Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Coming Up for Air

Life.  When I look back on the last couple of months, I am in awe of all that has taken place within our little family.  I know that I am no different from most people--everyone has busy lives.  Many mothers are trying to balance family and exercise and work and cooking and cleaning.  Finding that perfect combination of looking after myself, looking after my relationship with Jim and looking after our little ones is not easy. While I don't work 40 hours a week in an office, I head out many evenings to tutor, and then often on weekends to teach.  I made this deal with myself--I would only do this if it makes me happier.  Jim has been very upfront about that too--he does not want me to ever feel like I have to go out and tutor.  I have to say that as tired as I am at the end of the day, I love sitting down with the high school kids and helping them try and make sense of a subject that many can't stand and see no point to learning (ahem, Edward).  I like watching the wheels turn in their heads and see the pride in their faces when something that they've been confused about for weeks all of a sudden clicks.  I enjoy teaching and tutoring and being able to stay home during the day to raise three special little people who light up my days with their smiles and their stories and their songs, and who are growing up much too quickly.

April has been quite the month for our family.  Lilly turned five, and all of a sudden, seems to be a real little girl.  She is reading more; she's writing stories and notes and lists and signs; she's riding her new bike, without training wheels; she's intrigued by numbers and what they mean and how to write them and how to add them; she stays after school for activities three days a week now, so she's one step closer to being one of the revered "lunch bunchers" next year.  She has planted some herbs and is asking so many questions about taking care of a garden.  She has learned all the words to the Frozen song, "Let it Go" and sings it all.the.time.  It's not uncommon at bedtime to hear Jack yell downstairs, "Mum...Dad...Lilly's singing Frozen AGAIN..." She has decided (with Jim's help) that tennis is "her sport" and loves playing outside with her tennis racquet given any opportunity.  She's so much fun to be around and I love seeing the little girl that she's growing up to be.

Seeing her first movie in the theater--Rio 2, courtesy of Auntie Ellie
Jack is sleeping away in his big bed.  He made the adjustment relatively seamlessly.  We seem to have moved past the "get out of bed 200 times to go to the bathroom even though I just went" phase.  I had no idea that one person could go to the bathroom so many times in such a short period of time!  The bonus to this was that we said goodbye to diapers at night for Jack, because we were so sick of taking it off and putting it on every time he had to go to the bathroom.  So that was the end of that, and he's done so well!  Let me give you an idea of what Jack's bed looks like on any given night.  If I were to go in and check on him now, I would find at least 15 trains (Emily, Belle, Diesel 10 and Kevin, along with whatever other trains he felt like bringing up tonight) and another 10 books right next to him, including Tough Trucks, Flashing Fire Engines, Trains, and Trucks.  Jack will have Elmo and Pete the Cat, along with his dump truck pillow and his blanket.  And you'll find all these things around his head, which seems like a less than ideal way to sleep, in my opinion. So really, about 75% of Jack's bed is taken up with things other than Jack.  I dare you to try and take something away--he will notice before you're even out the door.

Hannah, being a typical third child, popped two molars last week and I had no idea until she bit down on my finger while we were playing a game.  There they were, two full fledged top molars!  She's taking steps here and there but still prefers crawling as her primary mode of transportation.  She couldn't be any sweeter.  She had a tiny little haircut to get some of the hair out of her face, so we've taken to calling her Carol Brady, especially when she has these two little curls that flare out on either side of her face when she wakes up in the morning or after a bath.    

Over the past few weeks, we found a house that we love, in a great neighborhood in Fairfield.  It is a house where Lilly, Jack and Hannah can ride their bikes outside; it's across the street from a park with ducks; it's a couple of miles away from the beach; and it just feels right.  We're in the final stages of signing contracts and doing all the official things you have to do when you buy a house, and are cautiously optimistic about our move in July.  It's not a huge house, but it will be filled with lots of love and is a house where Jim and I can both see our family thriving in the years ahead.

33rd birthday celebrations
Jim is going through a difficult time at work--a time that I know he'll remember forever.  It's one of those experiences that you have to have in order to make you a stronger person, and although no one wants to go through what Jim has been going through, it's been a reality check.  It's made him think about what he really wants to do with his life.  We've talked a lot about what makes us happy and what is really important in our lives.  It has been a time that has made our relationship and our family stronger and I know that one day, Jim will be telling Lilly, Jack and Hannah about these weeks and how they helped him grow.

A bedtime snuggle--the things that really matter in life.
Ellie is staying with us while she gets settled back in the US, and that has been such a treat.  She has brought a lot of laughter and fun into our house.  The little ones adore her and I love watching Ellie's interactions with them.  Her patience is admirable (a trait she must have inherited from Dad).  No, really, Ellie is so unbelievably patient with Lilly, Jack and Hannah.  It's not easy being surrounded by three very little children all day every day, especially when she doesn't even have her own space in our house.  She reads to them and lets them climb all over her.  She does puzzles on repeat and has perfected her "Duck, Duck, Goose" skills.  Sometimes, she just can't help herself--I'll see such an Ellie look on her face before she blurts out something that she knows is going to drive one of them crazy, purely for the reaction.  Like telling Jack that Whiff is her favorite train--NOT Emily.  Or telling Lilly that she looks like a tiger because she's wearing stripes--and Lilly repeatedly tells Ellie that she wants to be called by her real name--none of these made up names that Ellie has for her.  Over the past few weeks, the little ones have learned when to back off--as I saw growing up with Ellie, when she wants to be left alone, you better leave her alone.  They caught on quickly; there's no jumping on Ellie's bed and tickling her in the morning unless she's had TWO cups of coffee.  It's easy having Ellie here. I never have to explain to her how to enforce the rules.  She just knows.  And boy, have I come to fully appreciate having an extra set of (grown up) hands all day.  Not to mention the fact that Ellie and I haven't spent this much time together since summers in college.  Oh, and it helps that she has perfected an unbelievable mango margarita recipe.

This month, I turned 33 and Jim and I celebrated 7 years of being married.  Our wedding feels like it was yesterday and an eternity ago at the same time.  As clearly as I can remember our newly married days, I can't imagine our life any differently from the way it is now.  I love Jim more than I did the day I married him.  I have three little people who have taught me how to be a Mum.  I'm a pretty happy person these days.  How many more things could we pack into April?  I have to say that I'm ready for May; ready for the warmer weather; ready for school to wind down and tutoring to dwindle a bit; I'm ready to come up for air and relax and enjoy life for a little while.  I've stopped having unreasonable expectations about how much and how often I want to write.  I've started running regularly and I now miss it when I don't start off my days with fresh air while I watch the sun rise.  I've been reading more and facebooking less.  So, with that, I say goodbye to April (and hopefully the cold weather and rain as well).  Let's see what May has in store for us.

Birth-A-Versary Number 7--enjoying some Veuve Clicquot courtesy of Mum and Dad

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