Ghosts of Valentines Past

Because Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse to dress your babes up in hearts and pinks and reds and take pictures. We all do it. It is some sort of mom compulsion that we cannot resist. 

Exhibit A.

Valentine’s Day, 2012  
New mom Sylvia takes a grainy dark picture of her precious first born in a heart onesie, pink pants, and I even manage to sneak the hearts on her socks in there. Too much? Never. People who saw that pop up on their feeds all groaned and rolled their eyes, but new moms gotta mamarazzi, especially on holidays.

Next up, Valentine’s Day 2013:

 
Not sure why newborn Rose didn’t make it into the annual V Day photo shoot. I was probably still reeling from the whole now I have more than one child thing. And, apparently I had just discovered PicStitch. 

And Valentine’s Day 2014:

  
The standards are visibly lower, my friends. Impromptu pink baby blanket “backdrop,”: check.  Didn’t manage to wrench the toys from the older girls’ hands or the paci from Rosie’s mouth: check. No one is looking at the camera: check. And we’re looking up Wren’s nose. Photography skills, I’ve got ’em. But to be fair, I had delivered a baby a few weeks before this. I’m actually pretty impressed with their outfits. 

Valentine’s Day 2015:

  
Still got the blanket backdrop going on, and the PicStitch obsession has reached a fever pitch. 

And lastly, Valentine’s Day 2016:

  
Have the standards officially hit rock bottom? I mean, the blanket backdrop really can’t get much worse, for one. Stay tuned, my friends. 

I hope your V Day was a good one, whether you be one of those who celebrate it with grand romantic gestures or elaborate crafts with the kids, or be you a Valentine Grinch, or all those who fall somewhere in between. 

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Our Christmas Card this Year

Yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent! The Christmas season is officially here. Scott’s office moved to another location last weekend, and he was busy with the move all last week except for Thanksgiving Day and Saturday. Needless to say, it was not a very relaxing holiday weekend for us. But he loves his new office and I can’t wait to see it! Maybe I can drag all four girls in to see daddy one day! We always make waves over there at the office building whenever I do that. Last time, people were seriously turning right around and foregoing their lunch outings to gawk at us. Nothing to see here, folks. Just a mama duck and all of her little ducklings fighting over who gets to press the elevator buttons.

Anyway, due to our crazy week last week, we have none of our holiday decorations up yet. And we failed to get the Advent Wreath out in time as well. Not a good start. But, I just got the proofs for our Christmas cards, and I cannot wait for them to arrive!

  
Scott had dressed the girls that day, and he always dresses them alike (they were all in overalls). I swear if he had is way, the girls would all have their own family uniforms a la von Trapp family from The Sound of Music. They looked so cute, I just had to plop a quilt down in the yard and take some Christmas pictures. I dressed Rhea, that is why she doesn’t match. But to be fair, she doesn’t have any overalls.

My very talented sister Rachel is responsible for the design. She crafted the entire card, and her inspiration was Matyo embroidery, which is from Catholic Hungarian folk art. 

Merry Christmas from our family to yours! I hope you are blessed as we prepare to celebrate the Nativity of our Lord! 

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Rhea is 5 months!

I know what you are all thinking. But what about her four month update? Well, friends, she turned four months on Ruth’s birthday when we were traveling to Florida. So, I was a little preoccupied. Also #fourthbaby. Also, I am aware you actually didn’t even notice I skipped her fourth month update.  Moving right along! 

 Milestones: Sleeping through the night!!!!!!!!!!!!! My most favorite milestone of all. I realize there might be some regressions in our future, but I am living in the now and enjoying all of this newfound sleep. She is currently still in her little cradle, but if she keeps this up, I am going to move her to the crib in Ruthie’s room and we will have (gasp!) girls sharing a room. We’ll see how that goes. She also consistently rolls from her back to her belly, but can’t seem to roll from her belly to her back. This leads to a lot of frustrated tummy time on her part. You’ll get there, Rhea. And as you can see, she is very close to sitting up unsupported! Girl has got some core strength. I am so relieved because it is much easier to hold her on my hip than try and support her back. She is also standing in the exersaucer and twirling around to play with all the toys. She has been my most phyically ambitious child. 

   
 Likes: Nursing, playing in her exersaucer, tickles and kisses underneath her chin, baths, playing with her toes, laughing at her sisters, talking to her daddy, being held by anybody, hanging out in the Ergo, sucking on her lower lip, and sitting in your lap and talking to you.

   
  Dislikes: Initially going to sleep, being squished by Wren, tummy time, and being away from all of the action.
She is such a delightful child. Some days she is so serious and just stares at you, other days she is jubilant and giggly. She is very loud, and can be heard in any room of the house when she is really exploring her voice. She likes to hum herself to sleep while she is sucking on her lower lip, but in an agitated way and not a peaceful way. She has enormous girth, stretching even the 9 month clothing, but all of the sleeves and pants are too long, as her limbs seem to be normal sized. Her thigh rolls and cheeks are delicious. I could pinch them all day.   

We love her.
  

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Rosie’s birthday and why I’m taking a break from big birthday parties

I am on a big birthday extravaganzas for children hiatus. Forget Pinterest-worthy themed birthday parties, I’m not even having the party! We have reached a new familial low. Or have we? Quite frankly, with four children it was becoming unmanageable to have four big birthday parties a year. (And any party where we invite all of our close family members and friends is going to be big.) I had to clean the house, borrow a large folding table and chairs in order to have enough seating, spend a small fortune on paper plates, cups, napkins, food, drinks, and cake for everyone, and then figure out an activity that is fun for the children but won’t break the bank. And then after everyone leaves,  there is the epic clean up. I’m not saying all this to be whiny, it was a labor of love for sure, and we enjoy seeing all of our loved ones! However, with four little ones at home, doing all of the above four times a year every year was just too overwhelming for us. So Scott and I discussed it, and we decided to take a break from hosting large birthday parties this year.  And it has been liberating. 

  
For Ruth’s birthday, we travelled to Florida and had an intimate family party with our relatives we were visiting there. Ruth thoroughly enjoyed it. (And we did too).

For Rosie’s birthday this past weekend, we went to a pumpkin patch. And we thoroughly enjoyed that too.  

  

  

 Yup, my sister even looks gorgeous while making a silly face.  

RRuth’s grimace fake smile. Oy. 

  

Please pardon my awkward bangs are growing out stage. I’ve decided they are no longer worth the hassle of finding a babysitter and getting them trimmed every month. 

    
 Ruth will go anywhere if there is face painting. 

    
 We live in a weird time. I saw countless families bring their fancy cameras and try to prop up floppy and wobbly babies against pumpkins and just squat there snapping away between dives to keep the baby from face planting.  Has this always been a fixture at pumpkin patches? I even saw a couple bring their dog  and positioned it amongst the pumpkins so that they could take several pictures of it, waving dog treats around to get its attention. I felt very sorry for their Facebook friends who were about to be subjected to a 30+ picture photo album of Fido among the pumpkins. Unless they were doing it as satire. That I wholeheartedly support.  Anyway, fortunately for my Facebook friends, they have to actually click on a blog post to be subjected to endless babies and pumpkins pictures.  You’re welcome, Facebook friends.  I do it because I know if you see one more pumpkin patch picture, you are going to swear off October altogether. As for my beleaguered blog readers, I love you to the moon and back for trudging through yet another pumpkin patch post for me. I have the best readers in the whole world.  

For those of you with big families/lack of time and energy, how do you make birthday parties more manageable?  One friend of  mine said she has everyone bring a dish instead of gifts. That idea sounds intriguing.

  

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A Reading Rainbow (Of Books for Adults)

Every night, I relax with a (hopefully) good book. I am a devotee of the classics, but I am not above re-reading the entire Harry Potter series every year. It helps me to unwind after a hectic day and keep my mind diverted on lighter things (instead of worrying) and drift off to sleep. I have done this for as long as I can remember. I remember being scolded as a girl because my reading lamp was still on late into the night because I kept saying to myself, “just one more chapter!” I already did a list of books I wanted my girls to read here , but I wanted to divulge what I have been reading lately. Just for funsies.

For the past several months, I have been alternating between cravings for the authors P. G. Wodehouse and Rex Stout. I read Rex Stout when I am feeling particularly braced. Like God is in his heaven, and all is right with the world. My favorite series of Rex Stout’s is the Nero Wolfe series of murder mysteries, of course. Nero Wolfe is a corpulent New York City detective (from Montenegro) who lives in a brownstone with his debonair assistant Archie Goodwin, his Swiss chef Fritz, and his sea of priceless orchids in the greenhouse on the roof.  He solves murders and mahem without ever leaving his office, but only because he can send his wisecracking assitant Archie in his stead. It is an enjoyable romp, but if I am already stressed all of the murders can become upsetting after a while. This one is probably my favorite Nero Wolfe mystery.

If I am feeling stressed and overwhelmed (an admittedly common occurrence), I opt for a P. G. Wodehouse story instead. Wodehouse has two character series that I really enjoy. One is Lord Emsworth, the other is Jeeves. Lord Emsworth is a wealthy peer from England who enjoys a quiet life, but mostly his prized sow, aptly named the Empress of Blandings. His bossy sister and her nagging ways and his goofy son and his foolhardy enterprises are always interrupting his aims, however. Hilarity ensues. This is probably my favorite of the Lord Emsworth stories. The other beloved Wodehouse character, Jeeves, the personal gentleman’s gentleman, you might have heard of from the British comedy, “Jeeves and Wooster,” starring Hugh Laurie of “House” fame as Bertie Wooster and Stephen Fry as Jeeves. The books are even funnier. This is my favorite collection of Jeeves stories. They are laugh out loud and scare your husband half to death in the middle of the night funny.

My dear friend (and daily texting buddy) of this blog recommended this book for me. She is a lovely mama to eight children, and has been giving me sage advice on how to establish some manageable family boundaries, especially since the holiday season is coming up, and we tend to be confronted with a lot of demands on our time, funds, and energy during that time. I’m trying to get us into a workable routine so that we can avoid being stretched too thin. I’m sure many of you can relate. The Christmas season in particular can be so hectic and distracting during a time when you just want to slow down and reverently meditate on the joyful mystery of the nativity of our Lord. Anyway, the book approaches boundaries in relationships from a Biblical perspective, and I found it very enlightening. I’m not sure if I agreed with everything the author says, but I found many passages helpful nonetheless.  

What are you reading these days? I’m always on the prowl for good literature. I was thinking about starting “Jane Eyre” as my primary education was sorely lacking and I neglected to read it. But I’m hesitant because I’m afraid it will be too stressful. Ah, reading probs.  

Cover photo: “The Story Book” William Adolphe Bouguereau 

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