Thursday, May 19, 2011

Heart Strings

There's something about this kid...
that tugs at my heart strings.
He is so stinkin' cute.  I love his narrow little neck, round face, chubby cheeks, and button nose.
I love to hear him learning new words and singing his favorite songs.

It's not like my other kids aren't adorable, it's just hard to not give the baby of the family the most attention.
I mean, he is number four after all, and that means that we have some older kids who know how to say no and exhibit unpleasant behaviors. But a baby? They're pure innocence.

me and my firstborn
Mothering was something I slipped into easily, naturally. The beautiful baby boy I birthed at age nineteen completely stole my heart and consumed my thoughts and energies.
 Feeding, changing, burping, rocking, loving, and cuddling one child was easy, and something I did whole heartedly.  When a tiny daughter followed, I was delighted.  She was a difficult baby, but I was consumed by the little spitfire nonetheless.  It was around the time that I had number three that I stopped the shopping trips with the kids, the days of lounging and reading, and that life became so busy I couldn't remember whose first word was what.

Baby number four
Becoming a mother to four was...was...I don't know how to put it into words.  It was like having the third again, only a little worse. Suddenly everything seemed overwhelming as a demanding, hungry, pooping little bundle of lungs was thrown into the mix. I simply couldn't keep up with all the demands of a family of six, one of whom was a newborn. So I didn't try.  When he was just an infant, I stopped stressing about the house, the un-bathed toddlers, the pile of laundry, and just enjoyed him. I breathed his newborn scent, I counted his little toes, I cooed and cuddled.  And I sometimes wondered how I could love him so much, how I could love him in a different way than I loved my first. I wondered if the bond between myself and my other babies was as strong as it was with this one, or if I was simply growing as a person, a mother, and becoming more whole.

And yet, I look at my other children and each one pulls a string of my heart too.
I look at my oldest, and I have this sense of pride for the boy he is.  He is undemanding and dependable.  We usually understand each other pretty well.

My sweet daughter, my only daughter, is sometimes so like me that we clash. Yet, I love the independent streak in her and her quick wit.

My third child has tried my patience the most, but he can also be the most charming.  He analyzes everything and makes me smile with his questions and constant quips of "I love you mom".

You know how I feel about my 'baby'.  He is becoming more opinionated and stubborn by the day, but still has the sweetest way of tilting his head to one side when he smiles at me.

Only he won't be my 'baby' for much longer.  The newest little Johnson has already taken up residence in my heart, even though she won't make her appearance until this fall.

How is it that mother's heart can fit in so much!? Each of my children tugs at a different heart string, yet holds a secure place nonetheless.  How is it that a mother's heart can dole out so much unconditional love despite all the troubles and worries!?  How can the amount of love I have to give only multiply, rather than divide!?

Quite simply, I believe that motherhood is just as miraculous as the creation of new life.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Out of scraps

Like I said, I was eager to get started on my picnic quilt.
I have seven blocks done, probably nine to go.
I think I better stay away from nine patches for the rest of the quilt, and I'm definitely going to need sashing between these blocks.  It's a rather interesting combination of fabrics, but I'm sticking to my goal of using up my extra material.
The only problem is that I'm running out of scraps! I need some fabric to match several of my favorite pieces.
Darn, I'm at a stand still (which actually is probably not a bad thing).

Reluctantly, I've left my sewing machine.
Dare I show you the state of my house at 11 AM?

This mess is another I need to tackle.
They played with the trains for about 5 minutes.  I'm not sure it was worth it.

On a completely different note, have you been buying strawberries, strawberries, and more strawberries?
Next time you are making strawberry sauce, I have a suggestion -
use brown sugar in place of some or all of the white, and substitute orange juice for some or all of the water
(I substituted half for each using 1/3 c. brown sugar and 3 Tbsp. OJ and it was pretty sweet).

We had some delicious strawberry sundaes as well as homemade waffles with this sauce on top. Yum!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I'd rather be sewing

While at the duck pond yesterday, I realized that I have found the perfect spot for our next picnic.
I realized too, that I do not have a picnic blanket. Or a beach blanket for that matter.
I need a picnic/ beach blanket, and I think it needs to be a quilt.
I cannot wait to get started.

My current plan is to use only scraps. I will sew up what I have into whatever 12 inch blocks work, then piece those together.  It should be interesting, and colorful. Perhaps it should have a water resistant backing.
I have a lot of scraps, but still, I wonder how many years it will take me.  Although, with all the quilts I have planned, maybe I can finish it for this summer. Maybe I better go get busy sewing.

I am a procrastinator.  I have a bunch of Little Hands Sign classes coming up, but I am procrastinating getting serious about my lesson plans. In the meantime, I have been enjoying the lull in business duties and have been enjoying my sewing machine.  This last sewing project is a baby gift.  I decided to try my hand at dressing up some burp rags.

This diaper/wipes case is the fourth I've made.  They're basic and I love to use a different, fun fabric for each one. Too bad I didn't take a picture of each before I gave them away.

Usually, I get a half hour or so of sewing before all the kids come to see what I'm up to.

The older ones quickly lose interest and go find their own entertainment, but I usually have to end my sewing session soon after this one finds my lap.

While I'm preparing dinner, folding laundry, making the school run, and cleaning house these next few weeks, my mind will be here 

and here.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Soaring into Spring

It was one of those spring days that brings everybody outside to start working in their front yards: landscaping, laying sod, pulling weeds, placing rock.
Biking down the street we saw many neighbors I had never seen before, and I marveled at the beautiful weather that brings everybody out of hibernation and into feverish activity.

We were out to play, not work.

We were headed to Flagstaff's Kite Festival. Our bikes and trailer joined others locked at the rack and we took off for the bounce houses - a treat for our kids.

From there we headed to the arts and crafts table and the face painting booth.  Had I paid for the bit of paint on their cheeks, I would have demanded a refund, or at least a try at it myself.  The race car Brant requested resembled one of those soft Tonka truck toys for babies that makes music. The kids seemed satisfied enough though. And it was free.

Do you remember playing with the parachute in elementary P.E.? It's the funnest thing ever. This thing would have entertained the kids for hours had we let them stay that long.

The highlight for Donovan, though, was the kiddie caboose.
It made me slightly dizzy.  The driver must get bored doing big loops around the parking lot. I suppose he was just spicing up his own monotonous day.
can you guess what their face paintings are?

I wish I would have gotten a picture of all the kites. It was pretty awesome. I wonder how many lines got tangled?!
Our kids had no desire to fly kites, and I was glad of their decision when I saw the price tag on one of the kites being sold - $40!

the crowd at the climbing wall and kiddie caboose
Next year, we'll bring our own kites, a blanket and picnic, and plan on staying the whole afternoon. Soaring into spring is easy in Flagstaff, the wind never stops blowing.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The sweets of my labors

I am likening myself to a sloth this week.
This sloth could not get off her lazy butt and get to the grocery store, let alone plan a decent weeks menu. Which is dumb really, because being lazy creates more work for me in the end.  I had to run to the store for few things earlier this week, and today I have to make a run for hamburger buns. You'd think I'd have learned by now.  Especially when grocery shopping once a week with the two little boys is enough to make me swear "never again!"
We had homemade waffles and grilled cheese and tomato soup for dinner two nights this week.  Oh, and we already ate pizza one night too.  That leaves what? Breakfast burritos?
Thank goodness we have a new grill waiting to be broken in, tonight we are have having hamburgers. I will pretend it is a real meal since I am making my own patties, and thus assuage my guilt about slacking in the kitchen.

Plus I decided that we would make a double batch of cookies.  I don't know why I thought that we was a better idea than I, but the kids enjoyed dumping flour in the bowl and chocolate chips all over the floor anyway.

Actually, I think they had more fun washing their hands and playing in the water than turning the mixer on and off.  Next time I'll just have them wash the dishes.

It's okay though, I ate enough cookie dough to make up for the extra hassle and mess they caused.
I considered how some people don't eat cookie dough because it has raw eggs in it.  Then I ate some more.
I considered how some people don't eat cookie dough because it is uncooked and gross. Then I ate some more. I concluded that some people will just never know what they are missing.

Click on the picture if you're interested in seeing the recipe larger. You can click again to zoom.

The fruits of our labors.  Or should I saw sweets?
I like the soft cookies best, when the middle is slightly uncooked.  Its almost as good as eating cookie dough.
And check out this cute plate!  I made this on a girl's night out when we went to a pottery studio.
When it comes to oatmeal chocolate chip cookie dough though, no, I won't share the love. 
Go make your own.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Fricassee the Chicken!

So my two littlest boys are sitting at the table, finishing breakfast.  I'm kind of tuning out their chatter, because this is a typical morning and they like to converse.
Except I just heard this from Brant, "YOU CAN DO IT ALBERT, JUST RELAX!!!"
No he didn't mean Aubrey.  He was referring to a character in a book.  In this particular book, Albert (who is actually a bear) gets the jitters racing against a bully of a show off, and his friends help him to focus with something called the Relaxercise.  I wonder how much of what we read will come back to him and actually be helpful. Will he remember this little phrase when he's anxious before a test, or faced with an unpleasant task?  Will any of my kids remember the story Finders Keepers for Franklin when they take something that doesn't belong to them? What part do books play in the shaping of a child's character? They do play a part, I'm certain, I just don't know how much. Nevertheless, we continue to read, and listen to audio books, and enjoy the stories.

I love that my three year old can spew out phrases from books we've read, sometimes hilariously relevant.
And the best part? Dad spews them out too.
"This is not a time for a Gonk and a Roo..." and

You had to have been there.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Cast

If you were to come to our castle on any given work and school day, this cast of characters would greet you:
Do come join us for tea.  Just don't be alarmed if the scene changes without notice and a pink Care Bear, a lion, a puppy dog, or a red dragon enters our company.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Itching to create

Our back yard was designed for spring. It is sheltered from most of the wind, so it feels a lot warmer than it really is.
The kids eat their lunches outside and color.
 Or we hang out on the trampoline, enjoying the warmth and the chatter of the birds.
Some of us fall asleep in the sunshine.
I love the colors of spring,
and the new growth that brings the buzzing bees.

Spring makes me want to create. 

If this were my house, I'd re-stain these old kitchen cupboards. Or paint the living room, or build a playhouse. Well, I would try convince Dean to build a playhouse; I'd sew the curtains.
What I'd really love to do, is plant a garden.
As you can see, this back yard was not designed for vegetable gardening.
We have grass, wood chips, and volcanic rock. Not the greatest for growing things. 
Actually, I just thought of something. See the framed-in box of sand?  It's a horse shoe pit, or was.

There are two of them, obviously, and it would make a perfect little garden!
There's even some gardening tools laying around already, just waiting to their job. 
If the landlord's don't mind, I do believe I've got my next spring project.