Tuesday, September 17, 2013

An Accidental Party

August 17th this year started bright and beautiful.  I woke next to Brian who was lazily scrolling away on his iPad and smiled a happy, content smile.  I love Saturdays.  I rolled over and put my head on Brian's chest to read the article he was reading.  No rush to get out of bed.  No pressure for Brian to get showered and out the door.  He kissed my head and we wondered aloud how long we could pretend to be asleep before the clomping and stomping outside our door came in.

Turned out to be a minute or two.  Not bad.

Soon we were all in our swimming suits rubbing sunscreen into our skin.

We were excited to get down to the beach to try out Carson's new birthday presents.  "We're totally the most popular family on the beach today," Brian joked as we watched the interest mount in our hamster wheel.

Don't worry, it only took Brian and I over 30 minutes to blow the beast up and, after our heads stopped swimming in lightheadedness, it was ready to be used.

It was definitely fun.

I took a few minutes to try to get a shot of the waves breaking over the camera, but the waves weren't quite big enough to be curling... they were more sliding like an avalanche so this was the best I got.

We eventually got hungry, so we decided to go inside for a fun, crabby lunch.

After which, we all settled down for an afternoon of quiet.  Timothy napped, the kids watched a movie, Brian read a book, I plopped the computer down on my lap and worked on pictures, and we enjoyed an hour and a half of quiet before Timothy woke again and started stirring the energy once again.  Right towards the end of our quiet time, my cell phone rang and I answered the call from my mother-in-law, Jean.

"Well, hello, Linds!" she said.
"Hi, Jean!"  I answered.
"Does your sweet husband get to be home with you today?"
"Yep - he's here.  We've just had a great morning at the beach."
"That's so wonderful.  I was just calling to say Happy Anniversary to you guys and to sing Brian my Happy Anniversary song." ... ... ... Um... What? ... ...  


"That is today isn't it?" she asked after my silent pause.  I recovered quickly.
"Yep, it sure is!  Thank you so much!"  I wasn't sure whether to let her in on the secret that I had completely forgotten about my anniversary and that I was quite sure her son had, too, or to pretend.  We had been so focused on planning Carson's birthday which had been the day before that we had forgotten to think of ourselves. 
"Well, in just a minute, I want to talk to Brian, but first we want to talk to Carson to see how his birthday went," she finished.  I handed the phone to my oldest son and walked into the bedroom where Brian was reading and rocking a sleepy Timothy.

"Hey..." I said as I leaned in closer to him.  "Just so you know... your mom is on the phone and wants to wish you a happy anniversary."

His eyes widened in shock.  Yep, that's what I thought.

We laughed.  We gave each other a hug and a kiss.  We laughed again.  And then we continued on with the rest of our day as scheduled.

I've been thinking about this for the past month.  How weird it was that I forgot our anniversary when, first, it was such an uncharacteristic thing for me to have done at all and, second, it happened to be the anniversary immediately following his heart attack, which I would think would give this anniversary an even greater need to be celebrated.  And I've realized a few things.

We didn't really need a day this year to refocus on our relationship.  Refocusing is kind of what I love about anniversaries because my life has a way of pulling me into its details and trapping my thoughts among them.  It's too easy for me to spend my life thinking about what's for dinner or how I'm going to get the floor mopped today, or even when I'm going to schedule my next date night.  So an entire day spent in remembering the broad picture of our relationship and love is usually a welcome change.  But, this year we didn't need that day because we've spent the last eight months doing that very thing.

Right now, we are so happy to have each other on a mundane Tuesday that having each other on our anniversary didn't feel like that much of a difference.  And, if this feeling fades over time (which it, unfortunately, probably will as the weeds of daily life get bigger and stronger) then I will be right back to throwing myself into our anniversary.  But it was nice to realize that, for this year, we didn't need one.

I also realized again that, even though these boys look concerned below (which is why I love these pictures so much!), we are having fun this year. 

Without any extra planning, our anniversary was spent cuddling in the morning, playing on the beach 'till lunch, relaxing the afternoon away, and barbequing through the evening with the very people in this world that we love best.

I see that the pendulum of our lives has swung back to the side of happiness and joy.  And that the difficulties and trials we went through last year just gave the ball more and more and more potential energy so that when it was released, we would soar to a happiness never before reached.  I'm certain it will swing back someday and we'll be called upon to wrestle through something else (even today a bit as I feel a tugging loneliness for changing leaves and crisp air)...

But right now, this feels pretty magical.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Dear Timothy

My dear Timothy,

Baby number four is a special kind of child.  They have to be, I think.

And what a lucky guy you are to have this spot in our family.

For one thing, your Daddy and I are getting better at recognizing which things to focus on and which things to let go.  You've been getting up in the night a bit lately, but all you need is a cuddle and a song to fall back to sleep.  Experience and time have taught me not to worry so much about the possibility of me needing to cuddle you to sleep in college.  I'm pretty sure your waking up is simply a phase that will last for a short amount of time.  Of course, I don't know that for sure, but I won't worry about it until I see the pattern getting rooted deep in you.  Tonight we'll cuddle.

For another thing, you have a house absolutely full to the brim of noise and laughter and I can see how much you love it.  Not many kids get that these days, you know.  I would probably need both hands to count the number of times a stranger has said in response to you being baby number four, "Wow... you don't see many big families anymore these days."  But you are part of one of the remaining few.  Your smile is never bigger than when you're being circled by little running feet.  I'm happy for you in this.

And the love... oh, the love.  Of course, I feel there is no possible way for me to love you any more than I already do.  But you are lucky because Daddy feels that way, too.  And so does McKenzie.  And Carson.  And you have won Miles over in the last four months to a point where he can't even walk next to you without giving your chubby little foot a squeeze.  "Can I just feel him?" Miles asks several times a day.  Your cries never actually escalate into cries because your fussy noises are met with relief from one of several different sources.  Sometimes I get a little concerned about this... but I see that your temperament doesn't seem entitled at all.  And, should that entitlement creep in someday... well... we'll address it then.  For now, you know you're loved.  And I know your brothers and sister are becoming better people because of it, too.  You certainly do not get any less hands-on love (in fact, I think you probably get more).  It’s just distributed differently.  And how lucky for you that you have that.

The older kids argue over who gets to play with you.  Who gets to get you from your crib.  Who gets to feed you your bottle.  Who gets to sing you to sleep.  Several times a day I say, “It’s my turn.  Why don’t you empty the dishwasher while I sit and cuddle the baby.”  Thankfully your big siblings are wonderful and obedient… in this way I treasure and cherish those moments of holding and rocking even more than I did in earlier years when the cuddling and holding was easier to come by.

Of course, there are trade offs to everything in life and I feel sorry sometimes that I don't get to give you the type of undivided attention that some of your other siblings received.  But, Timothy, please know that I believe that Heavenly Father loves you just as much as he loves me.  And that he must know of the time constraints placed on mothers of multiples and so organizes personalities into families in a carefully crafted way to help offset any negative effects.  And, of course, I hope you will always know how much I love you.

You have added a flavor into this house that I cannot believe we were happy without (and we were).  We laugh more.  We sing more.  We play and goof and encourage more.  We even love more.   

You. are. Perfect.

You smile and laugh.  You play and remind us to be happy with each other.  I’m not sure how you do it, actually.  But you do.   You seem to have an aura of love surrounding you, and anyone who comes into your space cannot help but feel it and want to emulate it, too.

We laugh when you eat your toes.  We laugh when you smack your fists.  We laugh when you roll and we even laugh when you smell terrible.  We laugh at your goopy eyes and we laugh, most heartedly, at your laugh.  We laugh when you splash in the tub.  We laugh when you squeal in the grocery store.  We laugh when you burp and we laugh when your lunch erupts back onto the floor.  We laugh when you drop your carrots and we laugh and clap when you swallow them, too.  We laugh when you clench your blankets up to your face just before falling asleep.  We laugh when you eat your books.  We laugh when you stick your feet into the sand and we laugh when you wear a new outfit.  We laugh.  We laugh.  We laugh.  

And every time we laugh, a small part of my insides grow.  And I wonder, again, perhaps there really is no depth to love.  

You are incredible, sweetheart.  And I -so- love you.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Scrambled Thoughts VIII

1.  Sometimes I wish I had sound-proof space suits for my kids.  That way, they could click themselves in and then talk and squeal and laugh with each other to their hearts content through whatever speaker systems they use in those things, but all their noise would be contained.  In the suit.

Maybe some of you have had the experience of hanging on to your sanity by an unraveling thread while the chaos and noise around you mount and mount and mount.  The giggling!  The running!  The squawking!  The silliness!  It's fun sometimes, right?  And then sometimes it's not.  I'm still working out a solution to help in these times now that 'go outside' isn't always an option.  Indeed, some might think my parenting neglectful if I stuck the three older (louder) kids on the elevator alone and sent them hurdling down 11 floors to have free reign of the pool deck below.  So, mostly I just quietly remind them to lower their voices, to stop running, to please not shriek like that inside, to separate themselves from each other.  In one of my finer moments, when these gentle reminders were proving about as effective as banging my head into a wall (which, now that I think about it, would probably be quite effective if I did it in front of the children) I said, "Alright!  That's it!  I want you to... to... to... just... sit on the floor... and... and... just sit on the floor and... and... stare at each other.  No talking.  No laughing.  Just sit."

Fortunately, they're obedient.

Unfortunately, they really can only obey one direction at a time, so the 'no talking' and 'no laughing' parts of those directions got lost somewhere in their brains between the hearing part and the comprehending part.  So, the silliness resumed.  No, escalated.  I thought I was going to have to pull out the mop next with all the intense laughing going on.  Any ideas on how to put the reverse on the silly, out-of-control behavior once it's started if going outside isn't an option?

#2 - They get tired when we ride our bikes to the pier.

You can see where I'm going here now, right?

Don't let the kids fool you in the following picture, they're actually having fun.  My question is... why can't they behave a little more like this when they're at home?

I guess it's just that riding your bike a mile and a half in the sand is tiring after you've spent the whole morning running around inside the house.

These guys are turning into strong little puppies with this year of swimming every single day and biking in the sand to parks, piers, and libraries.

I like that.  I want my kids to feel strong.

#3 - I like calm kids.

Okay.  Looking back over these first three points, apparently all I can think about right now is the noise level in my house.  Let me tell you a little about what the atmosphere in my house is right this very minute and maybe you'll understand a bit better.  The kids have found that pots and pans make excellent helmets and that throwing Hot Wheels at said helmets (while jumping on the bed) makes an awesome sound that rings and rings and rings and rings in their ears.  And, incidentally, in the ears of anyone around them.  This is exceptionally funny and no laugh would do it justice save for the high pitched squealing ones that keep erupting from their lungs.  Then, of course, there's the bang of the cars hitting the walls when the aim happens to be slightly off on the four year old's arm.  Why do I allow this to happen, you ask?


#4 - Let's talk about the pool instead.

My kids spend a lot of time underwater at the pool.

 Which is wonderful because then I can't hear them quite as well (... ... I did it again, didn't I?).

Before we moved down here we got our kids into an intense round of private swimming lessons and, let me tell you, it was the best $150 I ever spent in my life.  These kids are fish in the water and have so much fun with their confidence.


Plus, I feel so much more comfortable having watched them swim lap after lap after lap without tiring.  Even Miles can get himself across the length of the pool without stopping (though, it's not quite as pretty).

Also, I hesitantly forked out $20 for McKenzie's goggles because they have corrective lenses and have praised that decision hundreds of times so far.  Poor girl is as blind as a bat without them.

But, since she has them she's free to explore the bottom of the pool or ocean along with the rest of us.

We've only had one round of swimmers ear (poor Kenz) and it was bad enough to motivate us to put drops of alcohol and vinegar into their ears after each shower ever since.  So far it's working.

#5 - Okay.  This Hot Wheels throwing, bed jumping, pot clanging has got to stop.

And, I have to fold my laundry.