The Math of Motherhood

I woke up today and realized that it was December 30th.  Tomorrow is my baby girls birthday.  She will be three.  Today is the last day I would have a two year old.  It was overwhelming and sad.  However there was breakfast to be made and lots of chores to do and mothering and laundry...so I didn't dwell on it much.

But tonight I just sat on the bathroom floor and watched her.  Filled with such awe and love for all my children.  I thought about how this is new territory for me.  When Jackson turned three, I had a three month old.  When Libby turned three, I had a 14 month old and was pregnant.  When Cash turned three, I had a 17 month old.  When Penelope turned three, I was seven months pregnant.  And here sits Juliet, turning three, and there is no one.  I have never had a three year old without a younger sibling.

These are the things you think about if you're me.  I don't know if other moms think about these things but I do.  I lie in bed and calculate how far apart they are in age or how old this one will be when this one learns to drive etc.  It is the math of motherhood.

So what I really want to do is look forward, not back.  And I have been given the grace to do so.  I'm getting better at it.  But I am fond of my babies.  I've said it before...heaven for me must involve babies.

Tonight I laid Juliet on her towel after bath and said (as I had been telling her all day) "I can't believe you're going to be three!  You're such a big girl!  Did you know you came out of my tummy?" And she said, "Yes!  In!  Out!  It's opposites!"

Then later I asked her if she would always be my baby.  She said, while sucking her thumb, "uh-uhm.  Will you sing a song with me?"  And so of course I did.  I sang her the Juliet song I made up when she was a baby.  She loves it.  We sing it to the tune of "Are You Sleeping."

Juliet Hope Juliet Hope
I love you Yes I do
You're a precious angel
You're a little darlin'
This is true I love you

Jackson and Cash, Jackson and Cash
They love you, yes they do
They're your big brothers
Like no other
They love you, little Ju Ju

Libby and Pippi, Libby and Pippi
They love you, yes they do
They're your big sisters
They're not misters
They love you, little Ju Ju

Mommy and Daddy, Mommy and Daddy
We love you, Yes we do
You're our precious angel
You're a little darlin'
We love you, yes we do

If you're reading this and you have a baby, or a child of any age, sing to them.  They love it!  I love you Juliet Hope.  I can't wait to see my big three year old tomorrow.


Christmas 2013

Merry Christmas from the J Train!

Here is a photo taken at the Integrity Realty Christmas Party.  I was not there, I had photo appointments.  Jimmy took the children and said that they did these on their own...he didn't
prompt them or go over to the photo set up with them.

I love these photos.  They are wearing their everyday clothes.  Their hair isn't fixed.  They are high on sugar.  But there is a level of teamwork involved here, and this makes my first semester of home school feel like a success.  This was my goal.  A team building year.

Having kids who are healthy, full of personality, and who get along with each other...at least long enough to take a photograph...this is the best gift I could get.

Merry Christmas!

Happy Birthday Jesus!

Peace on earth and goodwill to men.


The stars at night, are big and bright...

clap, clap, clap, clap...

DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS!  (Thank you Pee Wee Herman.)

The J Train traveled to Texas!  Outside of Houston, exactly, to see my sis Susan and her family for Thanksgiving.  It was awesome!  No crazy meltdowns in the car, no sickness, and lots of cousin fun and good food.  Lots to be thankful for!

We also traveled to San Antonio for a day and visited the Alamo and Riverwalk.  Both were unique and educational. 

One day we visited the Houston Museum of Natural Science and saw lots of cool stuff along with a walk through a butterfly garden.  More cool stuff.

But now we are back and I somehow successfully extracted myself from the front passenger seat of my van, which on trips becomes so packed full of stuff around my legs and on my lap that I can barely move after an 11 hour trip.  But I did and I can and everything's bigger in Texas so maybe my van expanded in square footage somehow.

Thanks Mathews for everything!


Costumes 2013

 We love dressing up around here.  Well, the kids do.  Talk of Halloween costumes has been topic of discussion for weeks.

Jackson, Dr. Who.  (The 11th Doctor.)

Libby, Nim.  (From the book, Nim's Island.)

Cash, Captain America.  (Enough said.)

Penelope, Rainbow Dash.  (My Little Pony)

Juliet, a bunny.  (inspired by her own lovey bunny)


My life is not a sit com

Last night as I was lying in bed I saw something run out from under the chair next to my bed.   It scurried under my bed, came right back out, and went under the chair again. 

I flipped out. 

I told Jimmy what I saw.  In a very loud and screechy voice. While clutching things. 

I did not know what it was. So Jimmy grabbed a laundry basket and prepared to lift the chair and attempt to catch whatever it was. 

We'll as you've probably guessed, it was a mouse. And as we lifted the chair it evaded the laundry basket and hid under my bed. 

And then my life was all of a sudden a sit com from the 80's. 

I am hysterical. I am now standing on my bed in my pajamas continuing to screech at my husband, my eyes darting frantically around the perimeter of my bed so that I will see if he escapes. (Insert laugh track.)  We formulate a plan. I block two edges of the bed with pillows and blankets (still standing...never getting any closer than necessary) while continuing to scan the perimeter as Jimmy goes to get something to capture it in. 

(I can see Cliff and Claire Huxtable trying to catch a snake in a pillow case.)

He brings back a broom and waste basket. The plan is for me to scare him out and force him in the one direction that isn't blocked. 

After encouragement from Jimmy I do get off the bed and do my job with the broom from one side while he waits on the other.  The mouse runs out and hides again under the chair.  Now it feels like an episode of I Love Lucy. We block every possible exit and prepare to tip the lazy boy chair forward and trap him under the waste basket. I look Jimmy in the eyes. I tell him this is it.  He needs to be the one. He can do this. 

The mouse is fast but Jimmy traps him, right next to the bathroom door, which we had closed so he couldn't get out of the bedroom.  I am doubtful. I am pessimistic.  I don't think Jimmy has done it.  He is sure he has. We talk for a moment, adrenaline slowing to a normal level. We discuss what to do with it. I am still asking if he is sure he got it. 

Sliding a book underneath ("How to draw baby animals" just happened to be on the floor in my room) we flip the waste basket over. I heard the mouse slide to the bottom.  Jimmy moves the book and peeks.  I can't bear to look.  He doesn't see him.  He peeks again.  There is nothing in the waste basket. 

He had crawled under the door.  

Now we have no idea where it is.  In the amount of time we stood there and discussed it the mouse could have gone anywhere in the house. 

I used blankets or towels or pillows to block the spaces under every bedroom door in the house. The kids rooms from the outside in the hall, and ours from the inside. I don't want the mouse bothering my babies! I was aware I could have been trapping it in there with them, but sometimes as a mother you have to feel like you're doing something. 

This morning Jimmy discovered that part of the peanut butter jar lid had been chewed on. (This would be our mega Peter Pan jar from Sams with the thin plastic lid and foil covered cylinder which I keep in a low cabinet.)

Tonight I am setting mouse traps. I don't care if it's cruel.  I don't care if he is just a tiny animal. He violated my quiet calm bedroom and he will die.  

Jimmy has decided to balance out my inhumanity. He said he looked into his eyes. That he's probably got a whole mouse family and that he's just out gathering supplies. Maybe they're getting ready for Christmas. They probably have a thimble. He rides a motorcycle. Blah blah blah.  

So anyway I am putting peanut butter on four traps and placing them strategically in our house. I will go to bed wishing that it has all been a dream in the form of an episode of The Dick van Dyke show and that Rob Petry would make funny faces, do a little slapstick, and make my mouse problem go away while Mary Tyler Moore stands distraught on a chair in her capri pants and apron.

But though it often feels like it, my life is not a sit com and problems don't go away in 24 minutes with a few commercial breaks. But I can dream. 


Tambourine Collage

I came home this morning from a photo session hoping everyone was ready to jump in the van and head to church. 

As I approached the garage door I could hear the sounds of my home coming through the open window. When I heard some tambourine playing I smiled and felt happiness. You never know what your children will be into day to day. And what it will sound like. But it is always full of life. 

As I opened the door and stepped inside I saw that the tambourine player was in fact Jimmy, and not a child after all. I still smiled. 

Friday I found these collages made by Cash and Libby.  They made me laugh. Posted here for all with love from the j train. (insert tambourine playing)


What's Going On, Reeds of Grass

A lapse in blog does not mean a lapse in blog worthy happenings.  It means there's no time to process life, you just ride it until it slows down a little.

So here's what's going on.

Class, art. 
Only one a month through the end of this calendar year, but lots of head space is devoted to this.  And new blog space, actually.

School, home.
Trying to find my way through the day and keep the academic agendas at the forefront of my mind for a K, 2nd, 4th, and 6th grader leaves me feeling a little drained at the end of the day.  I spend much of my time redirecting and honing people in to stay on task and finish.  And then as I lie down my head I begin to strategize new behavioral methods and reward systems to keep said children on task.  They want to build forts and play with toys and I want to do it with them.  But there is some sort of squawking parrot of sorts who sits on my shoulder and tweets "Math!" "Language!" "Reading!" "Science!" "You don't want your children to grow up ignorant!" and other such blips.

Appointments, photography. 
I have begun to schedule photography appointments for the next two months.  I have begun to be one of those people who doesn't remember life without a calendar.  I actually used to remember everything.  Now I'm sure there will be someone I forget even with a meticulous calendar.  I have filled all my slots and then some and I feel many different things.  Excitement.  Anxiety.  Humility.  Stress.  Determination.  Joy.  I sleep a little between all this.

Rental, house. 
Our first of the season this past weekend.  I stayed in town and worked a wedding and Jimmy took the children to Brandon.  I hate being away from my family but did actually enjoy the space a little and it went fast.  We are now living in the "let's keep everything clean" first few days but we know we will fail and we must return to our life as rock stars in a hotel room eventually.  Penelope knocked our her other front tooth Saturday.  Her mouth/chin has nine lives.  But less teeth!

Epiphanies, parental. 
What a nice word.  Epiphanies.  Epiphanies.  Epiphanies.  Watching my Ju Ju and Pip play last week I felt sad.  They were running around the FSU school of music courtyard (Capital City Children's Choir is also going on...) and deep down I saw the joy and wonder of my precious children.  But mostly I felt sad.  I wanted to be in the moment and laugh--or at least smile uncontrollably.  Instead I felt deflated.  Why?  Because they are growing up too fast.  They are so big.  There is so much behind us.  So many good times and pieces of life I can't get back.  But this epiphany was good.  I'm aware.  I'm going to try and love the present.  Run around with them and not be sad about the past that is gone.  It has brought us to this.  Joyful moments with nothing to play with but reeds of grass. 


Exciting and New

Embarking on a blog which requires me to remember many things that have been floating around in my head is very intimidating. In general, I just don't remember anymore. If I'm lucky, I can recall some events. I hope I am lucky tonight.

I have been thinking about the crazy things that happen to me day to day. 

For example, this week I went to bed and had to set my alarm for earlier than usual so that I could make a trip to the library and turn in books and movies in plenty of time before they opened so as not to acquire any further fines. (They would count it as if they came in the day before.) Just your normal home school mom working the system. 

Also this week as I laid down for the night before I plugged my phone in I asked Jimmy to help me figure out how to do something on my settings. As we were hunched over my lit up phone in an otherwise dark room, a bug, no doubt attracted to the light, flew into my face. I jumped up and turned on the light and there was a huge roach on my pillow. Deep breath. 

Last night I finally moved our hamster Peanut into the laundry room so I could close the door on him at night. Reason being, he makes such a racket at night he wakes me up. He was already at the front of the house a good distance from my bedroom. But I'd had enough of the Peanut alarm clock at five a.m. 

There's more.  A week ago I discovered that Jimmy and I had been using the same toothbrush for nearly two months. Another deep breath. I had purchased a new one when I got home from NYC and Jimmy's never got unpacked from his simultaneous visit to Brandon. And there was a spare one in the holder so he thought that was mine and I also thought he was using that one. I know we're married and all, but for some reason "and the two shall become one flesh" does not apply to toothbrushes in my mind. 

Yesterday the kids and I embarked on a geocaching adventure because Libby had been studying latitude and longitude etc. The first one we tried to find was in a fairly public place and it struck me how strange we must look to passers by, me and five kids examining bushes on our hands and knees at the edge of a parking lot. 

I have just been thinking about how every day there is something new. Something unexpected. How chaos and total mayhem alongside of constant stimuli is my normal. This is nothing new. But I have decided it would be a good idea to view it as just that. Exciting and new. Smile. Deep breath. 

This is Cash and I on a walk recently. I love having kids. Let me say it again--it's exciting and new. It is stopping to examine the effects of the sun. It is truly an adventure. I hope to enjoy its abundance and believe it is just a shadow of things to come. Exhale.


Yearly update and photos... 2, 5, 7, 9, and 11...

It's that time again.  Time for the annual update and "school" photos.

The kids have been bugging me to take "lying down" photos ever since this Christmas card.  So we just went for it one night after dinner last week.

But I couldn't resist taking some more "normal" photos the next day...I don't take enough photographs of them anymore.  Somehow it has become a pain to walk over to the computer desk and pick up my camera.  Shame on me.  These make up for it a little.

The kids came up with their own ideas about what they did.

So here they are in the order in which I photographed them...

The seven year old...Cash went first.  We all wanted him to pose with a microphone but he just wanted to be him.  He just lost a tooth yesterday.  He likes to use the iPad and watch Jimmy play Starcraft.  (He plays too sometimes...when he's finished with all his schoolwork!)  He loves to be the first one into Juliet's room in the morning or after nap time.  We wanted him to use a microphone because he is always singing.  He seems to come alive a little more when he sings.  He is Jackson's yo-yo coach.  He knows all the tricks and keeps Jackson on his toes!  He is extremely observant and always knows what's going on.  He is in charge of snack time at our home school.  I picked the perfect man for the job!  He is our Cashy-boy.

The five year old...Penelope went next.  She ran into her room to get dressed in all black for the photos and be "a karate girl."  This is funny to me because we never do karate, talk about karate, know anyone who does karate, watch karate, or read about karate.  Yet that's what she came up with.  Living up to the term I use to describe her...my "wild card."  With Penelope you never know what you're gonna get.  She is into My Little Pony.  Watching it, coloring it, playing it, pretending it.  She is Pinky Pie.  She's our Pip.

The two year old...Juliet went next.  She wanted to have her bunny with her.  She is our baby girl and we all love to ask her questions just to prompt something cute she will say in response.  She loves puzzles lately and books as always.  She is in love with Daniel Tiger and we all sing the jingles from that show multiple times daily.  She is very bright and wows us regularly with her meal time prayers.  She's our Ju Ju.

The eleven year old...Jackson went next.  He of course picked his yo-yo as his prop because he is never without it.  Jackson misplaces a lot of things.  I've always tried to teach him that if something is important, you should think to yourself, "I better remember where I set this down.  I'm going to need it later."  The yo-yo has actually helped him with this.  Because he rarely has it off his finger but if he does he always puts it in a safe place.  Translate:  It is valuable to him!  And we are all amazed at his new tricks.  He and Jimmy and Cash go to the yo-yo club on Saturdays.  Jackson is doing great in school and has been a great help in chores.  However, I have found random items in random places.  He hides them if he doesn't know what to do with them.  This is the kind of thing that drives me batty but that I know will someday be funny.  He is our Jax.

The nine year old...Libby went last.  All the others had fun surrounding her with writing utensils and tools to illustrate (pun intended) her favorite hobby.  She is still drawing and writing and has begun my drawing class as well.  If she has paper and pencil she is good to go.  She has the trouble completing her school work because the smaller kids who don't have as much to do and can finish faster want her to play with them!  Penelope doesn't seem to understand why she can't have Libby all to herself whenever she wants.  Libby is everyone's second mother.  I don't mind sharing.  She does an excellent job.  She is our Libby-Lib.

Well I think that about does it.  There is no paragraph or photograph that can capture the essence of my children.  There is nothing that would ever come close to showing my deep love for them.  Another happy healthy year is a gift of God that I am truly thankful for.  I do not deserve such wonderful kids.  I love you guys!  Now stop reading the blog and get back to your school work!!