Thursday, April 17, 2014

THIS WEEK'S MAYHEM

Having four children often feels a bit chaotic, but this week seems to have taken the cake.  Each day has brought some calamity that I did not foresee.  On Monday, as we got out of the car to go into gymnastics, I discovered that I had not one, but two, children covered in bodily fluids.  Bummer.  Thankfully, I saw a friend who was headed in and sent one child in with her while I tried to get Violet cleaned up.  There was poop everywhere, including on my shirt, but I'll spare you the visual on that.

Afterlight

On Tuesday morning, it was time for our Bloom brunch.  I ended up bringing Violet in with me for a while, because she had been wheezing and needed her inhaler.  I wanted to make sure her breathing was under control before I took her back to childcare.  I took her back, and after another 15 minutes, I got a text that Bella wasn't feeling well.  So, Bella came into the brunch with me for a bit.  Then, another text.  Violet was wheezing again.  I felt like a freak show as I kept leaving my table that was at the front and center of the room.  It was just as fun as it sounds.

But, the brunch was good, and it was great to see these lovely ladies.  We missed you, Kelly and Connie!

Afterlight

On Wednesday, as I was getting everyone into MDO, it was pretty chilly, and there were a few whiners in the bunch.  During the drop off, William plunged straight out of the stroller to face-plant on the floor, because in the midst of everything, I had forgotten to buckle him in.  His mouth kept filling with blood as he screamed.  It was a bit gruesome.  And Lily started wailing as well and refused to be taken to her class by anyone else.  All in all, I am hoping they forget this incident by the time Mother's Day rolls around in a few weeks, because I would get no cards or candy for sure.

If I could afford to have my most usual babysitter follow me around as a personal assistant with my children, I am sure that I would do that.  (Did you hear that, Lindsay?)  Thankfully, almost everywhere I go, I have lots of help, and I am so thankful, cause it is a traveling circus to be sure.

Other mayhem this week has included Violet just starting to crawl a bit - which is a big deal.  Yay, Violet!  The girls decided to get all of the new dishes I got yesterday (that already needed to be washed) and use them as something for Violet to crawl to.  They are the best cheerleaders, and the plates are melamine, so I decided to go with it.

Afterlight

John and I snuck in a delicious anniversary date downtown, and we were seen off by Lily, who likes to climb on top of the car before we go anywhere.

Afterlight
Afterlight

This morning, we decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and picnicked at the park with friends.  Such great weather and such good friends.  Maybe spring really is here.  This week it became really green in our city.

Afterlight

And just shy of one year, William's first tooth finally came through.  Violet already has three, so it was nice to see that he was not far behind.  Teething really is for the birds and seems to last for years.



Nothing super traumatic has happened yet today, but I feel a bit on edge.  I've been fastidious with stroller buckles, but surely, I am missing something.  Like my brain.  Hopefully, we will get on a better track for the rest of the week!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

ANNIVERSARY: NINE YEARS MARRIED

Nine years.  3,285 days.  78,840 hours.  4,730,400 minutes.  On one hand I do completely feel as if we have been married for 4.7 million minutes, and on the other hand, I wonder how it happened.  How did nine years pass so quickly?  What were we doing with those minutes?

From here -

McCulley Wed 026
(for more of our wedding pictures, click here)

To here -

Untitled
(from our most recent trip to Disney in Feb)

Nine years went in a blink, and I am so grateful for all of the time I've had with John.  For me, he's the best husband I could imagine, and he's an outstanding father.  Doing life with him is such a privilege, and I do not take the time we have together for granted.  I think when you lose a loved one like I did 11 years ago with my dad, it makes you more thankful for the time you have with people you love.  It's all a gift.

Marriage is really a great adventure.  I heard someone say once that when you get married, it helps to reveal how selfish you really are.  (The saying continues that having children reveals how angry you really are, which is another story entirely.)  Our marriage has definitely shed light on the dark places inside of me that no one else outside of John ever has to deal with.  We get the good, the bad and the ugly with our spouses, and walking the hard roads is challenging, to say the least.  Sometimes it is the sick to your stomach, pulse-pounding, shaking hands kind of challenging.

But it is worth it!  It is worth the work.  It is worth the effort.  It is worth the prayers.  Because the joys outweigh the sorrows and having John as my partner in life is one of God's greatest gifts to me.  God knew we needed one another to do life well.  There are times when we laugh, and I think that life could not be any better.  John is my greatest encourager, and he challenges me in the very best ways to think about life differently.  He shows me more of Jesus, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

So - here's to nine years.  We've certainly managed to pack a lot of life into them.  I can't wait to see what the next nine years hold, because though there will certainly be hard times, there will be such good times too.  And lots of laughter.  I'm glad to be doing life with my favorite person in the world, JPS.

Past Anniversary Posts:
{2011} {2012} {2013}

Monday, April 14, 2014

WEEKEND: HIGHS & LOWS

Diving right in:

High: Last week was so gorgeous, and almost every day, the girls ended up playing outside during "nap" time.  This included increasingly elaborate amounts of stuff going outside with them.  It culminated with them throwing all of the cushions off our top deck furniture into the yard.

Afterlight
Afterlight

Low:  The resulting clean up and hauling of the cushions back up the stairs involved its fair share of drama.  Also, all the blankets that they took out dragged a bunch of grass throughout the house.  We now have some new rules about what you can take outside and when.  I LOVE them playing outdoors.  I do NOT love grass throughout our home.  I mean everywhere.

High: Though 3 out of 4 kiddos had fevers on Friday morning, everyone was perfectly recovered and happy by Friday afternoon.  We had a tasty BBQ dinner and errands that everyone enjoyed.  Especially the two girls who got bearded.

Afterlight
Afterlight
Afterlight

High: I helped to host a really sweet baby shower for a baby girl on the way.  This baby girl has three older brothers awaiting her arrival, so it was fun to celebrate that pink will be joining their family.  To see more fun pics from the shower, click here to Courtney's blog.  She did a great job with decorations, and it was fun to help "Feather the Nest."

IMG_5743

High: Saturday night, we headed out for a date night with friends who we are getting to know better.  We had hoped to do it on Friday night, but after 10 "No"s from babysitters, we found that Saturday worked better.  We had a great time with the Hagues, and eating outside was such a treat.

Afterlight
Afterlight

Low: In the middle of Saturday night, I heard Bella crying in her room.  I rushed in to find her saying that she was wet.  After a quick check of her bottom, I was able to ascertain that it was not pee, but instead vomit, that she was wet with.  Of course, every bit of her bedding needed to be cleaned.  She was super sweet as I washed her hair and changed her clothes.  The rest of the night passed mercifully without event, and she seemed find the next day.  We stayed home from church just in case, but as you can see from this picture, whatever she had seemed to be short lived, and no one else has succumbed.  We're praying it stays that way.

Afterlight

Low:  In preparation of moving the babies into bigger carseats, John thoroughly deep cleaned the ones we have.  He found what could be considered science experiments buried inside them, because they used to be the girls.  Gross.  It was so nice of him to do all that cleaning, and he cleaned out the whole car too before we put in the new seats.  He is such a keeper.

Afterlight

High:  The babies really do like being in the bigger seats.  We kept them rear-facing, because we are supposed to, and honestly, they can see the girls that way, so it is actually really fun for them.



High:  The weather was so gorgeous.  Warm enough for sweet baby thighs to come out and play.



And now its Monday and frozen gloom has fallen over our city again.  Let's hope that Spring can rally and come back before too long!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

5 YEARS IN, 4 KIDS DEEP

Two nights ago John had out our actual video camera that we haven't used for a couple of years.  We took a few trips down memory lane and reminded ourselves of the value of taking video, because you never get those precious little baby voices back.  I started crying as I watched two year old Lily playing with 5 month old Bella while Lily answered these questions that I had actually forgotten, because it was over three years ago.

Untitled

We saw me, pregnant with Lily, just as we were about to enter the throes of parenting.  We saw tiny Lily, who had two parents all to herself giving her a bottle.  Current John and Carol laughed at John and Carol of the past, because our past selves didn't realize how easy it was to just have one child.  And you never do, when you just have one, because it is all you know.

Untitled

The reality is that parenthood is overwhelming at the beginning.  And until you are faced with it, you never could know how many little decisions that you would have to make or could understand how that precious little person would depend on you for absolutely every single thing in their world.  No pressure.

Untitled

But slowly and surely, you get your parenting feet under you.  You commiserate with other parents and you start to realize that the world may not implode if your baby is not napping in their crib from the very first week of their life.  Or if they take a paci.  Or if they suck their thumb.  Or if they eat on demand or on a schedule.  The things that consume at the beginning fade as you start to figure it out.

Untitled

Another child comes along, and you end up loosening even more.  Which, to be honest, we were pretty loosened up to start with, because we have always been the parents to clean the paci from the floor by sticking it in our own mouths, because it all "builds immunity."  And then we adopted twins, and we went into full blown survival mode.

Untitled

You want to eat three granola bars this morning and track the sticky little pieces all over the house and in my bed?  Sure thing - just please let me sleep a little longer.  And get one or two for your sister while you are at it.  You want to listen to the Frozen soundtrack on repeat all morning long at full blast?  No problem. I would love that too, because at least you probably won't be whining.  The baby is crying again?  Which one?  All of them?  Great - sounds about right.  Surely there is a bottle in the fridge or part of one leftover from sometime that we could give them.  I don't know how old it is - does it really matter?

Untitled

In the past year, most semblance of order went out the window, and John and I both found that we could do more than we thought we could, because WE HAD TO.  All of the sudden it became easy to only put two kids down to bed, because it meant that you weren't doing all four by yourself.  It is amazing what perspective does for you.  On some days when I drop the babies off for therapy and only take the girls grocery shopping, it feels so easy with just two.  But I remember when just a little over a year ago, it would have felt so hard to grocery shop with both girls.

Untitled

Now that we are five years in and four kids deep, I have realized that we will always be learning and growing as parents.  I cannot predict or imagine what it will be like to parent children who are all in elementary school, but in five years, that's where we will be.  Or what it will be like to have four teenagers at the same time.  There will be new challenges, and I imagine that sometimes I will look back and long for the days when having the Frozen songs carved into my consciousness was one of my biggest parenting grievances.

I can't know or understand what I haven't yet walked through.  Future John and Carol will probably look back and be able to laugh at current John and Carol for our current naiveté.  But guess what - I wouldn't trade it.  We are in the thick of it, and I don't want to fast forward or miss a moment.  (Okay, there are some moments that I could stand to miss.  Like the ones where all four kids are crying about something.  But, I am sure those are character building - right?  Or something like that.)

We've come a long way, but we've still got a long way to go.  As in, a lifetime.  Because you never stop being a parent.  We are in it for the long haul, and I wouldn't have it any other way.  It's the hardest thing I've ever done on a consistent basis, and I've got so much still to learn.  One day at a time.

(All pictures from lunch at our house yesterday.  Violet LOVES when Lily brings our cat to her.)