Some things I have to remember about this precious girl at age four-

I am always writing funny things she says down.  I want to remember them forever.  Jeff took her to Five Guys one day for lunch and when we drove past weeks later I couldn't understand what she was saying-she said, "I love that place, that's where I want to go!"  She kept saying, "Everything Guy!"  I finally understood what she was talking about. She calls Hobby Lobby "hobby wobby". She has the cutest little voice ever. I know I will watch videos when she is older and cry at the sound of her little baby voice.

Her two favorites foods are french fries and ketchup.  A close second potato chips and dip.  So healthy!  She also loves granola with strawberries in it, thank the Lord, and will eat most everything.

She is starting to get feistier with her brothers.  "Don't touch my stuff Patrick!" that sort of thing. But the minute Patrick leaves to go to school she says she misses him.  She misses Abbey terribly.

She will play with her kitchen and her babies all day long. She is a pack rat. I call it the natural "gatherer" in girls that make these little ones pack all sorts of things in every bag they can find.  She once walked down with a backpack on front and one in the back, carrying two purses stuffed full of things.

She has the ability to go from crying to laughing in seconds.  Which is why we can recognize easily the "faker" in her.  The boys can make her crack up in the middle of sobbing.  It's the cutest thing.

She is and always has been my buddy. She goes with my everywhere and is always so good.  But she is very shy and won't say hi to anyone, or answer their questions. I am sure she will outgrow this with a little prodding.

Her favorite movies are Sound of Music, any Curious George shows, and Mary Poppins.

Her favorite thing to do ever is to play with our neighbor who is six years older than her. She talks about Mary Carol every day and her whole face lights up when she hears a knock on the door.

She is so flexible but how can one not be if they are #6? And I guess we do have long slow days together so there is that consistency but weekend games, or mom and dad having to go to a meeting, or geez, the older kids coming and going, I always wonder what might go through her head with all the activity around here. My mom told me once though that I was her "constant"-it is true I guess, I am almost always here, and we are together a ton. (Not that she doesn't love her daddy, she sure does.)

I try really hard to not go back and think about "the last time I'll have an infant or baby or 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 year old in the house".  It's too hard too live that way. It's like the "live every day like your last" quote-I always think  "if I did that everyone in my house wouldn't be clothed, educated and we would all be starving".  I do and always will miss my baby days. I will always wish I would have babies forever, honestly, but I guess I'd have to admit that I also don't picture me aging at the same time as having babies forever, so there you go.  I have pictures up of the three oldest ones when they were all at home together playing-I try not to idealize those days but they were so different than now and there was something so special about them-not that I knew that then, I didn't so much.  Motherhood is such a journey-the things I worried about when the oldest were young, or the things I hear younger mothers stressing about today-most of them aren't worth the space in our brains.

I was thinking about what advice I'd give to my own children when they become parents and wives/husbands.  I should start writing down little snippets.  There is so much margin in how you raise kids, but there is sometimes not too. Sometimes there is just "this is right" and "this is wrong."  I think when kids start to grow up too, you see that some super super good parents, have adult children that make decision that crush them or maybe even just merely disappoint.  And children from parents who were downright neglectful or irresponsible in their parenting, sometimes have a child or children escape from that and become stellar adults and parents themselves.  There is no ONE thing that has to happen to "make our kids turn out" ok.  If it was that easy.  It's so much care, and concern and prayers and love and attention and sacrifice.  And with all that, life happens and there are things that affect these children, individual circumstances, tragedies, hardships, just LIFE that affect them also-good and bad.

I know that I also, looking back, would tell myself first to stop worrying so much about this or that. Just love them, and be with them, and thoroughly enjoy them. But I can see myself in 15 years, telling myself the same thing about the teen/young adult years too-asking myself why I worried so much, and why I just didn't put those worries aside and not let those worries invade the joy of raising the kids.  I can make the excuse (and it's a valid one) of how hard this culture is for parents today, but there is good to be found everywhere too.

A friend and I were talking about this the other day.  I was listing out loud to her some thoughts in my head about "what I wanted" for my children.  If I'm honest with myself, it was what would make ME feel like I did what I set out to do with all the hard work I have done. Any by the time I got to number ten I was laughing at myself.  We were both cracking up.  Because honestly, it's ok to have high expectations, but as my friend put it best is "what you want is heaven". Heaven, where everything is just smooth and perfect, and there is no struggle, no heartbreak, no hard lessons full of learning opportunities, and nothing to ever worry the parents or nothing to ever break my heart to see my child, no matter how old, walk through.  No weight on my shoulders, no pride lost, no humble learning experiences for me, no late night begging prayers of "please God".  Just happy happy kids and gloriously awesome grandkids with no struggles of their own? Ridiculous. That's not life!  That's heaven!  And as wonderful as heaven sounds, I would choose to be here and struggle through it all, to celebrate the joys of the journey and find grace when the journey gets more difficult.  Even looking back as a parent for 22 years, which is not that long, the "tough" parts-watching a child struggle with school work or with fear, helping a teen with heart break, or dealing with disappointment over a mistake they've made and pushing through that correction with them, seeing them grow-those days are looked on as just as precious as the "easy" days too.  What a gift to witness-those times have forced my growth as much as theirs, if not more so.

Sorry for the ramble, this was supposed to be a post about things I don't want to forget about Janey.

Happy Groundhog Day!  I'll take the sunshine, shadow or not.


  1. Funny, I was recently wondering how you feel about being done having babies. Part of me thinks I will always want babies too. But I also hope I will have closure and peace of mind when we are truly done. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. Lovely thoughts shared here, Sarah...
    I too love and feel blessed by my vocation of motherhood.
    I cannot believe my oldest is twenty. How quickly those years flew by.
    Like you, I was blessed with one more little, a daughter, and am savoring every single day.
    Just yesterday I finally took her crib bedding off, and as I folded it and put it in a box, I was overcome with so much emotion...
    Memories of the day we bought the crib all four of our babies slept in, of days I tiptoed in just to watch a napping baby and smell that precious baby smell, of carts filled with diapers, wipes, and Baby Magic.
    I was sad. Really sad. I will always wish I could have more babies, I suppose.
    One thing gives me comfort,,,my sisters tell me that being a grandmother is all that love in a whole new way.
    And while I am not ready for that yet!!!!! At least I know I will rock a baby again someday.
    Thank you for always writing what so many of us feel.
    Enjoy your days with your little Janey. : )

  3. Thank you for this post. :) I love the last paragraph and it made me cry. "Finding joy in the journey and finding grace when the journey gets more difficult." I also have 6 kids and I worry if I am doing a good job. But it's okay when things don't go perfect. Thank you for reminding me. Growing and learning and living a real life together is beautiful too and worth it.

  4. I haven't ever commented on your blog after years of reading, but I wanted to say how touched I am by your thoughts here. In struggling alongside my two teenagers as they learn how to grow up, I too have been guilty of wishing for heaven. But you're right--that's not what I want actually. I do want learning and growth and stretching--for me as well as them. And the moments of bliss are liberally sprinkled throughout the discomfort, and aren't they that much more appreciated because of it? Thank you for having the words that I needed to read today.

  5. I just want you to know how much I love your blog. I wish we lived next door to each other. I have 11 (oldest just turned 22, youngest is 1--I think I've mentioned this in a comment before :) ) and so much of what you say is how I feel too. Thanks for being a light in a darkening world! (And thanks for your book recommendations! I read them. Younger Next Year has lead to Thinner This Year and I am really enjoying it!)

  6. Love all your thoughts as always. Sometimes I get so consumed by worries of today and don't stop to realize that they are so tiny compared to what I'm sure I'll face as my children get older. And I too mourn the thought at not having a baby. I have three babies (just turned 5, just turned 3, 9 month old) (and yes, I will always call them my babies I think!), and I'm trying to soak up every moment with my littlest baby since I know he may be my last. It's funny....even though I would love another child, there are times I wonder if I can find the energy for another baby. But then I look at you and you did it, and I see the person above who has eleven children. How do you ladies do it??? I'm hoping I'm just in the thick of it now and will find my answer eventually. :)

  7. I just wanted to say that I love your blog! I am an old fashioned young mother of 2 (2.5 boy and 11 mo girl) and was just telling my husband this week that everyone I know has their 2 year old in "school". Reading your blog encourages me that its ok to be at home and keep your kids at home too, and let them grow up slow, and outside, and not even know what an ipad is at 2.5. Just wanted to say thank you!

  8. I love reading your thoughts. My oldest is about to turn 19-and I feel the same way about all the things I worried about. My youngest is 8-and I sometimes feel like slacker mom because I see my friends with younger kids stress, and sign their kids up for a million activities, or panic over 2nd grade homework-and I'm like "meh". "They're fine." And I understand how it seems strange that how your household was when your oldest kids were small is not at all the same as what your youngest experiences. I think about how quiet it will be when my youngest is the only one at home-from his 8th grade on. I can't even imagine how different our house will be! Oh well-I'll just keep trying to enjoy each stage.

  9. I am so thankful you make time to share your thoughts with the rest of us and that you have the courage to stand up for what is really important. Your post reminds me of something I read that resonated with me, that maybe raising children isn't just about who they become (because they have agency), but more about who we become through the process. Each stage of motherhood comes with joys and challenges. My 6 range from 8-23, and while I am loving the perks of uninterrupted sleep at night, etc, I feel a little lost because the oldest 3 have left home and the younger 3 don't need me as constantly as they used to. I miss the days when they were all together, and yet I know that the goal is to prepare them to leave us and live successfully on their own. Thank you, Sarah, for giving mothers a place to learn and share and think about the heart-stretching process of motherhood!