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*insert crazy freak out right here, right now.*

August is the end of summer – though really, our weather for the last week of July totally felt like September, I think Mother Nature is a bit confused. I dread the end of summer. I love these hot afternoons, long light days, sounds of nature everywhere. And I love doing everything and nothing with all of my kids. I’m never ready to send them back to school – ok, some days I feel like giving them that structure and break from home – but it’s only temporary. They’re never ready to go back to school. It’s sad that learning and discovering and socializing comes with such dread. Over the last few months, when thoughts of homeschooling have been more and more, I hope that I could be that change that removes the dread and brings in the excitement. Kids really shouldn’t dread going back to school. They really should get much more play time in their lives. They’re kids. That’s what they should do. But I do dread them going back to school as much as they do. We don’t spend our summers coming and going and doing all kinds of crazy things. We just spend time together. That’s so important to me. It makes me sad when I hear or read other moms anxious for school to start and to get rid of their kids for those hours.

Seriously, if you’re excited for your kids to go back to school for any reason, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!

We should be excited for them to learn and grown and to broaden their horizons – but you should already be doing that with them every day, no matter what time of the year it is. You should be cherishing every moment that you have with them, even when they’re overtired and cranky and pushing each other’s buttons, and grating your very last fried never. We know that happens, nobody’s life is pure bliss and nobody is perfect. But we should still be thankful for those days, because we have those days. We shouldn’t wish them away or think that going to school will take them away. School is that many more hours every single one of those days that you don’t get to spend the whole day with your child. Yes, school is necessary. But looking forward to being away from your kids, I don’t, and never will understand that.

Yes, I’m crazy. I love my kids like crazy. And when they drive me crazy! Because it does happen. But I just take it in stride – that’s life. But it doesn’t make me wish to have less time with them. I have to sacrifice that enough as is.

Embrace it. Love it. Own it. Don’t take a single day for granted. Live in the now. For me, that doesn’t mean living in the extreme every day – sometimes it’s just getting by and going through the motions of a mundane day. Mundane days are ok.

There is still summer left. I will not be sad that each day is closer to the end of summer. I’m going to try to forget that as much as I can. We have plenty of school prep to do but there is plenty more fun to have as well! I have not accomplished nearly what I thought we would, but that’s ok. We’ve spent time together, and that’s what I love.

With August and discussion of pack to school, I tend to get in ” over planning mode.” I have a whole stack of new irons to put into the fire. Some rekindling of old irons, too. As if my plate wasn’t already full… But sometimes, I thrive on the chaos and the trying of new things. I’m going to start making some goals at the beginning of each month, share them here, and hope to check them off the list one by one. Sometimes doing things “out loud” really helps.

In the meantime, the napping is over and The Littles are ready for fresh air and sunshine – so am I! We are off to the big backyard!

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Summer is in full effect this week. It’s hot. Really hot. The kind of hot that I love, but only for part of the day. After a little while, I’ve had enough of sweaty baby heads and itchy, sweaty skin, and worrying about sunscreen (even though I love the smell of that stuff!) and water intake, and the inevitable cranky that comes after getting too much hot everything. But at the same time, I am over the moon and head over heals in love with summer! Shorts and tank tops, bare feet and sunglasses, fresh fruits and veggies, long days full of sunlight, warmth, family, and fun.

This morning, after several that were so muggy, it was so much cooler, and breathing in the fresh air was so refreshing. I turned the AC off and opened all of the windows so wide. I could feel myself relaxing almost instantly. In our jammies, The Littles, The Zoo, and this mama – with fresh coffee in hand – headed outside to play in the yard before the heat could get hot. Those two cuties headed straight for the dirt patch (oh, how they love it but I’m ready to pave it!)  and the dogs sniffed everything in sight while the cats nibbled grass and rolled in the dirt patch. I sipped my coffee, soaking it all in. This was just about as perfect as it all could get, except for the rest of my brood who are all dispersed for the day. I always soak in those moments, thinking of all my littles, wishing they were all still little and under my wing every minute of every day. And missing James while he’s gone. *breathe in, breathe out. I can’t dwell here, it makes me emotional – but you get the idea.*

Lucas asked to “call Dad” so we did. With Facetime. Seriously. How in the world did we get so lucky to have such awesome technology so that these kiddos could run around the yard, play in the dirt, jump on the trampoline, throw balls with the dogs while their dad gets to watch from halfway across the country?! Being apart is so hard. SO HARD. But it’s things like this that make it just a little bit easier and lets us not miss out on the everyday things that sometimes, we take for granted. The kids love it, they want to hold the phone and walk with Dad or show him something that they think is cool. It warms my heart, completely. My phone photography skills were clearly lacking today – but sometimes, buttons get bumped while trying to press two buttons at the same time while holding the phone all in one hand and holding a squirmy baby in the other. This mama has mad skillz!! Or not. ha!

facetime

After awhile, we went back inside, had some breakfast, I indulged in a second cup of creamy coffee, did some laundry, fed the dogs, and lazed around a bit. But it’s Friday, which in our neck of the ‘hood, is “garbage day.” And in a house full of boys, that’s a pretty big deal. It’s taken on a different feel over the past few years as it meant hauling the can to the curb, but this past winter, The Littles discovered the GARBAGE TRUCK! And since it’s summer, there is also the added bonus of the wood chipper truck and today was also recycling day, which means RECYCLING TRUCK! So we gathered up the household garbage and while holding Levi on one him, Lucas and I wheeled the can to the curb and then pushed the recycling bucket to the curb, and then neither wanted to do anything else but hang out in the front yard. So I put them to work and we pulled some weeds.

Levi weeding

But then a few minutes later, while I was slaving away, I found them wrenching on the truck wheels. These two, they crack me up.

Lucas Levi wrenching

We headed back in for some quiet time, only it wasn’t quite as quiet as I was expecting, but there were some cute moments.

iPad

After some napping and other mundane things, we snuck back outside, just in time to catch the sky doing some pretty cool things as an awesome summer storm was rolling in. I absolutely love the clouds and the sunshine and the fun things they do together. It’s stunning. And amazing. And perfect.

sky

Grandma “Fran” stopped by so the boys could play in her car. Gosh they love that so much. Keys and windows and doors and changing seats and opening compartments – they are in little boy heaven when Grandma comes over! We were outside for quiet awhile before the brisk, cool wind picked up, the skies got darker, and the sprinkles started. And just at the time that Grandma had to leave, the sky opened up and it downpoured. She later called it a “gullywasher,” a term that I’m not sure I’ve ever personally used in my adult life, but I remember hearing it used a lot when I was a kid. I don’t think we have any gullies, whatever that is, around here. Maybe I’m wrong. I’ll have to consult the online dictionary. Ok, I did. I’m wrong. There are likely gullies everywhere. Learn something new, everyday. Anyway, we went inside and after waving goodbye to “Fran” for 5 whole minutes, I realized the patio door was wide open. And the rain was pouring in. Sopped it up, closed the windows, and I caught Levi watching the rain.

Levi rain
Only a short while later, after we had filled our bellies with pizza delivery, a little spontaneous scream it out fest, and some jumping on the couch, the nighttime crankies kicked in and that cute little dude found himself sound asleep and in bed. Lucas and I got some quiet time together while Hannah vegged out with some Minecraft after work. Finally, Lucas has fallen asleep and I’ve just texted my dear friend who is in the hospital getting ready to have her first baby. She’s going to be a great mom!

I reflect on these days and always remember how lucky I am that I get to be the kind of mom that I have always wanted to be. Enjoying the wonder that’s in the little things that these little ones and big ones do and think and say and feel. Laughing so hard that we cry. Even when the days are trying and exhausting, they’re so worth it. It’s totally worth it.  There is nothing better than being a mom. I mean it.  Nothing ever can compare to all of the emotions that fill a day, that fill a heart, that fill a LIFE by being a mom. It’s a super huge responsibility, one that I don’t take lightly. It’s hard work. It’s cute and fun, but it’s hard work. But there are these kick back and mostly relax kind of days that are there to put you in your place and remind you that this is the good stuff. The really really good stuff. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Not even to never have winter again.

But I’d really love not to have winter again.

Just for fun, I thought I’d detail out all the “things I did” for the day. Being a “stay at home mom” (yeah, right) definitely isn’t a relaxing job. Granted, I wouldn’t ever rather go back to the 8-5 shift work instead of staying home with my kids and being awesome. Awesome, but not glamorous.

I grabbed my notebook and pen and kept it nearby most of the day. I made a list of the highpoints, tally marked the oh so not glamorous, and just had a mostly normal and typical Saturday with my kids.

Mostly in chronological order:

  • I woke up and loved on The Little’s as they wiped their eyes and started their day with smiles. I wasn’t quite as anxious to get out of bed as they were.
  • Made coffee, unloaded the dishwasher, reloaded the massive stack of dishes from the night before, and took the recycling out.
  • Cleaned up the kitchen cabinets, swept the floor, dealt with some crazy kids.
  • Made homemade waffles and finally got to drink my coffee. Well deserved and delicious!
  • Breakfast for the dogs and cats, cleaned up after breakfast, sit down for a breather and nursed Levi.
  • Snuggled and loved and laughed.
  • Multitasking at it’s finest – talked to my mom on the phone and cleaned some more things and carried the baby all over.
  • A quick bath for me and then for the babies. Got them dried and diapered and dressed.
  • Gathered up AllTheBoys and drove across town to get Connor to baseball practice. Paid his fees. Left him there for an hour.
  • Hit up the grocery store.
  • Picked up Connor, stopped at the video store for weekend reinforcements, made it home for some play and downtime. (yeah, right)
  • While nursing the baby, did some St. Patrick’s Day planning (thanks Pinterest!), replied to some emails, and got sucked into the nets for awhile.
  • Gave up on making dinner – because that’s just the way I do it when things get a little loud and crazy around here.
  • Took the orders and went through Subway drive-thru.
  • Garbage out.
  • Fed the dogs. No Subway for them, except for the crumbs on the floor.
  • All out play time – cards, throwing diapers around, chasing cats, chasing dogs, jumping on the bed, dumping Trix on the floor, watching Minecraft videos.
  • GANGNAM STYLE DANCE PARTY!! Lucas loves it, over and over and over, and we all get into it. Fun times!
  • Jammied up the babies. They look and smell delicious.
  • Toss in the laundry. Then another load a little later.
  • More baby nursing and internet wasting time. I can’t quit you Candy Crush!
  • It’s getting late but got the babies to bed. Ahhhhh, quiet.
  • Levi up. Levi down. Levi up again. Then Levi down.
  • Tidied up some toys and things that get left all over.
  • Brownie time!
  • Relax. Wait, what’s that?
  • James got home!! (dude, it’s midnight, if he weren’t coming home, I’d have been in bed hours ago.)
  • Oh yeah, St. Patrick’s Day – made the Leprechaun Milk.
  • Collapse in bed. Snuggling, minor chatting, zonked.
  • There was also letting the dogs out 12 times, 12 diaper changes, bathroom breaks, 7 additional nursing the baby times, a hundred and one dog and cat pets, and a billion hugs, kisses, and loving moments with my kids.

It’s so nice to have a full day and end it with all of my people in one place. I love our big family. I love spending my day with them.

I let things in my life fall by the wayside. I allowed sadness and frustration and anger to settle in. I failed my family in little ways. I gave up control, and I’m taking it back. Right now.

This past year has been so horribly hard, things I don’t want to share openly at this time. But it’s also been full of new joys and so much love, and great success and rewards. But it’s been an effort, every.single.day. I try to keep myself in a positive head space, making the most of each day and taking things as they come, and almost always carefully navigating the high road. That isn’t always easy ya know. Believe me, I have felt the overwhelming temptation to stoop to the lower than low road, but for the sake of my family and ultimately for myself, I just didn’t. But I wanted to! Remember the old cartoons where there was a little angel on one shoulder and a little devil on the other? That was me. Only my head was twisting back and forth and around and around trying to make decisions. Ultimately, procrastination won! Even thought  that wasn’t one of the choices, it became the unspoken third choice that seemed to win more often than not.

My house is messy. Cluttered. Dirty. Overwhelming for sure. It’s a direct reflection of my brain. My daily/weekly/monthly/yearly to-do list has only grown, minimal scratching off has occurred. Parenting, real parenting, has taken a back burner. Meals have been fast and easy and repetitive. (read: not so healthy) Life has just piled up on top of me, on top of us, and it’s time to reclaim it.

The time is now. Right now. Today!

I’ve been trying to meal plan since the new year and haven’t gotten very far. Yesterday, I got somewhere! I’m not done with the month but hope to be by today. I’m getting the basics going so I can develop a good system moving forward. SEVEN people live in this house and we all can do our share to take care of this house. I’m tired of dealing out chores as they arise. We need to get back into a good system of keeping ahead of the mess and everyone being responsible. I have a good implementing plan, and even though I don’t want to be procrastinating, there just aren’t enough hours in the day. So in the next few days, I hope to have that ready to go – fast and efficient and fair. James and I need to sit and make a BIG to-do list for our projects. We’re starting some, not finishing, and have daydreamed about plenty of others. Oh daydreaming….

I have to stay on task, otherwise the daydreaming will take over. Oh, wait, the daydreaming always takes over!

I was just daydreaming of a cleaner house, a more simplified life, and no more laundry to have to do. Ever.

I feel a big PURGE coming on. I have missed “spring cleaning” the past three years due to a pregnancy, a crazy toddler and lack of desire, and then a preemie newborn. Actually, this past spring, we did just toss a bunch of more obvious things, so that is something I guess. But by this spring, I hope to have it D-O-N-E, DONE! Simplifying is going to take over and life is going to be happier, right? It needs to be. We have too much stuff. Just STUFF. Have you seen my magazine hoarding stash? You don’t really want to, or maybe you do. Maybe I’ll share it sometime. I can say that I have not read even 1/16th of them. I had good intentions but who has the time? Most are photography magazines, full of amazing photos and colors and beauty. They’d make for some great crafts. I better hit up Pinterest before I recycle them.

I’m so ADD, seriously. Purging = Pinterest project. oh my.

But really, I have for a long time noticed that when life is crazy, the house is crazy, my head is crazy. And when my head is crazy, so is life, so is the house. They all relate. I’m not a perfectionist and I do not plan to live in a spotless museum. Our home is a lived in home. But seriously, something has to be done around here. Who’s hiring me a maid? Oh yeah, that’s me, I’m the maid. Crap.

So yes, I’m taking my life back. I’m diving in and I will be awesome. I cannot let the fear or the stress or the excuses sink me anymore. My family needs me. They depend on me. They are my whole entire life and I cannot let them down. I cannot let myself down. I need to get this life together and make it extra awesome. I need to be what my kids need me to be, and then some. I need to take better care of myself, too. I will not be what this year has handed me. I’m going to put it all behind me and take a deep breath, and start fresh.

If I wore boots, I’d be picking myself up by their straps right now. Ready, set, GO!

There are days when bedtime can’t come soon enough. The exhaustion from the day has met its end, the fussing and busy are just too much. I cannot wait for all heads to hit pillows and the house to be silent. SILENT. It’s probably the only time when I really relax, that is if my eyes don’t slam shut faster than I blink.

And most mornings I wake up to someone in the shower, the dogs woofing, a cat pawing at the door, or most often, a baby waking next to me. Sometimes, I LOVE that. Levi can wake up so happy and giggling and even when it feels just too early to be alive, he reminds me that morning is a great time. Other times, it’s a screamer or a crier and the air outside the heavy blankets is so stifling and opening my eyes is the last thing I want to do.

And then there are days like today, when I woke up to total darkness, a silent house, and didn’t feel like a zombie. No thanks to my bladder, but still. It’s so nice to just lay in bed, staying warm, hearing babies breathe, and enjoying the quiet before getting on with the busy. It gives me quiet time to reflect and be thankful, to smile and love all my babies that much more.

Never does a day go by that I’m not so very thankful to be a stay at home (yeah right, mamataxi!) mom. In our big family, we all make sacrifices, but James makes the biggest one of all. He leaves every week to be gone for 3.5 days, to support our whole family. Not too shabby considering most work at least 5 days a week, but at least they are home some every day. He gets up super crazy early, stays up way too late, gets only a few hours of sleep here and there, all so he can be home as much as possible. I try not to complain when the days are long and hard and exhausting, I know it could be so different. This is the life we have chosen, to benefit us all the most. And how awesome are cell phones these days? Gosh, it would all be so different without daily pictures and texts and phone calls and OMG Facetime! Lucas is still a bit weirded out by Facetime – how did dad get in that phone?! – but soon he will love it and I know that it makes the days go a little faster for James.

He is an excellent provider. I am a sucky housekeeper. But I am an awesome mom. I have my moments, I’m not perfect, it’s a learning process for everyone even when you’re doing it for the 5th time. We try to improve every day. There is always a better way, a smarter way, but sometimes we take the easy way which isn’t always that great. I love being a mom. When I was 20 years old and pregnant for the first time, I knew that I would love being a mom. But I had no idea that I would love it this much. Who knew that I’d be so fortunate to do it 5 times over and dedicate my whole day to doing what I love. Seriously though, sometimes I’m lazy. I’m not all hands on and crafty (only in my head, I am) and entertaining. Sometimes I just let my kids, wait for it, play on their own! It’s important. But no matter what, I’m right here, trying not to hover (because that is easy), to learn from them as much as they learn from me.

At the end of the day, when I’m waiting for all heads to hit the pillows, I just want them to know that more than anything, they are loved so completely. That I love being their mom and look forward to watching them grow. And I thank James often for being who he is and allowing me to be who I am. He really is super awesome.

Sometimes, I love the dark quiet mornings when I can just lay in bed, count my blessings, and start my day off loving my family so completely. My heart is full. So full.

This is one of those days that I look forward to all year long! I love that my kids enjoy school, and they thrive and they learn, and they have great fun with good friends. But I don’t love schedules and homework and papers and folders and planners and, and, and. The last day of school ends all of that! We can stay up later, sleep in longer (well, the kids can, I seem to wake up early no matter what), have big breakfasts, lounge in jammies all day, get out and enjoy SUMMER, enjoy the chaos that is neighborhood kids ringing the doorbell and jumping on the trampoline and water balloons and skate park and fun! Mostly, it’s time that I REALLY get to spend with my big kids. So much of my day/week/month is consumed by the littlest people in our family because everyone else just isn’t here. I love when we can really settle in and be a family without being pulled 50 different directions. I enjoy (in a weird and crazy kind of way) dirty, smelly kids – they’ve been playing and having fun! When the boys can manage to get along for long periods of time, there is laughter and creativity and imagination. There is a brotherhood – lately it is hard to find – but it is there. I can’t wait to see it more!

But first, they have to get through today – the day where teacher enlist the class to clean and tidy the room so it’s fresh and ready for next year, to have sack lunches, to clean out lockers, to say goodbye to friends for the summer. Hannah finds this harder every year. She watches the seniors graduate and go off to college. She’s always been sensitive about missing teachers and friends, but since starting high school, it’s different. She’s such a sweet and sensitive girl. Connor and Dillan just can’t wait. They’re excited to be done with school and in August, they won’t be excited to start again. We will absorb as much of this summer freedom as we can!

There are no big plans, no exciting vacations – not this year, we need to grow the babies some more – and no boundaries. Hannah will be quite adventurous and visit Spain in just a few weeks. We look forward to a visit from my dad next week. There is baseball every week. But all the other days will be full of play and play dates, local events, swim time, friends, picnics, playgrounds, biking, walking, the zoo, the library, sandboxes, bubbles, and sidewalk chalk. We’ll do it all! And I hope to photograph most of it!

Today, my 3rd grader becomes a 4th grader…

My 4th grader becomes a 5th grader – it will be his last year in elementary school. [please pass the Kleenex!!]…

And my first baby, my only daughter, she finishes her junior year. Next year she will be a senior, and then graduate, and then leave me forever and ever. [please pass the Kleenex factory!]

I love you so much my big kids, I’m so proud of you!

Before school this morning, I handed them each a sheet of paper. Yes, their last bit of WORK to do before summer. I was met with grumbles but I know that someday, they will like it. I only wished I had started it years ago. I gave them an “exit interview” to gather some information about their school year. Also, it samples their handwriting at the time. I can’t wait to see what changes over the years. None of their answers surprise me, I feel pretty connected with my kids. But it really tickles me that Connor’s response to “what you learned” was “too much.” Oh that kiddo! Hannah and Connor both listed art as their favorite subject and Dillan chose gym.  History, music, and math were the least favorites. And I love so much that they all chose to put their last name on their paper also. Like I wouldn’t know who they are!  Good times kiddos, thanks for the giggles!

Yep, it’s me, attempting to be a blogger again. I’m trying not to have anxiety over all the gaps and holes in this blog, trying not to want to start a new one or wipe this one clean, trying to come to terms with being imperfect and knowing that it’s OK to have gaps and holes that I can fill in later if I want, or I can leave them. They might prove to be good conversation starters – someone wanting a gap filled in and wonder how I went from a pregnancy test with baby #4 to having a 6 week old baby #5, all in 2 years! In all reality, I probably WON’T get caught up, there will always be gaps and holes, but moving forward, I hope to tell a pretty fun story of our crazy life.

Because our life IS crazy. Crazy good. Crazy hard at times. And sometimes, just crazy crazy! But I wouldn’t change it.

It’s taken me nearly 3 whole days to type this far – I deleted and rewrote a few lines, then deleted them again. But really, with all of the distractions, responsibilities, and lack of free time, getting this far was quite the accomplishment! I’m going to publish this as is, then move on to something else. 🙂

 

How did it get to be August already? So many holes in the blog – so many pictures and stories left unshown and untold. Maybe someday I will get back and fill in some of the gaps or maybe I’ll just keep chugging along.

We’re busy! I love my family, I love my kids, I love my life! I’m really tired some days and I get stuck in some ruts, but really – I wouldn’t trade it! This is the crazy “back to school” time so we’re rushing around with appointments and shopping and planning. Trying to get back into some sort of routine may be the death of me but with just 2 weeks to go – something has to start to fall into place. I’m really excited for school to start – I love all the extra time I get to spend with the kids but I like the routine, I love seeing what they learn, I love the lack of in and out, in and out, in and out that goes on here most days of the summer! But back to school brings cooler weather. We’re already dipping down quite a bit at night, it feels nice, but it’s that subtle reminder that summer is coming to an end and the dreaded winter will be here soon. I’ll soon be trading my sparkly magenta painted toe nails for warm socks. I’m just not ready. Though I never am.

Hannah spent 5 weeks with her dad this summer – she attended a cheer camp and teen retreat. She helped teach a kids art class and checked out a college. The day after getting home, she was back to cheer practice and that will continue until next spring! I admittedly am sad to not be a part of the swim team this year but I know she will love cheering just as much. We went to see the new high school already and it’s awesome and amazing. I’m so excited for her! Orientation is tomorrow, she’ll get her crazy schedule. Thank goodness she passed her driving test [the 2nd time] and can now drive herself as needed.

Connor has gotten out of skating mode this summer. He still likes to but he prefers biking right now. He’s been really helpful to me and we’ve had some good time together. He’s an excellent big brother to Lucas, he always wants to help and care for him.

Dillan is all about skating. He wants to drop out of school now and just have a skate shop! He and friends have been taking apart and putting back together skateboards all summer. He’s done really well with learning some new tricks and is gaining good skill. He spent a week of summer being sick, which stunk, but it was good for us to just hang out and be mellow together. As trying as he can be at times, he really is just awesome when we’re 1 on 1. I am still trying to figure out how to bring that out all the time.

Lucas is growing, growing, growing. He’s now 8 months old and crawling and cruising furniture – determined like crazy! I call him Scar Face this week since he’s pretty dinged up. He’s mad if I hold him back but not quite as sturdy as he wants to be when trying to do things on his own. He’s eating solids so well, figured out the sippy cup, can say ‘mama’ and a few other babbles [we’re waiting on dada]and is just as cute as can be! I can’t believe how fast these months have gone by and how fast he’s growing. I know James is so thankful he’s had a change in schedule and is able to be here a few days a week and stay caught up with him.

It’s taken me 3 days to make this update! I just have to laugh – I love this life!

James left this morning. It’s always hard when he has to get up early, pack his bag and head out for another stretch of truck driving. I know it’s what he has to do but I hate that he has to leave. I’m always left with a big empty space inside of me. It’s even harder now, knowing that Lucas is growing and changing every day. And even just a few days away could mean missing out on fun things. Being gone weeks at a time could seem like forever for Lucas.

We’ve been really lucky since Lucas was born. James has been home 7 of the 8 weeks. I’m so thankful for that. I know most new dads might get a couple of days at most. It’s been great and I have loved every minute of it. But I’ve also been spoiled to have him here so much. So the thought of him having to go back on the road is that much harder, I don’t want to give him up to working again.

But a great opportunity has come up. I’m not sure James feels it’s so great right now but I do. I’m almost certain that James will come around and see the great benefits it has. A dedicated route. A short dedicated route. A short dedicated route that will have him gone 3.5 days and home the rest of the week. The same schedule every week. EVERY WEEK!

Those that know me well know that I’m a planner. I’m never good at the long-term plan but in the short-term, life sure runs better when I’ve got it all figured out. One of the hardest parts of his job is that there is no planning more than a day or two ahead for the most part. That just digs my stress level. I to go with the flow but many times it’s just so hard. Now, I’ll always know when he has to leave, how long he’ll be gone, and a general time of when he’ll be home – within hours at least. As long as Mother Nature cooperates as well. We can plan months ahead if we need to!

I know it’s going to be an adjustment for James. He said to me yesterday, “but I’m a long haul trucker.” He always has been and he really likes it. I don’t understand it, but he really likes it. He likes destination Florida. I hate gone so long and so far. He said it will be like having “a real job.” It is! But I think that’s the glory of it all. It’s short, it’s regular, it’s reliable. RELIABLE! So much frustration comes when the loads aren’t available or they’re running so late or they’re running all over a state to get things picked up or delivered. It’s such a waste of time in my eyes. A waste of time that could be spent with family.

Family is on top of my important life list. While we’ll all miss James those few days a week that he’s gone, we’ll get to see him for a few days every week – we won’t be waiting 3 weeks to get 3 days of home time. This is really important for Lucas – he needs his dad around as much as he can be. And James will love that he really won’t miss out on much of anything – except Super Bowl Sunday. It’s a good thing the Vikings failed to make it there again this year. But really, it just feels so good to me that finally we can have a ‘normal’ family life. It sure would be better if he were home every night but this is so close to otherwise perfect. He may not be here every night, but he can be here all day and night on those days he’s home. And it can give me some regularity with my business, which will help it grow better and faster, which is that much better.

And I’ll be a bit jealous that he’ll get to see the Rocky Mountains every week.

I know he’s feeling a little hesitant right now but I’m beyond excited for him and for all of us. This is a really positive change and has some really nice perks. It may not be exactly what he wants right now but it will be. It will be perfect. I look forward to having a life – as a family – not having to sit around and wonder and not make plans and worry if the work will be there when it’s needed. I’m excited!

And the house is silent, the stockings are empty, under the tree is bare and my heart is heavy. We don’t celebrate Christmas the Christian way, we celebrate the family way, and all of my family isn’t here and it’s sad.

I was awake way too early with Lucas this morning – he’s had two milk-pig nights in a row. And while he’s back to sleep in t he swing now, I can’t drag my tired self back to bed for a few more winks either. I miss my big kids. I hate the trade-off years when they all leave and we celebrate the holiday with other family without them and then here at home nearly 2 weeks after the fact. I’m so bah-humbug most of the time, I don’t really enjoy this holiday, but I do enjoy my children and seeing their excitement and being able to make their wish lists come true and to spend the day with them and family. I hope that they are having an amazing day even though they aren’t here with us.

But we have Lucas – it’s his first Christmas and he has no idea at all. To him, it’s going to be just another day full of sleeping, eating, pooping, and snuggling with mom. [I love that part the most!] I know the big kids are all bummed that they’re missing his first Christmas but I reassure them that Christmas next year, when we are all here together, will be so much more fun since Lucas will be a year old and full of spunk! I can’t wait.

I’m sad that I haven’t had a chance to photograph all my babies and make a holiday card and that it will now have to wait until after the new year. I do need to photograph Lucas today though – he’s so cute!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, snuggle your little ones, and even your big little ones. I miss you my big little ones!