and now a room to be rearranged, and a little one who needs to learn to sleep in her new bed.

Never a dull moment. Trusting that God’s grace will flow through the cracks of life today and these weeks.

Be Strong and Courageous

Sunday, June 15, 2014

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Today is a day to celebrate and to remember. A big thing happened in our family today.

At age 4 Lucy had a rather traumatic experience in the pool. Amidst the chaos of managing 4 kids in the pool, the adults on deck didn’t realize Lucy had forgotten to put on her floatation device before entering the pool. Lucy was distracted by her desire to show off a new swim accessory to the kids already in the water. She launched herself into the pool and sunk. The adults reacted quickly, and aside from swallowing some water, she was physically unharmed by the incident. However, the frightening memory crippled her swimming abilities and she became increasingly fearful of being splashed in the face and going under the water. So fearful in fact, that showers were off limits and washing her hair has been anxiety producing.

For months, we’ve been having “shower training” instead of baths to get her used to the splashes on her face. Her wonderful swim coaches have understood her story and won her trust. We’ve seen her swimming abilities blossom, with the exception of going under the water.

Its been a long road. We’ve talked extensively about endurance in learning a new skill, and having courage to try something for the first time, and what it means to be brave and face our fears. We’ve prayed that God would give her courage to face her fear of the water. I’ve wondered how much to push her, and when to wait patiently for her readiness, and if I should just give up for this season and try again later.

We’ve made it a priority to get into the pool to practice with her every day. If we can’t get to the pool, we practice in the bathtub. Most often her response to being asked to practice going underwater is “I’m not ready, yet.”

But, this weekend, hesitantly she said, “Ok.”

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Lucy faced her fears. She put her face in the water, willingly. Then, today, Lucy went in the pool without her floatation device for the first time since the day she sunk 2 years ago. Moments later, she took off swimming all over the pool. And then, she jumped. And jumped. And jumped. “CANNON BALL!!!” she yelled. Almost 4 hours later I drug her away from the swimming pool for dinner only after promising that tomorrow we would be back to practice some more.

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“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

This is the little big stuff that makes up our family story. The little, big moments we need to thank God for, to celebrate and to commit them to the memory of our family’s story. So today, we remember the day Lucy faced her big fear and jumped wildly into the pool.

My Lucy girl, always remember, there are wonderful, exciting adventures in life waiting for you when you are willing to face your biggest fears. Just keep swimming little mermaid.

It’s A…

Friday, April 25, 2014

It’s a big day in our house.  The big ultrasound for Baby 5.0. When we came home we surprised the girls with the news by pelting them with silly string.

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Yep. The Princess Army’s reign has been shaken.

A boy.

Life. It’s a wild ride!!! 

Not What I Imagined – My Messy, Beautiful Life

Thursday, April 17, 2014

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I am living my dream. Ever since forever I wanted this, what I have in front of me – my four closely spaced kids, my husband who loves us more than we could ask, and I am able to choose to stay home with this little army of ours.

My little dream has had more than a few surprises. I never imagined that the bone aching exhaustion would be a near constant theme through 7 years of constant pregnancy and/or nursing littles ones. I now count it as a real and true blessing to make it through another day and be able to curl up with a book or more likely fall asleep watching some ridiculous show on my iPad in my bed by 8pm.

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I never imagined that sleep could be so allusive. My prayer has evolved from “Please God, let the baby sleep through the night,” to something more like “Please God, don’t let more than one child wake up at the same time tonight. If it has to be more than one, please, I beg you, not more than two children, because there are only two adults here. Two sleep deprived adults.” Without experiencing the daze of night feedings, nightmares, accidents, or kids waking me up just to let me know their water cup is empty or that blankie got lost in their bed, we wouldn’t know the true gift it is on the occasion when all four children sleep through the night.

I never imagined it could take me 45 minutes to leave the house, every single day. Its as if we have never left the house before, and no one knows how to make it happen. Recently I was desperately trying to get to the pharmacy to pick up ANOTHER round of antibiotics for the eternal cycle of pink eye that plagued our family for over a month. I was rushing everyone out the door, but my 3 year old was refusing to be hurried. The harder I pushed, the more she resisted. Finally I managed to get her down the front steps. I put the baby in the car. She stood at the bottom of the steps and fussed quite loudly but not actually saying anything. She pointed to her feet. Her bare feet. Standing in a melting pile of snow.

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I never imagined the constant mess. I imagined life would be messy, but was not prepared for the constant undoing of everything that I had done. That our home would be so far from perfect so much of the time. That I would call our home good enough for company so long as I had managed to scrape all the squished raisins off the floor because I’m personally convinced there is little worse than getting a foreign unidentifiable substance stuck to your socks. I didn’t realize the joy I would find as I learn to relax and open my imperfect home – with its pile of dishes, yes, even the missed raisin – to my kids, to our friends, to our community, and that our imperfect home would be a space for the imperfect people who wander in and out of it to build trust and connection with others.

I never imagined that everything would take so long. Nothing happens quickly. My get it done personality has to surrender one hundred times a day to the toddler who wants to do it herself, or to the kindergartener who wants to “help.” A simple clean up of the playroom inspires my children to take out every single toy they own. A task like making dinner takes 3 times longer than it should because I’m settling fights or helping someone in the bathroom or inventing suitable jobs for my enthusiastic helpers.

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Its all wonderful. I wouldn’t trade the laughter we share together. I wouldn’t trade the joy of teaching these little people to be kind and loving big people, even after I’ve walked them through apologies and forgiveness 20 times a day.

Its all hard. I struggle through the daily ordinary reality of my life. Somedays I want to fight against all the crazy or maybe I just want to run and hide. Occassionally I want to scream back in the face of the 3 year old who is throwing her fourth tantrum today, when my migraine just can’t take any more. But, I wouldn’t want to trade any of the hard. Because without the hardship, how would I know and appreciate the good, the beautiful, the wonderful? I might miss the miracle of a child who finally settled after a tantrum, who apologized for the first time on her own. The same child, who moments later, asked me to help her find her favorite leotard and when we did find it together, she exclaimed “You are the very best helper, Mommy! I love you!” My life is messy, but the beautiful is in the people I’m living it with, and living it for.

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For my Lucy, who is an awesome big sister and second mother to her 3 – soon to be 4 siblings. She feels emotion deeply, and seeks justice in her world for herself and those around her.

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For my Fable, the observer, who notices and appreciates the smallest details in life – like when I’ve given her a different brand of string cheese.

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For my Emmeline, our comic relief, who enjoys making us laugh, and dances her way through life.

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For my Penelope, who balances her self advocacy with true empathy and compassion for others – as best any one year old can.

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And of course my Bob, with whom I created this crazy life. I could not imagine a better pairing for our life together.

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This is my messy, beautiful, ordinary, extraordinary life in which I can do hard things. In our family, with our four little people who interrupt and distract and wake us up in the middle of the night, and spill, and create messes, where everything takes 10 times longer than it should. I like to remind myself, “I can do hard things, but I must do them slowly.”

This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!

And here comes my very first giveaway here on Capture the Sparkle. If you would like to win a copy of Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, share this essay on Social Media just make sure you link back to Capture the Sparkle to be entered to win!

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The Joke is On Us

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Its April Fools Day. Not exactly my favorite day.

But this year, well, the joke is on us.

Dancing Through the Years

Monday, March 31, 2014

Inspired by the website – Where The Hell is Matt? , we took our kids extreme love of dancing any and everywhere and put together a fun video that we hope you’ll enjoy.

This is actually the second video in our series. It encompasses the last 2 years.  There is another “life before Penny” dancing video in existence, which I’ll share another time.

For now, sit back and enjoy the girls “capturing the sparkle” of life. Oh, and those horrible cameos of me Bob found it necessary to use? Well, ignore and consider it me taking another blogger’s advice and remembering to get in front of the camera. I should get some points for that right???

I Am the World’s Worst Soccer Mom

Sunday, March 30, 2014

…and the season hasn’t even started yet.

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I moonlighted as a gymnastics mom in the fall. It was totally manageable. Show up, chat with a good friend, and my husband would meet us there after work to help with crowd control. It worked well.

Unfortunately, gymnastics is not exactly the cheapest sport, and multiply that times two or three, and it adds up – fast. When Bob (who I jokingly refer to my Sugar Daddy) lost his job unexpectedly in the fall, gymnastics was the first thing to go.

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Lucy played soccer once before. A practice and a game crammed into an hour on a Saturday morning with a bunch of 4 year olds running in a pack, and quickly loosing interest – laying down in the field staring up at the clouds or picking dandelions only to be revived at the sight of juice boxes and fruit snacks.

Lucy loved it, mostly. So long as it wasn’t too hot or too cold and she was in a reasonably good mood. Of course she keeps asking to play again. Weeks ago a friend recommended a budget friendly league with a vague website. I signed her up. I didn’t realize what we were in for.

We have not even been to the first practice, and I’m ready to throw in the towel. This is just all too hard – this soccer mom stuff. Giving up every Saturday morning from now until June to soccer games. Not to mention weekly practices at undetermined locations at undetermined times. I hadn’t realized the sacrifice our whole family was making.

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We [finally] received our “welcome to the team” email from our coach this weekend, I groaned, audibly. Lucy is 6 – practicing twice a week at 5pm for over an hour. I guess this means twice weekly picnic dinners on the soccer field with her siblings, which isn’t such a bad thought, if we actually had warm spring weather to enjoy. Goodbye leisurely Saturday mornings – replaced by rotating game schedules.

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When I received another email this afternoon alerting me the first week of practices and first game would be cancelled due to the monsoon rains over the weekend and the muddy fields, I cheered… followed by the realization that games would be rescheduled on an upcoming Sunday in addition to that week’s Saturday game. None of that excites me.

So, I’m not what you would call the ideal soccer mom. I am finding it hard to find the joy in this soccer season. I don’t love dragging everyone to the soccer field during the hardest part of the day, the disjointed dinners, or the late bedtime it causes. But when I remember this cutie on the field in her gianormous uniform… all I can do is fix a pleasing picnic for my littles and grin and cheer for my little player – whether it turns out she is engaged in the game, or picking dandelions in left field.

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Goooo team!

…Oh and if you need me, I’ll be on the soccer field.

Capture and Replace

Thursday, March 6, 2014

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Just in case you missed it, I had the awesome opportunity to share my struggle with “aloneness” on my friend Kristi’s blog earlier this week. Kristi is on a journey to health and wholeness of mind, body and spirit. She shares some great insight into all these areas, highly recommend you go poke around check out what she’s got going on over there.

My contribution is part of her series on Capturing and Replacing Negative thoughts. Often I struggle with aloneness in the midst of being never alone with  my little ones… maybe you do too… Check it out. 

Things to Do on ANOTHER Snow Day: Celebrate Dr. Seuss

Monday, March 3, 2014

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Looking for a few new ideas to keep the kids busy on another snow day (or two)? Here’s a few things we have planned in celebration of Dr. Seuss’ Birthday. You don’t have to homeschool to make use of these boredom busters.

We will be reading a plethora of Dr. Seuss books this morning, perhaps with a tea party and special snack (to be determined!) One of our favorites, Green Eggs and Ham, will be the inspiration for our lunch of green (scrambled) eggs and ham.

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We will also be making Cat in the Hat hats inspired by The Chocolate Muffin Tree. (We will probably use markers instead of paint so we can wear them right away.)

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My oldest two will enjoy this game from The Pleasantest Thing with rhyming word families.

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We will also be gluing pom pons onto these printables from Making Learning Fun designed for use with magnets. This is a great activity to practicing coordination in trying to keep the pom pons in the circles. If you don’t have pom pom on hand, use what you have – Cheerios, pasta, pennies, do-a-dot markers, stickers, really anything small can work!

If you are in our area, after you come in from the snow this afternoon, you can tune in at 3pm to the WETA Kids TV Station. They are airing four new “The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That” Episodes (totaling one hour of entertainment). We love this show, and have been looking forward to the new episodes all week.

Hope you stay warm and well! May the power stay on and may the grace of God be with all the parents at home with little ones today!

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