Age Ticker

13 September 2015

WonderFall Day

The girls have been playing outside all day with one another and with their imaginations.  They played outside all day yesterday, too.  I love it.  I love to eavesdrop on their conversations and creations.  I love to hear them cooperate and pretend and share ideas and build off of one another. I love their scrawled writing in multicolored chalk, backwards letters, and sounded out words.  They have been farming and cleaning rocks for most of the day.  They have their chicks, horses, cows, hens, goose, sheep and pigs.  Their rock washing stations are at two various places, one on the steps and one by the grill in the boys' firetruck .  They claimed the rain water in the buckets was at first cold, but then it got warm.  They also claimed that the cows have really been acting up and chasing the horses.  Jaely was caught galloping around the driveway on said "horse" many times.  Their conversation about their farm carried on through lunch and then they went back outside immediately.   

I think what makes me smile the most can be captured in this picture.

Jaely the diva princess in a Hello Kitty hat that coordinates with her sweater, earrings, and gold, sparkle shoes.  Her hair is combed and neatly put in a side ponytail.  Camryn has her non-mathching pants on backwards which causes her underwear to billow out of the top of her pants, which do not come up nearly high enough because they are on backwards.  She has her keens on, which are wet from all the rock washing, her hair is uncombed and some is stuck under the strap of her glasses.  One sleeve is pushed up and her belly is all wet from holding wet buckets next to it.  She is a free spirit and cares not at all about her appearance.  She is having fun and that's what she cares about. 

The excitement in both girls' voices is enough to fuel me for awhile.  Jaely isn't just being a dictator out there, she is actually listening to some of Camryn's ideas, too.  I love this life, especially when everyone is cooperating.

26 March 2015

Jaelynne gail turned 7

March 25th, Jaelynne's due date

 Our baby girl, who we had already named Jaelynne gail Ellis was due on March 25th, 2008.  She decided not to come.  I must have a very cozy uterus because all the babies wanted to hang out longer than what I wanted.  March 25th came and went.  I woke up on the 26th and went and got my hair cut and then hung around the house waiting to have a baby.  TJ and i had chinese food in the evening.   I am sure we ate on the couch.  That is where we always ate pre kids.   It is so strange to think that it was just the two of us who came and went as we please.  Our bags were packed and things were set.  In the evening, I started having contractions and walked around the island doing laps to help with them.  TJ fell asleep.  I woke him up and told him he needs to go give the cats food and water and change the litter and when I said that his response was "i will do that in the morning."  I then informed him that I think we were going to go to the hospital to have a baby before morning, so he better do it now.  He took care of the cats and then fell back asleep!  I was shocked.  I asked him how much warning he needed before leaving for the hospital and he said about 15 minutes.  The contractions were coming closer together and were getting stronger.  I just didn't want to be turned away with false labor, but I decided this baby might be ready after all.   I woke up my husband and we got admitted into the hospital, around midnight, I think.

Jaely wasn't born until 12:43 pm the next day.  It was a long night, and I was so so tired.  By daytime. I was ready to do this!  It was one of the happiest days of my life.  There is something about that first born.  Something that can never be repeated.  You have time to take it all in, to focus completely on that one miracle.  To study every fingernail and crease at their knuckles.  To count their toes over and over again.  That first time you breathe in their fresh baby scent and feel their fuzzy head.  The first time you see their squishy, round bottom in a diaper and onesie.  The first tug on you when they latch on and eat.  It can never be replicated, never be repeated. . . and I have to be okay with that and not feel any guilt.  There is just something special about that first born.  And it isn't all good firsts.  With the first, we worried more, obsessed about sleep schedule more than we should have, had more fear and apprehension, doubts and second guesses.  Jaely was rocked, held, and fussed over.  She was studied, every move documented with photographs and blog posts.  I stayed home with her for a year and a half.  I stayed home with Camryn for a little over a month.  Things are just different with your first- good and bad.

I was told by some friends that I am going to be so in love with that baby that I wouldn't want to put her down.  I was never encouraged to use the nursery there at the hospital and get some rest.  So, when I was up all night in labor, up most of the day taking care of my newborn, nursing her, and holding her, and then up most of the night with a baby who was confused whether it was night or day, I became so physically exhausted.  TJ and I, to this day, talk about how that was the most tired, exhausted we have EVER felt.  We both remember, standing up by her bassinet and feeling so tired that we almost couldn't stand up and things started moving and swaying.  We decided to send her to the nursery that next night and get some sleep.  With the other kids, we never hesitated.  They went the first night!

Nothing compares to pure joy and accomplishment felt after delivery
The moment I gave birth to Jaely, was one of the proudest moments i have ever felt about myself.  I felt like I could do anything, so accomplished.  I rocked it!  My heart overflowed at the sight of my little peanut. . . it still does.  She was beautiful.  Perfect.  Round little head and ten little fingers and ten tiny toes.  Her nose was so kissable and her feet were so large!  She was born with so many facial expressions, and she still has such an expressive face and can do CrAzY things with her eyebrows.

Looking at her Mama
Proud Papa

Our family of 3
We are so incredibly proud or our seven year old Jaelynne.  She is so creative,  enthusiastic, and tender-hearted.  She is an amazing little girl who has changed our lives and our hearts forever.  We are truly blessed.  We are so thankful for the medicine and the science that allowed me to get pregnant and keep her safe and keep her growing.

Thank you God, for Jaelynne gail- and thank you for Lynne and gail, who will always be a part of Jaelynne.

09 March 2015

Perfect Evening

On a Monday after a stupid time change, I signed up to get observed at 9:15 in the morning. Ugh.  What was I thinking? It went fine, but the rest of the day was just as busy, and a staff meeting after it all was exhausting.  The girls (especially Camryn) was devastated to learn that swimming lessons were canceled, so when I got home, I tried to make the best of it.  I gave it my 100% and I had chosen to do so purposefully.  So did TJ.  And, I am so glad we did.  These are the moments, the memories that we want for our kids.  We don't want them to only remember that their mama and papa were always busy.

We treated ourselves to pizza and listened to all the words start flowing out of the boys' mouths.  Tonight, Tobes said "eeza" for pizza and said, "mick maama" as he pointed to his milk that had fallen to the floor.  Jaely said, "they are growing up too fast.  Now they say words!"  And Camryn said, "Awe.  They are adorable boys."  The kids ate a huge amount and in a reasonable time.  Bryson used a fork to eat some of his yellow beans and apples.  Some went shooting off his tray with great force as he had just the right angle when pushing down with his fork.  The kids were able to talk and laugh and eat. . . amazing!  Normally we have to stop them from talking so that they can eat their dinner.

After Jaely was done with dinner, she read to me while i was doing dishes and and the to the boys as they sat in their high chairs.  Then, we got the boys in their cuddly jammies.  They love running around their bedrooms naked and giggling, staying just out of our reach.  The girls play together in the living room while we have our alone time with the boys.  We sprinkled their cheeks with kisses and put them down in their cribs.  

Before dinner, Jaely gave me an invitation for me, papa, and Camryn to listen to her read a book that she has been practicing.  We had to fill in the day, time, and place.  Tonight was a good night since it is not a bath night.  I whispered in papa's ear about the place and then wrote it down and gave it back to Jaely.  She read it out loud and then paused. . . . "bathtub??!!  I am reading to you all in the bathtub!!!???"  She thought it was hilarious.  At one point, Camryn said we need to take our clothes off so we can go in the bathtub and listen to Jaely read.  She had assumed we would do it naked.  The picture TJ took before he got in there. . . legs only.  After Jaely read, we promised Camryn she could teach us a new song (one that she wanted to teach us at dinner, but there is no singing at the table because they would never eat).  Camryn stood up in the bathtub and loved having a captivated audience as she sang her little heart out, complete with motions.

Papa helped Jaely with her math homework and I worked with Camryn and her sight words and reading her sight word books. Then the three of us gathered around papa as he read Mercy Watson for the 20th time.  

It wasn't that the kids were perfect or super well behaved.  I found patience.  That's what made the night perfect.  Jaely read the book Fly Guy to her doll before she cuddled her and fell quickly asleep, Camryn talked through her whole day to her praying precious moment (in above pic) and sang her songs and read her books.  Tobin fell right to sleep, as did Bryson.  They had busy days playing outside today.

As I sit on the couch writing this, I feel like I just ran a marathon, like i gave it my all.  I feel pretty proud- proud of myself. . . of my husband. . . of my kids.  I feel exhausted, but all warm and fuzzy inside, like my heart is all filled up with such love for my family.  Just like Jaely, I am going to fall asleep with a little smile on my face.

Life is good. 
We are blessed.
Good night.

28 February 2015

Smiles from Simple Things

I took the girls to the school carnival tonight and we met my dad there.  Carnivals haven't changed much and I found that surprisingly comforting. There was a cake walk, and ring tosses, balls in a bucket and ducks in a pond.  Such simple games with such little prizes, but to the girls, they were anything but simple and little.  Their smiles gave way to their thoughts that these were amazing games that won you treasures.  By the end of the night the girls' goodies bags were filled with crap that cost me $20, but to them, their bags were true goodie bags filled with treasures.  At every game, Jaely dug through the bag looking for the most exciting prize, sometimes her whole head was in the paper bag and then she would pop up excitedly, showing grandpa and me what she chose.  Camryn squealed with pure delight when she won a pencil or a small, plastic purple spaceship.  Jaely jumped for joy when she got a yo-yo that really doesn't work.  Pure joy from such simple things.  I need to remember that it doesn't take much to make kids happy and get them excited.  My intention tonight was to meet my dad there and have him escort the girls around while i worked in my classroom.  I have so much to do, but I just had to witness their joy.  And all the bouncy inflatables and slides in the gym were pretty amazing and I wanted to see their faces when they jumped and slid.

My intention was to get work done, but I am glad i got to see such simple joy.  I am so overwhelmed and in over my head anyway.  What was I really going to get done?  Report cards, Realistic Fiction stories, Native American note taking, newsletter, March is Reading Month, response to the wonderings on my observation, planning for next week (which is almost this week). . . the list goes on and on and my energy is gone.  I came home after a long week, played with the girls, ate dinner and cleaned up from dinner and helped get the kids in their jammies and then I had to head back to work.  I stayed until 11:00 last night at school.  When I left the house at 7:30, Camryn said, "mama, I am going to miss you" even though she was headed to bed.  It broke my heart. 

Tomorrow, I shall see more pure joy as Camryn and I get to sit front row to see Disney on Ice, or as Camryn says, "I get to see Minnie Mouse!!!!!!!" - A perfect gift from my dad.  Camryn and I are first going to Olive Garden and then headed to Grand Rapids.  She has already decided that she wants to wear her Minnie dress.  She is going to go absolutely nuts when she sees the show.  Don't worry, I will make sure to take pictures. 

Pure joy.  It is out there.  It is even in me.  :)

25 February 2015

A Snuggle With Tobin

Time stood still for a few minutes last night because I let it.  I savored them, each and every minute that stood motionless, that stretched farther than they were supposed to.  Tobin was crying late last night.  He never does.  Ever.  But he was last night.  He has a stuffy nose that prevents him from satisfying his deep, relentless desire to suck on his binky. At first, I let him cry to see if he was going to calm down. He didn't.  In fact, he was sounding angrier.  The words of an amazing mother who has lost a son echoed in my mind for the millionth time in the last year- "hold 'em tight."  I decided to go in and "hold 'em tight." He had a binky squeezed tightly in each fist and one hanging out of his mouth.  He was rolling back and forth under his blanket, crying hard.  Thankfully and unbelievably, Bryson was still asleep with his booty up in the air and his loopie shoved under his cheek.  I picked up Tobin and propped his bottom on my forearm and let him rest his tired head on my shoulder.  And, we swayed.  His breathing started to slow.  His crying became softer and then disappeared completely.  His arms relaxed and dropped to his side, one hanging limp and heavy and the other resting on me.  I could feel his fuzzy little head on my cheek and smell his freshly bathed skin.  Time froze.  The clock stopped ticking and we swayed and we breathed.  I don't know how long we stayed like that.  I don't think it was too long.  I gave him kisses and whispered in his ear.  I softly sang to him and stroked his hair, and then i put him back in his crib.  I saw his wet cheeks, his bubbles of snot coming from each nostril, his red, chapped cheeks and crusty upper lip.  He was a mess.  He started to whimper and fuss.  I picked him back up and swayed.  His head quickly rested on my shoulder, like it was meant to be there and fit perfectly in the little groove.  I moved my cheek back and forth over his fuzzy head.  After my back couldn't take anymore, I put him back in his crib and reloaded his hands and mouth with binkies.  As soon as he started to fuss, I put my hand on his back and rubbed it, hunched over the crib in the most uncomfortable of ways and trying to get my boobs just right with crib railing so that I could reach him comfortably.  He calmed down and went to sleep.

I crept back downstairs to bed.  A few minutes later he started whimpering again, but it didn't continue. . . I think because i prayed that he would just get a good night's sleep.  He needed a good night's sleep to fight this cold. 

My Tobin.  One of my last babies.  How many more times will I get to do that?  I don't know, but I do know that I treasured that moment where time stood still, where I chose to "hold 'em tight." 

Thank you dear Anita, and thank you dear Gavin.  You are a super hero.

18 February 2015


Bryson's latest way of showing affection is to open up his mouth completely and give an airy roar. He does it before leaving me in the morning and when I kiss him goodnight. Every night TJ, Tobin, me, and Bryson give each other a group hug right before the boys are put in their cribs.  The boys have started hugging and kissing each other and us.  They are unique hugs and kisses, often clumsy and involving bashing of heads, but they are trying to show their affection.  Tonight, Bryson watched me give his papa a kiss, and then he immediately opened up his mouth and gave his airy roar. He wanted a kiss. When i went over to him with my lips puckered, he leaned forward, mouth opened wide, making his airy roar.  I kept giving him kisses and then modeling by giving TJ kisses and telling him to pucker his lips, but it didn't help.  He needs a kissing intervention.  TJ got a pic of it. Bryson's mouth wide open!

The boys are becoming so much more aware of each other.  We love it.  They point at each other, share food with one another, and poke the other in the face.  The other day, Bryson was really upset and crying and Tobin went and got his loopie and brought it to him.  It melted my heart to know that he is already looking out for his brother.  Bryson has been known to hand Tobin a binky a time or two as well.

The girls have been AWESOME big sisters.  They love playing with the boys and try to include them in some of their activities.  Sometimes, they can't wait until it is the boys' nap time though, because then they can play with whatever and wherever they want.  

30 November 2014

It isn't really what i want. . .

This picture has been the source of many a ponderings lately.  I love the wispy curtains, the mantel, the two trees, the sparkle and pops of red.  It is a place where i could sit and sip chai and write.  I thought to myself, "maybe someday I will have something like this, when i don't have toddlers toddling around wrecking and destroying everything in sight."  And then it hits me- "when I don't have toddlers. . . "  Ugh.  Bittersweet, but I am thinking more bitter than sweet.  Today I was debating where to even put our Christmas tree.  I want to be able to enjoy it and have the girls get excited and help me decorate it, but the boys.  Oh, the boys!  We could put it downstairs, but then I can't sit in the dark and stare as it sparkles.  We couldn't open presents by it because the basement is definitely NOT kid proof, so maybe the basement is not the best place for the tree.

But, I digress.

 I can't imagine my life without toddlers, yet I know it will be here before I can blink my eyes.  I can't imagine life without their giggles, their babbles, their drool, their shaky walking, their saggy diaper butts, crazy food crusted hair, and their pure, simple joy that comes from discovering.  So, although the above picture is what I think I want, the reality is that don't want that.  That means the kids are grown up.  No more toddlers.  And, I know that there are good things that come with older kids, too, but I am not ready for that.  I want to enjoy the drool for just a little longer and have the problem of where to put a Christmas Tree for a few more years.

Although my living room doesn't resemble hers in the least bit,  it is still full of warmth.  It is lived in.  Giggles, messes, drool, smiles, reading, chaos, kisses, playing, wrestling, tickling, hugs, I'm Sorries, crumbs, life happens in it.  It truly is a "living" room.  The picture above. . . not so much.  Too clean.  Too white.  Too unblemished.  Too uncluttered.  Too perfect. Too sterile.   Where are the fingerprints, the dried drool, the spit up stains, the toys scattered about?  Where are the giggles, the playing, the messiness of life?

I will stick with this for a bit-