Thursday, January 31, 2013

twenty years

Today I have been a mother for 20 years.
Twenty years!!!   I still can't believe it.

And this is the little girl who made me a mama....

This photo makes me laugh because she looks so unhappy to be out of the womb.  I mean, look at that crabby face! 
She gets much happier as time passes...

 8 months

 2 years

 3 years

 4 years

 8 years

 11 years

high school graduation

You see? There's the proof that she cheers up a bit as the years pass. The photos don't lie -- she's actually a very happy girl!  And today is her 20th birthday.  

The things I love about Audriana...

  • she never holds a grudge ~ if you make her upset, she is quick to forgive and forget.  
  • she is an excellent big sister ~ always reading to the little ones, helping them with things
  • she always laughs at my dumb jokes
  • every single night she asks if she can make me some tea ~ every night!
  • she always wants to go on family trips with us ~ she's never too cool or too busy for family
  • she loves watching FRIENDS reruns with me
  • she is a HUGE Twilight fan, almost as much as me!  Almost.
  • when she sets her mind on something, she never gives up until she achieves it
  • she always wakes up in a good mood
  • she never goes to bed without coming into my bedroom to say good-night

Things that I don't love about Audriana...

  • she keeps a messy room and I have to nag her to clean it

And well, that's about it for the negative list.  I seriously can't think of anything else to add to it.

Since the day she was born my life has never been the same. She changed me. She showed me what unconditional love was.  When she was placed in my arms, I instantly thought... "Oh my gosh.  She changes EVERYTHING."   

She changed everything.  My world shifted when she came into it.  And I'm so grateful.

I love you, Audriana.  Happy, Happy Birthday to you!

Friday, January 25, 2013

life is beautiful

So here I am at 22 weeks.  Don't I look like I'm going to drop this baby any second?  Okay, well maybe not any second, but I think I look about 8 months along in this photo, instead of 5 & 1/2 months!  Sheesh, what's the deal with this pregnancy?  Are there two of them in there?  Nope, just one.  Just one big one, I guess.  

*I took this photo on my iPhone and then cropped it to hide my arm fat.  What, you don't do this?  Don't lie, you know you do.  I can't be the only vain one out there.*

So lately my little guy has been really kicking up a storm.  And he's strong!  I mean, for just 22 weeks I'm amazed at how strong his kicks are.  When I'm in the bath, his kicks actually make the water ripple.  It's a trip!   He seriously puts some effort into it.  It's like, "Bam! Take THAT, Mom!"  and "Whooopah! How's THAT one feel?"  and I'm like, "Dude, what'd I ever do to you?  You barely know me!"   Of course his kicks don't hurt yet, but wow...they will soon.  I can tell.

So today I learned of another mama-to-be who is also expecting a son.  She, like me, is cherishing all the kicks and movements she feels.  She is joyfully listening to his heartbeat from time to time.  She is playing music for him and singing to him, her love for him growing stronger as each day passes. I know all those feelings because I am going through those experiences, too.  But what I am not experiencing is how it feels to know that the baby I am carrying will only be with me for the duration of the pregnancy, that my sweet son will most likely only live a few minutes or hours after his birth, that all the plans I had for his life are not going to happen because his life will end much sooner than I ever thought possible.  This is what that other mama knows, and I can only imagine the heartbreak that goes with that knowledge.  

It was discovered earlier in her pregnancy that her sweet son has a condition called anencephaly.  He might live for a few minutes after his birth, or he might live for a few hours or even a few days.  No one knows for sure how long he will live, but what they do know is that he cannot survive for long with his condition.   

Although it breaks my heart to know what this mama is going through, I'll admit that it also warms my heart to know that she is choosing to carry her pregnancy to term.    I know there are many, many out there who would think that in such a case ending the pregnancy early on would be the right thing to do.  Why prolong the inevitable?   If the baby is going to die soon after birth, then what's the purpose in carrying it to term?  Isn't it better for everyone, especially the baby, to end it's life sooner rather than it happening later? Well, maybe for some that would feel like the right thing to do, but not all feel this way.  If it were me, I would choose to carry my baby to term, no matter the outcome.  If my baby has a beating heart,  I will not be the one to stop it.  It's simply not my place to do so.

And who is to say what child's life will not have purpose? How can we know of the blessings that are possible when we are given a child that is not normal, unless we choose life for that child in order to find out?  Even if that life is short, there can still be purpose to it. Suppose a baby with anencephaly was born and lived for 2 hours and 53 minutes, and then her vitals started slowing and the doctors told her parents that she was slipping away, but instead of letting her little heart stop they decide to place her on life support to keep it beating.  Then suppose her  very healthy and perfectly formed heart was donated to another infant who needed a heart transplant to survive.   And suppose that baby lived a long life and gave his family much joy.   Now tell me, would that baby girl's life not have had meaning?  Would her short life not have blessed another family in the most precious way possible?   I know that not all situations can allow for organ donation, but even if not, there are many other ways a baby can bring joy and blessings to a family, even if they can only be here on earth for a very short time.  Just knowing and holding your baby for a few minutes can be very healing when you know he or she will soon pass away.  Some would rather love on their baby (love on - meaning to hold, hug, kiss) for a few short minutes or hours...than to not have the chance to love on their baby at all.

So yes, my heart breaks for this mama who will soon have to say good-bye to her baby boy, but my heart also rejoices with her because she is finding the beauty in the present;  she is getting to know him through his heartbeat and his kicks, she is taking him places (most recently to Disneyland)  and she is allowing his big sister to feel his kicks and get to know her baby brother. And when he is born, this mama will hold her son and kiss him, and look into his eyes.  She will feel his warm body against hers and he will feel her love for as long as his little heart beats.   I don't know about you all, but I happen to think this is a brave and beautiful way to show respect for life ~ for her son's life, which is so precious and purposeful, no matter how short it may be.

You can read all about baby Ezekiel Anthony on his Facebook Page, and you can go to their memorial bench page if you'd like to donate to help with the purchase of his memorial bench.  Please keep this family in your thoughts and prayers.

friday favorite things | finding joy

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

why I always look calm

Whenever I go to an adult gathering without the kids and I meet someone new, I always get the same comments when they find out that I have nine children.  Of course, it's not like I wear a sign on my forehead that says, "I have nine children."  but at one point or another someone will introduce me and say, "....and she has NINE children."  and then the person's jaw will drop.  "NINE?  Did you say NINE?" and then the person will look at me and say, "You really have NINE children?"  and I will nod my head and say "Yes." and then she will say, "But you look so calm!!!"

Seriously, the #1 comment I get:
" look so CALM!!"  
((to which I always reply, "Well of course I'm calm.  They aren't here with me!"))

Then everyone giggles at my little joke ... and the conversation continues.

Calm?  Well, I guess I do look calm at an adult gathering.  But who doesn't?  I mean, who comes to an adult gathering looking stressed out and frazzled?  So I still really don't understand why people say that to me. My kids aren't with me, so yes I am calm at an adult gathering.  Big whoop.  But people who know me will shake their heads and say, " are ALWAYS calm, even with all the kids around you.  You are just that way."

No, I am not just that way.  I can get stressed out and angry and yell and lose it with my kids just like the next mom.  But see, I don't ever, ever lose it in front of anyone.  Not at the grocery store.  Not at Costco.  Not at the mall.  Not at a social gathering.  Never.  Because if I do, well, people can be harsh.  People will think or even say, "Well, she shouldn't have had so many if she can't handle it."   I can see around me;  I know the looks.  

I learned this lesson early on, when I only had 4 or 5 kids.  People are much harder on those moms with a large family than they are of say, a mom with two or three children.  We are held to a higher standard because we chose to have many children. Don't believe me?  Well, if a mother with two young children looks stressed out or tired in the grocery line as her wee little ones are having meltdowns, well then that's just motherhood, right?  This mom will get the sympathetic glances that say, "I know how you feel.  Hang in there, mama."  But a mom with five or six children in line at the grocery store?  It's completely different for us moms-of-many.  I have to be the happy mommy all the time with very well behaved children. If one or two of my wee little ones have a meltdown and I appear impatient, tired and irritable, believe me when I tell you that I do not get the same looks of sympathy and understanding.  Instead, I get looks that say  "Goodness...look at all those children.  No wonder she can't handle them.  Why did she have so many if she is so miserable?"   My temporary look of frustration and impatience will be mistaken for "misery" and an inability to handle my large brood.

And I'm sorry, but I think that's unfair.  Any child under the age of three (or four) can be tired and cranky and have a meltdown in line at the grocery store.  My children are no exception to this.  And if moms of 2 or 3 children can get tired , stressed out and irritable due to the demands of motherhood, then why not a mother of 9?  Can't we moms-of-many have bad moments, too?  Aren't we allowed that?  Where's my look of sympathy when my kid is having a meltdown? I'm telling you, I don't get that. I get the opposite.

So yeah, I guess I do appear to be calm all the time. I've trained myself to keep it all under control when I'm in the presence of others. I smile. I don't lose my temper. I'm the cool, calm, unstressed mom who can handle anything and nothing bothers me.  Yep, that's me.  And that's okay that people think that. That's what I need them to think so that I'm not judged harshly on my choice to have more than four children.  Because believe me, so many out there love to judge.  

And I could lie and say that I don't care what others think.  But the truth is, sometimes I do. 

Monday, January 7, 2013


Today I am glad school is back in session.  So glad to be back on some kind of routine.  Kids (and moms!) do much better and are happier when on a routine. I swear by this.  What's funny is that at first, back in my early mom years,  I completely fought this concept.  Routines? Bah, they are for scheduled people!  Rigid personalities, even.  Surely that will never be me.  I'm more of a go with the flow kind of person...

Ha!  That lasted only so long.   I need routine just as much as the kids. 

Here is what happens in my house when we are off our daily routine...

Messy kids' rooms.  Messy parent's room.  Messy bathrooms.
Messy house!!
How does this happen?
It looks awful, doesn't it.   Well, it happens pretty darn quickly in our very crowded house when no one (including me) is on their normal daily routine.  Our normal daily routine is something like this:  go to bed at a decent hour, get up at a decent hour, make your bed, tidy your room, put away your clothes, do your household chores. But when we are not on our normal, daily routine - like when we are on the two-week holiday break - our days go something like this:  go to bed very, very late....sleep in very, very, lounge around, do nothing.  And at first that's kind of nice. I'll admit to liking the no-schedule-do-nothing days.  But I can only take so much of it.  I can only live in chaos for a few days before I get grouchy and lose it.  

So I'm glad to say that it's over now - the chaos is gone, and we are back on routine.  Which means yay! my house is clean again!  (I know, you want proof, don't you?  Well, I didn't take photos of the clean and tidy house, so you'll just have to trust me.)

This is me and my black boots that I can still see over my growing belly.

and tada! this is my growing belly at 20 weeks.

We have our 20 week ultrasound scheduled for tomorrow morning. I am so excited to see our little guy again!  The last time was during an ultrasound when I was just 12 weeks along.  I'm sure he's more interesting to look at now.   I will see fingers and toes and all that good stuff.  I can't wait!

Friday, January 4, 2013

just being HOME doesn't count

This is my word for the new year.
This is the word that I would like my 2013 year to be geared towards.
Sure, I'm a stay-at-home mom.  
Home all the time with my kids.
They can tug on my shirt all day long.  I'm here.
But am I always present?
Sometimes (a lot of the time) I am on the computer.
  • answering emails
  • paying my bills
  • blogging
  • reading blogs
  • buying things
I will go online to do one simple thing.
One simple thing that will only take 5 minutes.
I tell myself this.
But then...
the temptation begins.
I read an email, and then respond to it.
Then another, and another.
I check on my favorite blogger to see what she is up to...
then another, and then another.
And then...what is this?  
a link within a post to a new blog that I've never read before!  Oh, the excitement!
Let me just take a quick look.  click!
Oh...she's so funny!  She's going to be my new favorite, I can tell.  
Let me just read a bit more....
and a bit more.
And let me just quickly respond to this one post of hers...
you know, because I'm a new "friend" and all.
And before I know it,  5 minutes turns into a half hour
or even an hour.
Or maybe even more.
Eventually I walk away from the computer feeling like crap.
Feeling like a big mommy fail.
Because during that time, during that hour or more...
my 4 year old asked me to play with her
and my 6 year old sat quietly near me, playing on his iPod
and my 8 year old came up to me six different times to complain about something
or to ask me a question
and my 9 year old quickly kissed me on the cheek and said, "Bye, mom!" 
before he ran out the door to play
and my 17 year old sat in her room 
with only 8 months left before she goes away to college.
I could have been in her room, flopped on her bed, talking with her.
I could have been playing tea party with my 4 year old.
I could have been reading with my 6 and 8 year olds.
I could have been throwing a baseball with my 9 year old.
And my 21, 19, 13 and 11 year olds...
where were they all this time?
They all could have had my presence in one way or another.
But instead they just had me home.
Which isn't the same. Not even a little bit.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I'm not a complete mommy fail.
What I describe above doesn't happen all the time.
Just more times than I'd like it to.

And it's not just the computer.
When they are talking to me about something important
or even something not so important
how often am I looking down at my iPhone
instead of looking directly at them?
That silly little gadget of mine...
not even human
yet it can hold my attention longer than my own kids.
Okay, a lot of the time.
More often than I'd like to admit to.
What am I missing out on, while I'm so distracted?
What conversations might I be having?
What stories? What secrets?

Enough is enough.  I'm making some changes.
From now on my computer time is early in the morning
and later at night
when they are all sleeping.
And I'll keep the phone inside my purse until I need it.
If a call comes in while my kids in are conversation with me
I will ignore it.
I will ignore it!
Voicemail is a great thing.

I will play, talk, read, and really listen.
And I will do all this undistracted.
I will no longer just be HOME.
I will be PRESENT.

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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A New Year

Happy New Year!

Well, I suppose it would be interesting to read a post about our New Year's Eve and how exciting it was, and the champagne and music and party hats, perhaps us dancing the night away....

But the truth is ... I fell asleep right around 10:30pm last night and woke up at midnight to the sound of a few of my kids yelling "Happy New Year!" and ringing all the bells and cranking all the noise makers that I had bought them the day before.  They ran up to my room, threw open the door and said, "Mom!  Happy New Year!"  and I barely lifted my head off the pillow, muttering a sleepy "Happy New Year" in response...and then I went back to sleep.

Pregnancy and New Year's Eve.  Not a good mix.

Anyway, so it's the start of a new year, and as always I'm excited about that.  A new year, a fresh start, new possibilities, new chances to do better and to be better...and in our case, a new family member in May!  So yes, I'm excited for 2013.  And  normally I make a New Year's Resolution.  I always take about two or three days to complete my list, after much thought and editing.  But this year?  This year I'm cheating.  That's right.  Cheating.  Today I FOUND a great list and I'm borrowing it!  It's 100% about mothering ~ being the BEST mom you can be.  You can read it here, and while you are there, take a look around at this mom's wonderful blog!  I love, love, love her blog!  She's a mom to seven children, and if you like my blog even a little bit, you will LOVE hers!  So go check it out when you have some time.

Today we spent our day in pajamas.  It was one of those days, but in a good way.  I spent some time putting Christmas decorations away and taking ornaments off the tree.  I also made cookies with Avery and made a bead bracelet with Aria.  I watched reruns of I Love Lucy and The Dick Van Dyke Show which totally bored my kids but made me laugh. Then I slept.  And slept some more. And then I woke up and made pea soup!  It was my first time making pea soup, and it came out pretty good.  But of course my finicky eaters didn't like it (Aria and Andrew) or flat out wouldn't try it (Avery and Audriana)  but yet my hearty I'll-eat-anything-when-I'm-hungry eaters loved it. (Aislynn, Alex and A.J.)   The other two (Anthony and Afton) weren't home to try it.  We saved them some!

I liked it, by the way, and will be making it again soon, despite my finicky eaters!
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