Friday, December 18, 2009


This one:
This one truly taught me the meaning of the word "breathtaking;" so thrilled was I to have a second chance at motherhood, I'd stand over her crib and stare at her, soak her in, realizing moments later that I had forgotten to breathe once again.

This one's passion, simply put, is life.

Her first words were "...and me!" and she said them often as she followed her big brother through the house trying to mimic his every move. Those words were soon followed by "I do it myself." And she meant it. She will take on any project, any assignment, and laugh her way through it while giving it her all.
And that laugh. My stars, that laugh! By the time she was three, her laugh was bigger than she was. And now it makes me weak in the knees. It's deep and true. Thankfully we get to hear that laugh many times a day, every day.

I'm in love with her joy for life. I'm in love with the privilege of sitting back and watching her enjoy this party that is life for her. I'm in love with the fact that she allows me to have a front row seat on her journey. I'm in love with her.

This one has men in her life that will turn the world upside down for her. She may not always like it. She might not like it, at the moment, when her brother goes to school dances and watches her the whole time. She might not like it, at the moment, that he teases her about the boys in her life. But deep down, I know she realizes how lucky she is to have her own security staff of one looking out for her. And I know she is proud of him. I know that she is proud of the man he is. I know that she is proud to call him her brother.

This one had her daddy wrapped around her little finger from the moment the doctor said "It's a girl." He wants to tell her "no." He needs to tell her "no." But he struggles with it. He really does.
Because when she wraps those arms around his shoulders, she also wraps her eyes and dimples around his heart. And then....
Well then he is rendered helpless. And the princess is granted the kingdom. Again. But seriously. Look at that smile. Look at those dimples...that hair blowing in the wind. I suppose many dads would be turned into a helpless pile of goo when faced with that.

This one thrives on being with others. Her mood might take a slight dip if her heart isn't kept full with the presence of those she loves. Just as my mood might take a slight dip if my heart isn't kept full with her presence. Sure, we need time apart. But my day is just a little darker when I haven't seen her smile and felt her energy.

Sometimes I think I want a day alone. Sometimes I think I don't mind having the house to myself. But then she walks in at the end of the day and I realize that I love a rainy day until the sun comes out again.

And I realize I have missed the sunshine all along.
This one. I don't know what her path in life is. But I know it will be a path bordered with laughter and light. I know that she will make life the joyous party it is meant to be.
I know that she is my heart.
Early photos by Lynn Austin - L.A. Photography
Current photos by Jenna Stahl - Daily Life Photography

Monday, December 14, 2009


From our house to yours:

Monday, December 07, 2009


This one:

This one initiated me into that wonderful, maddening, frightening, mysterious, joyous club we call motherhood.

All mothers know that when we first hold our child in our arms, we experience our heart living outside our bodies. What we don't know at that first glance, that first touch, is that we will blink once, twice, three times - and they will be grown, with one foot outside the nest, eager to jump and fly without us. Does anybody tell us that? I suppose we wouldn't believe them anyway, so wrapped up are we in sleepless nights, bottles, colic, fevers, first smiles, first teeth, first steps, first words. There are days we think we will not survive the baby stage.

And then we blink again and they are grown. Like this one:

This one who started out talking with a vengeance, using phrases bigger than he was as a toddler. Somewhere along the way, though, he morphed into a man of few words. He is the strong silent type I guess.

But when he speaks you can count on his words to be well thought out and full of passion. Usually. You can count on them to be self deprecating. You can count on his words to leave no doubt in your mind where he stands on a subject. Subjects like protecting the unborn and supporting our military. Subjects like loyalty and fairness.

But make no mistake; this young man who is so passionate and independent; this young man who is several inches taller than his dad, absolutely adores this man:

I have learned, with this tall lanky son of mine, that physical height has nothing to do with the people you look up to in your walk through life. He has made mistakes, this son of mine. He has hit a bump or two on the road to adulthood. Who of us hasn't?

But he has come out the other side a little bit stronger, a little bit wiser, a little bit more willing to laugh at himself. And carrying a little bit more character with him than many adults he knows; though his spirit might have been a little bit bruised in the process.

He will look out for the underdog. He will take the lost one, the weak one, the new one, under his wing.

But in his youthful eagerness to keep all things equal, he might also strive to take the arrogant one down a notch or two. But once that is done, he takes the newly humbled one under his wing and gives them a special kind of respect.

He doesn't talk to his little sister a lot. He doesn't talk to anybody a lot.
But, again, make no mistake. He would take on the world for her. He threatens to have his shotgun in hand when boys come to the house. There are rumors that he's had "little talks" with boys he doesn't deem worthy of our girl. He has little respect for young men who do not treat girls well; especially if these young men have little sisters of their own.
Eighteen and a half years ago, when I held this one in my arms for the first time; as I rubbed his round fuzz-covered head, I had no idea of the man he would become.
And now? Now I'm getting a glimpse. I know he has a desire to serve his country - a desire so strong that it could not be quashed by this fearful mother's pleadings. I know that he has learned from his mistakes. I know that he is eager to be out on his own and face the challenges that life has to offer.
I know that he is my heart.

*Photos by Daily Life Photography -


Maddy spent the weekend with us. You know. Cousin Maddy? My cousin's daughter? The one who makes Kayla absolutely miserable when she's around. Seriously, look at these unhappy girls, just before they left for the mall:

See Kayla's scarf? Well, it isn't. Kayla's that is. It's Maddy's. She had bought it at the mall the day before. Yes, they go to the mall every day when they're together. Anyway, I liked it so much I asked the girls to pick one up for me on chapter 2 of their mall trip.

They didn't have the same one, so they picked a different one out for me:
Poor Maddy. An old woman wants to dress like her. By the way, Maddy's dad is very tall. So is Maddy.
Before we took Maddy home last night, amongst much wailing and begging and pleading that we not separate them for another week, the girls were giving me some advice on how to rearrange the basement so that they would be more comfortable down there.
Not that they aren't grateful for the space and all (so they said) but they had some good ideas on how we could better utilize our space and give them room to actually let five girls lie on the floor while watching television.
Silly me. I thought providing a couch and two recliners was nice enough, but NOOOO-uh....they want plenty of floor space.
They suggested that I simply move the two large bookshelves and the three small bookshelves (all of which are full of books), take all the pictures off of one wall to make room for the television stand, and rearrange the furniture; and that would make the basement much more conducive to a happy slumber party.
I took that to mean they were willing and eager to do all that moving and shifting.
So Friday, when Maddy returns (if the girls can make it that long between visits), I'm assuming they will both have their muscles primed and be ready to lift, scoot, and pivot - all while I supervise with a cup of coffee in my hand.
And surely, they are willing to do that because they've asked if they can have a New Year's Eve party here. With boys.
Pray for us.

Saturday, December 05, 2009


The only television we have on the main floor of our house is a little 13-inch one in our kitchen. We do not have one in our family room up here because when we finished our basement, I decided we'd put the main TV down there for the kids and make the main floor television-free.

Each of the kids has a television in their rooms, which I know makes us lousy indulgent parents.

Commence with food throwing now.

So then. Last night, I was really looking forward to watching the series finale of MONK because I've always loved that show. LOVE. IT. I was unable to watch most of this season because of football concession duties.

*sigh* The things we sacrifice for our children.

The main TV in the basement was occupied by our daughter and some friends, so I decided I was going to sneak into Blake's room and watch MONK on his television.

So after wrestling practice I quizzed him a little more intensely about his plans for the evening:

Hang out with Drew, eat somewhere, go to see Blind Side at ten.

"So, you won't be home 'til around midnight, correct?"

"Yeah, prolly."

So at eight o'clock, Paul and I went into his room and totally hi-jacked his television. I even brought an extra pillow in an propped myself on his bed.

That kid has a pretty good situation going on in there.

About twenty minutes into the show, we heard car doors slam, then a key in the front door.....

Then two teenage boys walking into our house.

Paul and I looked at each other.

"What are they doing here?"

"He promised me he'd be gone until midnight?"

"Why can't we teach our kids to stay out all night?"

"He's totally ruining my MONK farewell....!"

So I met Blake at the bottom of the steps and told him that Dad and I were watching MONK in his room because we had no place else to watch it.

"No, no, no, no....MOOOOM-uh! We have these games we rented and we need to play them before the movie at ten. Seriously, I'm gonna have to ask you to get out of my room. This is just wrong."

"But, Blake, I made you brownies. I set aside a torpedo sandwich for you guys. Look! FOOD! It's only forty more minutes...You said you'd be gone. I thought I could count on you to be gone all evening."

"Please, mom. We need to be in there"

Well, seeing the urgency of his timeline and his obligations, I relented and told Paul we had to clear out.

So we moped down to the kitchen and tried to cuddle on a bar stool in front of the television. (We didn't go to Kayla's room because her TV is much smaller, and we knew we'd likely be interrupted in there too. These kids just keep finding us.)

In an attempt to make things more romantic, I did offer to turn on a stove burner so we'd at least have a fire going while we watched TV on our bar stool.

The good news is the ending of MONK was wonderful.

The bad news? We are buying a television for the upstairs family room after Christmas.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


Eighteen and a half years ago, after delivering Blake via c-section, and after lying flat on my back for 12 hours, a nurse helped me brush my teeth. I was finally able to sit upright and she held a little basin under my chin while I brushed.

Interestingly, when I went to spit my toothpaste into the basin, it merely dribbled weakly down my chin instead of hitting the basin. Not that it mattered. I had said goodbye to my dignity upon entering the hospital the day before.

Since my abdominal muscles had been traumatized and I was still somewhat numb from the spinal block, I had no spitting power. There was no oomph to my spitting.

Never having been much of a spitter (much to my brothers' chagrin) I had no idea how important abdominal muscles were to spitting.

It was one of the first lessons motherhood taught me.

Now I find myself in the same boat, being unable to spit well.

Because I have a huge canker sore on the side of my tongue, a smaller one on the inside of my lower lip, and one forming on the inside of my upper lip.

The sore on my tongue has nearly left me incapacitated. It's like having strep throat on my tongue.

It hurts to talk. It hurts to chew. It hurts to swallow food, medicine, and my own spit. When I try to spit my toothpaste into the bathroom sink, it merely dribbles into the basin in a pitiful stream of Crest Whitening. There's not enough force behind it to even hit the drain.

I warned my husband last night,that it was beginning to hurt when I talked. Seeing the dread on his face that I would remain silent for the next five to seven days (surely it was dread) I assured him that I would soldier on and talk through the pain.

Anything for my beloved.

Today, though, I changed my mind. I do not want to talk. I have taken to printing e-mails regarding our family Christmas parties and marking them with "FYI" and placing them in front of him. Normally, I would follow him down to his man cave and fill him in on all the details, but today he gets a memo. Just like at the office.

Funny, though, my inability to talk seems to have hit at the same time as a profound lack of hearing on my husband's part. The few things I have said to him this evening, he responds to with "what?" I do not know if this is because, in my effort to talk somewhat painlessly, I may sound a little bit like Quasimodo, or if he is torturing me just for fun and finds it amusing to watch me grimace while I speak to him.

Surely he wouldn't be torturing me, would he? I mean it is the Christmas season.

I am rinsing my mouth with a peroxide mixture. I'm rinsing with tea (the tannin is supposed to speed the drying of the sores) and I'm eating ice cream and mashed potatoes. And I am praying for fast healing.

In the meantime, my family is just going to have to get along without my voice for a few days.

I'm totally counting it as their main Christmas present.