Sunday, November 13, 2016

We're Back!

I haven’t given up on my blog.  Quite the opposite—I have weekly visions of sitting down and writing.  Just like I have visions of editing photos and making photo books and sewing and reading and reorganizing the basement.  Unfortunately, writing often gets pushed to the back burner.  As do many of my ambitions at the moment.  My days are spent being a mother to four busy little children and a wife to my best friend…as well as a cleaning lady, chef, disciplinarian, cheerleader, motivational speaker and psychologist.  Among other things.  Then, in my free time, I try to workout daily, tutor many evenings and teach classes on the weekends.  Life is so so busy at the moment and while I could do without the massive amounts of laundry and constant cleaning, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  

School is in full swing.  We had a fabulous summer—we spent a full three weeks up at the lake.  We drove down to the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia for a long weekend with some of my Stone Ridge friends and their children.  Our time at home was spent building sand castles and looking for shells at the beach, playing in the pool and sprinkler in our backyard, building forts and setting up stores and doctors offices in the basement, riding bikes in the culdesac, checking out bags of books from the library and exploring many of the playgrounds in town.  We didn’t miss the early mornings at the bus stop or getting in and out of the car to drive to Hunt Ridge every day.  I am the happiest when all four little ones are home playing.  I love having them under one roof without homework and schedules.  Don’t get me wrong—there were plenty of times where I wanted to pull out my hair from the arguing and telling on each other and changing clothes 10 times a day and asking for constant snacks.  But by the end of the summer, we had it figured out.  The arguing had diminished; they knew the kitchen was not an endless source of food; they picked out one set of clothes for the day; they tried solving their own problems before involving me.  It was a summer that I dreamed of when I imagined being a mom and having all these little children of my own at home. 

Nothing quite like chasing seagulls 

SO Hannah

Lilly, our little bright and bubbly social butterfly, loves second grade.  On Saturdays, Lilly has soccer games.  Her team, which the players named The Rainbow Unicorns, is made up of girls from all over Fairfield.  Without fail, every Saturday, Lilly knows half the girls on the other team—either from church or Hunt Ridge or a birthday party she once went to or someone she met at a neighbor’s house—she remembers everyone!  She also takes it upon herself to bring her Beanie Boo, Fantasia, who happens to be a rainbow unicorn and therefore the team mascot, to all the games.  

Being the social little person that she is, we’re starting to enter the dramatic phase of raising a girl.  This school year has already been full of conversations about how to be a good friend and how to have conversations to solve problems rather than storming off and sulking in a corner somewhere.  We have constant conversations about organization and taking responsibility for her own belongings.  Lilly just loves talking and socializing; the byproduct of which is forgetting a homework folder or a sweater at school, or almost missing the bus home.  I have to say that this has gotten better in second grade but I have a feeling this will be an ongoing discussion with Lilly all the way through her school years.

Lilly's first day of Second Grade

Social life aside, Lilly loves to read, which is just the best thing to watch.  She is currently reading The Boxcar Children books, and has decided she wants to read all 145 of them, so she has a list and highlights them when she’s finished one.  Lilly and Hannah share a room and both go to bed at 7, but Lilly is allowed to stay up and read so we have to remember to go up and remind her to turn out the light at 8 or she stays up reading for hours.  One night, Jim and I were watching a movie and forgot to go up and remind her, and she came down just before 10 proud as can be to have finished another book.  Anyone who knows me knows how important sleep is in our house, so after making sure Lilly knew how impressive that was, I had a mild panic attack as she walked back up to bed, hoping that would actually function at school the next day.  Lilly adores lounging in her bed and reading on weekends, so I often live vicariously through her as that is not something I do often these days.

Jack is a lunch buncher at Hunt Ridge.  He loves his school work and has such wonderful teachers who know that and keep him busy.  He proudly brought home his Earth Book the other day, which starts off with a picture of the earth, moves on to North America, then the United States, Connecticut, Fairfield, our house, and ends with a picture of Jack’s bedroom and Jack.  He loves math and has started multiplication at school!  He brings home a book nightly to read to us and always makes sure he has it in his backpack before he walks out the door in the morning to go to school.  He asks questions constantly.  While I’m getting everyone breakfast and making lunches in the morning, Jack must ask close to 50 questions. “What’s in my lunch today, Mom? Did you write me a note on a napkin? Can I take a yogurt smoothie? Do you think we can go to the park after school? Or maybe we can ride bikes in the culdesac? Can I have a friend over to play, soon? How many more days until my birthday? Is Dad working from home today? Do I have to wear khaki pants or can I please wear mesh shorts to school today? Can I see what’s in my lunch now? Is there anything else I can have for breakfast? Do I have soccer after school today?”  And the list goes on and on and on….  

Jack's first day of school 2016
One of my favorites.
Pretty excited to turn 5!

Jack started playing soccer this year—and let me tell you, watching Kindergarten boys’ soccer truly takes patience.  The boys spend their time watching players on the other field or kicking the ball into the wrong goal, while the coaches frantically yell a player’s name over and over to no avail.  Jack loves his uniform and is dressed at 9am for a 2pm game.  He loves trying to score goals.  And he really loves the mid and post game snacks.  

Hannah started school in September.  She has been waiting for this day since she was about 18 months old.  When we pull up to Hunt Ridge in the morning, she unbuckles so proudly and skips out the car door into school, after telling Eliza, “Bye sweetie, you can’t unbuckle yet because you’re still a baby but one day, you’ll come to school with me!”  For the first couple of weeks, I don’t think she talked to anyone except the teachers and Jack, who is in a classroom down the hall.  Jack would hold her hand and walk her down to her classroom in the morning, until Hannah announced one day that she thought she could walk to her classroom on her own now.  When I pick her up at noon, she talks a mile a minute about her day and what was for snack and the work she did and what she painted.  She has started playing with a couple of the older girls in her class (as her class is comprised of 3, 4 and 5 year olds), which is no surprise given the fact that Hannah likes to do whatever Lilly does.  

Hannah's first day of school--EVER!

So proud of her very own map of the world. 
Sewing buttons at school
Hannah just loves Eliza, which is a great thing because Hannah is the toughest to impress.  She doesn’t smile just because someone is making a silly face at her or telling her how pretty she looks.  In fact, she often gives people cold, hard stares when they’re talking to her.  With Eliza, she has such endless patience and smiles.  She wants to carry her around and sit with her and read and play—for awhile, Eliza was a real live doll, but now, she has become her own little person and is a fun little playmate for Hannah, especially during the afternoons while the older two are still at school.  When Eliza wakes up from her nap, Hannah loves running up to her room and climbing into her crib and playing with her.  I love watching the younger two interact, and have a feeling that they’re going to be good friends as they grow up. 

And sweet little Eliza, who is 16 months old and full of smiles and mischief and energy and love.  She climbs on everything, runs circles around the house while yelling, “Boo!” and proudly walks up and down the stairs.  Eliza adores her older brother and sisters.  She waves with her hand overhead and jumps up and down sayiing, “Byeeeeeee” as Lilly’s school bus pulls away in the morning, and then says, “bus…bus…bus…” as soon as she sees it pull up in the afternoon.  She says “Hannah” clear as day, and her eyes light up when Hannah is home.  She also says, “Jack” and “hi-ya” when she swings a sword or lightsaber at someone (I’m sure this is something every 16 month old knows how to do, right?)  Eliza loves playing in Jack’s room with his legos—something she knows she is not supposed to do which is why she loves it so much! 

Someone loves markers.
Saying "cheeeeeese"
Her favorite hiding place
Lilly is like a little mom to her.  Eliza goes up to Lillly and holds her hands up to her and says, “up…up…peeeeease?” She loves when Lilly reads to her at night before she goes to bed, and will come up to her saying, “moon…moon…moon? Baa…baa…baa?” Her two favorite books to read are Goodnight Moon and Moo, Baa, La La La.  Last night, Lilly was reading to Eliza in the rocking chair before bed and we could hear them saying goodnight to all the animals in the book and Eliza kept saying, “shhhhhh” to the animals, to which Lilly would burst out laughing.  Eliza calls Lilly “Hannah” too, which everyone thinks is pretty funny, although Lilly can often be found sitting next to Eliza saying, “Eliza, say Lilly…who am I?” to which Eliza proudly responds, “Hannah!” Eliza has been such a fun little addition to our house and makes us all laugh with her silly faces and love of dancing (especially to Chicken Fried and Can’t Stop the Feeling).   

So, that’s where we are at the moment.  We’re happy, and busy and trying to take it all in because the days and weeks and months fly by.  Jim and I often talk about how lucky we are to have these four incredible little people, who are all so different with their own opinions, questions, stories and ideas.  They amaze us daily, and boy, do they keep us on our toes.  

A butterfly, gumball machine, fluffy chick and Waddles, the beanie boo penguin
The Hunt Ridge trip to the pumpkin patch
The girls fall haircuts
After all four little ones "helped" me vote in an election that won't be forgotten.

Sunday, March 6, 2016


It's been awhile.  Three months, to be exact.  I'm not sitting down and writing nearly as much as I would like, but I have come to peace with the fact that writing once a week doesn't fit comfortably into my life at the moment.  It's busy; there's no way around it.  When I prioritize how I spend the time that I get to myself, it's important to me to be able to read; to be able to workout; to be able to plan ahead.  I make sure that I have some time to myself every day.  Jim and I have been consistently waking up before the little ones--anywhere between 5 and 5:30.  Jim is using the early morning hours to work out--he's currently training for a half Ironman in June and is back into a serious training routine.  I use that time to have a quiet cup of coffee, listen to some music, and get ready for my day (put breakfast on the table, make lunches, plan meals for the week, do laundry, etc).  I savor this time, because once the little ones are up, it's game on.

Eliza usually wakes up first, around 6:30, which means I sneak back up to bed with a hot cup of coffee for a quiet feed with a well rested, clean, smiley 9 month old.  I soak up every single feed with Eliza these days, as she is becoming more and more distracted and before long, she will be having a bottle or cup of milk and our nursing days will be over.  Eliza is everything I love about babies.  She's cuddly and smiley; she wakes up with crazy hair and loves touching my face and trying to grab my teeth or my eyes or my necklace while I'm feeing her.  She sits in her crib and plays with all her stuffed animals, swinging them around, chewing on their noses and throwing them over the edge when she's had enough. She babbles and blurts and is learning how to clap her hands.  I can't think of a better way to start my days.

Hannah emerges around 7, and you never know what you're going to get with her.  Sometimes, it's a happy little toddler who can't stop chatting and singing songs, and other times she stumbles out of her room, eyes half closed, with her blanket in hand (which is still her old sleep sack) and would like a cuddle but would prefer not to engage in any conversation yet, or so help you God.  Whatever her mood, Hannah adores Eliza and always starts off her day by asking to hold her and play with her.  I can't wait to see the little friendship between these two unfold.

...this is how Hannah came downstairs yesterday. 

Jack is the next one up, between 7 and 7:30, and he's always up for a good cuddle or a book before he dives into a four course breakfast (fruit, toast, cereal, juice...)  He's growing like a weed--getting closer and closer to Lilly by the day.  Jack takes care of himself.  He finishes breakfast, gets dressed, makes his bed, brushes his teeth and is ready to go by 8.  He makes sure that any book he read the night before is by the front door, ready to go back to school.  If he's taking his lunch, he has it in his backpack, next to his coat, hat and mittens.

And then there's Lilly.  We have to wake Lilly at 7:30, as she likes to lounge in bed and hide under blankets for a good 10 minutes.  She would prefer not to have breakfast, and really doesn't feel like getting dressed or making her bed.  We have spent 6 months trying to figure out how to get Lilly motivated to take care of herself in the mornings.  Just last week, we discovered that a morning shower helps her wake up and start her day so we're going to roll with it for a few weeks and see if that is something that sticks.  In some way, shape or form, Lilly has to be ready to walk out the door and get on her bus by 8:25.  She has yet to miss the bus, although she came extremely close one day last week.

Lilly, doing everything...except getting ready for school!
...with the best smile around.  
Everyone loves going to the bus stop.  It's social hour for Lilly there--riding the bus is her favorite part of the day!  Jack has a little buddy and they race cars down a driveway together or show each other whatever toy each of them decided to bring out to the bus stop on that particular day.  Hannah, once again, is Hannah.  Sometimes, she's chatty and off playing "what time is it, Mr. Fox?" with some of the other younger children.  However, Hannah does not like putting on her big winter coat.  Unfortunately for her, Jim and I insist upon this if she would like to come to the bus stop, which can lead to a filthy mood.  And then there's little Eliza, who is happily passed around from one mother to another...everyone getting in their baby cuddles.  After Lilly gets on the bus blowing kisses to the younger three, who wave to her like she's a celebrity as she drives away, we all pile in the car to take Jack to school.  

We pull back into our driveway right around 9am; 7:30 to 9am is an action packed hour and a half in our house!  Hannah, Eliza and I head up to Eliza's room, where Hannah and I sing Eliza some songs and put her to bed for her morning nap.  Then, Hannah and I head back downstairs and set up the living room for "Mum's exercises".  I've found some workout DVDs that I love, so if I don't end up going to the gym early, I have been popping in a DVD and spending 30-45 minutes doing a workout at home.  By then, it's almost 10:00 and our day is in full swing.  Sometimes, I'll take the little two for a walk before we pick up Jack at noon.  Other times, we'll play games or dance in the basement or clean up the house.  It's busy, but not crazy.  It's organized chaos and it works for the six of us.

This is how Jim and I got our workout in this morning.  Not really relaxing, but definitely entertaining.