Thursday, March 5, 2015

Momma and Her Photo Assistants (Julia at 3 Months)

Like most moms, I love having pictures of my babies as you know, babies. But time and budget being what it is, most of the pictures are taken by me.

When Julia is happy I grab the camera and see what we can get. I am not even close to a professional and employ the "take a thousand pictures with the hopes one or two will turn out well" strategy. Some sessions are a complete loss, but sometimes I get some adorable little glimpses of her sweet personality.







But I also have the advantage/challenge of having a crew of big brothers and sister around, always.



It can be helpful to get baby to smile or engage. But it can also mean someone is in the light or just straight up in the way.


{I see potential use for this picture for YEARS}

And, it would appear, I am teaching some bad habits along the way.



For example: It is okay to stand on the furniture as long as you have a camera in your hand.
{Seriously, she went and got her camera and I almost died of the cute.}



And I am once again reminded that it is the outtakes (in film and life) that I love the most.  It is often the moments I don't plan, even moments quite opposite of what I have planned that I love the most.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Lydia Turns 2!



She is smart. She is fun. She is happy. She is adventurous. She is beautiful. She is so much more than these words and we are blessed to celebrate a second year with our precious Lydia Jane.

On her birthday morning there were presents (which she was all about) and a sick big brother (which put a damper on it for momma, but she seemed fine because - presents)


Eggs and chocolate milk for breakfast - favorites


Chick fil a and (more) chocolate milk for lunch


And cupcakes and cookies before dinner

(and not pictured - Gammy came to visit, which is an awesome present all in itself to these kiddos)

What more could a two year old want? And it is amazing that she is this kid with likes and dislikes and not this little baby on my hip anymore. (insert crying emoji here)

What a blessing to celebrate our big girl with our family. She completely realized she was the center of attention and ate it up.






Can we pause? There are not words in my heart to express how much I love having our people in our home.













Colin helped her blow out the candle - these two are developing a sweet little friendship and I love it.



I absolutely love being her momma and cannot wait to watch, guide and explore future days with her as a big two year old!


And for good measure - One year ago - time, man...



Monday, February 9, 2015

the week that was

Last week was hard y'all. Our homeschooling family with five children and an entrepreneur daddy can be pretty "labor intensive" on the best days.  But when momma and toddler lead the charge with an illness and are quickly followed by the rest of the small folks, it can get pretty hairy around here.

Even in those hard weeks, and maybe even more so, these people are just my favorite.

On Monday I was feeling pretty bad, so Jason worked from home to help with a sick Lydia and let us still have our school day.


I cannot take sly pictures often these days, but I love this kind of a photo bomb.


Toddlers are a great example of doing just what you can when you don't feel great. Lydia would alternate between laying on the sofa and watching Frozen and getting up and playing for a bit. She rested when she need to, but still had some of her normal activities. Like cooking hair bows in her Minnie pot.



And story reading


But of course when she just couldn't get herself together the only solution was a bubble bath.


As always there was much snuggling. Probably only intensified by a week in pajamas.

(this is probably where some folks are saying, "hey why didn't you isolate the sick kid and keep the germs away from the others." and i say to those folks: impossible. the only way to keep these kids away from each would be to send one away. and i haven't had any volunteers to take a contagious kid off my hands.)

So back to hanging out in pajamas under a quilt on the sofa in the messy living room.

(such a real life shot here)



We really should have had a field trip to the zoo last week to go with our African Savannah lessons, but youtube had to suffice. Yay for technology. I remember taking a "media" class in college, that was supposed to teach us how to use the library resources in our classrooms. I am super glad I can google, preview and hit play instead of fighting a film strip (yes I had to prove I could use a film strip to get my teaching degree - I am obviously 100 years old).



Of course the sad underbelly of home schooling is that when the students are just cold-symptom-type-of-sick they still have to do their work. Maybe there are a few more breaks, but it is *possibly* easier to get stuff done with boys who don't mind sitting still.


And when everyone needs a pick-me-up from days of being stuck inside, the solution is always paint something.


Julia just went with the flow. She had some congestion and coughing, but nothing too bad. Baby Girl found her hands, and it is about the sweetest thing in the world. She wakes up and entertains herself for a bit with her newly discovered attached toys.


In other hands news, Lydia is obsessed with washing her hands. Forever she is dragging her stool around and declaring (not asking), "wash hands, wash hands, wash hands..."


My favorite moment of the week is when Lydia was napping and all three boys were in our bed while I rocked Julia to sleep and read Prince Caspian to them. So many of our moments are on the edge of chaos, but this was a lovely pause we needed.


Gloriously, by the end of the week everyone was on the road to recovery and the sun came out (literally and figuratively). It was even warm enough for Julia's first swing nap.


Jason and I were able to squeeze in a date night (with baby in tow) to celebrate a late anniversary and early Valentine's.


I'm thankful for the Disney/vacation/holiday weeks, and I'm thankful for the sick/stir crazy/quiet weeks as well. I feel pretty confident that one day I will miss them all.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Celebrating 9



He is almost into double digits.  How is that possible? It seems just yesterday this tiny babe with big dark eyes was placed in my arms. Oh how I had no idea what to do with him, but we soldiered on, him learning how to be and me learning how to be momma. And now we are here, him doing quite well at being him and me still figuring out this momma thing.

Walker is wonderfully independent. He is strong, yet sensitive. He has his own ideas, but he trust those he loves completely. He stores up little thoughts in his heart and can break if he isn't forced to speak them out. He enjoys the language arts side of school more than the math and science, but he does well with it all. He loves his sisters completely and takes the initiative to make sure they are happy. He is maturing into being the helpful big bother in the family.

He has decided he wants to be a formula one race car driver when he grows up. He knows much about cars, racing and the mechanics of such things. He also read about a famous race car driver who started racing go carts when he was ten. So he is preparing himself to do the same next year. We shall see. He is a pretty determined fellow when he wants to be.

On to the celebrating..

Birthday morning there were presents


and donuts


and jumping at the trampoline park and outside play


and Moe's for dinner


After a year away we really enjoyed being able to celebrate with our family.















I am so proud of Walker. I love walking this journey with him. It is amazing how you can love someone more each day, when you were fairly certain that your heart might burst from the love just the day before.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas 2014




This Christmas season was a bit different with our tiny baby in the mix.  But it was kind of lovely. There was not the pressure to do-all-the-things and we were able to relax and just enjoy the days a bit more (all be it bleary eyed from a typical newborn sleep schedule).

Looking back, we really did quite a bit of celebrating.  Miss Julia's first Christmas was quite special for her and the rest of us.

We kicked off the Christmas events with the first of the extended family parties. I love how the cousins always have a good time together.


We took Walker and Eli to the Behold the Lamb of God concert for the first time.  It is one of my favorite Christmas traditions and we loved being able to share it with them. Julia snoozed through the entire thing, which is no reflection on how wonderful the concert was this year.


We had an early celebration with Pops and Grandma Jayne. Maybe my favorite present this year was giving them pictures we had made with all the Brown grandchildren when Elaine (my sister -in-law) was in town with my nieces and nephew. My brother and his family moved to Japan on Thanksgiving for several years with the Navy and it is a treasure to have a picture with the kids together (sans Julia, since she wasn't quite here yet).


Julia was shocked to learn she wasn't represented, but Grandma Jayne assured her she would have her fair share of pictures.


Also, when all the presents started getting passed out ole LJ made some observations and then sat herself right down in the middle.  She was so on the present game this year.


We made it to the candlelight service at church. It was raining buckets, but it was completely worth it. The older boys really paid attention and even though I had to slip to the back of the room to nurse Julia during the actual candlelight part, it was lovely to be "together" as we focus on the true meaning of Christmas.

(not my choice for church outfits, but we were there and I'll be satisfied with that)

We were able to do our Christmas Eve tradition of dropping off the kids with Gammy and Grin to make cookies for Santa while mommy and daddy have a quiet date morning of wrapping up some loose ends. We got off to a late start (shocking, I know). Our usual Cracker Barrel was packed, so we headed to Waffle House.  Which was surprisingly nice in it's own right.


That afternoon we celebrated with Gammy and Grin and the cousins.  Again Lydia was on the present game. Never do the kids sit so still and listen so attentively as when waiting for the open command.



The final night of our advent readings.  It really is so nice to have something with just the boys.  Well, and the baby who can't talk or grab markers and run.


It got me thinking that our days of doing things with "the big boys" are fading. So here is to one more year of sharing the lego calendar three ways.


There were showers and Christmas pajamas and then the tucking in for the evening.


And the quiet wait in anticipation of the next day's celebration. After last year's 2 am wake up call we set up several rules and barriers that made it clear there would be no coming down stairs until after 7:00am.  They made good and in fact I was up and ready and busting with excitement before Eli finally got the party going around 7:45.

The boys had a bit of time to explore their gifts before Lydia woke up and joined the fun.


They were eager to help her find her presents.


Can we talk about the fact that our Christmas now involves baby dolls and dress up jewelry. {love}


A pause for a picture.  Well the toddler never pauses, but I'll take what I can get.


There were sausage spins and sausage balls, because of course their were.


Julia seemed thrilled with her playmat and enjoyed the buzz of happiness going all around.


Julia's part of the matching pajamas were way to big, but I did manage to get one picture of them together before she spit up all over them and I got her in something more her size.

(because you know I don't want to miss the first in what will clearly be an annual event)

Julia is such a smiley baby.  Or gassy.  Whichever, it isn't like you can tell in a picture anyway.


We spent Christmas Day at home.  It felt like this wonderful pause we had been waiting on the whole year.  The boys got a WiiU and this is pretty much the scene for most of the day.
Christmas Morning 2014 from jason.mccay on Vimeo.

Jason and I made The Pioneer Woman's Fancy Mac and Cheese for Christmas dinner.  It was really fun to do it together and Walker kept calling it "the bacon mac and cheese."  So you know, it's awesome.


The Saturday after Christmas we had the last family party.  The family graciously agreed to come to us and it was lovely having it in our home.


Julia with her great-grandmother.


The kids being outrageously gifted by the aunts, uncles and cousins.


Aunt Ally even got some Julia and Lydia loving.  It was a special day indeed.


Grin got a turn before the evening was out.


Feeling pretty grateful and a little solemn as we close the book on Christmas 2014.  It really was quite magical.



Monday, December 15, 2014

Doing What We Need (️Christmas Cookies)

Cookie making is not the best use of my time these days. There are a million other things I should have done with quiet baby napping time. 

I should have showered and put on some under eye concealer. I adore the snuggly newborn stage but no amount of experience gets you out of the newborn tired. 

We should have had some focused instruction time. We have definitely been schooling "light" these days. I should have done some phonics or language arts. 

We should have wrapped presents to be gifted tonight. I really dislike the wrapping on the way out the door thing, but alas we are here again. 

We should have cleaned or washed any or everything in the house. Keeping up with housework isn't my strong suit when I'm well rested. So currently, well,  I'm sure thankful for my husband keeping things somewhat put together. 

But the truth is I needed to makes some cookies. I needed to make my mom's cookies. 

Nothing makes me miss my mom like nursing a new baby. Babies were her thing. I don't have many memories of her, but her love of tiny babies is firmly in my heart. And right next to that, is memories of baking these cookies. 

I had also promised Colin the weekend before Julia came that I would make him some allergy safe cookies we could take to all the Christmas parties this year (we usually rely on Oreos, but the poor kid deserves something special this time of year, too). Then this weekend there was not one dessert he could have at the family party. Giant mommy fail. Colin is now firmly the middle child. I plan on way over compensating so he knows he is never forgotten. You know, except for last weekend. So momma needed to make good on her promise. 

And everyone else enjoyed helping make the cookies, and the eating part as well. 

As an aside Eli now tells people he only likes cookies and cake without eggs. Ha! I don't believe he can actually tell the difference, but it is nice he stands with his brother. 

So while there were a thousand things I should have done today, what I needed to do was make cookies. So we did.

 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Julia's First Week or So...

The first few weeks of babies lives zip by so quickly in a blur of tiredness, busyness, and adjustments, but there is still so much joy in these tiny moments. I don't want them to slip from my memory.

All of my people on one sofa = heart explosions


Grandparents Adoring








Friends visiting


Cousin Snuggling


Aunt and Uncle Greeting

Uncle Matthew (my brother) and Aunt Elaine and their little crew (Evie, Nora and Emmett) headed to Japan on Thanksgiving Day.  There was quite literally a 12 hour window of time when it would be possible for her to be born and my brother be in Birmingham.  So so, glad they were able to meet our little Julia before flying out.  Their time was super stretched and valuable, but still they made this moment happen.

There was sunshine bathing for the bit of jaundice she developed.

She recovered pretty quickly without the need to go on the bili lights.

We were released on Thanksgiving Day. So this year's Thanksgiving dinner was a simple one at home with just the seven of us.  Jason did some serious grocery shopping on Wednesday night (oh yes he did), and a dear friend brought over several yummy dishes.

A few bites in to the meal I was nursing Julia and Jason's on call alerts were going off.  But we still  had a few moments of sharing our thankfuls over turkey and mac and cheese.

So of course the next day their were dishes to be done, but it isn't quite as daunting with a tiny little one tucked in my new sling.


There was Thanksgiving dinner and football watching on Saturday with the family.


And a disappointing ending to the game, but still so grateful to be watching it with family.


And there has been much brother snuggling




And even some sister loving

Lydia is adjusting to not being the baby and sharing mommy, but even in all the trauma of that she is super sweet to Julia.





And really too many naked baby pics because I just can't get over her tininess.