Life Sucking Goldilocks

Tonight we took a family trip to the home improvement store. Myself, Jimmy, and our five offspring. There was purchasing of paint, the use of the public restroom, people taking off their shoes, and the regular behavioral issues involved with shopping carts and merchandise you don't want to have to purchase. I never thought we'd make it back to the terribly hot van. It was, in three very sarcastic words, lots of fun.

As we were navigating our way to the checkout, Jimmy turned to me and said, "Do you sometimes feel like the kids suck the life out of you?" He wasn't angry. Just contemplative. And, thinking of my breastfeeding infant, I understood (dare I say more than him) what he was saying. And then I thought of pregnancy. Even more life sucking going on. In the car he referenced Indiana Jones. And what happened when that guy looked at the Ark of the Covenant. As if the children cause our true selves to completely melt off our skeleton. And while the kids add numerous blessings and complete bliss to our life, it can still feel like that at times.

This afternoon Libby brought me a story she and Cash had worked on together. It was called "Goldilocks and the seven Alley's." It involves the Alley's going off to Publix and a girl named Goldilocks coming to their house while they are gone. I will quote from page four:

"Then, inside, Goldilocks saw sandwiches. They looked very yummy. And there was milk from mom's breasts." (drawing of a bottle)

She then proceeds to eat four peanut and butter jelly sandwiches which are "too yucky." Then, she tries two ham and cheese which are "too gross." Then, a picture of Goldilocks drinking from the bottle... "'this milk is just right...' Goldilocks said not knowing that she was drinking from mom's breasts."

The Alleys' come home and are happy to see Goldilocks, and ask her to join them to eat. But "Goldilocks ran away as fast as she could feeling very, very, very sick."

And the last page says...

"When Goldilocks was gone for good, all of the Alley's, EVEN JULIET, was scratching their head."

After family outings Jimmy and I may feel like we've been sucked dry. Meanwhile, our kids are so full of life and creativity it makes us scratch our heads in wonder for real.


A Beginning for the Bennages

Today some of our very good friends moved from one corner of America to the other. The Bennages have relocated to Redmond, Washington. The J Train among others in Tallahassee have been sad to see them go, but are excited for this new venture for them.

We have known Christopher and Sandra for over 15 years and count them as family. Our kids love each other and even tend to argue like siblings at times. Christopher played bass in our college band, the flying j's. Sandra and I are most definitely kindred spirits. (And I am posting this partly because she is among the handful of people who read this blog!)

Here are some pictures from the last few weeks trying to party and hang out with them before they left. In junior high when someone would move away we'd all get in a big hug circle and cry to "Friends are Friends Forever." It wasn't quite like that, but it was the adult version. We love you and will miss you!

"Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again"
Ecclesiastes 11:1


The Middles

If play is a child's work, these kids need a raise. Or maybe time and a half. Heck, they should be CEO of the whole company. At least they deserve a promotion. If play is a child's work, these kids live at the office.

I used to refer to Cash and Libby as "The Preschoolers." But when Libby hit kindergarten, that no longer applied. So I started calling them "The Middles" because they were (duh) the middle children, and because they play and pretend together constantly. They need to be grouped together. When I was pregnant with Juliet, Penelope began anticipating her transition to becoming a "middle." She has joined in without the smallest bit of difficulty.

Since Cash is truly in the very middle, we call him King of the Middles. Libby is the queen, and Penelope is the princess. I love these three. They are together all the time. I cannot make it clear enough how often I would easily be able to catch them in the same frame with my camera. They are as close as siblings can be. They really love each other.

And then there are the fights.

Because of their close proximity in age and physical space, they are really good at fighting. They scream and yell at each other. They push each other. They snatch things from each other. They wrestle. They spew ugly words when they have been wronged. And I get to deal with it day in and day out.

I am often getting up at 6 something in the morning because already they are fighting when they're supposed to be lying in bed quietly until 7:00.

The middles are often playing "family" which involves Penelope whining like a baby (fingernails on a chalkboard) and calling Libby "mommy."

Other middles activities include, but are not limited to:


taking baths
playing outside with bugs

playing games or doing puzzles
playing school

generally causing a racket

taking care of Juliet
(sometimes reading and taking care of Juliet at the same time)
fighting with each other (just making sure I got that point across)
pretending with toys

dressing up
eating constantly

being cute while doing all of the above

I love the middles. As anyone who you adore, they make me crazy and fill me with joy and wonder every day of the week. And they are loud. Luckily I can get a bit of a break when I put them to bed every night. Yeah, so they can hang like sloths from their bunks and generally ransack the room with stuffed toys while they disobey, get out of their beds, and have a dance party. I don't want to know. After bedtime what happens in the bunk room stays in the bunk room. And I stay on the couch at least long enough to eat a snack. And if it gets really bad, Jimmy and I look at each other and say, "Let the beatings begin!"

Because every middle child needs a beating every once in a while. (I'm the baby of the family. Jimmy is a middle.)


Tooth Trauma

Last week was absolutely crazy. Things around here are always pretty wacky, but last week topped the charts. As my dad once said when we were packing up to leave his house after a visit, "This is like herding cats!" And that's how it is around here. Trying to make order out of chaos. And chaos always wins.

Anyways. A week ago today Penelope was running in a church fellowship hall where Libby takes ballet and she fell on her face. She busted her lip. Normal kid injury around here. As I was trying to stop the bleeding and assess the damage another mom said, "Her tooth is on the ground over there." And it was. The whole thing. All the way to the root. I couldn't look.

My poor sweet angel. I felt so bad. Of course this happened at 3:45 p.m. right before we were leaving, and I had an infant at home waiting to nurse at 4:00. I knew dentists stop answering their phones at the end of the day...all of this made for a stressful trip home. But I made it (after driving like a maniac) and spoke to a pediatric dentist at the eleventh hour (4:45 p.m.). There was nothing to do right away, just take care of her best I could. We went to the dentist the next day.

She slept with me in my bed that night and only cried out a few times. I awoke to her looking like this...
This look says, "Mom, why are you taking my picture instead of getting my breakfast?"

I thought she looked like she belonged on the Simpsons. Jimmy was calling her Angelina Jolie. So then of course we moved to Octo-mom.

This is how it looked on the inside. I've made it really tiny so you can't zoom in on the disgustingness of it all. Okay, I thought I made it small. Just don't click on it.

And here is the tooth.
I will not be like TPW and comment about my cuticles. But they are terrible. I am aware.

She is so little she didn't even ask about the tooth fairy. Being a photographer I immediately (as she was bleeding all over me) thought, "I wonder what the last picture I took of her with all her teeth was..." and then there I was photographing her tooth. It is very surreal. When a piece of your child is lying behind them on the floor, it's just weird.

I know what everyone is saying. It's just a baby tooth. She has another one. But when your fat lipped three year old sweetheart is asking you "When am I going to get a new tooth mom?" you don't want to have to say, "In about four years!" But kids are resilient. She is fine already. Here is a picture I took just a few minutes ago.Her lip is still a little swollen but obviously much better. She has breakfast on her face. This is life.
And showing the gap. She is still cute toothless. As if I ever doubted that. You are one tough cookie, Penelope!