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.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Julia's Arrival 11.24.14

Here is Julia's labor and delivery story.

Over the past few weeks I have found that waiting for a baby to arrive around the holidays feels very different than any other time for me.  While I was quite done being pregnant and getting ridiculously uncomfortable, I really needed another week or two to finish up the very long to do list before Julia's arrival. Julia, however, had other ideas.

On Sunday night I had a wonderful evening with my very best friends.  It was a fantastic time of sweet momma conversations I needed.  On the drive home I had a few contractions, but nothing too intense.  I came home and crawled into bed, really not expecting anything to happen.  At 12:30am I was woken by a painful contraction.  My general labor trajectory is to have nothing serious happen before the big show, so anything with real pain gives me pause.  Through the evening I had several groups of strong contractions, but then then would stop for 45 minutes or so. Giving me just long enough to doze off before they would crank back up.

The next morning we asked Uncle Matt to come over and sit with the kids so I could go to doc to get checked.  The bummer was while we were waiting the contractions all but stopped.  He checked me and said there was only a slight change from the previous week, but he didn't have any indication anything would happen soon.  I was disappointed, but not convinced.

Allyson and I had planned to visit the science center with all the cousins and see their Christmas trains that morning.  I decided to go ahead with the plan, even thought I was exhausted. I didn't know when we would get a chance again, and I knew this was the only shot to go with the cousins.

The kids had a blast, but after two hours I decided we had to go home.  Momma was fading fast.  I didn't have any strong contractions, but I knew I had just enough energy to make it home (or rather I was hoping I had enough).

We hit the drive thru, ate lunch and then I put Lydia down for her nap.  Before going to the science museum I made the boys promise to do their school work in the afternoon.  They were more than okay with that turning into a movie afternoon. I never heard a peep out of them. I went and tried to lay down, but could not get comfortable and then the contractions started back up.

I let Jason know things could be heating up, but nothing to run home about just be aware.  By 4 I was breathing through contractions and swaying but able to parent in between contractions. I talked to the nurse and my sister in law, both of who reminded me that this wasn't my first baby and if I thought it was labor, it probably was.

We loaded up the kids, dropped them off at Uncle Matt and Aunt Ally's, who were supposed to be having a chill night at home with one kid, but graciously accepted our four. I called my doc, who has missed all 4 four of the previous kids deliveries and was schedule to leave the country to following Monday, to tell him I was on the way.  He was happy to finally be able to be there for one of my babies.

The hospital ride was the least dramatic of any of the labors (meaning it didn't feel like actual torture), so I was feeling things were not going too fast.  When we arrived I was at 3cm at 6:45pm.  Which confirmed that this was labor, but maybe just the beginnings.

By 8:30 I was 5/6cm and completely thinned out. I asked the grandparents hanging out in the room with us to head to the waiting room.  And for sure things started to move more rapidly at that point.

Once again, Jason was the perfect coach.  Just the exact right amount of massage, encouragement and support. Unfortunately ladies this is a service he only provides to me. Our nurse, Michelle, was great too. She was happy, funny and encouraging while basically letting us do our thing.

At 9:12 I asked her to check me.  I was 7cm and after she checked me I couldn't muster the ability to get back out of the bed, so I continued to labor on my side in the bed. With Lydia it took almost 4 hours to go from 7cm to complete.  Funny story (not funny), after a certain point of labor I am unable to move.  Like can't. I wish I could form words that would express this, but I'm just frozen.  It can throw Jason and the nurses off as to what exactly is happening, but they always manage to make help me out as needed.

Shortly there after my water broke, which it has never done on its own. That is a spectacular sensation.  We were alone at the time and Jason quickly called the nurse.  She rushed in and wanted to confirm Julia was head down.  She asked me if I felt urge to push. To which I replied, yes, followed quickly by the addition that she was in fact coming right now.  Michelle hit a button, called for help and then caught sweet Julia as she came right then.

A swarm of nurses filled the room and we had that amazing moment of meeting our daughter.  It was the perfect unmedicated delivery. It was intense, but I will choose quick and intense over long and slow any day. Aside - so even though my doc was in the building, he still missed the delivery. He arrived shortly there after and finished up, but it is almost comical at this point.  It clearly was never meant to happen.

From delivery I knew she was smaller than the others, but I no idea how much smaller.  Our little one was only 6 pounds 2 ounces.  My other babies were 7lb 13oz, 7lb 14oz, 7lb 15oz, and 9lb 15oz.  So we have three in the middle of the pack and two outliers. I've also had two at 37 weeks, and one at 38, 39, and full term.  Each one has made their own way, and reminded me that momma should hold loosely to my plans.

So happy to be holding our baby girl in our arms today.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

One Day 2014

Laura over at the Hollywood Housewife has encouraged us all to document a day in the life.  These days are busy, but oh so worth the effort of documenting.

The morning began with pre-dawn toddler cries that required a visit from mommy.  The picture that goes here is a black square so you will just have to use your imagination. She settled back down, but momma didn't. Instead I enjoyed the quite time of feeling baby Julia kick around during what is often our only calm hour of the day.

This, however, was my daylight wake up call.

Not so bad, especially with his partner.

Who hopped right into daddy's empty spot since he is out of town.

Next up:  coffee.  I stink at making half a carafe of french press, but lack of self control means I really can only make what I should drink.

Then a bit of Bible, geography and sociology.  Explaining the drug trade as it relates to Columbia, umm, was a bit out of my comfort zone.

Then onto the equator and Brazil.

Learning and working among distractions is a skill little sister is trying hard to help her brothers with, and more so now as she has given up her morning nap.

A break to play trains. This game always ends with a,  "No Wydia!" from Colin.

And lest you think she always looks like a doll, girlfriend has had a seriously gross nose today and required several wipe-down tackles.

The kids ate lunch but I "forgot" so momma had some cereal while the boys handled the lunch dishes.

LJ now ask for "rock, rock, book" before nap time and bed time and over and over through the day.  She is rarely refused.

2pm shower, because late is better than not at all.

Afternoon double duty: checking math work and conducting a reading lesson.

And when daddy is out of town my number one nighttime routine survival rule is to wear them out so they just fall into bed. To the park we went. We happen upon a whole group of friends, perfect.

Perhaps there was a Sonic stop on the way. It just seems wrong to drive by without stopping during happy hour.  I mean they are practically giving slushies away.

Jason does not care for frozen pasta dinners, but I quite like them. So when he is out of town we often have some simple pasta out of a bag with plain pasta and cheese for the pickiest among us.

10 minutes and dinner is ready. Winning.

Our hardest working appliance.  The dust buster. So many crumbs, all day, everyday.

Four clean kids, and two of them of their own ability.  As long as they are reminded to use soap, and shampoo and a wash rag.

And the pull back shot of the bathtub.  Everyone just drops their clothes, kind of as a border.

When I grow tired of kicking them aside, I will scoop them up and throw them in a basket. Maybe.

Before bed warm milk and "mimi" which means Mickey or Minnie, but is pretty darn cute.

We are in between chapter books, but the boys always approve of this bedtime story.

Probably, mostly because it says stupid.

And now Julia and I shall have dessert and watch Pride and Prejudice for the hundredth time while planning the library trip for tomorrow.