Wednesday, May 25, 2011


When I pick up dirty undies, stray socks, chewed-up paper towels, dryer sheets, and toothbrushes off the floor, I always think, "Man, if I lived alone, my house would be so clean."  And it would be, but life would be so dull and lonesome.
 Life with a husband, three little ones, and a big hairy dog is usually messy.  And rich.  The other day, I was potting and watering some plants on our back patio, and the big girls managed to get into my open bag of potting soil while I went in to change Ruthie's diaper.  By the time I came back, there really was no way to stop the fun.
My temptation was to get frustrated.  Honestly, it was a great big mess out there.  But they were so delighted to transfer and play in the dirt, I couldn't help but let it go on.
And if I'm being honest, the mess wasn't that big of a deal.  Oh, it was a disaster to look at it.  But a quick shoe-and-clothing removal, a trip through the tub, a scoop of oxyclean, and ten minutes with the hose at naptime was all the mess required.   
A friend of mine shared with me something she'd recently learned at a parenting seminar.  Evidently the three things adults remember most about childhood are rituals (especially mealtime rituals), vacations, and time spent outside.  While we don't have a real exploration-friendly backyard, we do spend a lot of time out there... and we do spend a lot of time getting messy.  I do pray they'll remember these dirty times with sisters, playing together in the backyard.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Baby Pigeons and Potty Talk

I've been journaling more lately, it's just been a little quieter... the Lord seems to be calling me to quietness these days.  Not silence, just quietness.  Perhaps it is because life these days is so rowdy and rambunctious? 

We were unable to park in the garage for a few weeks due to some works-in-progress, so any return home involved us going in through the front door.  Phoebe has turned into quite the climber, and before I could finish unbuckling Ruthie from her car seat, she'd be scaling the Japanese maple in our front yard.  Occasionally she'd pretend to be a baby pigeon; other times, a little stuck kitten.  One day, I arrived home from a dentist appointment to discover Phoebe dressed as a ballerina fairy (named Alice).  It always amazes me to see her scaling that tree, getting higher all the time.  Is it shameful to admit that I've never ever climbed a tree?

Ruthie is finding her words, and it's always a delightful process to watch.  I never tire of having a front-row seat to all of the discoveries these little ones make, and language development is always so terribly exciting!  In the last week or so, she's started mimicking sounds and learning a few animal noises.  She also makes the same two-syllable sound for "I love you" every time, so I'm branding her a baby genius.  She is bursting with personality and ambition, I think.  And although I think she might send me to the asylum with all of her climbing about, we can't help but adore her. 

And our sweet Nora?  I'm potty training her these days (I think this is my most loathed duty of motherhood), which means I'm praying daily for an extra portion of grace and patience for my sweet children.  I think I was sort of hoping she'd just up and train herself.  But we're making the most of the process with lots of M&Ms, frosted animal crackers, stories in the bathroom, and youtube clips on my phone. 

When my sin and frustration bubble over, I am reminded of the Amy Carmichael quote, "A cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, however suddenly jolted.”  Oh, how weak I am!  I am so thankful that I am not called to be a perfect mother to these babies, and I am even more thankful that there is a Savior who is perfect, to whom I can point them.

Friday, May 13, 2011


I always feel so lame with these catching-up posts, trying to highlight some sweet memories before they disappear from this feeble mind of mine.  But honestly, we had such a lovely time in Boston -- I thought it would be wonderful to share a few pictures and hit a few highlights.

My dad's maternal side of the family was gathering for a reunion up there, so my parents graciously agreed to fly our crew up there for all of the fun over Easter weekend.  Although we hated to miss Resurrection Sunday at our precious church, we were thrilled for the chance to get to have a little getaway vacation with our girls (and grandparents!), and to spend time with family we seldom get to see. 

The girls were ridiculously excited about flying on an airplane.  Their parents?  A little nervous.  We were meeting my parents in Boston, so we were outnumbered and traveling with a very energetic lap baby.  After pestering my sweet friend and travel-expert, I felt moderately prepared for our early-bird flight.  We woke in the dark, loaded up the van with sleepy but very excited little girls, and barely made it through security in time to board the plane.  We praised God for Southwest, which allowed us to stick Ruthie's car seat in an empty seat, for all of our flights.

(You'll note that there are no pictures of our flights.  It was all we could do to breathe on those flights, much less take pictures...)
But we arrived in one piece, thrilled to be in (chilly) Boston.  We reunited with my parents a few hours later and proceeded to crash in our hotel room.  After not-quite-enough-time snoozing, we met up with my dad's sisters, my cousin and her husband, and their two children, in Boston's North End.  We enjoyed our lovely windowed nook up a narrow flight of stairs.  The children loved their little hideaway as well!

We were thankful not to be blown away on our adventures, as we had a very important trip to take the following day.

 For months (literally), the girls have been talking about going to see the ducklings in Boston.  Have you read Make Way for Ducklings?  (We highly recommend it, along with every other book Robert McCloskey wrote!)  So yes.  We came all the way to Boston to see some ducks.  And swan boats!  But friends, it was wonderful.  The sun shone, and I could not get over my girls' eagerness to see these sweet ducks.  Precious innocence. 

So we hugged and kissed and climbed on Mrs. Mallard and her seven ducklings, and we were all tuckered out.  And hungry.  So Pops braved the lines and got us set up at Legal Seafood, where we were delighted to dine.  Ruthie even sampled the crayons, and Pops sampled some lemons.  It was a good day.  I wish I had gotten a picture of Phoebe with her tiny Starbucks cup (Miss Katie got Phoebe her own cup of cocoa) while we were waiting! 

 The adventures continued the next day with the reuniting!  Something like seventy-five Italians gathered together and ate (because that's what Italians do!) and talked and reminisced.  The older cousins of the younger generation entertained the smaller ones with crafts and an Easter egg hunt, and a delightful time was had by all.  And honestly, what's cuter than little kids with big bites of food?

 And then Easter!  He is Risen indeed!  Oh, my heart wanted to shout that day...

We journeyed a little ways north to New Hampshire to spend time with my cousin and my dad's sisters, and we were able to worship together as a (large) family.  And then, we were treated to an afternoon of Easter delights, egg coloring, dressing up, and egg hunting.  We were exhausted.  But we had so much fun. 

 And then, it was over.  We grieved as we parted ways with Mops, Pops, Mac, and Katie... and then we proceeded to sleep for something like four days straight.  I could not get over the naps the kids took that week.  Naps were skipped, we stayed up unbelievably late, we ate way too much delicious food, but everyone did awesome.  It was such a wonderful trip for us, and it was really fun to get away with the kids.  Even still, there's no place like home...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Ruthie is Fourteen Months Old

Oh, our little mouse.  Fourteen months already?  Last night, Michael and I crept into Ruthie's room and found her asleep with her arms above her head in just the same way Phoebe used to sleep.  And while she's very different from Phoebe, there is so much about her that reminds me of her biggest sister.  Oh, how I am so thankful for this little Roo...

At fourteen months, Ruthie...
  • is still sleeping great, and still taking two naps.  I'm sort of praying she'll hold onto that morning nap for just a little longer!
  • is all done with the bottle.  One day, she just decided that she was fine with her sippy cup and with cold milk.  She's now drinking milk better than she did when she had a bottle. She still thinks water is pretty great too.  I'm so thankful that she's pretty laid back about this! 
  • now has six teeth -- four on the top, two on the bottom -- and is working on about twelve more, it seems like.  Mommy doesn't really dare to investigate too often.
  • climbs everything.  She nearly gives me a heart attack when I find her atop chairs and benches, and she's gotten really fast.  She is also a full-on wanderer-babbler, and y'all, it is exhausting.  Michael reminded me that they do grow out of this phase, and while I wish she could stay tiny, there is something beautiful that comes with communication.
  • does say a few words, and even strung together "Hey Dada" clearly during bathtime the other night.  "Mama" is still elusive.  She has a clear word for "Nibbles" ("Nih"), who is her newest best buddy, and will also say "that", "all done", and "thank you", among others.  She also will answer "yes" with a shake of the head.
  • barks like a dog whenever she sees one (and apparently loves all puppies!), and also has a clear "meow" sound for cat-like creatures.  All animals seem to be either cats or dogs right now.
  • loves her Nibbles and her Mousie.  When we traveled to Boston for Easter (more to come on that later), Mommy accidentally left Mousie in the van at the airport at 5 am.  We were thankful that our little Nibbles was in the backpack, because she at least had a sort-of-fondness for that little critter.  Remarkably, we were able to spend four nights away from Mousie (although Mommy did unsuccessfully try to track down a replacement) thanks to Nibbles, and she has now become an official sleeping buddy.
  • engages in simple pretend games, like giving her critters "tastes" of food.  She also still loves peek-a-boo and chase games through the house.  
  • loves her books, but only her books.  Woe to the parent that tries to read a Clifford or other short picture book.  
  • attempting to color, when she's not tasting crayons.
  • loves Miss Patty Cake, just like her sisters.  This is just about the only thing she's interested in on the TV.
  • loves to play at the play kitchen, hold baby dolls, snuggle with books, climb in the bath, eat snacks, and eat dirt dig outside.

    Monday, May 2, 2011

    The Storms

    Like much of our state, I feel as if I have no words to offer.  Last Wednesday, Alabama was ravaged by multiple severe tornadoes.  Our beloved Tuscaloosa was devastated by an enormous tornado; we watched in horror as the local television station broadcast the formation of a tornado that grew to be nearly a mile wide.  We spent the evening glued to the weather reports, praying that the Lord would be merciful. 

    We are thankful that none of our loved ones or close friends were harmed or received serious damage. But the damage and loss of life is really unfathomable.  I can't shake images of the rubble, and my heart aches to think of babies that need diapers, wives that have lost their husbands, whole neighborhoods that have been flattened. 

    As I ache, I pray, hoping for clarity in a way that this mama to little ones should serve.  The needs are overwhelming.  Yet God is sovereign, and we know that he will glorify himself through this tragedy.

    "Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
    even as we hope in you."
    Psalm 33:22