five minute friday: broken

…where a brave and beautiful bunch gather every week to find out what comes out when we all spend five minutes writing on the same topic and then sharing ‘em over here.



“Let go of your sister’s neck. Do not pick her up by her arms.”

“Stop talking so loud. Please be quiet and let me think for one minute.“

“If you yell at the table one more time you are going to time out. You shout. You’re out.”

“That’s it. I’ve had enough bickering for the evening. Everyone in bed. Now.”

“You need to go say you are sorry too. It doesn’t matter if she started it.”

“We all help clean up because we are a family and we help each other.”

“You can either help match the clean socks or go play by yourself.”

“Stop telling on your sister and focus on what you need to do.”

“Go. To. Bed. And no more getting up.”

“If you get up again you will need to tuck yourself back in.”

“No you can’t sleep in here. It will wake the baby, baby. Please go back to your bed. I love you.”

“If you aren’t going to eat your peas than there will be no dessert. That’s your choice.”

“You cannot wear the itchy dress to school. Your skin is too dry right now. It does not matter if Aliviah is dressing up. Your Momma said no and we don’t do things just because ‘everyone’ else is. We’ve talked about this”

“You go to school tomorrow. Not today. Put your backpack down please and finish your Cheerios.”

“Asked and Answered.”

 Again and again I hear words come out of my mouth and they feel unkind in that heart of the moment. These children, they push and push and push. That perseverance, that confidence, that determination, it will serve them well as adults. In the meantime, it’s this hard parenting work that ties my stomach in knots and drains the energy right out of my tired head each day.

Did I just break their spirit or teach them a valuable lesson that was really as necessary as my voice insisted it was?

No, she isn’t thanking me now when she pops out of bed for the 6th time insistent she has to tell me again why she needs to wear the shiny pink dress to school for the egg hunt all the while scratching at the itchy patch on her belly.

No, she doesn’t sound grateful at all as she is hauled out of the kitchen hollering her teacher’s name, her insistent fist tightly wrapped around her Dora backpack on a Wednesday morning before the sun has even come up.

No, the baby is quite certain we are wrong and she should be back up climbing the bed frame and toppling over our tired selves rather than staying put in her pack-n-play and sleeping for more than a 3-4 hour stretch at a time.

It breaks me, this firmness. This need to hold fast to the routines and rules. It breaks them when we give in to their whims. It’s not the free-range, light-hearted, happy-go-lucky parent I envisioned when I saw that first positive test. Their tears bring my own when I turn around.

Of course, I hadn’t actually met my children at that point either…


five minute friday: remember

…where a brave and beautiful bunch gather every week to find out what comes out when we all spend five minutes writing on the same topic and then sharing ‘em over here.



Up on tip-toe I peek through the door’s small square of a window to see her tiny hands gripped around Amanda’s fingers as she takes first one step, than two, than another. As I let out a small whoop of joy she looks up to lock our matching blue eyes and drop to the ground for a hurried crawl to me.
This first year is drawing to a close too fast and yet just in time to save my tired sanity. I think back to a year ago and the quiet pushes on my belly as I lay on my side each evening. I draw up the fuzzy black and white images where her hands repeatedly covered her face as we peered at the ultrasound screen in the last weeks of her life on the inside. Each night I lay her down on the soft fleece of her plummy-purple blanket for sleep and she automatically draws those now chubby hands up in a motor memory of habit.
My last baby. My step into motherhood of children not babies. Her sunny disposition fools me momentarily into an evolutionary longing to do it again, and yet the trio they form seems just right as they reach and tumble and giggle together through the days. The wild rumpus of their sisterly bickering and rascaling and hollering reminds me that I’m stretched to capacity, maybe not too far, but definitely edging that wall as I crawl into bed each night remembering my mistakes for the day telling myself I’ll do better tomorrow.  
The next morning, every morning really, I wake to caffeinate with hopes of seeing the bottom of my cup before the top of their heads. Sipping the milky fix, I click through my files, remembering their swinging and running and baking for just a moment before I hear the quiet chant of “My momma” start the day down the hall. First one, than the others padding of a sleepy-eyed following. I judge their moods, ask after their dreams and begin the daily hunt for a drop of yellow somewhere in the 4-year-old’s clothes that will meet with her approval and allow us to begin again.

corner view: hair

The girls’ hair garners a lot of discussion in our home. Each girl has started out with a thick coat of dark hair that appears to have created an army of mini-mes. Then within a few years, I’ve been left as the only dark haired girl in the house. Lovey gets credit for their strawberry blonde locks. The funny thing is, at their age- Lovey was a true towhead white toddler. I was a strawberry blonde until around the age of 5 and I still have a tiny lock in my baby book to prove it. When we named Zuzu we both pictured a dark-haired beauty with her lovely name rather than the strawberry-blonde love she’s become. When the Quail came along with her long bob on top of her head we knew what to expect. Sugarplum funnily enough emerged with her dark locks tipped in white- apparently she had time for a cut and color before her arrival. It will be interesting to see who they look more like as adults. They each seem to be a particular blend of Lovey and I that depending on who is holding them gets credit for their looks.


Sugarplum with the requisite dark locks, albeit tipped in white.


The Quail with her signature bob up top.


Our strawberry blonde in all her magnetism!

Corner view is a weekly Wednesday gathering, originally hosted by Jane, now by Francesca. A topic is given and you can see impressions; be it photographic or writerly in form, from around the world. Come see the world’s corner view via the links on the sidebar!

Practical magic- Happy St. Patricks Day!

482216_10200885832847053_1845291624_nThe baby’s been sick. High fever. It hadn’t really occurred to me to do anything in particular to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day outside of the typical corned beef and cabbage dinner and some pesto eggs and sodabread. Kindergarten, on the other hand  had made their leprechaun traps last week and when Zuzu came home Friday she zoomed through the house excitedly chattering about the naughty leprechauns who had messed up their classroom each and every time they had left it. It crossed my mind that childhood disappointment was looming judging by her eager story and my lack of pinteresting. After all we have TJ the Elf on the Shelf that lives in our world during the winter season- why wouldn’t a mischievous leprechaun have made his way to our home in the spring? It’s not something we had thought of before this year, but clearly others had. We had managed to procure some little green hat clips during grocery shopping earlier in the week but they suddenly didn’t seem adequate.

The baby woke us frequently and angrily many times on Saturday though. Her fever had dissipated earlier in the day, but since she had spent most of it napping rather than eating I’m fairly certain she wasn’t up for yet one more long sleep.  And by two in the morning her constitution and my lack of spirit were weighing heavily on me. So I started pinteresting and found an easy how-to for leaving leprechaun feet around. With some green food coloring, a cup of  kefir, green cookie sprinkles and leftover Christmas gold coins we were in business. With the luck of the Irish behind us, we all managed to get a few hours rest after that.

Come 8 am, I heard a little 4 year old surprisingly chant “money” outside of the bedroom door, followed by the happy pitch of our practical six year old commenting that a leprechaun was trying to trick her with chocolate coins rather than gold as she followed the trail outside of their room to the kitchen. When I got up for my coffee she explained to me how the leprechaun had painted his feet green, gotten into our cookie sprinkles and left us each a green hat to wear so we wouldn’t get pinched on St. Patricks. Hmm.

488141_10200886918234187_378169461_nZuzu’s always had a funny little mix of winding practical into her play and this was no exception. Years ago when we were playing at a friends, the other little girl was into being a Disney princess as Zuzu trailed her dolls one by one to sit on the potty. Her willingness to believe in leprechauns delights me and her ability to ferret out that those weren’t their natural footprints but the paint from her painting the day before leaves me chuckling. Six years old is indeed a funny blend of practical magic.

I did realize I missed a golden opportunity though. She was expecting the naughty leprechaun to have messed something up. And while I wasn’t willing to go the way of one of the uber-mommies and completely take apart a room soley for 30 seconds of my children’s delight, I’m fairly certain next year he will have rampaged through her candy bag we keep on a high shelf and all that will be left is a few wrappers. If only I hadn’t been so tired the night before.

corner view: feet

itty-bitty baby feet!




The Quail



Corner view is a weekly Wednesday gathering, originally hosted by Jane, now by Francesca. A topic is given and you can see impressions; be it photographic or writerly in form, from around the world. Come see the world’s corner view via the links on the sidebar!

five minute friday: home

…where a brave and beautiful bunch gather every week to find out what comes out when we all spend five minutes writing on the same topic and then sharing ‘em over here.


Sometimes I confuse house and home and I have to stop and mentally remind myself one is not the other. And in the end one matters so much more.

I find myself coveting a different….house. We chose ours a decade ago when its quirkiness felt just right to remind us who we had been- that becoming home-owners didn’t mean we were growing away from ourselves.

Its’ wood-framed windows that swell in the heat and refuse to open. The glass doorknobs that come just a bit looser with each and every turn. The peeling paint and plaster that spiders its way across the rooms. The wild and tangled yard that blocks us from the too-busy street connecting us to town. The upstairs that we assumed we would one day remodel. It all fell together in a charming gabled angle long before we had three little birds feathering our nest.

With these little ones under foot I find myself mentally rearranging and remodeling. Shoving and scraping at the windows to make sure they will open. A screwdriver stored in the green pantry hutch to tighten those pesky doorknobs over and over. A new coat of paint to cover the “old cracks” that the six-year-old cheerily points out in case we hadn’t noticed them. Adding a fence to separate little strong-willed heads from the bustling cars and roaming dogs. Dreaming of lifting the whole kit and caboodle “Up” style to a road that lets us walk and wagon and tricycle our way to a park. I feel overwhelmed some nights with the restlessness of our things as they push and stack against each other cluttering each room as we grow and grow and I click all the more feverishly through the websites that showcase better and bigger and just plain different thinking, maybe this one…

And then just when I’m at my most claustrophobic, the afternoon sun shines through the white wooden window panes and catches the red highlight of a little ponytail bouncing behind the dolly stroller around the corner. The noise of the doorknob thudding to the carpet is quickly followed by the rascaling giggles of sisters hiding and seeking. The warm yellow paint of the dining room glows around my face as I peer in to the churning bread dough that will rise steamily to become our daily bread. Their bubble and popsicle-coated feet splash in and out of the yellow plastic pool as the nearby bbq smokes the potatoes and chicken under the warm summer sun. The pile of coloring and story books topple off the tiny corner table revealing the latest sentence the six year old has written in her tentative crayoned scrawl: “I love you. Do you love me?”
And I think…home as I shut down my computer screen.


corner view: hands

Corner view is a weekly Wednesday gathering, originally hosted by Jane, now by Francesca. A topic is given and you can see impressions; be it photographic or writerly in form, from around the world. Come see the world’s corner view via the links on the sidebar!

Mine & theirs. It makes me so happy. Hands is a well loved topic for me- what we do with our hands when we aren’t thinking about it- it says so much about our heart don’t you think? Come see here, here, & here as well!



sweet, sweet Sugarplum…

At 10 months (just shy of 11):

She can roll front to back and back again.

She can sit up, stand up, pull up and ask to be picked up.

Somewhere in the midst of the last month we stopped tucking her into the brown sling so frequently. She came alive and is much too busy for our preferred coddling.

She has babbled Mama and Dada, although it really is more babble than pointed and in that Shakespearian Typing Monkey sort of way managed to eek out Hungry one time.

She signs All Done, Claps, asks to be picked up with her hands up and has a funny little wave in which her tiny hand pummels her forehead.

The funniest thing on earth is to be sitting up and suddenly fall backwards. And she is a master at it.

She is continuously into things- drawers, cabinets, toy boxes….

She crawls from room to room and comes when you call her.

She still likes to nurse. But if someone is in the room she is quick to stop and grin at them. If her sisters are nearby when she is nursing she reaches out a hand to them. If they or a blankie or lovey aren’t around she holds her own hand.

She has 5 pearly white teeth.

She sleeps with her little hands over her head and on her back. Not unlike what her ultrasound pictures showed.

Just last week we started putting her down in her snuggle nest in her pack and play after her nighttime nursing. She might let out a little protest, but then nods off. Prior to this she had been waking 3-4 times a night to nurse while sleeping in her snugglenest between us and I wrote it off too teething…then her teeth came through and the cycle continued. Now in the pack and play she wakes one time in about 11-13 hours of nighttime sleep. If she fusses as we are putting her down, but she really is tired you are likely to find her in a funny position when you go back to check. Sometimes sitting up sleeping and sometimes on her belly. If she is just ready to go down, when you go to put her little pink fuzzy blanket on her she pulls it up to her face and snuggles in to it.

She gets the 8 o’clock cat crazies. Just as we put her sisters down to sleep she is usually getting wound up. If we put her down before she won’t stay. Once she’s down from there though we’re usually good.

She has a shy grin and giggle when tickled.

She is mesmerized by Baby Einstein’s Baby Van Gogh. And that’s about it.

She has the busiest little hands of all The Sistred. She is the one we have to babyproof for. She is continuously undoing what is done- the dishwasher, a kitchen or bedroom cabinet drawer, the toilet paper roll. Any sort of manipulative toy is a winner.

She does love her bunny lovey. And she greets him with a big ole bite on the nose as a matter of course.

She’s still not much of an eater. She takes stage 2 baby foods now and vigorously signs all done when she is- which can be anywhere from 3-4 bites in, to finishing off the packet. She’ll also munch on Cheerios, puffs and crackers. I once fed her a single pea. Poor thing wretched the entire evening until she got it up. We’ve been handing her a sippy cup that has a top like a bottle. She’s not so keen on it either. Maybe she’ll drink an ounce from it if she is super hungry. I’ve stopped waking her to nurse in the morning. Usually she went right back to sleep afterwards and wasn’t really waking on her own at all anymore, then would not be very interested in a bottle in the coming hours. She still only takes 2-3 ounces from Lovey in the morning and might drink one 4 oz bottle at school. And then it varies what else she takes in- maybe a food packet, maybe cereal, maybe another bottle. She’s pretty inconsistent. Inspite of which her growth remains in the 75% for height and weight.

five-minute-friday: ordinary

…where a brave and beautiful bunch gather every week to find out what comes out when we all spend five minutes writing on the same topic and then sharing ‘em over here.



She’s anything but and yet incredibly so. So ordinary in ways we couldn’t imagine based on the generalizations we were presented with when she was born. Would she speak? Would she walk? Would she go to school and learn? Would she know who we are? Would she nurse? Would she be a sister to dear Zuzu?

When the child in your heart and belly comes along with warnings of the complexities of her growth you find yourself backing up your hopes, your dreams your expectations: Dear God, give me an ordinary day. One where we wake and nurse and cuddle and play. Let her be healthy and happy. That’s not too much to ask for is it?

Now, four years into this journey, she just is. 

Yes she speaks, in her own way, in her own time, with much help from our community. Yes she walks, she also jumps and runs and tumbles and plays. Yes she will go to school, and it thrills her to have the attention of her teachers and classmates. She happily follows along and eagerly takes in what you take the time to teach her. Yes she knows her family. She asks for us by name when we are not there. She tells us what the other is doing. If the baby is sad, she runs for a grown-up and a tissue. If her big sister takes her toy she bellows and wallops her. If her mom grabs her purse on a Tuesday or Thursday morning, she pulls her backpack over her shoulder and chants her teacher’s name. If her Dad suggests a park run, she rifles through the shoe box for her purple crocs. Yes she nursed, with a lot more help than the average baby but also a lot more determination. Yes she knows her big sister and her baby by heart.  In the evening, she crawls up on the oversized couch with her legs criss-cross-applesauce and holds out her hands for her snuggle time with the baby. She crawls into bed beside her sister and lays down her sweet head at the end of the day, as comfortable in her place in that bed as she is her place in our hearts and family.

Those experts, they didn’t know. They couldn’t predict her.

She is so very ordinary.

And yet, she is so not.