A Walk Down Memory Lane

In no particular order:
Isaac, Abbey, Matt and Andrew-our first year in this house.

Seriously, Andrew was the cutest toddler ever.

This was at our old 1840's house and I have such fond memories of Halloween there-we lived right "downtown" and it was hoppin' on Halloween-everyone went hog-wild on the decorations and during trick-or-treat hours if you stood in the street it looked right out of a Norman Rockwell-ish painting, with kids running here, there and everywhere, and little screams and giggles and wagons and flashlights, and leaves whipping in the wind.

Getting a little older...Isaac not in the picture because he was with a friend.  It was so hard to start to "lose" the older kids on this night-of course they wanted to be with friends, I remember the same thing myself.  

 Isaac! (now 19, then about 3 or 4?)

Sweet little Abbey in my favorite costume ever at our first house.  My mom had bought it for her at a shop that sold handmade/knitted items.  This is a simple nurse costume.  I still have it-it is awaiting Janey one day.

Oh boy-Isaac again.  He wanted to be the most complicated Pokemon out there.  But I did it-with yards and yards of blue felt and bags of stuffing.  Every time Jeff sees this picture he laughs till he cries.  But it's probably more crying now.  Years go so fast!

This is me, in my princess costume.  I still remember helping my mom make it.  We had such a little street to trick-or-treat on.  We'd come home with maybe 10 pieces of candy max, but I couldn't control my happiness.  So much so that I'd have so many butterflies, I'd make myself sick every Halloween.  I lost my glitter wand this Halloween and some sweet older lady brought it back from her walk the next morning.  Good thing because I was up all night worried about it.

Growing up, with a new addition, baby Patrick.  

Another Pokemon, this time I had more confidence in myself, as far as Pokemon go.

A beautiful summer-ish night-a hippy, a train, and a soccer player.  So easy!

This seems like yesterday!

I will never let this costume go.

Jeff as super diaper baby or something.  He's going to the Father-Daughter dance this year as Pee-Wee Herman, much to Abbey's chagrin.

I really hate dressing up for Halloween-I feel like I have my hands full enough just getting the kids costumes ready!  Hence the cat mask.  That's as far as I go.

Patrick is wearing the elephant costume that I made for Isaac at the same age.  I can't believe it's endured so many Halloweens, with my sub-par sewing skills.  It's a miracle.

Matthew as a cowboy.

And this was Janey last year, with her big sis.  They both look so much older this year!

Well, I've managed to make myself cry on Halloween.

Happy Halloween!  
Have a fun candy-filled, spooky night.
Rain or no rain, high winds or thunderstorms, you can't stop us.


I Love Fall

Is anyone watching The Paradise on PBS?  I am and love it.  It's no Downton, of course, but it's really good and I look forward to it every Sunday evening.

I made these the other day and they are better than ever.  I also made pumpkin bread but I was talking on the phone when I was measuring the ingredients, and I must have missed something because I baked up five mini pumpkin bricks.

Scooping the goop.

Janey laughs so hard at the boys outside jumping around, she can hardly catch her breath.

I've had these cute little trick or treaters for years.  I remember Patrick used to love these "friends" at Janey's age.  (I bought them from Michaels.)

Janey kisses them and throws them to the ground.

I often find them looking like this, poor guys.


Ordinary Days

I haven't had my camera out much lately but here's a few photos I've found that make me smile.
Curls!!!  Oh, how fun.

A clean kitchen. For this one minute.

A foggy beautiful morning.

My pumpkin.

(If you want to know what these are and how to make them go here.)

Homework time.

Our spooky front door.

I told him he can practice his recorder outside or in his closet with the door closed.  We ALL told him that.  

More homework.

Baby barricades.


What Really Matters

I took a week off and didn't even mean to.  Janey was a fussy short-nap teething baby, and then I had a wonderful bout of mastitis, and if you don't know what that is, consider yourself lucky.

Oh, motherhood.  It's wonderful but it's not always easy.  I often feel pulled in a thousand directions.  I remember a precious letter my grandmother, a mother of nine, sent to my mom, a mother of five that said exactly that.  It was wonderful to know that my grandmother felt the same, felt like we all do-that we are doing our best, day in and day out but still always have a pull to do better.  

And I loved this essay I read recently about stay at home moms.  I absolutely loved it.  To me it's a love letter written to his wife and his children. 

This is my favorite part of the article by Matt Walsh:
"Yes, my wife is JUST a mother. JUST. She JUST brings forth life into the universe, and she JUST shapes and molds and raises those lives. She JUST manages, directs and maintains the workings of the household, while caring for children who JUST rely on her for everything. She JUST teaches our twins how to be human beings, and, as they grow, she will JUST train them in all things, from morals, to manners, to the ABC’s, to hygiene, etc. She is JUST my spiritual foundation and the rock on which our family is built. She is JUST everything to everyone. And society would JUST fall apart at the seams if she, and her fellow moms, failed in any of the tasks I outlined."

It's weeks like I had last week that make me all the more aware of how much I am needed here.  I've written about it before, but I have to say it again.  It's not the easy fun weeks of motherhood that make it all worth it. It's not seeing the baby's first steps, or spending a beautiful day outside at the park for an hour, or the loving hugs or sweet kisses.  

It's the hard stuff.  It's the fussy baby that makes me feel like my head might explode.  It's the diaper doozies-the ones that require a bath, only because that tiny twenty five pound baby is so strong in her insistence to do flips on the changing table that I can't get clean what I need to get clean.  It's the intimacy of even changing a diaper and wiping private parts clean.  It's doing that twice or three times (or more!) a day.

I want it to be ME.  It MUST be me.  My head feels a hormonal buzzing noise when she whines that makes me go pick her up, no matter how tired I am, no matter how annoyed that whining combined with the need to hold her while I get other things done makes me feel, no matter how sore my arm, or how exhausted or sick I am.  

I want her to know that even when she is smellier than what a human nose is supposed to be able to handle, I adore her so much, I will change her lovingly as many times a day as it takes and as soon as possible.  She deserves to feel loved every moment, especially in these moments.  All babies deserve that. 

I remember long ago someone asked me what I tell my oldest daughter about pursuing her education, combining a career and mothering, balancing life.  

Really the answer to that question doesn't just apply to my daughter (daughters now)-I could possibly be blessed with four daughter-in-laws that will raise my grandchildren too.  And my sons and sons-in-law have just as much a part in parenting also.

I can tell you this-more than anything else in the world, I want them all-my sons, my daughters, my son-in-laws and my daughter-in-laws, to be intentional thoughtful present parents.

I want them to be able to have the courage and intelligence to take a step back and see life with a wide angle.  To not fall in line with the rat race of materialism but look and see the beauty of life and the gift, the incredible gift, of parenthood-to know what is really really important and beautiful and true.  I want them to question the main stream, and try not fall prey to the lies that bombard us every day and lead us astray.  I want them to know that all that the society rewards us for, is almost always never what deserves an accolade, and the quiet work of caring for a family and being a responsible member of the universe usually never gets a write up.

Really, I want them to not need rewards.  I want them to be able to be still.  To be patient. To trust.  To wait.  To have faith that living with pure intentions will bring a reward that none of us can ever imagine. That's essentially what parenting is about down to the core.

I want them to not be afraid to make big sacrifices of time and money.  I want them to know the importance of being financially responsible and cautious always, because in today's world it is not just a trait to be had but a necessity.  I want my daughters and sons and their spouses to work together to put parenthood first always and to use their gifts and talents and creativity and intelligence and perseverance to make that happen. I want them to know the real meaning of wealth.

I want them to have knowledge, book knowledge and field experience, in infant and child development.   I want them to see how very very much a baby needs his parents present, and that there is no substitute caregiver that can match a parent's level of care.  I want them to always consider the true needs of their babies, their toddlers, their children first, and to recognize that they are their children's only and best advocates. I want them to know they are utterly undeniably essential every day to their children.  I want them to know this so much that they can easily dismiss any suggestion otherwise.

I want them to know love and selflessness and intention and patience is involved in parenthood and that same care given by a parent can never ever be replicated by anyone else.  

I want my sons and daughters to know they can be different kinds of dads and moms but I want them more than anything to be present.  To be smart enough to know it's impossible to be two places at once, and choices and compromises will have to be made day by day, year by year, decade by decade, to make that happen between them.  I want them to know that what ever kind of moms or dads they are, being present is what matters.  Being present is everything. That they are enough as they are. They are what their child needs, just as they are, strengths and weaknesses, flaws and all, always, day in and day out.

It might, it will, require some sacrifice. All different kinds, not just monetary.  Sacrifice, yes!  It's not a bad word.  It's a beautiful word.  If we are lucky life is long, and there is time to do everything we want to do, but babies grow fast and children grow faster, and on our death beds I doubt we think of money, fame, or even accomplishments as worthy as they may be.  We think of the time we spent with our loved ones.

I want my children, in their role as parents, to know they were each born with incredible maternal and paternal instincts and not be afraid to feel those, or ever feel like they have to tame them and tamper them or deny them.  I know this task will sometimes seems effortless and sometimes it seems so daunting it will scare them to death.

I want them to know their worth as parents deeply, internally, unquestionably.


Quiet Moments

I love spending all the hours with this sweet little girl.  She is teething and into everything and sometimes throws her food, but honestly, that stuff doesn't bother me much anymore.  I was thinking yesterday about how every single stage of childhood brings it's joys and tribulations, it's challenges and it's rewards, but it is all good in the end and all of it needs to happen.  Sometimes when a stage gets frustrating, I think of the alternative.  The alternative being that I don't have little feet pattering after me constantly, and my house sits perfectly clean but empty, and there is no little body to cuddle which will always be a great excuse for a nap.

I remember reading a blog post years and years ago-a young mom had written about the loss of her little girl in a devastating drowning accident.  She wrote the most heart wrenching post I've ever read, and it simply said how weeks ago she was so annoyed at the fingerprints left all over the house by her little toddler-she had just spent hours cleaning and was hustling and bustling to get ready for a family gathering and wanted just a little sense of accomplishment that would last more than five minutes.  I think we can all relate.  Life gets harried sometimes and we moms work hard for hours and days and years on end, and have lots of responsibilities.  But now she wrote, what she wouldn't give to see one of those little fingerprints back on the walls, how she looked and looked for them, hoping she missed a few here or there in her quest the last few days before the accident.  

She wrote the post as a lesson for fellow moms, and it has stayed with me forever.

I want to always remember the work I am doing won't last for long, it is fleeting, it is precious and not ever to be taken for granted.  I will wish it back one day, I already look at the years and wonder where they've gone. There are women who would give anything to be in my place, whether struggling with infertility, or experiencing the sickness or loss of a child and wishing they could have every thing back the way it had once been.

It isn't easy to see this larger scope but I have realized that when I take time every day, even just for a minute, to look at the bigger picture of mothering, it happens. If I stop my mind and cease "doing" I am able to see farther than what needs to be accomplished today, whether that be endless diaper changes, or laundry loads, or squabble settlements, or meal preparation.  I can see beyond the little nuances of every age. The little complaints that can over take my mood become trivial.  A feeling-sorry-for-myself moment can become a thank-my-lucky-stars moment.  Cheerios stuck on the floor become sentimental, an unbroken night's sleep becomes insignificant, the constant call of "mom!" becomes something I know one day will become too rare. It is an easy flip of the switch if I allow it to take place, and all it takes is time to stop and take a walk, sit down on the floor to play, take a moment or two or three to connect with a child.

The gift of motherhood should be treasured, no matter good or bad, endless or monotonous, rewarding or routine. There isn't anything I'd rather be doing, there isn't anything more important on earth, I know this with my whole heart.


Apple Crumb Pie

I just couldn't make the same old apple pie again.  Do you ever just get so tired of making the same old recipes again and again?  So I went all out on a limb and tried a crumb topping pie (adapted from a recipe I found on AllRecipes) for a little twist.

Apple Crumb Pie
1 9" pie shell (I used a Pillsbury roll out pie crust.)
6 cups thinly sliced apples
1 TBS lemon juice
2/3 cup white sugar
2 TBS all purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
2/3 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
4 TBS butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place sliced apples in a large bowl.  
Sprinkle with lemon juice.
Add white sugar, 2 TBS flour, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Toss together until apples are well coated.

In a small bowl mix together 2/3 cup flour and brown sugar and cut in butter until mixture in crumbly.

Cover loosely with foil and bake for 25 minutes.  Take off foil and bake for another 25 minutes or until top in golden brown.


Handmade Finds

I have some favorite Etsy finds that I want to share.

Janey's hair is growing fast and it's so darn cute.  I found this collection of bows from a shop called Ellie's Essentials.  My favorite is the bunny.

This cell phone case that my friend Jane gave me is so useful.  I have it in my purse and/or diaper bag so I don't have to hunt high and low for a ringing phone. 

I love these two prints from this shop, both my favorite quotes.  I ordered the first one.

Each of my babies has had a handmade knit sweater. I bought this one for Janey from this Etsy shop.  I love this design because it is so easy to put on with a nice zipper in back that goes from bottom to tippy top.  It is the perfect color pink and so soft.  I will use it all fall and winter and spring, and then next year, I'll have to buy a bigger size.  I hope you are still knitting away Sue because I'll be back....Janey loves her new sweater!