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…With Water.

Oh, Thomas. He is a sink cat. He LIKES water. Cats don’t like water. But Thomas doesn’t know that. Ever so carefully, I turned on the water so that just one little drop would drop at a time. And then there was a pause. And then, another drop. He was loving it. But it was confusing him. Watching him made me giggle and grab my camera. I wish I would have captured more of his playing, but like any photographer’s child, he’s done being cute when I pick up the camera.

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Those last three, he cracks me up. I was just about done, because so was he, but I’m so glad that I waited and snapped a few more.  He caught that drip out of the corner of his annoyed little eye and flipped his head right back around. But then he was totally done. Hopped down and went and laid in the middle of the kitchen floor.

Because now, he’s going to entertain me.

By being in my way.

paybacks.

 

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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.

We know this. It’s not a secret. One day you’re anxiously awaiting their arrival from the womb and then you blink and then they’re adults – or almost. Almost. How is it that just yesterday I was sending my first-born off to kindergarten, with her brand new glasses and her bangs pulled back off her chubby little face, a backpack as big as she was strung across her back, and a smile that went on for days? There was no fear, no tears. Just a lot of excitement. Last week, I sent that baby of mine off to her senior year of high school, glasses replaced with contacts, bangs dangling and covering her eyes which light up her much more matured face, a messenger bag over her shoulder, and a smile that went on for days. Ok, so some things don’t change that much, they just get bigger. But how can it be that she’s just 2.5 short months from being 18? An adult. *gasp* I always seem to think that I have this under control, I am always internally emotional but can sometimes hold the external together. I take each day in stride. I’m always so proud of my babies and welcome their wing spreading with open arms. But suddenly, almost instantaneously, it hits like a ton of bricks. My baby is almost an adult. Fortunately, I have 4 more babies to raise to adult so I’m still a bit of a ways away from having a full-out heart attack over here. The palpitations are building though.

I’ve now been typing this post for 5 days – seriously. I get THAT distracted by babies and things and OMG the internets. Let me try again while Lucas is distracted by Mickey Mouse and Levi naps, knock on all things that are wood, while I have 2 free hands to type effectively.

My big boys, they have grown like weeds in the past year. I cannot tell you how many pairs of jeans we have gone through and shoes. Shoes now get stinky before they get worn out. yikes! And this summer, the grocery bill, it seriously doubled. And they aren’t even to the stomach-is-a-bottomless-pit stage yet. It’s a good thing there is an 8 year gap between Dillan and Lucas, so we can rebuild the teenager grocery fund again! The physical things are easy to see, but through the summer, I saw a lot of growth in my boys as brothers and friends. They were given some more freedom, allowed to go to the park with friends without mom. It’s only 2 blocks away, but as a trying not to be a helicopter mom, this was a big deal. I send an extra cell phone with them, yep, they also have to be responsible, and they keep me posted about what they’re doing and who they’re with. They were allowed to bike to friends’ houses, too. And while this was hard on mama, it was so good. They argued and fought less, they played together and as a group of friends much more. And by summer’s end, when the soccer teams came out and a mistake was made and they had both been put on the same time, they BOTH asked to be kept on the same team. Yes, my jaw had to be scooped from the floor! This is big. A very BIG step in their brotherly development. The past couple of years surely have had some rough patches. To say that I’m a pleased mama is so underwhelming. I’m elated! But, they should not grow so much. So fast.

7 days – seriously, this blog post is taking far too long to complete. Despite the amount of time I can sit in the computer chair in a day, the typing just doesn’t get done. I need to be more skilled at one handed typing and allowing thoughts to flow while doing a multitude of other things – like nursing a baby, bouncing a baby, cleaning up baby urp from down my back and in my lap, while fetching a toddler off a desk or rescuing him from an annoyed cat or four, and trying to keep enough food and water in myself to sustain me for at least one more day. I will finish this now.

Only after I post some pictures. Because, as per my usual, I paraded them outside to the deck stairs, just like I do every first day of school, so I could take their pictures and “awwwww” and swoon over my precious, once were very tiny, babies. I don’t get teary, not on the outside anyway. I love that they can get out into the big world and spread their wings and discover more about themselves every day. I love that I can get a bit of a mom breather and enjoy a little bit of time each day to be just me, not me the mom, though those days are still so numbered with two little pipsqueeks still at home. I love my babies. So much. My heart is full.

And now, my kids have been back to school for 14 days and I have been trying to write this for 10 days! (enter failing blogger grumbles here). Life is busy, it’s crazy, sometimes overwhelming and frustrating but hey, I love it!)

So, here are the pictures of my kiddos on the first day of school – I adore them all so much!

Hannah – 12th, Connor – 5th, Dillan – 4th.

senior t-shirts are cool

Instagram is serious awesome. Here are a few more of those from the past week.
All my boys before school.

It’s Homecoming Week. Two days ago was “Neon Day” where she wore neon so much cuter than we ever did in the 80’s! Yesterday was “Character Day.” Hannah couldn’t be anything other than adorable Pikachu! Today is “School Spirit Day” and they aren’t allowed to wear their cheer uniforms to school (I know, right?! ridiculousness) so she rocked the tutu again with her cheer jersey. (I’m not too sure about those tights or boots though.)

Have a wonderful year my little, precious, tiny, babies-will-always-be-to-me, children! I love you more than words and pictures can ever express. You all are by far the best things I have ever done in my life and I couldn’t be more proud to be your mama! Now, do your homework without me having to ask eleventytwenty times. 🙂

And for mama, let this be a lesson that blog posts should not take 10 days, with or without pictures.

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!

Yesterday, The Littles and I went to visit my friend Shannon and her adorable trio of boys for some far over due and much needed friend time. Shannon started out as a photography client way back when and is now one of my dearest friends. With both of our abundance of boys to tend to, we just don’t have the time get together as much as we’d like. We’re really great at talking about it, but not so great about following through. I really appreciate the times we hang out though. She’s extra good for getting me back to feeling a little more grounded and a little less crazy. But when we gather out bunches of boys together, it definitely feels a little bit crazy!

 

But I brought donuts, because who has time to eat breakfast when it already took 3 hours just to get everyone cleaned up and ready and out of the house even close to on time? And donuts are delicious. And sugary sweet. Lickably sweet.

And there was baby holding. Because Levi is irresistible. And there was photographing. Because Shannon gets the most beautiful window light and I love it. We could run our photography businesses out of her living room – if she didn’t live there.

And I was photographing her photographing her 2 oldest and my wee youngest. SURPRISE SHANNON!! (she might really kick me now)

And her wee youngest wanted to put a wheel on my camera. I wanted to forever run my fingers through his baby curls and watch his brand new walking legs waddle all day.

And there was plenty of baby loving. Leighton is excellent at loving babies. He’s loved both of my Littles. He’s so gentle and sweet.

And just moments before Lucas had his overtired and ready for a nap RIGHT NOW meltdown, I snapped one of us. Because there are never enough pictures of me, especially me with my kiddos, and I need to make a point to do that more. Even if they are the cheesy arm reached out and neck craned back variety.  And then he fell asleep.

Thank you, Shannon, Leighton, Chase, and Beckett for having us over and being our friends. See you again soon!

 

 

Dillan certainly has a style all his own – he’s pretty good about matching his clothes, when I tell him what to wear. He totally does his own thing and doesn’t really seem to care what others think. I love that about all my kids! Now if they could just teach me.

He’s grown his hair off and on for the past few years and this year it grew so awesome and I have loved it. He has just enough natural wave in it to make it flow just right. And thankfully in many ways, he has hair so thick, just like his mama. But that was leading to some seriously crazy bed head.

iPhone picture proof!

[p.s. I love Instagram so so much.]

It got itchy and hot and was getting in his eyes and sticking to his face. When he asked me to schedule a haircut for him, I thought he’d just get a little trim and maybe some thinning – but he opted for a much shorter look. In hindsight, a little shorter than he expected but it does grow quickly so that shouldn’t be a problem in a week or two.

Here are the before and after shots.

 

Is that even the same kid? Oh how I loved the long style, the way it feathered around his face and his bright blue eyes would just shine. I like the short too, but it really changes his look. Is that really my boy? Oh yes, I can see his bright blue eyes! And then there is this proof.

 

undeniable!

What a crazy week this has been – but I won’t be complaining at all!!

On Tuesday morning, I was having a tiny bit of spotting but no cramping or anything to concern me otherwise. I went back and forth about calling my doctor while looking at Google to tell me if I really should or just wait it out. A few hours passed before I decided to call my doctor just to see if maybe she wanted to check on things or not. They asked if I was in labor. I said, “NO WAY, I don’t feel like that at all.” They did send me to L&D to get checked and monitor the baby and see what was going on. I gathered up Lucas and my mom to help with him and headed up there about 12:30. James was out of town and not due back until 3:30 or so. I totally went in there with accepting some minor cervical change and having to wait out the next 3-4 weeks. Believe me when I was totally dumfounded when they said I was 3cm!! Well, no wonder there was some bleeding. They did an ultrasound to make sure there wasn’t bleeding from anywhere else and to check on the baby to make sure he was still looking good. He was! They sent me home with the usual instructions and to wait it out.

I got home at 3:30, just as James (who was nervous because he hates NOT being there at times like that) was coming up the driveway too. We sat and chatted some and I had a few contractions but nothing major or consistent. Until about 5pm while I was fixing dinner. I was noticing them enough to break out the contraction counter app on my phone. I was shocked to see them actually coming about 4-7 but mostly about 5 minutes apart when I actually paid attention. I felt fine otherwise. We ate dinner, I laid down, I was sure things would just stop once I did that. At 8pm I called L&D to tell them I was in earlier in the day but contractions were regular at 4-7 minutes for the last 3 hours and I was only 36 weeks. They told me to wait for intensity and or closer together. James and I talked some more – we were TOTALLY unprepared (even moreso in hindsight) to have the baby that night so we needed to plan right then or to hope things stop and risk having to fly out of the house last minute in the middle of the night. We opted for now. I got my mom over and the kids prepared. I still hadn’t given my mom the rundown on things since we were sure we had more time, so I was doing that while packing bags and bouncing on the ball because intensity surely was building.

By 9pm, James was done getting the car seat installed and Lucas’ moved to my mom’s car and was doing a few other things and getting ready to shower. It was then that I felt I needed to rush him and we better go NOW. We were both getting to the panic point I think but trying not to freak out, except internally. We were backing out of the driveway at 9:30pm. It was a terrifying ride across town to the hospital. I have never felt such crazy pain, so fast and sudden. I’m sure people in other cars were freaking out at me freaking out! James was so worried about me but trying to drive fast without speeding and avoiding bumps and things. I know he was frantic, he’s just that way – but he was awesome at holding it all together. I even contemplated going to the ER since we could drive right in instead of parking ramp then walking to L&D but I felt dumb about the ER and leaving James to park and whatnot. So he dropped me at the entryway – of course all comedy would have it that he couldn’t get the wheelchair to open. He finally did, and then he parked, he ran back in with just the camera as I instructed, and we started to go. Me howling away, people looking at me like I’m crazy, me hoping my water doesn’t burst all over everything while I was certain I was transitioning because my body was seriously shaking. I was trying to be calm, James was wheeling as fast as he could, only to get stopped up by stupid elevators that don’t run properly! We finally made it up to L&D and they got me in a triage room right away. It was 9:50pm (thought felt hours later) and I was at 4cm and 100% effaced.

I was previously not planning on an epidural, they freak me out, but when I asked I said YES!! The pain was so crazy. I delivered 3 babies with no epidural and made it just fine. This was so different. They called my doc, got me to a room and an influx of 4+ nurses were in my room – filling out paperwork, getting vitals, starting an IV, calling for the epi, etc. James was so wide eyed and I was contracting so much. They checked me again at 10:20pm and I was 6cm! They did an intrathecal epidural – further into the space, faster acting but shorter duration. It worked SO FAST and I seriously felt NOTHING after that. My legs were so numb and heavy and I was definitely in nervous lala land. My doc arrived, just as shocked and surprised as I was, and was getting everything set for delivery. Serioulsy, it was only 10:50pm when she checked me again and I was at 8cm! My water still hadn’t broke. She waited a few more minutes to get things set up and ready and then broke my water. A few more minutes went by and she checked me again and I was 10cm and ready to push! What? Ready to push? I feel nothing, how can I push? How did all of this happen so fast? The first contraction, 2 ineffective pushes, I couldn’t feel anything. The next contraction – head out. What?! Head out?!! No crowning burn?! heck yeah that was awesome but how could I not feel the crowning?!! Next push, baby born – 11:11pm! No joke!! Another baby with a very short cord, they couldn’t even get him to my belly.

So at 36 weeks and 2 days, Levi James was born weighing in at 6 pounds 1 ounce and 18 inches long. He was checked for respiratory issues and was just fine, he was back in with me in no time.

We are uncertain why he came so early, all of my other babies were term. There were no signs of anything to pinpoint other than we think he was just wanting to get out of there! Ha! My doctor says that being the 5th baby, my body just knew what to do, even if it wasn’t the best timing. We’re just so thankful that he’s healthy and that we didn’t need a NICU stay. He’s so super small to me but so adorable!

Now, a week later, we have found out that he was Coombs+ so his billirubin spiked and we were back in the hospital overnight after being discharged 2 days after his birth. He got a day and a half of photo therapy which went so well, not all the heel poking and incompetent people, but the lights brought  his numbers down. yesterday he finished his at home therapy and we go for hopefully our final redraw this morning. He’s doing great! There were some nursing and latch issues but I suspect now that with the jaundice and his small size and early arrival, the colostrum was just too hard for him to suck. Now that he’s better and my milk is in, it’s all just fine!

This is probably the vaguest birth story ever, though I’m not sure I could detail it any more since everything happened so fast and it was so intense. I felt so lovely dovey and wonderfully blissful and happy – but even those immediate mommy feelings were shoved aside a little by the total shock and amazement that he was born a month early, and in such a crazy way. Leave it to our last baby to make such a stellar arrival.

More on the jaundice to come in another post.

Of course, there are pictures, courtesy of James!

Fresh!

Mama’s first look

oh tiny, tiny foot!

Two tiny, tiny feet!

Welcome to the world, son. While we weren’t quite ready to meet you yet, we are so glad you are here! We love you!

The bump is growing! Pretty soon it will be an all out belly! Time just isn’t going fast enough though – I’m already so anxious to meet this little person and add to our family!

There it is, there is definitely a baby growing in there! It has taken a really long time compared to Lucas’ pregnancy to finally feel this little peanut wiggling around with some consistency. With Lucas, I knew so early and he never quite wiggling since, and even not now at 11 months – he’s ALWAYS on the go!  But this wee one has either been more relaxed or isn’t as strong, or everything is just different. But that’s ok. Thankfully, I have the experience to know not to worry, things happen in their own time, but there were those days where I just wondered if I really was pregnant or if I was just over indulging in the Oreos and milk. [no, a stack of 6-8 cookies at a time isn’t too many, right?]  I’m so excited to find out if this baby is a little girl or another boy. Nearly a month is such a long time to wait!


It’s been three weeks and my belly is starting to round out just  a little bit. I still don’t feel very pregnant, maybe more like I had way too much for dinner. And I probably am doing that too! It’s really nice to have an appetite again. We’ve finally told the kids and our families and shared our news on Facebook. It’s so exciting to see everyone’s comments and reactions – some totally excited, some really shocked, some thinking we’re crazy! Sometimes, I feel a bit crazy too! But I love my growing family and our crazy life and being a mom to them all. I wouldn’t change a thing!