One year ago today…

…I was getting pulled over on 405 by a police officer with all 4 kids in the car.  Seconds before I saw his lights I’d hung up the phone with my midwife.  I had barely gotten on the freeway and could not figure out why he was pulling me over.  He walked up to my window and I was unmistakably, enormously pregnant.  He asked me if I knew my tabs were expired.  Five months expired.  As soon as I opened my mouth I’m sure he regretted it – it went something like this, with no breaths for air:

Oh my goodness no!  In October, what?  I thought they mailed you that little postcard that told you to get new tabs.  That’s right, I remember someone telling me that they don’t mail it anymore, have to save money somewhere.  But I never looked at my plates so I didn’t notice.  Oh my.  The midwife just called me and I just hung up with her when you were pulling me over.  She’s going to come to my house in two hours, TWO HOURS, and I’m going to have a baby.  TODAY!  So I’m, you know, a little frazzled and excited and I wasn’t expecting it to be today and I’ve got to get home and is there any way I can renew my tabs after the baby comes?

I’m pretty sure that wasn’t all but you get the idea.  I was a mile-a-minute to the moon bursting with excitement and nervousness and could not care less about my tabs just had to go home to get my home birth box all set up and my kitchen clean and have a baby and all.  As soon as I let him talk he said, “Oh wow, yeah you have a lot going on.  You get yourself home safely and have yourself a baby.  Just renew those tabs as soon as you can.”  I smiled and said I would and headed home.

I made the calls and picked up the house.  My sister started a dinner that would feed the midwife and whoever else was at our house.  The whole story was that the weather was cold and it was supposed to snow.  I have a history of fast labors, barely made it to the birth center last time.  And I was very progressed and ready but not in active labor.  So she gave me the option of them breaking my water so that we would know for sure that the midwife would be present for the delivery.  My husband had read the pamphlet entitled “What to do if baby arrives before midwife” and he said he really didn’t want to utilize the info.  Who could blame him.

The midwife and her student went to get coffee after my water broke and pretty soon I called them back to say that things were moving right along.  About three hours later a plump and purple-ish baby boy was born in our bedroom – with Rylee behind me rubbing my back and my mom and sister standing next to me with Kyler and Audrey. His daddy helped catch him and told us all “It’s a boy!”.  He got some oxygen and perked up and all I could think was “there are rolls EVERYWHERE”.  He was so plump and round.  After snuggling and getting rubbed off, he weighed in and everyone gasped.  10 pounds 11 ounces.  I was instantly thankful that he’d been born that day and not one day later!

We all sat on my bed together and soaked it all in.  It was the experience I had dreamed of but it still seemed very surreal.  It was bedtime so my mom and dad helped get kids in bed and we settled in for the night. We marveled together as we watched him sleep and counted ourselves tremendously blessed.

One year later and we’re not sleeping much but we wouldn’t trade the sleep for anything.  Phineas is a perfectly wonderful addition to our family.  We joke that he’s like a movie star in his own home.  Every time he wakes up from a nap there is fanfare and greetings galore for his sleepy, smiley face.  His brothers love to crash trucks to make him laugh.  His sisters love to snuggle and play baby with him.  His daddy loves to hold him in just the right spot on his shoulder.  His mama kisses his face and head all over.  Every single day.

Yes, it’s loud.  Yes, there is chaos.  Yes, we’ve got hard days just like everyone does.

But oh my, the love…there is

first time for everything – he didn’t make a fuss, just fell asleep in his high chair
first time climbing into a drawer
finding the apple box
he's got a penchant for emptying the recycle bin!

A nine year old!

Nine years ago last week we welcomed a tiny, sick, premature baby into our family and became parents for the first time.  She has grown into an amazing, beautiful girl who will be a young woman before we know it.  This is her birthday letter (part of it at least…) from this year:

  You are nine years old.  My heart bursts with gratitude for the girl you are becoming.  As I watched you open gifts last night for your birthday you were so grown up and polite and genuine as you found delight in each present you had been given.  I did not have to remind you to say thank you and you were so grateful and so quick to appreciate what you received.  It reflected a growing up, maturing heart that is often a beautiful reflection of Jesus to those around you.

Your heart for others Rylee, its amazing.  And for years now I’ve agonized over the lack of friends for you in our life and how hard daily life with your brother can be day in and day out.  You endure a lot with him and sometimes you have such a great time.  But there are days that he hurts you with words, hands and attitude.  We’ve tried our best to provide friendship-making-opportunities for you but nothing great has panned out.

Until now.  God has heard our many prayers and He has opened up new doors with a sweet group of girls that I can see becoming long time, precious friends for you.  He cares so much about you.  He knew just who you would be and just what you would need.  As you head into the pre-teen years, you will crave companions and these new girls are perfectly suited to share life with you.  They love animals, they are in 4-H, they go to our co-op, they have parents who love Jesus….the list goes on.  I just want to make sure I wrote you about how faithful God has continued to be to you and how much we see Him in and around you.

You love to put your baby brother down for naps and are so proud when you get him to sleep.  You often ask me if I got much sleep when you see me in the morning.  You are quick to help with meal preparation and love, love to organize things.  You share.  A lot.  You are the apple of your little cousin Ruby’s eye.  I’m pretty sure you’ll need chiropractic help for your back after all the time you LOVE spending holding little ones.

You’ve identified our baby pattern and have resolved that the “next baby God gives us will be a boy”.  It’s that simple to you.  Our value of life, all life, is so internalized in you – it often truly blows me away.  How you will live out your life and your purpose with driving truths as counter culture as these I do not know.  I do know that your dad and I cannot wait to see your life continue to unfold.  Your sensitivity to what is going on around you in the lives, faces and hearts of others is far, far beyond your years.



Our life, our family is so, so much better because of you.

Happy 9th birthday sweet girl!

Modeling the pillowcase dress she sewed last week at a 4-H sewing workshop!  After she shows it at the fair it will be donated to an orphanage in Haiti.

Smoothie = ice cream = brilliance

Smoothies are my nutrition standby.  Completely worth the effort and mess.  There is no limit to what I can hide in them (except broccoli, that was a bad one).  While our kids eat obscene amounts of fruit they are more choosy with veggies.  Enter the almighty smoothie.

And what could be better than a smoothie?

Putting more ice in the blender and calling it sorbet, or ice cream.

My two more tentative smoothie drinkers could not say no to my delicious purple ‘ice cream’ today.  And by cream I do not mean half and half or milk or anything, I use kefir or coconut milk or yogurt to get the creaminess.  We took a straw poll and the ice cream wins hands down over the smoothie.

Brilliant use of words and ice in my book.

They didn’t complain a whit about the flaxseed oil, spinach, pumpkin seed protein powder, avocado or kale.  Instead the POM juice, blueberries, coconut milk and frozen banana chunks won out.  No sugar or honey required.

If only I could come up with a solution to the awful cold headache that comes from eating cold stuff way, way too fast!

A one-wake-up night

He’s almost one year old our little man.  Two weeks from today actually.

And last night was the very first time he only got up once at night since the day he was born.  I would like to say that no, I do not feel magically rested and renewed after ONE good night. I would also like to say that having five children does not, apparently, make me a sleep expert for babies.  I was mistaken in expecting that.

However, it must be made known that I relished the gift of sleep.

Waking up without burning tired eyes.

No looking at my cell phone to find that it was only 3 AM and WHY was I awake for the third time.

Getting dressed and together BEFORE kids woke up….if you only knew how many dozens and dozens of mornings I wake up to a smiling child face right next to my sleeping one and the never-changing question – “What’s for breakfast mom?”.

I actually can’t tell you the last time I made breakfast in CLOTHES – oh the delight!  I silently thanked my blender for making such awesome waffle mix for me and poured myself a perfectly made cup of french press coffee.  No Keurig laziness for me today, no way, not after only one wake-up.

My chipper, awake self practically bubbled over as my husband found me hustling about happily in the kitchen offering him waffles.  I informed him that this is the “one-wake-up mommy” and wasn’t it wonderful?!?

After Finn went down for a nap, I read three, yes three Beatrix Potter stories WITHOUT falling asleep.  I realize how ridiculous this sounds.  But really, try going a year on this much little sleep and then come talk to me about reading out loud for an hour!

I’ll spare everyone any more capitalized words but I just had to share.  Maybe I’ll make it back to the blog-world after all…

Winter sunset

11 months old and watching the world around him every minute – he can’t wait to be able to keep up with everyone

creeping close to 4 years old and an absolute delight of a girl

best friends + cousins

unbelievably sweet and tender boy – loves his baby brother more than words can possibly say

conqueror, overcomer, adventurer

“Mommy, look I drew you in the sand….and you’re a princess!” – Audrey

thoughtful, observant, nurturing and responsible

rock scrambling before the light runs out

watching the big boys throw rocks in the water

sometimes the unplanned, last minute outings are the best…
but anything with cousins is always fun!

December highlights

Just since I sort of use this blog as a ‘scrapbook’ of our family amongst other things, here were some favorite moments from the holiday season…

Our first ‘live’ Christmas tree this year – and the happy decorators

making cranberry popcorn garland, a first for us and very fun

awesome daddy-Phineas snuggles

the annual Christmas cookie making party at Nana’s complete with cocoa in tiny Christmas mugs – always a hit – and Nana was extra cool this year and even adapted to our gluten free needs without us even asking!

plenty of time over Christmas break for playing baby with little brother (and yes, in case you wondered, he is wearing a ballet skirt, a onesie, a purple superhero cape and a backwards baby bonnet in the first photo)

and time for ‘let’s all sit with Papa’ – wait do you see him?!?

oh yes, there he is!

and the ever expressive Nana…

who every once in a while slows down to pose for a picture

Christmas morning cutie with her stocking

and his new tools

and his pillow pet

and her totally beautiful smile

cousin hugs…

and beloved uncle shoulders

my crazy handsome men

Phineas Jon – 10 months old – on Christmas

one guess as to who told me later “this is the WORST day ever!” – we were a bit over-scheduled over the holidays (at least for some of us) and there were some rough moments but all in all there were many wonderful memories made